Coastweek - - A
of Black Rhinos sculpted by Carlos
da Cruz and now in the collection of G. Sanchez, U.S.A.
LIFE EXPERT AND CONSERVATIONIST
- - I
was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Carlos da Cruz (Coastweek
obituary by Mohamed Ismail June 30th/ July 6th 2006).
met Carlos for the first time during a two-week safari and seminar
charm and ebullient nature left a lasting impression on me.
was a very caring individual; a humanitarian deeply concerned with
our rapidly dwindling and mismanaged wildlife and ecosystems.
a friend of his I am still in shock and continue to grieve the
passing of a man who was an individual of rare qualities.
knowledge and talents were phenomenal.
Carlos achieved a lot, not materially, but as a creative person
with a passionate desire to learn and to fulfil all his goals.
will be greatly missed by all those who were fortunate to have
first met at the Taita Hills Lodge towards the end of 1978 at a
seminar hosted by Lars Eric Lindblad for the Intrepids' Club.
Carlos was one among a team of lecturers chosen to contribute
their know-how to this Club.
Included among this select group of world-renowned people was
Tenzing Norgay of Mount Everest fame, Dr. Roger Tory Peterson,
Robert Bateman, the Canadian wildlife artist, Keith Shackleton the
Antarctic explorer and relative of Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Keith was a regular lecturer on the Antarctic
cruise ship, The M.S. Lindblad Explorer. Keith was also a
There were also many distinguished people
from the United States who had come to Kenya for this
We interacted for two intense weeks and were
entertained to lectures, discourses on art, ornithology,
botany and then travel within Kenya to see and savour the
beauty of this unique country.
Carlos's knowledge to say the least was
I still recall the lucid lecture he gave on
sculpture; He expounded on various styles by such masters as
Michelangelo, Bernini and Auguste Rodin.
da Cruz discoursing on guitars.
PHOTO - COURTESY: JOAN HAGEN
writing, he spoke of Ernest Hemingway and his uniquely terse style
where words were used sparingly but concisely.
"The Old Man and the Sea"
Carlos argued was a superb example of
how good writing of this kind critics considered a work of art.
This tale of a Cuban fisherman involved a combination of keen
observation, first hand knowledge, and constant rewrites which
transformed the novel through hard work into a classic.
There was a whole generation of writers who parodied Hemingway,
including Robert Ruark, but Hemingway's style was inimitable.
Carlos's view, "The Old Man and the Sea" should be ranked with
"Moby Dick" and one cannot put any tale of the sea higher than
During our stay at the Salt Lick Lodge, we had long discussions
with Carlos on the human condition, greed, war and the destruction
of our planet, these often lasted way past mid-night.
was always generous with his time.
was a very magnanimous individual who participated with enthusiasm
in entertaining his listeners and also went out of his way by
being excessively hospitable.
had great charm and always exuded an aura of generosity and
There was always that un-mistakable look on his face, which seemed
to say: "my cup runneth over".
Other lecturers were more business-like and never cared once their
responsibilities had been discharged.
the subject of immortality, Carlos maintained that if you had it
in you to write like Shakespeare, or to paint like Rembrandt, you
were assured of immortality.
however, you could sculpt albeit as an unknown artist, thereafter
if you cast your creations in bronze, you were guaranteed
immortality for at least 2000 years.
This was said in consideration of bronze being an enduring medium
and not necessarily because the piece so created by any artist
Carlos humbly maintained that he was a nobody when it came to art,
but did his very best to create and to give form to what his mind
Carlos's sense of humour was infectious and he narrated many
interesting tales and episodes.
Many of these caused us to laugh uncontrollably, until tears
welled out of our eyes and our stomachs ached from fits of
laughter we could hardly suppress.
own contribution to the seminar was purely on the use of light
aircraft in wildlife management, particularly game census and the
sustainable use of this resource.
What I had to say paled in comparison with what the intellectuals
of that day had to offer, and who had more meaningful and
profounder issues to discuss and disseminate.
Carlos da Cruz will best be remembered for his genial personality,
his warmth of friendship, generosity and kindness.
had kept in touch through letters until he left England by which
time I had no idea where he had settled.
Carlos was a very caring person possessed of an almost missionary
zeal to help and uplift the welfare of the exploited, the
oppressed and the poor of this country.
detested corruption and fought those who profited from the plunder
of Kenya's natural resources with all his might and know how.
Almost two decades after my first encounter with Carlos at the
Taita Hills Lodge, I was visiting Joan Hagen Ross, an executive of
the Society of Animal Artists in Connecticut, U.S.A.
her mantelpiece was a striking bronze sculpture.
could not miss it.
was fluid and portrayed a ferocious individual in Arab garb riding
a camel which moved at a canter.
examined it and at the base was an all-too -familiar signature: "C
as Carlos had entitled his work was in my mind destined
for immortality not because it was done in bronze, but because it
is an exceptionally unique and impressive piece which to any art
connoisseur would be considered a work of genius.
all I know, only one piece was cast despite the intended limited
edition of ten, which is often the norm when casting bronze
Perhaps the most fitting epitaph for Carlos was best uttered by an
ancient mystic, who said:
"When we are dead,
seek not our tomb in the earth,
but find it in the hearts of men".
Fare thee well good friend.
- Cahil Marduff, Mombasa.