Photo above of Hamo Hammond is from May of 2017, at a tulip festival.
Note: For those who couldn't make to to Hamo's funeral in Smith Falls on August 18th, here will be a memorial service for Hamo Hammond on Saturday October 7th, 2017, at 10 am in Thornhill at the Church of the Christian Community at 901 Rutherford Rd.
Eulogy for Hamo Hammond
by Rev. Evans
(somewhat modified by Brenda Hammond)
Hamo was born November 9th,1937, the second son of Joan and Percy Hammond. Percy was chairman of Goldfields, one of the big mining houses in Johannesburg, South Africa. Joan was a wonderful cook and particularly gifted with creating an aesthetic home environment. Hamo’s brother Tim was already nearly five years old.
Hamo's Near Death Experience
He grew up in Johannesburg and described his childhood as being “well held”, but that he was a sensitive child. When he was about six years old he had a long hospitalization of two years – first a bad case of measles, an ear operation and finally rheumatic fever. He was so ill that everyone including the doctors believed he would die. His mother prayed intensely for his life and felt that because he survived her prayers were answered and “his life was a gift”. Indeed, Hamo was a gift to so many.
Hamo attended a weekly boarding school for primary, and for high school became a termly boarder at Michaelhouse in the beautiful Natal midlands, only going home to their gracious stone house on the farm for the holidays. He enjoyed maths and sciences and decided to become a chemical engineer, hoping to attend Cambridge University in England. He spent a year in London preparing for the entrance exams, but wasn’t accepted.
Captain and Crew
Instead, he returned to South Africa and began studying at the University of Cape Town. Here he took full advantage of the magnificent winds of the South African peninsula and was an enthusiastic sailor. One year he helped recruit new first year students to the sailing club, and one of these students was our dear Brenda. After Hamo was continually eyeing her in the rear view mirror on the way to sailing and after Brenda saw him in a glowing light at a stock car race, they fell in love and were soon married.
Hamo and Brenda began their long and happy married life of almost 55 years in London, where their first child Belinda was born. They returned to Johannesburg to have Kate and finally Cape Town where William was born. When looking for a school for Belinda, they stumbled across Michael Oak Waldorf School, and felt this was the place for their daughter. When Hamo’s great-aunt heard this, she was pleased because it turned out she was an anthroposophist! As the children went through the school,
Setting a New Course
Hamo and Brenda discovered Rudolf Steiner’s work and this changed the direction of Hamo’s life. Anthroposophy became his guiding star. When he was laid off from Shell, where he had been employed as an engineer, he decided to fulfill a long held wish to become a biodynamic farmer. The family moved to a beautiful historic farm in the winelands near Wellington, South Africa. On this farm Brenda and Hamo’s fourth child, Miles was born. Hamo loved being on the farm, getting up early and caring for the land and spending time in nature.
To England and Weleda
When the worsening political situation in the mid-seventies coincided with not being able to make a living off the land, Hamo and Brenda decided to move the family to England again. This was not an easy time for Hamo, especially because these were years of economic depression. He applied for many jobs but eventually he joined Weleda (UK) as marketing manager. Soon after, the company moved to the midlands. Here at Weleda he had found a place to work based on anthroposophy but also incorporating his love of plants. For years afterwards he would enthusiastically share his deep knowledge of the remedies and their preparations. He was able to boost sales considerably.
After four quite difficult years in England the family returned to South Africa. Through Weleda, Hamo had met Chris Schaefer and the anthroposophical work in organizations, where consultants facilitated the human and spiritual development of individuals and organizations.
Hamo and "The People's Car"
One of the biggest clients Hamo worked for was Volkswagen in South Africa. At this time this factory was the focus of tragedy and violence, many labour protests and police clashes resulting from apartheid taking place in the township. So it was not an easy environment to work in. However, Hamo managed to bring light into the situation on both sides, and through his sensitivity to human relationships and his humour, he was successful in helping the organization develop.
Another large project was his work in a small rural settlement called Montague. Here the emphasis was on community development, bettering the lives of the poor and developing opportunities for change and growth in individuals. Eventually this work lead to him founding the Community Development Resource Association in Cape Town. This Community Development Resource Association not only inspired others like Archbishop Tutu to work with him, but Hamo's ability to bring out the best in people, his capacity to facilitate their development, and his innovative vision all contributed to the real success of this work. Indeed, Hamo felt that this was the most significant deed he had done in this life, founding an anthroposophical association to give back, support and develop communities that suffered deprivation and need.
The Canadian Chapter
In 1993, Hamo, Brenda and Miles moved to Toronto. Hamo was contracted to work again for Volkswagen in Canada, where he was a consultant for a number of years. He continued working freelance as an organizational consultant, working also for Sekkem in Egypt and for the United Nations in Guyana among others.
He became a well loved member of the anthroposophical community in Richmond Hill, attending and hosting study groups, serving on various boards, including the Rudolf Steiner Centre and The Christian Community.
Learning to Walk All Over Again
Also, during these years he suffered an unknown virus, and again, like in his childhood, was incapacitated and had to learn to walk for the third time in his life. He learned to walk as a child, then a second time after his two year hospital stay, and again after this virus. Perhaps this is what gave Hamo such uprightness, such integrity of soul.
Hamo was a man who inspired trust. Many of us sought advice from him for he was a person who one felt was qualified to advise. He was also reserved, in the best way, even one could say private. Hamo was one of the most dignified people I have ever met. And this dignity of his awakened dignity in those around him.
His upright being, his warmth, his sensitive understanding and his humour were evident to all who met him. Even though Hamo struggled with self-criticism and never felt fully successful, he touched so many lives, helped and inspired so many individuals. In this way he fulfilled his humanity, for in the words of Rudolf Steiner “the goal of development is to move from being a taker to being a giver”.
The Deeper Secret
And yet, there is an even deeper secret of human development which Hamo found at the very end. Just before he crossed, I asked him what the greatest blessing in his life had been. With tears in his eyes, he said, “I could say Brenda, I could say art, but the most blessed I have felt has been in the past few days, being able to really receive and feel so loved by my children, by Brenda, by God. Giving and receiving love is the most important thing in human life", he said.
May Hamo be a shining beacon for us of what being human really means, to become able to give and receive love.
Thank you, dear Hamo.
For more on Hamo and his relationship to the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto, see our earlier post.
Hamo at a street party.
Recollections from Friends
About the author of the next memory, Brenda writes: "This is from our dear friend Judy Cooke. She and her husband Julian both came from Johannesburg, but moved to Cape Town where their sons also attended Michael Oak School. I first met Julian when I was 15! Judy and I became friends at the University of Cape Town and we maintain a deep and wonderful connection."
Thinking about our dear friend Hamo, one thing that leapt out of our memories was FOOD, glorious food, which we enjoyed so often with him and the whole family. It started in London, in 1962, on a freezing winter's day, when he and Bren took us to the Shah Indian Restaurant, where you could get a marvelous curry dish for four and sixpence, and where we learnt what "proper" curry was all about. We still have the Shah's little business card from that day, and we nearly always celebrated being together in later years with a superb curry which Hame was the master of.
An exciting venture was when the family moved to Wellington, where he developed a wine farm which grew the "stokkies" for propogating new vines. How we admired his ethical stand on the situation of the labourers he worked with - refusing to allow the "dop" system, (paying the labourers in wine instead of cash) which was the norm then, to be used on the farm and using a totally different approach to the generally brutal disciplining methods of most farmers in the area.
Later came CDRA - his commitment to this wonderful organisation which he helped to create, and which inspired and promoted the development of leadership in community organisations in the Western Cape in a unique and lasting way, during the difficult last days of apartheid, and into the new dispensation. Both Julian and I, in our different NGO's, experienced the creativity, the humanity, the empowerment that CDRA offered, and were among those who benefitted enormously from it. A lasting legacy of his, to this country.
Hamo's deeply ethical position and serious engagement with his country, was belied by a lightness of touch, a gorgeous sense of humour, a twinkle in his eye, which was just a delight to be around. We shall miss him hugely.
From Diana Zinter
Diana was one of Hamo's students at the RSCT.
Hamo’s course in school during the day was received with respect and reverence by our entire class. This mood enabled a vivid experience of intentional conversation we willed in a particular class. We were in the school library that day – our usual room was not available for some reason. The room was small, the space intimate. I recall each thought being built sequentially, logically, one upon the next. It stands as my ideal of the real working of social space.
From Dawne McFarlane
On the occasion of the 2017 RSCT Part Time Waldorf Educator Program Graduation
I’m sharing these words in honour of Hamo Hammond, one of my esteemed teachers.
During my RSCT teacher education year, Diana Hughes went on her honeymoon with John Kettle. In her absence, Hamo carried our class and became a formative mentor for me. He met me full on right from the start- at my admission interview. Hamo challenged me to deepen my interest in the material world as well as my self reflection. He gave our class tools for using conflict as an opportunity for growth.
He counseled me to explore my relationship with my angel. Hamo did this with generosity of heart, without judgement, and without nuance. At my graduation he presented me with my certificate and spoke directly, with great warmth and without sentimentality, about my wrestling with challenges. The wrestling continues, as does my appreciation.
1. Hamo at a tulip festival, in May of 2017
2. Hamo at Niagara Falls, a couple of summers ago
3. Hamo in London, Trafalgar Square, the Christmas before last.
4. Hamo at a street party
5. A certificate of special achievement, from Volkswagen.
Thanks to Brenda for the photos and other material.