How do you and your organisation engage in this process of change?
Rusty is currently developing a keynote to encourage people to appreciate the power of forgiveness, the value and importance of gratitude, what real freedom means and how powerful the mind is in overcoming challenges and finding a better future. “I’ve spoken at many corporate functions already and have made a remarkable impact on hundreds of lives,” Rusty says. He will be releasing his book in March, titled “Beating Chains”, which surrounds his experience of 10 horrific years in Zimbabwe’s prisons for a crime that never took place and how he came out and began inspiring people to strive for bigger and better things through the life lessons he learnt in there. Rusty continues by saying, “I have been invited to interviews on various media platforms and had two offers to make a movie of my story, which I will pursue after my book has reached its full potential.”
Taking the Lead on The Way Forward. How do you see the way forward?
“I intend to speak throughout Southern Africa initially, then worldwide, to encourage people, especially the youth, to live in peace and harmony. If I can go through the horrors of 10 years in prison as an innocent man and show that I have not a trace of bitterness, then anyone can forgive and live peacefully.” Rusty’s primary goal is to change lives daily and for the many years to come. He wants to find a way to talk in schools and universities around the country, as he believes that he could make a huge impact.
Facing the Challenges to Build a More Harmonious South Africa. What do you think the challenges are?
Rusty claims, “I think forgiveness is the most powerful solution to introducing change. Sadly there are many old school bitter racists set in their ways that are unlikely to change. Their anger and hatred have consumed them.” He says that many people cannot learn to forgive and move forward, which assists in the bitterness spreading. “Many people ask me how I managed to forgive them for what they did to me, but after about two years, I’d had enough of all the anger, hatred and bitterness.” Rusty mentions that it was draining him daily to the point that one day he said to himself while walking in the prison exercise-yard, “Let the Lord take care of them and let me get through this road that’s been put in front of me. Life is a circle and what goes around comes around. They’ll get what they deserve.” Once Rusty accepted that, life in prison completely changed for him.
Rusty notes that another huge challenge in South Africa, like in Zimbabwe, is that the people were promised free education, for example. “Not only can the country not afford that, but the blame is becoming a racial issue. It’s not racial, it’s political. These issues develop into monsters if they are not addressed with a probable solution.” He thinks that these promises are installing anger into the people who are already suffering and know no better. Rusty believes that this mindset needs to change and we need to apply forgiveness to live as a rainbow nation.
Can you briefly name a few of the opportunities you had while growing up?
“We lived the most amazing lifestyle any kid could ever wish for. My dad was a contractor, bulldozing and erecting fence lines on undeveloped million acre cattle ranches in Zimbabwe. We moved from camp to camp in beautiful untouched, game-rich country.” Rusty says.
He spent endless happy hours with his Dad’s farm workers’ children, enjoying natural, healthy outdoor entertainment without cell phones, play stations, computers or crime. He says those were the most fantastic, free, fun-filled years in his life.
“In 1989, two years after I’d started my own safari business, on a good track record and secure concession contracts, the banks loaned me the equivalent of US$300,000. I never looked back and ended up debt free running five companies of my own by 2000.”
Background/personal information that you want to share.
“My life started from humble beginnings as a fourth generation Zimbabwean, in a cattle ranching background, tragically losing my charismatic father at the tender age of 12 and saint of mother to breast cancer in ’93.”
Just when life seemed perfect, being blessed with a beautiful, loving wife and two adorable children – Rusty and his wife divorced in ’96. “After experiencing what I thought was the worst of life’s tragedies already, nothing could have prepared me, for the exponential challenges and tough times that lay ahead.” Rusty thanks God that his parents never had to witness what he had to go through.
Any words of advice to those who feel as if all hope is lost?
“To the special people of South Africa, there is an unwritten code that bonds friends as we all share in this part of the world. The warm, caring and considerate societies we make up, from all walks of life, is unique and should be cherished. I share treasured memories with thousands in this beautiful place, and it was those memories, and the endless generosity, consideration, and knowing what a fantastic bunch of people we still have left here, that kept me going all those years in hell.” Rusty wants to encourage people never to forget what they have because it’s only when it’s taken away, do you realise what you had. He urges South Africans to be grateful for what they have and build a better rainbow nation.