Tributes to fallen hunters and good friends
This page is dedicated to those good friends who have left us in search of eternal hunting grounds, where they will be remebered not just for being great big game hunters, but also for being sons of Africa, an Africa that few have known, a place wild, unspoiled and untamed.
Frederick (Fred) Everett 1920 – 2009
It is hard for many of us to imagine, but there are still a very few people alive today that made their living by hunting elephants for there ivory long ago. The list has dwindled to a mere handful. Among them were Harry Manners and Ian Nyschens, both of whom recently passed. And in late July 2009, Frederick Everett joined them in the eternal hunting grounds, where he can hopefully carry his rifle on the fresh tracks of large tuskers forever.
Frederick Everett was born on 1 January 1920 in Mafikeng, South Africa. At that time, Mafikeng was the capital of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and the only capital ever to lie outside the borders of its country. His father, a colonial official, took the family by ox wagon and donkey cart through vast stretches of wild country to outposts where Freds first playmates were native children, including those of the San peoples, the Bushmen. By the time most children can dress themselves, Fred already spoke several indigenous languages, rode with skill, could identify plants and trees, track, hunt with snares and throwing sticks, use a bow and arrow, skin prey, and prepare food in the veld.
He could not get along with his father nor with his teachers in the boarding school in Rhodesia, so Fred left home at a very early age and was more or less forced to make a living in the bush. Being really “bush smart” helped Fred hunt his first elephant before he was even a teenager, and he had taken the Big Five by the time he turned sixteen. Fred hunted and traded as far north as Somalia and as far west as the Belgian Congo until well after World War II.
After the great conflict, Fred found a job as a tsetse control officer in what is now Zimbabwe, which meant he had to shoot elephant and buffalo to control the tsetse fly. He had married sue Nieuwenhuys in December 1949 in Southern Rhodesia and they raised three children in the bush. By the mid-1980s, living in Zimbabwe had become too much of a hardship and Fred and Sue moved to South Africa to settle in Pretoria. Here he found the time to write down his hunting adventures in two books, Heat, Thirst and Ivory and Tuskers in the Dust, which for the first time made his incredible adventures known to a wider world.
While living in South Africa in later years, his life was by no means easy as he had virtually no pension from Zimbabwe, but he and Sue could always count on the friendship of Fiona Capstick and Adelino Pires, who did much to comfort them both.
Fred is survived by Sue and their three children. He was cremated in Pretoria.
FAREWELL SON OF AFRICA (Ian Nychens)
There once was an Africa that few have known, a place wild, unspoiled and untamed. Great herds of animals roamed free in her wilderness. It was this Africa that Ian Nyschens came upon, but she was already dying. Her spirit was slowly being driven from the land by minds tainted with ownership and greed. She became the great love of his life, and she claimed him as one of her own.
Ian Nyschens has been described as an anachronism, a man born out of time. He is known as a skilled hunter of big game, but in truth he was much more than that. He faced many dangers in the wilds, often risking his life, but in common with many of us, his greatest struggle lay within himself.
Ian was stricken with rheumatic fever as a small boy. When it finally left him he had to learn to walk again. Its legacy was poor eyesight, a defective heart and psoriasis covering much of his skin. A sickly and weak child, his doctors advised he always avoid the sun. He was sent to a convent school in his early years where the nuns were particularly harsh. Here he learned to distrust authority, especially in the name of God.
Immersed in a dysfunctional family, bullied by his peers and misunderstood by his elders, Ian grew towards manhood alienated from the culture into which he was born. He had an uncanny ability to observe the camouflaged nature of man; his penchant for power and domination. He found little to respect here, and by the time Ian reached adulthood there was no place in society for the rebel he had become.
He left the land of his birth and traveled north to Rhodesia, where he applied to join the Game Department. However, a medical examination deemed him unfit. Defiant and undaunted, Ian entered the wilderness that beckoned to him, armed with only a second hand rifle and a few meager possessions. In the cicada silence he studied the pages of a book, the legacy of a great hunter who had walked the way before him. From this book and his own wild knowing, Ian taught himself how to hunt. Nurtured by nature and wearing only a loincloth, his sun starved skin and weakened body grew strong. Ian was born for this land; its wild character matched his own. In his books he speaks generously of these years, but there was another side to this man.
Ian married and had two children, a daughter and a son. For twenty seven years he lived torn between two worlds. In one he became carpenter, mine surface supervisor, and city building inspector. He played polo and polo cross, rehabilitated horses, established a thoroughbred racing stud, and became knowledgeable in politics and history. But Africa had touched his soul, and the wildness in Ian simmered, making him unpredictable, restless, and intense.
In the world of his belonging Ian progressed from ivory poacher to game warden, respected game guide and teller of tales.
Though reckless in his early years, and at times destructive, Ian was a good pupil and Africa taught him well. He grew to care deeply about life, but remained troubled by the ways of his fellow man. While the stories he shared entertained, his intention in the telling was to reveal learning from a time passed.
Before he left this life Ian was sad. During his final days I asked him why. Looking into his lap he spoke of his son who died; of great bull elephants; of his fear in the bush and the uncanny presence there of the Divine. Finally he raised his head and looked into my eyes; tears were swimming in his own. Gathering his strength, he uttered with passion, “Nobody understands Africa”. His eyes locked onto mine for long moments; then he lowered his head into silence.
The wild Africa Ian loved is no more; she too has passed into memory. She took care of his soul while he walked this earth. He was truly her son.