A Tribute to Carl Stephanus Labuschagne (Gillingham 1966)
March 1948 – September 2013
I first met Carl Labuschagne at the start of the 1963 school year, two shy young new boys standing in the Gillingham junior common room pondering about this new life ahead of them. We were the only two in there and he walked over to me, stuck out his hand and said “Hi, I’m Carl”. I suppose it can be said that we have been friends ever since. We had no idea what the bell above the prefects door was for so when it rang we both looked at each other, wondering. Needless to say the door flew open and behind it was a rather impatient prefect, not only was he a prefect, this was Peter Bryan, Head of House. He asked why we hadn’t answered the bell. Carl said simply “We don’t know what it’s for, we’ve only just got here. I thought it was a fire alarm which means that we should run away”. This was the first time I saw Carl’s dry sense of humour and it caused mild apoplexy to say the least! That same sense of humour would stand him in good stead during the trials and tribulations of his life ahead.
Carl was always a progressive forward thinker. He used to think “out of the box” long before it was a buzz word or fashionable to do so. A bunch of us at school were sitting talking about motor racing one day and the conversation drifted to rallying. He said one should use a pick-up truck to rally so one would not have to modify the chassis and suspension as these were much stronger than a car’s. This was met with some amusement in general. Today, world-wide, there is a class of racing and rallying for pick-up trucks so it would seem that he was not the only one to think along those lines. Also, for as long as I can remember he wanted to farm game. To those who told him that as game were wild animals and couldn’t thus be farmed he would simply reply “I think you can”. Today game ranching is big business in Africa, very big business. He pioneered game capture methods and game fencing, working out the system by trial and error in the face of scepticism and opposition from friends and conservation authorities alike. He was also a professional hunter who was a founding member of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa and some of his clients hunted with him for over twenty years, often more than once a year, surely a testament to the ability of the man. He took the tradition of ethical hunting very seriously and I shudder to think what his thoughts were of the so called “canned hunts”. I am quite sure they would not be printable!
He passed away peacefully in his home on the 16th Sept. 2013 after a long battle with cancer. I received an e-mail from his son after his death in which he said and I quote “When he died, he went to sleep in peace. As far as I’m aware, he had achieved all the dreams he ever had, he left few enemies and lots of friends, his house was in order and his bags were packed for the journey ahead.” I think that a quote from Carl himself who said, on the passing of an old hunting friend, “There’s on old lion down in the lowveld who won’t be roaring anymore” is most fitting here.
Carl Stephanus Labuschagne, family man, farmer, hunter, conservationist, craftsman, artist, visionary and friend, the world is surely a poorer place since your passing. RIP till we meet again.
Gillingham ‘63 – ‘66.