Condolences and Tributes for Jean Albert
15 September 1925 – 05 August 2020
Jean Albert, our Founder Librarian, passed away early on Wednesday 5th August. Her death was a release from pain, after a long and well-lived 94 years.
In the years from February 2011, I got to know Jean a bit, initially as a mentor as she introduced me to the borrowers, Lynda and how the Library worked. Jean was very organised and provided me with a Library Manual that detailed every process and smoothly interlocking function, yet she was accepting of human errors – she was kind, not demanding.
Jean and Patrick Tummon worked very well together building the collections. Her understanding of Jungian psychology reached back before the founding of the Centre. The establishment of a specialist Jungian psychology library was a 25-year labour of love as a volunteer.
As Jean felt able to leave things up to me, she came in less frequently, and in 2013 her final professional task was to write a Brief history of the Library at the C G Jung Centre, Cape Town. It appears in full on a Library page of the SAAJA website. Patrick motivated to have the Library named after Jean in honour of her enormous input in its creation, and put the plaque up himself. This Library has been called a treasure by most who enter, and particularly by overseas visitors. Not many Jung centres have the luxury of a dedicated library facility on site.
I visited Jean most weeks, it was a joy for both of us. Sometimes I’d sit on the bed, leaning against her drawn up legs, or just be next to her, holding a bone-thin hand. We’d talk about the week we’d had and I’d fill her in on how her library was being looked after. Occasionally our conversation would venture into politics – the City Council’s handing of the water crisis, or the #feesmustfall protests. Jean always leant towards finding the middle way between urgent or emotional needs; she made no allowances for pettiness, or sentiment, or one-sided views.
After she moved to Frail Care in Murambi House several months ago, it was awkward fitting in with their care and feeding times, and when the home was shut down I could only leave the chocolate and a message. So we never got to hug, knowing it might be the last time. Perhaps it’s best that way.
A week later the entire country was shut down and without a telephone in her shared room we were weaned of each other’s company, and Jean of her hold on life.
I’m very grateful to Dr Lee Miller, her trusted doctor of many years, who got to visit and comfort her. It must have been wonderful for Jean to hear a familiar voice whose support and advice she trusted before she went.
10th August 2020
What terribly sad news…Jean was one of the central figures in the birth and growth of SAAJA…especially our library. We have a library that is the envy of many. Probably the best broadly psychoanalytic collection of literature in Africa. She will be sorely missed.
Strangely enough I have had Jean on my mind frequently in the last three weeks. The is indeed very sad news at the same time as a release for her as she lived a rich life and reached a ripe age. I have so many memories of very early days before the commencement of the Centre when I was on the original Committee with Vera Buhrman, Graham Saayman, Glenda Raad, Vanessa Saayman, Lourens van der Post as we convened regularly to shape the vision for the Centre. Jean has been a pivotal icon through all the years, always quiet but devoted and insightful. She injected her passion for a Library into us all and laboured so conscientiously and with such warmth though all the years.
Thank you, Jean, for your enormous contribution to the history of our Jung Institute.
Rest in peace.
Farewell long-standing friend and colleague.
Received this mail this morning as I suppose all SAAJA members did.
The image, which if I remember correctly you will also appreciate, reminded me of Jean Albert.
One was welcome in her library. Never intrusive, she did seem to understand the need for bookish people to just be there. A great playing space.
She also alerted me about Spring books, helpful then. She also understood well when we once spoke about my fantasy of how books seem to find the right reader.
I remember her.
They say that when an elder of a community dies, a certain part of the history of that community dies with them. Jean was involved with the library from the earliest beginnings of SAAJA, which in its early years was called Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies. Jean remembers, for example, that a book collection was first put together during the 1980s under Ian Player’s direction. It was this book collection that she built up into about 4000 books by 2009. Fortunately for us, Patrick Tummon had the foresight to dedicate a Mantis Journal to her, recording and honouring her commitment and contribution over a period of 20 years. (Mantis Journal Vol 20/21, Numbers 2/1, Winter/Summer 2008/2009). I quote from this journal: ‘In April 1990 Jean Albert wrote a library proposal for Julian David and the executive committee of the Cape of Good hope Centre for Jungian Studies, in which she suggested it could be grown to stock 2000+ items over the coming decades… One might wonder what it was that inspired Jean to give such focused attention to SAAJA’s library over the last 20 years… the rather surprising answer seems to suggest a continuity of engagement with Analytical Psychology in her family stretching back to the 1930s, as illustrated in the letter from Dr Jung to Jean’s mother Dorothy Harris.’ This letter, signed by Jung, is published in this journal as well. Jean will be remembered and honoured by us as an ancestor to the Jung Centre, with deep respect and gratitude.
Taken from the SAAJA Facebook Page
Having met and worked with Jean at City Libraries in the late 1960’s it is a sad loss of a great friend, precise in her mind until the end, she never wavered in her determination to support the good and the true. 50 years of friendship [though we had our up and down moments] will always be celebrated in my mind and memory of her.
Andre de Wet
Sad to hear about Jean Albert’s passing. She got well into her nineties and had a varied and sometimes wonderful life.
I got to know her well after my divorce and spent many good hours with her. May she rest in peace.
Sheila Meiring Fugard
I also have many good memories of Jean, who was one of the first people to welcome me to my work as a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town. We both had a particular interest in the work of C.G. Jung.
Dr Graham Saayman
I knew Jean when she was at UCT Library well before the Jung Centre was established. May she rest in peace! She was an exceptional person. Some of the adjectives that come to my mind are: gentle, humble, helpful, discreet, efficient, kind, determined, respectful, and many other positive ones.
Renos K Papadopoulos
Thank you, Debra for this heartfelt tribute to Jean. The photograph of her shows her beauty and kindness. I’ve always known of her dedication to the Jung Centre CT library. May her soul rest in peace and all condolences to family, friends and colleagues…
Ah Jean. Sorry to hear about your pain at the end. Archetypal librarian. She knew I was going to be late returning my books even before I took out my first. She gave me that all knowing look. She knew. And I didn’t prove her wrong, not once. And yet she remained gentle but firm with her reminders. I think she really liked me… treated me kindly with the discounts off my fines. An iconic collection. Always gave me a thrill running my fingers across the spines. Comforting place. I imagined it gave Jean a deep sense of satisfaction, my (our) appreciation – even though she never let on. But I knew. RIP ❤️
❤️May she rest in peace. My condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
Katerina S. Michael
Thank you for your beautiful tribute. Jean was always kind and helpful when I visited the library, until I left Cape Town in 1997.
Thank you dear, Debra West, for your deeply felt and honoring tribute to Jean ❤️
Condolences and Tributes for Fernand Schaub
26 September 1952 – 28 October 2019
We were fortunate enough to have Fernard run multiple seminars and workshops for our Gauteng Group.
We also shared some out-of-town trips with him which included many fascinating campfire chats and compelling storytelling. Fernand was a wise and captivating teacher and always facilitated open and stimulating conversations around the topics that he presented. We always enjoyed his eccentric manner combined with the quality content and practical experience that he brought.
He was an enjoyable person to relate to with a great sense of humour, a thorough knowledge of Jung and related matters, and his Facebook posts were always significant and noteworthy to read. Some of our members had prolonged supervision with him and attest to his astuteness and insight into the analytical process and humanity in general.
Will miss him
Deon van Zyl
Chairperson Gauteng Associate Professional Member Group of SAAJA
What very sad news! My deepest condolences to Fernand’s family and close friends.
My heartfelt condolences to Fernand’s family and to all who were close to him.
It is very sad … and a great loss. It seems just the other day that we took leave of Fernand. After that he continued to be an active and concerned presence in SAAJA, although he was making a new life in Bulgaria. My deep condolences to his family, friends and also to those who were in analysis or supervision with him.
What shocking and sad news. I did not know Ferdie well but always sensed his deep connection to analytical psychology..and to SAAJA…even from a distance. My thoughts are with his family.
I am very sad to hear of Fernand’s passing. He presented 2 seminars to us on Ethics earlier this year and on both occasions struck me as someone who feels/felt deeply about life and humanity. His input in our training programme was invaluable.
Heartfelt condolences to his family and everyone whose life he touched.
Tribute to Fernand Schaub:
Fernand was an artist and because he knew of my interest in art, before he left for Bulgaria, he gave me one of his beautiful soap stone carvings, plus several beautiful art books and other art memorabilia. I was very touched by his gesture and treasure the carving he gave me.
Fernand was part of our initial Jung and Film group and I always appreciated the interesting perspectives he offered on all the films we discussed.
My heartfelt condolences to all Fernand’s loved ones at this time of grieving, and especially to Renee Ramsden who had been Fernand’s close friend and colleague for many years.
You were such a treasure for our “developing” group, acting as friend, liaison with SAAJA, therapist, tutor and classically a Jungian, whatever that actually means.
I have thought of you often and hope you had not too much suffering to endure.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF FERNAND SCHAUB
My first real encounter with Jung was a lecture by Fernand on The Fisher King in a stately old house in Houghton. That lecture hooked me to Jungian Psychology and changed the course of my life forever. That was in the 90’s. In the years that followed knowing Fernand enriched my life, both personally and as a psychologist, in so many ways. From totally disorganized drumming evenings under a full moon, long meaningful discussions over lunch on anything from expressions of the soul in art, personal failings and modern-day mythology, supervision on tough ethical challenges to just being with friends.
Fernand was the most unique human being I have ever known. Just one small example: I never saw him wearing shoes and socks, like most people do; he wore either sandals and socks or shoes without socks – not sure what he did during the Bulgarian winters! When I asked him why he was going to Bulgaria, his answer was: “Its such a mystical place”, which must have been perfect for his last years on earth.
We will miss you as friend, colleague, supervisor, teacher, writer and most of all, one of the last truly wise old wizards. On the subject of death, Fernand once said:
“Well, in the end we are all going the same way”
Your voice and your wisdom will be missed.
Dr. Danie du Toit
Ek is so jammer om die hartseer nuus te hoor dat Fernand oorlede is – hy was werklik ‘n besonderse mens en wyse leermeester.
My innige simpatie en meegevoel aan sy familie, vriende, kliënte en kollegas wat ‘n pad met hom gestap het.
My condolences to family, friends and colleagues of Fernand; such a gentle man, and generous, whose contributions to discussions after Jung & Film screenings took us further than we thought, and whose firm opinions contributed much to the refurbishing of the Library. Rest in peace.
I am so terribly sorry to hear. Thank you for letting us know.
TRIBUTE TO FERNAND SCHAUB
Above my desk where I am sitting writing right now, hangs one of my prized possessions. It is a framed print on papyrus from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, showing the ancient ceremony of the “Weighing of the Heart”. The heart of a deceased is weighed against a feather. The feather symbolizes the goddess Maat, who stands for the principles of Truth, Justice, Balance, Order, Compassion, Harmony, and Reciprocity. A heart who epitomized these seven values in its lifetime is judged to be light enough to be allowed to enter the hereafter.
I just found it there in my office one day, because Fernand put it there, at the time when he was packing up for Bulgaria. I asked him about it, but he just smiled and said that I should have it. And that was that. For me, this little event is a picture of the life of Fernand Schaub.
Firstly, there is of course his generosity, because he not only gave away pictures, he also gave away other things. To SAAJA he gave his time and his energy. For years he was the liaison between the Cape Town based society and the Jung group in Johannesburg. When he returned to Cape Town he served on a few committees, he maintained the SAAJA Facebook page, he served on the communications working group, he helped with the very successful film evenings, he taught seminars. He gave his love and he gave his feelings to his colleagues and his friends and his analysands.
Secondly, the enigmatic way in which he decided the picture should come to me, felt like some sort of intuitively driven mandate. As if there was some unknown force in the ether which instructed him to do it. I think Fernand often followed these unseen forces in the ether; he was in touch with a faraway drummer which compelled him to follow certain paths. And he did so, with courage and conviction and enthusiasm. I suspect it was this force which directed him to move to Bulgaria, because he described that country as a place where one was always close to the spiritual realm. He must really have been at home there.
Finally, there is of course the content of the picture, a ritualistic weighing of the heart to test its sense of Compassion, Truth, Justice, Balance, Reciprocity, Harmony and Order. I have little doubt that Fernand Schaub’s heart was found to be much, much lighter than a feather.
Condolences to Fernand’s loved ones for this loss.
He was my friend. He was my friend for 32 years. Our relationship was defined from the start as a friendship, and it grew over the years into a kinship which we often referred to as brother and sister. We witnessed each other’s lives, and we could always count on each other’s support.
I met him in 86, the year before Vera Buhrmann invited applications for the first Jungian training, which started in 87. He had newly arrived in Cape Town, and went around to psychologists to introduce himself to the Cape Town psychology community, so this is how we met. In that first meeting, our friendship was forged. We discovered our mutual interest in Jung, and soon after, we met to discuss the potential of starting therapeutic groups. This never happened, but instead, we started sharing rooms, and sharing our practice for the next eight years, until my son was born, and I needed to practice from home. The early years of our friendship was marked by our both being in analysis, and going
through our training together. We entered analysis together, with Julian, in 1988. We shared and witnessed each other’s struggles, and we went through the painful transformations that analysis entails. We supported each other with our work, and our writing.
But we also discovered that we had many other things in common, such as our love of hiking, partying, poetry, and sculpting. His daughter, Bianca, speaks of him as having many different sides. I knew him as the playful and creative puer, full of humour and laughter, with a real zest for life, and as the serious, grounded, deeply thoughtful and caring man, who became the analyst that many of you have experienced, and been transformed by. I witnessed him as the devoted father to his daughter, and experienced him as a truly loyal, trustworthy friend, who always had my back. We maintained our friendships through many partings.
On the eve of his departure to Bulgaria, we had a farewell supper together and this is some excerpts of what I said to him then:
‘A mysterious attraction to Bulgarian culture, already present in the early years of our meeting, had taken root in you, and the call became too strong to ignore. And so here we are, saying goodbye again. This goodbye is painful to me, as you know. I resisted it, and tried to change your mind. But I cannot stand in the way of your fate.
At our SAAJA farewell, Fred named some of your qualities that make you a valued SAAJA member. I want to recall them, as these are qualities that describe you as I know you: he said you are loyal, committed and reliable. I will add to this the sensitivity and self-reflection that brings consciousness, and the kindness that is evidence of the capacity for deep and sustained love. You are also courageous and creative, and I know, with all these qualities and gifts, your journey forward will be blessed. I wish you many blessings, love and creative living in Bulgaria.’
Ester Haumann this morning reminded me of an email he wrote to her about his Bulgarian experience. I want to share a short excerpt from this:
‘So, I am learning and discovering continuously, which is and feels exciting and confronts aspects of myself personally and as a psychotherapist/analyst by necessity and aids further growing and expanding consciousness.
I have attempted to give you a tiny bit of a taste, fragments, moments of my experiential life here so far. It is nigh impossible to truly describe the complexity and depth to which I am learning, experiencing and growing. One thing I feel certain about, – I feel really good to be here in Bulgaria, in this very southeastern region of Europe, the Balkans, and the gateway between East and West.’
The mystery of his attraction to Bulgaria to a large extent had to do with his respect for the feminine, and the great goddess, which he found expressed in the way of life in Bulgaria.
It is good to know that he felt good about his choice in going to Bulgaria, as this was the place he chose to also leave this earth. I want to end my tribute with some excerpts from Rumi:
HOW SHOULD THE SOUL not take wings
when from the Glory of God
It hears a sweet, kindly call:
“Why are you here, soul? Arise!”
You have escaped from the cage nowyour
wings are spread in the air.
From this world of separation
to union, a world beyond worlds!
Go well, my friend.
TRIBUTES TO BRUCE LAKIE
Dr. Bruce Lakie, one of the founder members of SAAJA, passed away on 29 September 2018
I remember Bruce Lakie so well – the gentle giant he is in my head. We lost contact over the last 10 years or so, when he moved to Nieu-Bethesda. I think it was for health reasons even then – to get away from city life and enjoy tranquillity. Bruce was a quietly spoken man, humble and unassuming. He lived in the most beautiful home in Upper Claremont with a magnificent grand piano in one of the reception rooms. He was generous in sharing this space for some early SAAJA events. He loved music and had a sophisticated knowledge and taste for the classics.
I am sorry he is gone – he represents for me an era of civility and kindness.
My condolences to all who are near to him. He will be sorely missed.
A tribute to Bruce Lakie, dear friend and colleague
(From Renee Ramsden)
I met Bruce when we started our training with Vera Buhrmann, as part of the first training group, in 1986. I got to know Bruce as a gentle, kind person, with a lovely sense of humour. He was quiet, with a great love for gardens, having created the most exquisite garden wherever he lived. And he quietly took care of the Centre garden for many years, until he moved to Nieu-Bethesda. He was also a lover of classical music, and an accomplished pianist. It was always a great pleasure to hear him play on the occasions that we were invited to supper.
As a colleague, I experienced him as deeply perceptive, generous and kind. His intention was always to be supportive, and healing. I know that when he moved to Nieu-Bethesda, he was sorely missed, not only by myself as a colleague, but also by the clients he saw.
During our last year of training 6 of us arranged to go on the Umfolozi trail, which was part of our course requirements. This was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other, and it was an experience of a lifetime. I am grateful that we were able to share this precious time together, which formed the basis of creative and mutually supportive work as colleagues for the years to come. They say a picture says more than a thousand words, and I think that these images of Bruce will speak more clearly of him than what I could say.
This was the only way we could all six be in the photograph together. The crooked finger is the sign of the power of the witch, to keep smoke from the campfire at bay. We played with this idea continuously on this trip, using it as a sign of protection.
We ran out of petrol, and Carole and Bruce walked to the nearest petrol station to get us some petrol. Here they were returning victorious, petrol in hand!
We stopped off on the way back to purchase some mementoes. Bruce chose this beautiful walking stick, with a cross, the symbol of wholeness.
Did I mention that he was a fantastic cook? This was a dish he cooked for us on the morning after we emerged from the trail.
I will miss you Bruce, and will always remember you for the kind and gentle person that you were. It was a privilege to call you friend, and to work with you as a colleague.
Words are so inadequate, only poetry comes close to expressing the grief, and the joy. So I quote from Rilke’s Duino Elegies, the ninth elegy:
But being here is much, and because all this
that’s here, so fleeting, seems to require us and strangely concerns us.
Us the most fleeting of all. Just once,
Everything, only for once. Once and no more. And we, too, once.
And never again.
But this having been once, though only once,
Having been once on earth – can it ever be cancelled?
Tribute to Bruce Lakie
Bruce Lake was part of the first Jungian training group in Cape Town. A quiet and reserved presence but a presence no less, he seemed not to be concerned with ego but with compassion and truth and fairness. we Travelled together with others three times, to the Umfolozi, the Paris Congress in 1989 and their Chicago Congress in 1982 and he was a genial and humourus companion. Standing 6ft 4 inches he was indeed a gentle giant.
Bruce was a very creative person – those who were fortunate to visit his house in Newlands can never forget hi exquisite garden, nor the wonderful meals he conjured up, nor the quality of his piano playing.
Bruce always had a special place in my heart and although we had not been in contact for some time, I will miss him.
Tribute to Bruce Lakie
Bruce was a quiet and honourable man for whom I had great respect. An excellent Psychiatrist and Jungian Analyst.
Dr Tony G Kelly
TRIBUTE TO BRUCE LAKIE
It is with sadness that I learned of Bruce’s passing. I was on the first Public Programme Committee of SAAJA with Bruce, Glenda Raad and others and recall many meetings in his lovely home in Boshoff Avenue. I always thought of him as a “gentle giant”. He was a man of kindness and humility, quiet and unassuming with a keen intellect and wry humour. I have fond memories of many fun times in the kitchen where the Committee members would gather with our offerings to add to Bruce’s elegant spread when we chose on occasions to mix business with some welcome socialising.
We shared a love of music and I have memories of Bruce sitting at his grand piano and playing so beautifully on the odd occasion you could persuade him to share his musicality. I was introduced to Schubert’s Winterreise for the first time at a recital given in his home in the very early years of SAAJA and since then whenever I hear these exquisite songs I think of Bruce.
The gardens of Bruce’s home in Newlands were breathtakingly beautiful and he was an avid gardener. He would delight in showing you the different plants he may have introduced into this paradise if you were interested as I always was. I was delighted when Bruce offered his gardens for my daughter’s wedding photographs and of course these memorable family photos still remind us of Bruce, his home and the lovely times we shared with him.
It was lovely to see Bruce again a few years back at a SAAJA meeting on his return after many years living in Nieu Bethesda during which we lost contact. I always wondered how he made the move from the lush rolling scenic place nestled below the mountain in Newlands to the dry, arid almost austere surrounds of Nieu Betehesda but knowing Bruce’s love of beauty I have no doubt he would have created a different kind of beauty in his home there.
Thank you Bruce for your part in the fabric of my life in those years.
Dr Gerwin Davis
Astrid Berg: A Personal Tribute to Dr Gerwin Davis
It is with sadness that we hear of the passing of Dr Gerwin Daivs on 25th June 2016. Gerwin has had a long and fruitful life, spanning between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
Gerwin grew up ‘barefoot’ in the Eastern Cape, and studied medicine at the University of Cape Town. She specialized in Psychiatry and Pediatrics and became a senior lecturer in psychiatry in the then Child and Family Unit. She moved to London where she worked in child psychiatry and qualified as a Jungian Analyst. In 1989 she was approached by Sir Laurens van der Post who appealed to Gerwin to think about moving back to South Africa to assist in the establishment of the Centre for Jungian Studies. Although by then she was over 60 years old and had wanted to retire, she left London and joined Vera Bührmann, Patrick Tummon and Julian David in the training of the first group of Jungian Analysts.
SAAJA was formally established in November 1993 and together with Gerald Stonestreet, Gerwin held the post of Joint-President of SAAJA until she retired in 1995. This was followed by a time of travelling the world with her husband, Francois Roux, and it seemed to have been a very happy time for her, away from responsibilities. She and Francois finally settled in Helderberg Village in Somerset West. The last few years of Gerwin’s life were not easy in that Francois passed on and she became increasingly frail in body and mind. Her death is a release from this suffering.
We salute Gerwin for her willingness to have come to help establish SAAJA and be the training analyst and supervisor to numerous colleagues, including myself. I will always be grateful to her for her acute insights and interpretations which helped me enormously during turbulent times in SAAJA. Her rigor in keeping the analytic frame has been a life-long example to me in my own work. Gerwin had elegance and poise, a passion for life, dedication to her work and an ability to listen to the other and truly reflect.
I thank her for the example she has set for me.
29th June 2016
Herewith my initial reflections on Gerwin.
My clearest memory of Gerwin was of serving on the library committee with her, when it was formed in 1993.
I was offered the chair of the committee but declined in favour of Gerwin.
We had just begun negotiating with Sir Laurens Van der Post, the use of a generous grant from the McMillan family, for library book purchases.
I knew Gerwin would be a better diplomat than me!
And it certainly turned out to be a complicated set of negotiations over a number of years.
I also served on Exco with her and there I found her deeply caring for Vera Buhrmann’s well-being.
It warmed the heart to see this.
Gerwin was a great colleague to have during those formative years of the Cape of Good Hope of Jungian Studies and its transformation to SAAJA.
Her co-presidency of SAAJA with Gerald Stonestreet, was a demonstration of great maturity, by both.
She brought a depth of experience and a mature personality that was an important part of our evolving history.
She also had a wonderful laugh.
May she rest in peace.
Tribute to Gerwin Davis
Although having had an acquaintance-ship with Gerwin for some while, it was only when we were thrust together as co-presidents of the new found SAAJA that I believe I really got to know her.
It was an awkward alliance for us both as we supposedly represented opposing factions within the founding members. I remember that, as I warmed to Gerwin’s gracious manner and to her unwavering loyalty to her colleagues and associates, I felt strangely disloyal to those within the group that had not voted for her (to be president). I wonder now if she too had to contend with similar irrational notions.
Looking back I can only admire how Gerwin was always able to put aside all enmity and resentment. How she gave all her energy to making SAAJA a successful group and for it to be worthy of accreditation as a “training group” for Jungian analysts.
Though officially my senior in terms of training and experience, Gerwin never pulled rank nor made me feel as if I was still a novice.
Had it not been for Gerwin’s very special qualities, her integrity and fairness, the working relationship between us could have floundered hopelessly and SAAJA would certainly have suffered even more difficult early years than it did.
So: Thank you Gerwin
From Ursula Ulmer:
It would be important to mention that Gerwin’s work in setting up blood banks (I think she was a hematologist before becoming a child psychiatrist) in every single province. Her work had, I believe, a major impact on medical services and general health care all over South Africa.
When I first came to Cape Town in 1991, Gerwin had just returned from London to help Vera set up the Jung Centre and training program. She took me under her wing and showed me all around and was my guide in all things South African. It was a great privilege to have had that experience.
With gratitude for having known her,
17-03-1949 – 15-08-2016
It was with deep sense of loss and shock that we heard about the relatively sudden passing away of Patrick Tummon on 15 August 2016. He was a founder member of SAAJA, served on the Executive committee for a quarter of a century and was the serving treasurer of the organization at the time of his death. He was also a dear colleague and friend.
Patrick has been an integral backbone of the organization since its inception. As the office manager he designed the administrative systems which kept the organization going. He also took care of the details around the running of the physical building, which included dealing with leaking taps and the massive refurbishing we did six years ago. Many of these tasks took place outside of the public eye, but they were indispensable for the functioning of the centre. He was in charge of the library, regularly presented lectures and seminars, and was involved in almost every level of the organization. His passing has opened up an irreplaceable loss of institutional memory.
His passing left a massive vacuum in the organization and will be felt for years to come. We extend our deepest condolences to his family in this time, and want them to know that we share in the terrible feeling of loss.
Below please see condolences received from friends and colleagues:
Dis inderdaad hartseer. Hy het nog einde laasweek my email beantwoord …
Oh Fred what unexpected and terrible news…… What a huge loss.
I feel a depth of shock unexplainable! The parting of dear Patrick this early morning opens a Well of sadness and grieving to come, yet already felt. I imagine Patrick to be in peacefulness in the world beyond, and thinking of his beloved family at this deeply pained time. …
That is shocking and sad news. I am sorry to hear this.
Thank you for letting us know so quickly. I am so shocked. Patrick had such energy and enthusiasm and nurtured the library so conscientiously.
I am sorry for your and SAAJA’s loss. Thank you Patrick for all the energy you put into our group.
I am sitting here stunned.
I last spoke to him at the gym a few months ago. I was concerned about how thin he had become but he was his usual cheerful and enthusiastic self.
We will miss him, he was such an integral part of SAAJAs history.
It is with great shock that I have read the sad news. SAAJA has lost one of the strong pillars that reinforced the foundation of the Centre.
With deepest sympathy,
Glenda Raad and family.
Thank you for letting us know…it is such a terrible sadness. Thoughts of comfort to all of you close to him and his loved ones.
Thank you for letting us know, I am truly sorry to hear this news – Patrick was such a kind & cheerful person. I somehow imagined he would live to 100 years, as he spoke often of living healthy.
You are all in our thoughts & prayers, over this time.
This is indeed sad news, my condolences to those who knew him.
Best wishes, Josef Kalikun
I have just learnt of Patrick Tummon’s unexpected death. I send my condolences both personal and as the president of ANZSJA.
What shocking news that Patrick has died so suddenly – we spoke to him in the last few weeks and he seemed alright, although the cancer had returned!
Lesley and I would like to convey our most sincere condolences to Brigitta and family and also to SAAJA where he featured so much over the years. He will be sorely misses by all.
Kind regards, Colleen Smith and Lesley Clark
Thank you for letting me know about this very sad event.
Many thanks for letting us know officially. I had spoken to Astrid last week and she let me know re Patrick so I was able to write to him. And then Stephen let me know re his death. So sudden … it sounds as though the tumours just galloped along. What a loss of energy for SAAJA.
I am so sorry to hear about Patrick’s unexpected death. Thank you for letting us know too. What a devastating loss it must be for his family. And what a gap he leaves in Saaja. He was such a strong presence in one form or another and his absence will be acutely felt by us all. This just feel such a tragic loss, in my book I still want everybody to live gracefully into their nineties and die peacefully in their sleep.
Helise le Roux
I have just heard about Patrick’s death and wanted to say how terribly sorry I am. I didn’t know him well, but he was a very solid presence in SAAJA and I am sure you will all feel his loss greatly. I personally will miss his Irish stories of mermaids and spirits, and his wicked humour.
Let me know if there is anything I can do to help in this difficult time.
I wanted to extend my condolences on the loss of Patrick Tummon to you, to the members of SAAJA and especially to Patrick’s family. Patrick was in training in Zurich shortly after me and is someone I got to know a bit over the years. I am very sorry for your loss.
Please extend my condolences to his family on my behalf.
With heavy heart,
I am so sorry to hear about Patrick’s passing. He really played a considerable part in our group over the years of begin developing group and was our enthusiastic liaison person. He also introduced me to Buddhist meditation.
I heard of Patrick’s passing with shock and sadness – it was so sudden – he’d been up-beat in his letters updating SAAJA about his state of health right up until less than a week before his death.
I didn’t know him well but I have two good memories. The first is when my husband and I attended a weekend at Mario Schiess’ game farm in 1995 and Patrick and John Hill were also there. That’s when we heard for the first time that there was something called the Jung Institute in Zürich and as a result, we went to their Summer Intensive course a few months later! It was such a memorable weekend. I have an image/memory of Patrick standing with John around the huge wonderful fire pit in the darkness and the light of the dancing fire reflecting off them. The second time we met was many years later – perhaps two years ago? We met with Patrick and Brigitte at Kirstenbosch Gardens with our son and his wife for a picnic in glorious weather.
My thoughts and condolences are with the SAAJA members who have worked and socialized with Patrick over the many years that he has been with them and I send heartfelt condolences to his family.
I was shocked by the news about Patrick on Monday.
It was as if Table Mountain was somehow snatched away during the night. Something huge has gone, but the heart just can’t accept it.
I was totally stunned and shocked on receiving the news of Patrick’s passing on Monday morning. I had come to regard Patrick as part of the very structure of SAAJA and it is almost inconceivable to realise that he is gone forever. He contributed tirelessly to the functioning of the organization on so many levels. His passing is the passing of an era. My heartfelt condolences to Brigitta, his children and other loved ones.
Patrick was a real character – authentic and straight down the line.
He maintained such a good balance between seriousness and a quirky sense of humour.
He was always fully engaged in what he was busy with, and simultaneously engaging as a presenter.
I always felt a genuine sense of caring from him, towards me personally and towards our Gauteng group.
We will miss his presence and his wisdom.
Deon van Zyl
Since receiving your email with the sad news of Patrick’s passing early on Monday morning, many memories of him have returned. He was one of my earliest points of contact with SAAJA when I first began participating in Public Programme events more than 20 years ago. He has been a constant presence, in so many ways, within the organisation throughout my association with SAAJA.
I look forward to the opportunity of speaking about Patrick with SAAJA colleagues next Tuesday evening.
Without Patrick’s help I might never have made sense of the organisations systems, operations and daily grind . We built up a very special relationship in our few short years of working together. He was funny, bossy, friendly, understanding, patient, and sometimes damn near impossible to work with.. but I Loved him with all my heart. My thoughts and pain and sorrow are with Brigitte and family through their sad sad loss.
My sincere condolences on your loss-
I always think of Patricks email address-the “leaping salmon “part, captures for me what he was all about-an extraordinary energy and a shimmering light for all
Sterkte as the afrikaans goes
With much sadness
Patrick stayed in our home in Gardens on his first exploratory visit to South Africa. Laurens van der Post had raised the funds and had requested Patrick’s assistance, as a qualified analyst, in establishing the embryonic training program for Jungian analysts in Cape Town. In 1988, civil strife seized South Africa. Sitting in the sun on the steps in our back yard, we debated and balanced the personal and professional risks required of Patrick in the context of the positive contributions he might make to a deeply troubled society.
Wilderness called Patrick to Africa. He was intrigued by the relationship between Analytical Psychology, Ethology and Ecopsychology. His fascination with Nature was a major factor in his decision to bring his family to the Cape. He made enormous contributions to the helping professions in this country for more than a quarter of a century. Without Patrick Tummon SAAJA could never have developed in the way that it did. I remember him with deep appreciation, affection and respect.
Photograph taken near Platbos Forest, July 2011.
Graham S. Saayman
My sincere condolences to Patrick’s family and all members of SAAJA.
Personally I will always remember and be thankful for the richness Patrick has brought to my life over the years I have known him.
I will miss him.
I was very shocked and saddened to hear about Patrick’s passing recently. I was in CT very briefly (just one week) to attend a wedding, when a friend and colleague told me about it. I am still in shock and processing it, too. I can only imagine that the SAAJA members and community in CT and everywhere else will feel this loss deeply. My heartfelt condolences to you, Fred and everyone at SAAJA. I wish you strength and love as you process this sudden loss.
Patrick was the person at the centre I met when I first enquired about the room there all those years ago, and of course, worked alongside him and Fred at the centre. Even though we ran separate practices, it was nice and good to know that I was not the only person doing the therapy work in the building. Patrick also sent me a lovely email when I emigrated to wish me well on my journey. We shared a number of good moments and a few conversations during my time there. It is very sad indeed to know he is no longer with us in body, but I am certain his spirit will continue to reside in all the places and relationships he occupied.
Drs. Clint Steenveld
Please pass on sincere condolences to the Tummon family after Patrick’s sudden passing.
We remember him kindly also for the last time we saw him at the Labia cinema to introduce Sabina Spielrein.
May the family find comfort.
May Patrick fly free.
Erika & the Exploring Consciousness team
Tributes to Lee Roloff
For a moment, it was if the clocks had suddenly stood still. Slowly, the news of the passing of Lee Roloff was true. There was no turning back. Suddenly, like the sluice gates on a dam wall, opening, I became a conduit for a flood of emotion-charged memories of a man of laughter, mischief, warmth, intellect, compassion, insight and above all … immense patience. Instead of the heaviness that is so often linked to sadness, I felt strangely lighter. This, even in death, was his gift – he gave people wings.
Lee Roloff was a friend, mentor, father and brother figure – all in one. A giant of a man – a poet – he believed in me. What more could anyone ask of an elder? Let this little story that follows confirm what I have just written:
In May 1987, I was being interviewed by him prior to being selected as a candidate for analytical training in Cape Town. The other selector and advisor was South Africa’s only qualified analyst, Vera Buhrman. He and Vera made a formidable team. She was not present at that interview. Vera, it seemed (and I think, rightly so) doubted my credentials. Lee thought otherwise. Instead, he informed me that my selection was conditional … that I should register at the same time to train as a psychiatrist. When I agreed, he looked me in the eye. There was a hint of mischief and then, in all seriousness he announced these unforgettable words: “Ian, for you the crucifixion is guaranteed … it is how you hang in there that counts!”
I must confess, I did not know what he meant at the time, but I heard the challenge and more importantly, I knew he was with me. Today, almost thirty years later, I know what he meant … and I am still hanging in. Without a personal crucifixion and without hanging in … there is no hope of a resurrection consciousness. It is what the individuation process is about.
As I write, I am filled with a deepened sense of gratitude for having known him and more, for his influence on me. He is gone, but he is very much with me.
In this light, I know, I speak for many.
At the IAAP Congress in Cape Town in 2007 Lee celebrated his 80th birthday. That he would take on the long and stressful journey to South Africa showed his deep commitment and dedication towards SAAJA. He was part of the initiation of the training programme in the late 1980’s and I had my first ever interview with an analyst with him. Lee was a powerful figure – with his thick white hair, his solid physical stature and his sonorous voice he was a commanding presence – a father figure with whom one felt safe, understood and protected.
He became an important person to me since that time – in the beginning I remember communicating with him often in times of distress. When I visited him in Chicago in 1992 I brought him a watercolor painting of Table Mountain – he treasured this and whenever we emailed he would make reference to it. Thus there was a strong link.
Lee had a profound respect and love for Vera Bührmann – he saw in her the African mother; and one would surmise that he started becoming involved with SAAJA because of the esteem he had for Vera and her work.
Lee is now one of my ancestors – I am grateful for who he has been in my life, for his encouragement to me personally and for his devotion to us in South Africa. Since 2007 I have emailed Lee a few times during the year, and particularly in August on his birthday. He always replied with enthusiasm. This year I did not receive a reply, so I knew that there had been a change – I trust that he went in peace and that the greatness of his spirit will continue to live in all who have known him.
I was sorry to hear of Lee’s death. He was such a vital, alive human being and very present. I think it was he who asked the question “ but were you there when you were there” and that attests to the issue of being present, which is such a simple yet profound gift. I remember that I had a interview with him with a view to doing the training. I was so nervous that I spilt the coffee he had made me, and Lee just mopped it up. Towards the end of the interview he asked me if I had had any dreams recently. As it so happened, or in retrospect as one would expect, a few days before the interview I had had a very vivid dream which I have come to understand as portending a shift that was happening in me around the decision to train as an analyst. After hearing the dream before we looked at it in any detail Lee spontaneously burst out with. “ You know that dream rates a ten on the Richter scale of dreams”. I have never forgotten that, The profound sense of awe in another for what arose unbidden and unrecognised in me. Lee gave me that and I will always remember him for it.
Lee Roloff joined the team of the embryonic Cape Of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies in Cape Town in the late 1980s. Those of us interested in Wilderness and Ecopsychology named him “Kermode” – referring to the white spirit bear of North American rainforests. Lee had an elemental presence, as when a bear emerges from the cover of the forest and, pausing briefly in the dappled light, looks you in the eye.
Lee joined us at the apex of the venture. It was an anxious period. It was time to birth the Centre and to ground the Jungian professional training programme. Lee’s bearlike, self-assured presence fortified the members of the steering committee. He calmed our fears of failure. There were great expectations. The country was on the brink of civil war. People cast about for signs of hope. Jung’s understanding of how the modern psycho-social-ecological catastrophe is located in the alienation of technological society from its roots in Nature offered an explanation and suggested a way forward. The Center’s public programme in those days filled the lecture theatre at the University of Cape Town to capacity, standing room only and seating on the aisles. Lee’s eloquence, profound knowledge and empathy with both the inner and the outer worlds captivated the audience.
Lee moderated the selection of the first group of candidates for clinical training in the professional program in 1987. Picking the first team is always a fraught process, for both the selection committee as well as for the candidates. Selection directly affects the lives and reputations of the applicants who take the risk of putting their names forward. Lee, in his role of objective, international consultant from the North, with teaching expertise, academic knowledge and containing presence, expedited this crucial task. Moreover, he brought to the first training module his seasoned supervisory experience based on a deep and articulate understanding of the clinical and sociopolitical applications of Jungian thought.
The bear symbolizes awakening, transformation and rebirth after the long, deep sleep at the very height of the winter of discontent. Ursa Major, the Great She Bear constellation in the night sky, guides the voyager through the dark and fearful Winter Solstice. The Pathfinder, navigating on the Great Bear and the Polar star, finds true North and charts the journey home. The Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies was transformed into the Southern African Association of Jungian Analysts in 1992. The centre continues to offer a substantial community service to a country of much light and deep shadow some three decades after Lee Roloff picked the first batch of candidates in 1987. Lee himself, now departed as one of a diminishing circle of founding elders, never doubted this outcome. Lee’s contribution was substantial and those of us who had the privilege to know him will not forget his powerful presence.
Were you there when you were there? Psychology is the science of direct experience, and where we experience the psyche directly is through our dreams. Always do the dance of the early morning: be committed to your own dreams, to the completion of your own story. This is the way of mediating the messages of the psyche to the conscious world, and rounding out the limitedness of ego-consciousness. It is imperative to take time to mediate through journaling. The Opus is a work, an engagement with other, of making that which is unconscious conscious. Psyche is basically poetic. Listen for images when listening to dreams. Don’t ask what the dream means, ask where it goes. Listen to dreams as listening to a foreign language. The meaning of the dream is in you. Small details are important. Creativity is a rich form of mediating.
Fairy tales are dreams that have been scoured from personal contents. They show a path towards rounding out the personality, to becoming whole, undivided, indivisible. Individuation means not to be divided. Throughout our lives we experience moments of individuation. Finding your own story, helping another to find their story, is immensely healing.
The natural condition for the psyche is repleteness, connectedness. The most powerful aspect of our work is the restoration of memory, the telling or singing of our story. Without memory we lose our humanity. History is memory – if we have no history, then who are we? Trauma shatters memory. Memory is repleteness. A psychologically cauterized life is a life without repleteness. Analysis is repleteness.
Honor the gods: honor the power of the archetype
Know thyself : don’t identify with the gods/archetype.
Everything in moderation: hold yourself to your humanity.
The Opus works in sudden floods of projection. Do not judge each other, support each other as you each make your way towards wholeness.
By Renee Ramsden, in grateful memory of the fairy tale teaching module Lee Rolof and Barry Williams offered to the first group of candidates of SAAJA in 1987.
Tributes to Dr Gloria Gearing
It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Dr Gloria Gearing on 17 July 2017. She was a practising Jungian Psychotherapist, and a founding member of the organization which later became the Southern African Association of Jungian Analysts (SAAJA).
Below are tributes from two of our Honorary members, Graham Saayman and Gary May, and tributes from Sheila Berry from the Phuzamoya Dream Centre, and other friends. We have included a copy of an article from the Mercury of 8 August honouring her work at St Mary’s hospital.
We want to remember and honour her for, among other things, her role in furthering and establishing the practice of Jungian Analysis in South Africa.
President: Southern African Association of Jungian Analysts.
TRIBUTE TO GLORIA GEARING : Graham Saayman
Gloria Gearing was a potent force in the development of Jungian thought and psychotherapeutic practice in South Africa. Her impact on the mental health delivery service radiated from her pioneering medical and psychotherapeutic practice in KwaZulu Natal. She was a major inspiration to Ian Player. Ian’s constructive involvement in the founding of the Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies – the forerunner of the modern SAAJA – was utterly conditional on the inclusion and participation of Gloria, without whom he would not have joined the enterprise. The many vital contributions Ian made to the preservation of wilderness and cornerstone species including the rhinoceros and the lion, owed much to Laurens van der Post and Gloria Gearing. In those early days, training programs in counselling, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis were unknown in South Africa. The commitment of Ian Player, together with Gloria Gearing and Sir Laurens, helped to realize Vera Buhrmann’s dream of developing a systematic training protocol in psychotherapy in South Africa. Ultimately, the Centre developed into SAAJA, an internationally accredited training for Jungian analysts. Among Gloria’s many contributions was the original logo for the journal Mantis.
Graham S. Saayman, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor of Psychology
University of Victoria, BC, Canada
My personal tribute to Gloria Gearing: Gary May
Many years ago, around about 1985 Ian Player arranged a week in the Umfolozi game reserve for a small group including Gloria Gearing. As usual Ian had very carefully selected who should be there.
At the time, I was based in Johannesburg working as a senior executive for a large corporation. I was heading into a classic mid-life crisis and Ian had detected all of the symptoms.
Gloria knew exactly what was going on, and we spent many hours sitting on the bank of the river with our feet in the water while she very directly got me to identify and deal with my problems. She changed the course of my life, my wife and I who had decided not to have children, had a child just in time as she was on the brink of menopause. We relocated to Cape Town, our original home town and I started my own business.
At the end of the trail I dropped her off at Marianhill on my way to the airport. She was going to see her little patients before going home.
We have lost a very special woman but we can take comfort from the fact that her legacy lives on.
Tribute to of Dr Gloria Gearing: Sheila Berry
On 17 July 2017, Dr Gloria Gearing, a loyal supporter of the Phuzamoya Dream Centre, passed away peacefully in her sleep. She was in her 90s. As yet no date is available for the memorial.
Though her passing leaves an enormous void, she lived a full, rich life and would not want unnecessary grief and mourning for a life that has come to its natural end. She has certainly left the world a richer place, bringing countless new young lives into the world, and transforming the lives of her many therapy clients for the better.
Gloria worked as an obstetrician at St Mary’s Hospital, Mariannhill, delivering babies until she retired at the age of 70. She and her deceased husband, Dr Johnny Broukhart, had nine remarkable children, three of them doctors like their parents.
Gloria also worked as a Jungian analyst for well over 40 years. She was particularly interested in dreams though she admitted she was unable to remember any of her own!
Gloria spoke at the launch of the Phuzamoya Dream Centre, on 30 January 2009, over 8 year ago. It was an auspicious event where she spoke about The Value of the Dream in the Modern World. Every year after that, until January 2016, when she fell ill the day before the event, she would start the year off for us, speaking in her own inimitable way at our January events. Her fascinating talks included The Animus and the Anima in Dreams, explaining the significance and meaning of male and female figures in our dreams; Jung and Christianity; Jung and the Shadow; and Jung and Individuation, a life-long process of bringing unconscious aspects of our personality into consciousness and then integrating the opposites.
Gloria’s reputation for being able to interpret dreams and her skill as a Jungian therapist spread far and wide. I was working in Johannesburg in the early 1970s, when I first heard about an amazing woman Jungian doctor working at Mariannhill. Dr Ian Player, the founder of the PDC, was possibly her most famous client and also the one who thought most highly of her skills. When he would launch forth with great praise for her knowledge and abilities, she would dismiss this by saying that she could not possibly be a very good therapist based on the hopeless job she did with Ian, who came to see her for 18 years for dream analysis. He would then laugh uproariously.
As with everything associated with Gloria, she exemplified the process of individuation in her own unique way, by consciously owning her own shadow and expressing it often outrageously! She did not need to resort to wearing a purple hat in her old age! It was not that Gloria was trying to be deliberately shocking but just that she felt comfortable speaking her mind. She did not pull punches and this could be very uncomfortable for people who went to see her for therapy. As a wise woman with lots of life experience under her belt, she saw no reason to waste time by beating around the bush if it was evident that the person who had come to see her was trapped in a destructive cycle and projecting onto everyone around him or her.
In her therapy room Gloria was a skilled surgeon slicing through the obfuscation and getting to the bare bones of the matter. This was done with the purpose of removing a malignant growth and not with the intention of being hurtful. She expected her clients to be adults and to be able to take things on the chin. If you were up to the challenge, you would learn immensely valuable lessons that would stand you in good stead for the rest of your life and open up unexpected paths to transformation. This is not to say that Gloria was hard or heartless, far from it. In addition to her nine children, she looked after many lost young souls, sometimes for several years, providing a safe haven until it was time to kick them out of the nest into the challenging world of adulthood.
Thank you for your example and courage and for all you have shared so generously with us glorious Gloria. May your Soul rest in the Blessed Peace that passes Understanding.-
Tribute to of Dr Gloria Gearing: Cathy Geils
I was a patient of Gloria’s for 10 years of my life. Synchronicity led me to her and she became one of my most influential teachers in my life. My painful grief when she died surprised me and I realised how important a person she was to me. Over those 10 years Gloria tirelessly, without an ounce of judgement, saw me through many life crises and transitions. Always unconventional in her approach, wise, experienced and so completely a human being. She provided another voice for me that was unconditionally accepting.
Gloria was not only a therapist, she was a mentor and elder. In the months before her death, I had wanted to visit her and tell her thank you. That she had saved my psychological life. I didn’t go and then she died. So I was grateful that my thanks was included in her eulogy at her funeral, and I repeat it now so that she will hear it again. But my sense of Dr Gloria Gearing was that she never really wanted to be thanked, that it would be gratitude enough to find me mothering, parenting and mentoring myself. As she taught me to.
From the Natal Mercury: 3 August 2017:
Eulogy to a medical legend
Gloria Gearing gave her life to her health care mission, St Mary’s Hospital
Dr Gloria Grace Gearing played a key role in the development of modern maternity services at St Mary’s Hospital, Mariannhill, where she spent her entire professional career.
MY ASSOCIATION with Dr Gloria Grace Gearing was a lifelong one – from my birth to her death.
It was Gloria who delivered me in January 1965, and I was able to visit her in hospital on July 17 a few hours before her death.
My brief is to speak about Gloria’s professional contributions, her time at St Mary’s Hospital, Mariannhill, and her therapy work. There will inevitably be some spillover into other arenas, because Gloria managed so successfully to integrate the many and diverse aspects of her life.
For the record, Gloria completed her medical studies at Wits University in 1949. In 1950, she did her internship at McCord Hospital in Durban. She joined St Mary’s in 1951. She played a pivotal role in the development of modern maternity services at the hospital and offered her knowledge, skills and service to generations of midwives and mothers. Her entire professional career was spent at St Mary’s Hospital.
As a teenager living in the suburbs of Westville, I had no interaction with Gloria at all. However, on the odd occasion, I would hear my elders speaking in awe of this unconventional, maverick lady missionary doctor, Dr Gearing, who had nine children, and worked in Obstetrics at St Mary’s Hospital.
Our paths crossed briefly in 1987 when, as a medical student, I did a short elective at St Mary’s Hospital. By this stage, Gloria was already well entrenched in a threefold portfolio career: as a part-time medical officer, covering the hospital’s maternity department; an educator involved in the training of midwives at the hospital’s nursing college; and a Jungian therapist in part-time private practice.
In 1994, I started working as a medical officer at St Mary’s, and in 1995 I took over as superintendent from Dr John Brouckaert, Gloria’s husband.
Between 1995 and 1999, the year in which Brouckaert died, I did not get to know Gearing that well, beyond relying on her vast experience and technical expertise in obstetrics, as she was still conducting daily ward rounds in the hospital’s maternity wards.
I do, however, remember a Friday evening doctors’ braai at the side of the hospital pool, when I got my first inkling of how acute a judge of character she was.
Brouckaert and I were talking about reading, a passion which we both shared, when he asked me what genre I read for fun or for escape? Before I could answer, Gearing chipped in with the correct answer. At the time, admittedly with a few beers under my belt, I thought she was psychic.
In the year or so before Brouckaert’s death, I remember two occasions when he spoke to me about Gearing.
On the first occasion, in the midst of a discussion about book-knowledge versus intelligence, Brouckaert told me that, while he had read extensively and had vast book-knowledge, when it came to raw intelligence, as far as he was concerned, Gearing was more intelligent than him.
On the second occasion, in a discussion about faith, Brouckaert, noted that Gearing’s faith, because of her underlying personality and because her work in psychological counselling was complex and multifaceted. He said Gearing was able to see the world in all its different shades of grey, while he tended to see things in black and white.
These insights from someone who was arguably best positioned to know Gearing, became more meaningful to me in the years following Brouckaert’s death, when I began to work very closely with Gearing, whom I came to know as “Gloria”.
By now, Gloria had relinquished her work in obstetrics at the hospital and, in response to a request from the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, had stepped into a governance role at St Mary’s.
At a time when most people in their late seventies would be contemplating taking it easy, Gloria assumed the position of chairperson of St Mary’s Catholic Mission Hospital Trust and a fellow director of St Mary’s Hospital Nursing College.
Gloria, who was very self-aware, would have been the first to tell you, as she told me on a number of occasions, that she was never fully comfortable with these governance roles, as she felt she lacked the management and governance expertise to do full justice to them.
However, whatever Gloria may have lacked in these technical arenas, she more than made up for in her commitment and loyalty to the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, to St Mary’s Hospital, its staff and, ultimately, to those whom Gloria always insisted we should never lose sight of – the patients and the communities the hospital serves.
Gloria’s institutional memory regarding the hospital, the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, the Mariannhill Mission Complex as a whole and the surrounding communities, together with her clinical expertise and her deep understanding of the human condition, proved an invaluable asset to St Mary’s during her time on the board.
As the chief executive of the hospital, which is what my title now was, I was answerable to the board and especially to its chairperson. I cannot pinpoint exactly when it happened, but in the years following Brouckaert’s death, Gloria went from being a senior medical colleague, to my boss, to a trusted adviser and confidant and, ultimately, a wise elderly friend. We interacted very closely over many years, as St Mary’s faced, weathered and overcome many storms, until the hospital ultimately hit a financial wall in early 2014.
On many an occasion, after a particularly torrid day at the hospital, I would phone her and ask if I could pop over to her house for a chat, before I headed home. When I walked over, the coffee would be brewing, or already in the Bodum cafetière, and the biscuits ready.
She was always available to act as a sounding-board, listen deeply, ask incisive questions, leaving one in a better position to figure out one’s own way forward.
Gloria studied Jungian psychotherapy in London in 1971 and meditation and mindfulness in Japan in the late 1970s. She used a Jungian foundation for her own approach to psychotherapy.
Gloria became a therapist relatively late in life and continued practising until she was nearly 90 years old. In this time she became the therapist’s therapist, or the psychological counsellor to other psychologists, and to those in the caring professions. She counselled individuals and facilitated many groups over the years. She had a particular affinity for dream-work. She was an exceptional guide in helping her patients decipher their dreams. Gloria virtually single-handedly kept Jungian psychotherapy alive in KwaZulu-Natal for over half a century.
The three short inputs which follow about Gloria, in her role as a therapist, come from people who were actually in therapy with her:
One of her patients, James Reader, himself a psychologist, spoke to me a few days ago about his experience of Gloria. He said he first met her as the main speaker at a Jung society function. She was often asked to speak there, and she had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Jung’s theory and works. Reader said he then joined a dream group for a year, followed by one-on-one therapy with Gloria. He was struck by two qualities. First, her extraordinary ability to take a single obscure dream fragment, clarify it, link it to a much deeper theme in the client’s life, and then follow it patiently over time as it evolved. And second, he was struck by her authentic and often humorous ability to speak about the good, the bad and the ugly. Somehow the ugly felt more attractive and engaging after it was discussed with Gloria.
Another patient of Gloria’s shared the following with me – and I quote: “Therapy sessions with Gloria spanned 10 years of my life and she was a constant and consistent mentor and teacher through many life stages. While Gloria’s life and her accomplishments were extraordinary, she was so extraordinarily human that she helped me to be human too. My experience of Gloria was that she wouldn’t like it if I were to sing her praises and idealise her. But her gifts to me were: her unfailing availability, patiently and tirelessly seeing me through many life crises and helping me through my anxiety and panic.
“The only words that I would wish her to hear now, if she can, is a deep, profound, heartfelt, honouring, ‘Thank you’.”
A third patient, who is a therapist, and who for years was in one of Gloria’s many lively dream groups, indicated in her own words: “Gloria was an iconoclast, as well as a mentor and inspiration to her patients. While most therapists had consulting rooms, Gloria had her lounge; tea, coffee and biscuits instead of water – and her stories – and could Gloria tell stories.”
Her patients were often astounded at what she remembered, and her gift of being able to select with uncanny intuition the one you needed to hear – to bring light when everything seemed dark and impossible, jolt you out of complacency, challenge distorted assumptions and unhelpful behaviours and attitudes.
Gloria used her stories to turn ordinary chatter into healing and transformative conversations. She encouraged us to be accountable and take responsibility for our lives – and would point out when we were fooling ourselves. She understood the reasons for our wounds and struggles which lay in our history, genes or early relationships, but avoided blame or easy simplifications. Hers was not the molly-coddling or motherly kind of therapist.
With Gloria, the journey was gritty and real and sometimes deeply uncomfortable – but always helpful, always transformative, always guided by her steely moral compass, her great empathy and clear-seeing.
I think the goal of living a responsible, full, reflective, aware, meaningful and authentic life – (which she herself exemplified) – was too important to Gloria to indulge self-pity, moral laziness, or blindness. Gloria had the courage to hold a mirror up – no matter how hard it was, for us to look.
She also saw what was brave and true in us. She never gave up on us – and it felt like she trusted something precious in the human spirit – and helped us find and see it.
In 2014, I parted ways with St Mary’s Hospital, and Gloria stepped down as chairperson of the board of trustees of St Mary’s Catholic Mission Hospital Trust and as a director of St Mary’s Hospital Nursing College. Age was taking its toll on Gloria physically by this stage, although she was still amazingly sharp and active for someone in her late eighties.
Gloria stayed on in her beloved family home at St Mary’s Hospital until her increasing frailty forced her to relocate to Nazareth House in August 2016. She became ill a few weeks ago and her condition deteriorated rapidly thereafter.
Gloria’s professional legacy is immense. There are thousands of babies who made it safely into the world because of her, plus the mothers who survived childbirth because she attended to them. She was a giant in the field of practical obstetrics, and generations of mothers and babies bear testament to this.
Gloria and her husband were, for me, the quintessential missionary doctors who basically gave their whole lives to their health care mission, in this case their work at St Mary’s Hospital, Mariannhill.
Gloria managed to seamlessly integrate her strong Catholic faith into a busy professional career, bearing witness to a life of faith in action.
Dr Ross is the former chief executive of St Mary’s Hospital in Mariannhill
Memorial Service and Celebration of Dr Ian Player’s Life – 14 January 2015
Dr Ian Player and Jungian Psychology
By Sheila Berry
We are all gathered here because Ian Player was an extra-ordinary human being – ordinary with human frailties but with an enormous amount of “extra” that elevated him to greatness – and drew thousands of people to him, many as personal friends with a deep sense they mattered and were significant. He definitely dispels the stereotype that conservationists are invariably individuals who prefer animals and the natural environment to human beings!
Ian’s ability to connect with people is all the more striking at a time, when – in marked contrast to global warming and swarming – our modern world has entered into an emotional ice age, characterised by lack of warmth and caring between people with little sense of being part of a reassuring protective community.
When I met Ian Player in 1983, I met a man deeply interested in people, regardless of their status, language, culture, religion, race, political persuasion. Five years earlier, in 1978, when Ian was 51 years old, he was exhausted and close to burnout after the 1st World Wilderness Congress in Johannesburg and from dealing with too many demands. He was desperately in need of a life-line that provided a perspective that nourished him rather than wearing him down.
Ian was about to board a long flight from Heathrow to San Francisco on yet another gruelling trip. On impulse he bought a paperback copy of Jung and the Story of our Time written by his good friend, Sir Laurens van der Post – a book about the work of the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung. Ian half expected, half hoped the book would put him to sleep but instead he found the content riveting. It revealed that the search for meaning and wholeness demanded a journey into the interior, a place Ian referred to as “the inner wilderness”.
Reading Jung brought the realisation that the human psyche (Greek for soul) is every bit as awesome and diverse as the outer wilderness Ian knew and loved so well. The more he read about the world within, the more convinced Ian became of the critical need to develop a healthy relationship with the inner wilderness as the only way to ensure the outer wilderness survived.
Saving the White Rhinos and Dreams from Extinction
It is interesting to note striking parallels between Ian’s achievements in the outer wilderness and the inner wilderness.
Ian’s most notable achievement is surely saving the White Rhino from near extinction. He never forgot his first encounter with White Rhino – a family group that mysteriously emerged from the early morning mist on their way to the iMfolozi river to drink. As he watched their prehistoric forms solidify and sharpen into focus, he had a strong sense his life would be inextricably linked with these powerful yet docile animals.
So, what was it in the Inner Wilderness that resonated deeply for Ian and was in danger of becoming extinct? What was it that formed out of the mists of sleep and sharpened into focus in the early morning light bringing meaning and direction to the new day? The long neglected dream, of course.
When Ian was a seventeen-year-old soldier in Helwan Camp outside Cairo, he dreamt of his much-loved mother speaking to him about her impending death. She comforted and reassured him that all would be well with her and with him. Like the appearance of the group of rhinos, this was a dream Ian would never forget.
Dream work is challenging but Ian was no stranger to struggle and, over the years, he put in the necessary effort to learn the foreign language of dreams – God’s forgotten language. In an article Ian was asked to write for the prestigious Jungian journal Psychological Perspectives, he reminisces: ‘As I plodded on my path to Jung, recording my dreams and reading every book on Jungian psychology I could lay my hands on, I frequently thought back to my early days as a sampler on the Robinson Deep gold mine where I had to descend to great depths and chip away at the gold reef to bring back samples of the ore for analysis. So it was with dream exploration, where I descended into the unconscious at night and then, in the morning, I chipped away looking for the gold to be interpreted in the dream.’
Ian’s main teacher was Dr Gloria Gearing, who, is still active at the grand age of 89 years. She was his much-respected regular analyst for 18 years and a dear, if somewhat irreverent friend to the end. She was certainly not in awe of Ian’s international reputation and enjoyed pointing out to him that she could not be a very competent therapist given that he was a long-standing client of hers!
Magqubu Ntombela and the internalised Shadow
A vitally important part of Ian’s life was his deep friendship with Magqubu Ntombela. Their relationship was put firmly on an equal footing one hot day in the iMfolozi. Ian was in charge of the iMfolozi Game Reserve and Magqubu, a deeply traditional Zulu game guard, was very much his subordinate in the rank and file of the Natal Parks Board. Ian walked past an isiVivani, a sacred cairn of stones in Zulu tradition, without showing the required respect or “Hlonipa”. Magqubu called after him, querying his oversight and asking him to come back. Ian irritably and resolutely refused: “Magqubu, that’s your tradition, not mine.” Then, to Ian’s astonishment and momentary outrage, he heard Magqubu instruct him to return and pay his respects to the amaDlozi – to the spirits of the ancestors. Had the two men been different their characters, it is certain Magqubu would have been fired on the spot for insubordination. Instead, Ian turned abruptly on his heel, limped back to the cairn, picked up a stone, spat on it, threw it on the pile and strode off again.
A couple of hundred metres down the path they met a black mamba that suddenly rose from the tall grass and threatened them aggressively three times before it eventually sank down and quickly moved off, hardly causing the grass to ripple. Magqubu turned to Ian and said: “You see, if you had not respected the amaDlozi we would have been dead!” Magqubu, the seemingly uneducated, inferior man, was proved right, and Ian, the man in charge, had to acknowledge the wisdom of someone living close to the earth.
What form does Magqubu take in this inner world?
Jung called the dark, rejected, unacknowledged part within each of us, the Shadow. To become integrated and whole, it is essential to establish a relationship with the Shadow. As one works with what the Shadow brings to the surface, one is able to find nuggets of pure gold buried there.
Initially, when Ian started working with his dreams, he was mortified to learn that the negative qualities he saw in difficult colleagues were in fact his own. He says: ‘It was without question the most shocking realisation to know that my accusations of others were in fact my own failings. The stronger my dislike of colleagues and the more outraged I was with their actions, the more like them I was!’
Though it is no easy task to take back one’s projected shadow, Ian’s dreams showed he was on improving terms with his difficult colleagues – confirmation that he was working constructively to own and integrate his negative qualities mirrored in these shadow figures.
The important role of women/the feminine in conservation
In those early days of conservation in the Natal Parks Board, women were considered even more inferior than Zulu men. Conservation was the prerogative of men, and wives of game rangers were considered fit, only, for unpaid secretarial work – a task that Ann Player, Ian’s wife, took on for many thankless years.
Jung, however, emphasizes the importance of establishing a balance between the masculine and the feminine. The rampant unbalanced power of the masculine in our modern patriarchal society results in many on-going injustices, including irreversible injuries to Mother Earth. As a result of understanding the important role of the feminine, Ian realised that women were essential in bringing balance to conservation and consequently, over the years, he gave his full support, often gleefully, to women holding their own in conservation while their male counterparts bristled.
Manifestation of the Spirit in the Outer and Inner Wilderness.
In the outer wilderness, Ian’s most powerful encounter with God was during his pioneering canoe trip in the 1950s down the Umgeni river, the birth of the now famous Dusi Canoe Marathon. At the height of a terrifying electric storm in Mamba Gorge with lightning striking the ironstone cliffs, Ian heard a voice saying “Be still and know that I am God”.
How does the voice of God manifest itself in the internal wilderness? For Ian, it is through Jung’s idea of synchronicity, which he referred to as “God winking”. This refers to two disconnected events coming together at a moment in time to create meaning.
I would like to share a synchronistic event that happened shortly after Ian’s death that has brought me immeasurable comfort and a conviction that Ian’s spirit is ever present.
I decided to save the last smses Ian and I exchanged. Most of the messages were from me to him. His messages were few and very short. On 10 November, he wrote: “Say a prayer for Tim” – Tim Condon had passed away, a fierce champion of conservation in Zululand despite his “retirement” to Canada. On 19 November, the day before his stroke Ian wrote: “Back home but very exhausted.” Then, to my utter astonishment, the last sms from Ian was dated 2nd December – when he had died on 30th November 2014. It read: “Thank you Sheila”. You can imagine how astounded I was. How was it possible to receive an sms from Ian two days after he had passed away? Then I checked the year. It was 2nd December 2011!!
How and why did this message turn up on my phone three years and two mobile phones later? Why specifically 2nd December when Ian and I had probably exchanged more than 200 smses in 2011. Why this particular message “Thank you Sheila” and not a message to check if I had arrived home safely after visiting the farm? This sms, a seemingly disconnected event from another time, appears on my phone as the last message from Ian. “Thank you Sheila.” This surely is synchronicity at work.
Overview of Ian Player’s contributions to well-being & Jungian Psychology
Professor Graham Saaymans credits Ian with playing a crucial role in the establishment and development of The Southern African Association of Jungian Analysts in Cape Town in the 1980s. Ian also formed the Magqubu Ntombela Memorial Trust to honour Magqubu, a much-needed icon and role model for Zulu youth disconnected from their environment and what is good and important in their language and culture. Ian’s commitment to the importance of dreams resulted in ongoing monthly Phuzamoya Dream Centre events that have now been running for six years. Ann and Ian’s children, Kenneth, Jessica and Amyas, are committed to continuing Ian’s vision for Phuzamoya, the family farm, and developing it into a healing centre.
These are but a few of Ian’s immense contributions to creating a healthy, caring society, and to Jungian Psychology in South Africa.
In final tribute to Ian I wish to say: Hamba Kahle dear friend to so many. Thank you for your courage in embracing the unknown throughout your adventurous and challenging life and inviting us to join you. Thank you for your journey into the inner wilderness, which you so generously shared with us, and that led to your final trail. May your Soul rest in peace and your Spirit continue to soar!
IAN CEDRIC PLAYER
– MEMORIAL TRIBUTE –
14 – 01 – 2015
By Dr Ian McCallum
“I tell you that which you yourselves do know … You all did love him once, not without cause … My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.”
Relevant to this memorial, these are lines from one of the greatest eulogies in English literature … Marc Antony’s, Shakespearian tribute to Julius Caesar.
It is with a deep sense of humility, responsibility and gratitude that I stand here to honour the life of Ian Cedric Player. I am very aware that there are many in this audience who are more than qualified to do so and who would have willingly taken my place on this podium. I trust what I have to say will echo with what is in your own hearts, for to speak about and to remember him is to speak at the same time about those whom he loved and influenced as well as those who loved and influenced him. No man is an island said the poet, John Donne and it is true. The identity for which we all strive and for which we are ultimately known is impossible to define outside of our relationships not only with others, but with the animals and with the landscapes in which we live. They shape us in much the same way
as we shape them. It is in this regard that I am mindful and appreciative of you, Ann, and not least, the influence of those many outstanding and passionate wilderness characters who, in their own way, played significant roles in the shaping of Ian’s life. The list of these men and women including those who wholeheartedly supported his work and vision, is too long to include in this address, but what they all had in common, in his own words was courage, discipline, loyalty and commitment. For those who belong on that list and who are here today, you know who you are and I salute you.
Ian passed away peacefully on Sunday 30 November 2014. He was 87 years of age ( the birthdays of Winston Churchill and Mark Twain … and the death of Oscar Wilde. These coincidences in life would not have gone unnoticed by him.) His final peaceful surrender at his home in the Karkloof Valley not far from here, contrasted sharply with the way he lived his life, with the way he dealt with his ailing body and ultimately, his own mortality. The Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas would have been proud of him. He raged against the dying of the light, not simply his own dying, but against the toxic darkness of human indifference to the damage it is inflicting on Nature. He did not go gentle into that good night.
Ian was the founder of the Wilderness Leadership School (1957), the Wilderness Foundation (1974) and the internationally acclaimed Wilderness Congress (1977) – a 4-yearly event that over the years, through his efforts and later, that of Vance Martin and Andrew Muir has brought together many of the world’s most prominent environmental campaigners, photographers, conservation scientists, artists and journalists – think of Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, Wangari Muthaai … but back to his history. He was the founder of the Natal Canoe Club and in 1950 he initiated the world-famous ‘Duzi canoe marathon, winning the epic 110-mile event on three occasions. As a game ranger for the Natal Parks in the early 1950’s, inspired by previous park wardens, Vaughan Kirby and H.B. Potter’s efforts to protect the remaining white rhino in the Umfolozi, he and pilot Hendrik van Schoor, conducted the first aerial count of the sole surviving group. The unforgettable number was 437… four hundred and thirty seven!
In 1960, as a senior warden, alarmed by what he described as “the horrific poaching” of these animals, he initiated and directed the famous ‘Operation Rhino’ relocation programme. The result was the successful placement of many of the survivors to other national parks throughout the country as well as to sanctuaries in the USA and Europe. Without this initiative, it is almost certain that these creatures would have been classified as extinct, today. Instead, his name is now synonymous with the present lively, yet threatened status of this species. Sadly, it would appear, history is repeating itself.
A fierce campaigner for the conservation and protection of wild areas, not only in South Africa – think of St Lucia – but worldwide, his long list of honours is testimony to his credibility. They include two honorary doctorates, and the Decoration for Meritorious Service from the Office of the President of the Republic of South Africa. A recipient of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Statesman of the Year Award, he was also a Paul Harris Fellow – The Rotary Foundation International’s highest award for “furthering a better understanding of the friendly relations among people’s of the world”. In 1981 he was honoured by the Prince of the Netherlands and admitted to the Order of Knight of the Golden Ark.
His legacy, like many of the pioneering poets, writers and campaigners for the wild will no doubt be his commitment and dedication to the conservation and protection of wild areas. To this cause, he was both driven and tireless, reminding me of the lines of a poem by Robert Frost:
The woods are lovely
Dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep …
He was a voice and fighter for the natural inhabitants of the wild, for “the grazers and browsers, for the herds and the hunted … and the small” (Finuela Dowling), not only for their sake, but for the sake of the human species as well. Who and what would we be without wild areas and animals in our lives? Deeply interested in the psychological significance of wilderness, this is what set him apart from many conservationists. It is an aspect of this deep and determined man that not too many people knew of. Influenced by the writings and psychological perspectives of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung as well as that of Laurens van der Post and for whom he was a great advocate, he warmed to the living significance of the symbolic life. It was van der Post’s book – Venture to the Interior that significantly shaped his attitude to wilderness as a young ranger. In his own words: “After reading this book I trod the Earth differently.” He saw the wilderness differently. He began to see wild animals and wild places not only for what they are but for what they represent in the human psyche. If for instance, a wild animal becomes extinct, then the human psyche suffers. If a wild species dies, then something in the psyche dies as well. Put differently, he understood the deep reciprocity of Nature. The fight for the natural environment could be understood as the fight for human sanity. Deep down, he knew it. And so do we.
Soldier, adventurer, game ranger, conservationist, activist, author, leader, visionary, speaker, dreamer, there is so much to admire about him and deservedly so. Like many who knew him, I will remember him most of all for his enduring spirit of respect for the wilderness. But I will remember him also, for other reasons. We first met in 1981 – another story – and within a month I was on trail in the Umfolozi with him and the wonderful Magqubu Ntombela. It did not take long for me to realize that I had found my spiritual home. I will never forget that.
I will remember him as a loyal friend and as a man who was very human. Sometimes he was like a dog with a bone … he wouldn’t let go. We did not always agree with each other … we didn’t have to and it is precisely this that protected me from the paralysis of hero worship. He was generous with his time for anyone involved or interested in wilderness. Even those with the most obscure approaches to solving wild life issues found an ally in him, provided he believed that they shared a common concern.
I will not forget the many hours spent with him and Ann around the kitchen table in their home at Phuzamoya … what a name … the Zulu word which means … “to feast on the wind” … or, if you prefer, “to drink the breath of life … to be inspired.” Such was the alchemy of that kitchen and the tangible atmosphere of torment, laughter and the intellect it generated. I will always savour the warmth of the wood burning, Falkirk stove, the slow, simple meals and on the table, the newly arrived books … the ones “You just have to read” he would say. He feasted on books and for those who have been to his home, you will agree with me – it is like a library, a museum of South African history, psychological theories, natural history, wilderness philosophy and biographies – he loved T.E. Lawrence of Arabian fame . Where did this appetite for books come from? Vance Martin as reported in Graham Linscott’s biography of Ian, summed it up. “In keeping with his hunger for intellectual content and personal understanding”, he said, “Ian devoured everything he could about the wilderness concept. He learned all the arguments and how to answer them”.
Returning to the kitchen and to our conversational feasts, we argued about methodologies for dealing with wild life crime. We dissected sport, politics and dreams, but we always came back to the fight for wilderness. And how can anyone forget his laughter? Tears would roll down his cheeks as he put his head back and roared his delight. No one else could laugh like him and I loved to make him laugh. And then there was his voice. When he spoke, it was like listening to a firm, but subdued roar … a kind of territorial call. Ann heard it as a grumble. “As long he is grumbling”, she would tell me when I would phone to ask after him, “then I know he’s okay.” He grumbled until the last week of his life, but there is no escaping, he was territorial. In a wild analogy, he was an alpha male. He knew his turf – the wilderness – and he was prepared to protect and die for it. I once asked him to imagine a world without rhino and his response was immediate … “Over my dead body …” he said. And he knew about rank. His very first job with the Natal Parks was that of relief ranger at St. Lucia. He was told to get on with it – no hat, no badge, no uniform, only a piece of paper authorizing his position as a ranger. How on earth was he supposed to establish authority armed only with a paper document? In his own words “to add a bit of clout to my authority, I pinned my three service medals onto my shirt. And it worked!”
He was a leader. He took charge. He fought for what he believed in, determined to have his way at times, but he also knew the cost. There is a certain loneliness that all leaders have to endure and more … it is the knowledge of ever-present adversaries, individuals who would show their respect but at the same time wouldn’t mind him out of the way. He often spoke about the inevitability of adversaries if you were involved in conservation. Sometimes accused of self- promotion, he learned to ignore this. I believe he was aware of that strange human truth … that you will often be disliked by those who see you as different from them, not because you are different, but because you are doing what they cannot do. He has been quoted as saying that the measure of one’s success in conservation is reflected by the number of enemies you have made. I think otherwise. Yes, there will always be adversaries. Sometimes we need them to keep a check on our own blind spots but to me, the measure of Ian’s success is surely, the number of people he inspired.
To highlight the essence of a man who stirred the imagination of so many and who certainly stirred mine, I would like to read from a letter he wrote to me in September, 1995. He was on a safari with two American friends in the Savuti Channel of northern Botswana. I was preparing to travel to that same country to meet with the late John Hardbattle, an eloquent and handsome half Bushman campaigner and director of the First People’s Trust in Botswana.
“ … a short note to welcome you to the last remaining piece of God’s country. Ian Michler told me that you may be seeing John Hardbattle. It appears he is having a struggle to ensure settlement rights for the poor remaining Bushmen. I will be in London next month (if I survive the anopheles and the glossinia morsitans who have fed grandly upon me).” I will be staying with Laurens van der Post so will mention it to him too, but Hardbattle should write to him and ask him to take the matter up with the Botswana ambassador in the UK.” He continued “It is grotesque that in 1995 the poor bloody Bushmen should have no rights at all. I feel for them as I do for St Lucia too, our species seems hell bent on destroying everything that is wild.” He signed off … “yours, Madolo.”
Let us have a closer look at that letter for within it, I believe are the essential ingredients of the man. It begins … welcome to the last remaining piece of God’s country. Stay with the words “the last remaining piece …” Significantly influenced by the writings of the American naturalists Henry Thoreau , John Muir and particularly, Aldo Leopold, he too was gripped by a chronic nostalgia for the vanishing wild areas of the world … he took it personally. It was Jim Feely who introduced Ian to the writings of Leopold and a quote from the latter follows:
“One of the penalties of a sound environmental education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on Nature is quite invisible to laypersons. We must either harden our shells and make believe that we can do nothing with what we know, or we must be doctors who see the marks of death in a society that believes well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
Ian chose the latter. He simply refused to believe that we can do nothing with what we know, or better still … that he could do nothing. Instead, he raged. He gave a damn! This is a leadership quality and unless we forget, rage is a hard-wired emotion in the brains of all vertebrates. He never apologised for what he was occasionally accused of – his emotional stand on environmental issues. “Dammit!” he would say, “Environmental issues are emotional issues!”
His reference to God’s country in that opening sentence of the letter was not a cliché and neither was it figurative. He meant it. God’s country in this instance, was not a reference confined to the wild expanses of Botswana, but to his conviction of the presence of God in Nature. It is in this regard that he echoes the persuasions of John Muir who said “the best place to discover the true attributes of deity was in Nature.” If Muir was committed to immersing in mountain baptism everyone he could, then Ian Player was a kindred spirit, committed to exposing as many as possible to the healing significance of wilderness. If the conservation of South Africa’s wild life was to make any sense to the general public, he was convinced that the best way to do it was to give individuals a direct experience of wilderness. Ahead of his time, he believed that environmental issues would inevitably become leadership issues. It was on this premise that he founded the Wilderness Leadership School. Fifty years on, more than 40,000 young men and women of all ages and cultures have been on a Wilderness Leadership School trail. For many, these trails were life-changing.
The wilderness, in effect, was a sacred place … a church without dogma, an inner and an outer journey, a space in which, if you were open to it, you could hear “that still, small voice” of God. However, it was not without structure. A certain discipline was required. The trail would be no less than four nights in the wild. This was the necessary time for participants to shed urban personas and routines. No watches or time keepers were permitted. Without them, you learned to pay attention to Nature’s timekeepers … sunrises, sunsets, the changing positions of the stars and not least the diurnal variations of animal activity and bird calls. The rituals were simple but profoundly meaningful … walking in silence … story telling around the fire and then, the unforgettable night watch, each trailist taking turns to be alone, to stay awake, to keep the fire burning, to keep watch over your companions and to be alert to potential nocturnal threats from curious or hungry animals.
Returning to the letter … I will be in London next month (if I survive the anopheles and the glossinia morsitans who have fed grandly upon me).”
Referring to the malaria mosquito and to the tsetse fly, it was a small reminder of his immense knowledge of the bush and of animal behaviour. It was part of his credibility as a conservationist. He knew the Latin names.
Urging John Hardbattle to contact Laurens van der Post in order to involve the Botswana ambassador was a reflection of how important political clout was in his own campaigns. And it didn’t matter who the politicians were. The wilderness took priority over political leanings. Like the rhino that he championed, Ian was politically thick skinned but not as short sighted. He was a strategist of note.
That he felt for the plight of the Bushmen in the same way as he felt for St Lucia … that our species seems hell bent on destroying everything that is wild says everything about his compassion and rage against the loss of the wild geographies of human identity … that the much vaunted economic model of political decision making can be trumped by the notion that there are some things that are simply not for sale.
Finally, he signed his name “Madolo”, the Nguni name for knee. As a young boy, a post -injury, septic arthritis resulted in a disfiguring adjustment to the shape and function of his right knee. It may have put an end to any dreams of success on rugby and cricket fields, but it did not dampen his determination to overcome his handicap. Instead, he turned to canoeing. One can only wonder how much his attitude to that injury fuelled his attitude to life in general and to the fight for wilderness in particular. Last week I asked my Xhosa–speaking domestic worker what it meant to be given the Nguni name for a knee. She did not hesitate in replying. “It means that the person is down to Earth”, she said … “that he knows how to kneel … that he knows what it means to pray.” I believe this says so much about him. The battle for the future of wilderness is in the balance. It is time to pray.
In 1999, I wrote this poem … it is dedicated to him:
Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a pattern of soul
where every tree, every bird and beast
is a soul maker?
Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a moving feast of stars,
scales, footprints and beginnings?
did we become afraid of the night
and that only the bright stars count
or that our moon is not a moon
unless it is full?
By whose command
were the animals,
through groping fingers,
one for each hand
reduced to the big and the little five?
Have we forgotten
that every creature is within us,
carried by tides of earthly blood
and that we named them?
Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a season
and that we are in its final hour?
Farewell Madolo. You were a man of courage, discipline, loyalty, commitment … and compassion. You will be missed. Your legacy is in good hands.