Keynote Speaker, Successful businessman, ranger and former test-rugby player in Zimbabwe.
Rusty Labuschagne is new to the professional speaker circuit, but one is immediately struck by his sincerity and humility as he delivers a dramatic account of his transformational experience. Rusty has been through a trauma few have been through. In 2003, the successful Zimbabwean businessman, who ran a safari outfit, flew his own aircraft and had a fishing resort on Lake Kariba, was framed by a poacher, the police and the courts and wrongfully convicted of drowning a poacher.
He served 10 years in Zimbabwe’s notorious prisons, including Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison during the Zim dollar crash, with food shortages, no running water and people dying around him daily. Stripped of dignity his humiliation was beyond comprehension.
Today, Rusty inspires those faced with challenges when he speaks eloquently about what it was like to share a prison cell of 13m x 3m with 78 other inmates and what it took to overcome the horrors of his story/situation. Subjected to conditions that most people would find unendurable – sleeping on freezing concrete floors, in lice-ridden blankets and only one set of clothing – he had to dig deep within himself to find solutions to a situation so low and survive physically and mentally.
For three years while in Chikurubi Max, each prisoner was allocated just one plastic cup of dirty orange city-runoff water a day. That was to drink, clean your teeth, wash your face, bath, wash your clothes; everything. Most men bathed only when it rained. During his first six years, Rusty watched over 2 200 people die, primarily from malnutrition. The prison guards were brutal and his fiancée abandoned him after four years, but he never lost his faith. His resilience, positive mental attitude, lessons in gratitude and humility and ability to manage rejection and forgiveness are an unparalleled inspiration.
Rusty’s message to audiences is that everyone is faced with challenges, but it is who you are, and the depth of your determination, that will get you through life’s darkest moments. He shows how one can harness one’s inner strength and let go of what one cannot control.
A compelling and passionate speaker, Rusty says you are the only person who knows your own value and nobody should be able to take that away. He also believes that forgiveness is bigger than anything we can achieve on our own, and credits inspiration from the Divine. His story, ‘Living in Chains – and Lessons Learned!’ brings a personal, transformative, authentic message of hope to any gathering.