Gray Leakey

Name ID 2125

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nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Cynthia O'Keeffe
Page Number: 2007 03 04

Mau-Mau uprising

Just found the ntz info pages after doing some research about Africa, especially early 1900's. -- Great website!

One detail I note with interest; much about the Mau-Mau uprising has been 'glossed over' in the press�and if I check Google to try and locate any reference to the deaths of Grey Leakey and his wife, well, it's almost impossible. I am glad you have some facts here, as those years and the news in Africa at the time are particularly unknown to Americans today. I haven't been to Africa yet, but one never knows! Thank you for bringing so much of the history to life. I have been slowly working through the biographies of many europeans who moved to Kenya around 1900. So it's like reading about 'old friends' when I come across the names over and over again.

Your cross referencing is very well done, and leads me to more reading, and research. What an amazing time that must have been.


Cynthia O'Keeffe,RN

Thanks for the feedback. I try to keep the focus on Northern Tanzania, so don't cover much from Kenya or the Mau Mau.

Whether I have the "facts" of course is open to discussion. I try to keep my extracts accurate to their sources, but there's already a bias in what I choose to copy. And who knows how accurate the original sources are. For example in the quote from Brian Herne (which I think is the one you found) there's an error about Capucine. Let's hope that the rest of what is says is right.

I have a newspaper from when we lived in Arusha, Tanzania in the 1950's and it records the concern which arose when it was reported that some Mau Mau fighters had crossed the border.

There are a few recent books about the Mau Mau and the colonial era which have caused a bit of a stir recently here in the UK. I'm sure you've already read the wikipedia article on the Mau Mau , and seen the comments on Caroline Elkins and her book. There's also a link to the Times review of two of the recent books:

For your Kenyan research you might want to contact Peter Ayre who, as well as selling East African books, is also keeping a database of people who used to live in Kenya.

Extract ID: 5226

external link

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Independent / Independent on Sunday
Extract Author: Mary Lean
Extract Date: 26 January 2007

Agnes Hofmeyr: Worker for reconciliation in Africa


Agnes Leakey, worker for reconciliation: born Limuru, Kenya 8 May 1917; married 1946 Bremer Hofmeyr (died 1993; one son, and one son deceased); died Johannesburg 1 December 2006.

Twenty years after her father was buried alive during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, Agnes Hofmeyr and her husband were having dinner with a Kenyan colleague, Stanley Kinga. He told them that he had been part of the Mau Mau committee that had selected her father as a human sacrifice. Staggered, she asked him to repeat what he had said. "Thank God we have both learned the secret of forgiveness," she said finally.

Agnes Leakey was born in Limuru, Kenya, in 1917, the youngest child of Gray Leakey, cousin of the anthropologist Louis Leakey, and his first wife, Elizabeth. Her early childhood was spent on a succession of farms: stalking lion barefoot with her brothers; moving home in two wagons, each drawn by 16 oxen; wearing clothes made from a bolt of cloth Elizabeth had brought out to Kenya on her marriage, together with a trunk of toys for children of different ages.

This idyll was shattered in 1926, when Elizabeth died of a perforated appendix, and Agnes was sent to boarding school in England. It was there that she encountered the Oxford Group (later MRA) and became involved in its work of reconciliation. She married a South African colleague, Bremer Hofmeyr, in 1946.

The Hofmeyrs were in the United States in October 1954 when they heard that 60 Mau Mau fighters had attacked her father's farm, killed her stepmother and abducted her father. Later the news reached her that he had been buried alive, in a shallow grave on Mount Kenya. He had been chosen to propitiate the gods because he was known to be a good man. His Kikuyu name was "Morungaru": "tall and straight".

In a memoir, Beyond Violence (1990), Hofmeyr describes the grief and rage that overwhelmed her, and her journey towards forgiving. A committed Christian, she turned, with a struggle, to her regular practice of silent listening prayer. The result was an "impossible" thought: to reject hatred and bitterness and "fight harder than ever to bring a change of heart to black and white alike".

Some months before, the Hofmeyrs had visited her father in Kenya in an attempt to persuade him to move to safety in South Africa. They had also visited the Athi River detention camp, where some of the prisoners told them about the injustices and discrimination that had drawn them into Mau Mau. "I was very shaken by all I heard," wrote Agnes,

but inwardly I walled myself off from any personal sense of guilt, saying to myself that it was other whites, not I, who had done these things. We were not all bad, and look at the many good things we had brought to Africa.

Now, she found herself rethinking.

The next year, the Hofmeyrs were back in Kenya, with a large international group from MRA. In spite of a ban on meetings in Kikuyu country, the authorities sanctioned a mass gathering at Kiambu, north of Nairobi. Crowds poured in, some climbing trees to get a better view.

When the chair announced that the next speaker would be the daughter of Morungaru, there was a gasp. "I apologised for the arrogance and selfishness of so many of us whites that had helped to create the bitterness and hatred in their hearts," she wrote. When she spoke of her determination to work for change, there was a ripple of understanding. Many came up to her afterwards to express their sorrow and support. "All traces of bitterness that lingered in my heart were washed away."

The Hofmeyrs settled in Johannesburg, where, to the disgust of Hendrik Verwoerd and the Broederbond, their home became a meeting place for all races long before the first cracks in the walls of apartheid appeared.

Hofmeyr experienced great sorrow in her life. In addition to the early death of her mother and her father's killing, she lost her eldest brother, Nigel Leakey, in 1941 at Colito, where he won the Victoria Cross. Three years after Bremer's death, in 1993, their elder son, Murray, was killed in a car accident in Johannesburg.

A message she wrote to her grandchildren was typical: "Don't ever give up hope, you have fighting genes."

Extract ID: 5224

See also

Herne, Brian White Hunters: The golden age of African Safaris
Page Number: 314
Extract Date: 1960 Nov 1

Hatari Tragedy

After Lionel's [Hartley] death, Diana took her two young children and stayed for a while with Carr Hartley's family at Rumuruti. There she met one of Carr's employees, an Austrian named Heini Demmer. Diana promptly went into an animal-trapping partnership with Demmer - to supply zoos - in direct competition with Carr Hartley, Diana's brother-in-law. Later still, Diana Hartley married Eddie Knodi, a chef at Nairobi's Norfolk Hotel.

Violence continued to stalk the family. Diana's own mother, Mary, was hacked to death with machetes by Mau Mau thugs who attacked the family's Nyeri farmhouse during the Mau Mau Emergency. Diana's seventy-year-old stepfather, G. A. Leakey, who was a blood brother of the Kikuyu tribe, was dragged off by the same gang and buried alive in October 1954. Gray and Mary Leakey are now in the same grave at Nyeri cemetery.

Diana (Hartley) Knodi also died tragically. She was killed by a "tame" lion while working on the Hollywood epic about professional animal catchers, Hatari. On November 1, 1960, Diana Knodi entered the lion's cage and it sprang on her. It bit her three times, on the chin, throat, and chest, then mauled her to death. White hunter Bill Ryan, who was on the film set nearby with stars John Wayne, Hardy Kruger, Red Buttons, and the actress Capucine, commented, "Diana should never have got into the cage with that lion. She didn't have a chance."

Diana's only son, also named Lionel, began his professional hunting apprenticeship in 1970 with myself [Brian Herne] and Nick Swan. He was in the hunting business for seven years, until March 1977.

Note 1: (from MEABOOKS Inc. African book Catalogue)

BEYOND VIOLENCE (Hofmeyr, Agnes Leakey.)

91pp, PB, 1990,

"Gray Leakey was buried alive on Mount Kenya as a human sacrifice to the gods of Mau Mau. This story is written by his daughter, now living in South Africa" The Mau Mau revolution led to a double tragedy in her family. The book describes the author's inner battle battle to come to terms with disaster and the extraodrinary events that brought her and the very man who had planned her father's death together in the search for a new kind of world�",

Note 2: (from Internet Movie Database)

Capucine did not appear in Hatari. But she did feature in a 1962 film set in Kenya call The Lion. (

Extract ID: 3840

See also

Time Magazine Online
Extract Date: 1 Nov 1954

Blood Brother

The Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya was two years old last week. In that bloody stretch of time the Mau Mau have killed or wounded 2,000 loyal Kikuyu natives, 900 African or European soldiers and 27 innocent European civilians. The expensive war against them (present cost: $2,800,000 a month) has resulted in the slaying of 6,741 Mau Mau and the capture of 12,000.

Through the two years of terror, probably no Englishman in Kenya was more sympathetic to the problems and irritations besetting the Kikuyu than sixtyish Arundel Gray Leakey, a resident of Kenya for close to half a century. Like his better-known cousin, L.S.B. Leakey, the world's topmost authority on Kikuyu manners and morals and official interpreter at the trial of Mau Mau Chieftain Jomo Kenyatta, Gray Leakey had been accepted into the Kikuyu tribe as a "blood brother" and spoke the native language as readily as he did English. Refusing to believe that Mau Mau would harm either himself or his family, he never carried a gun as he made the rounds of his lonely farm 100 miles north of Nairobi.

One night a month ago, Gray Leakey was challenged by prowling armed terrorists. In their own dialect, he told them that he was unarmed, turned his back and strolled away. True to his expectations, they let him go unharmed. One evening last fortnight, however, as Leakey, his wife and his stepdaughter Diana Hartley were having supper at the farm, a band of 30 Mau Mau swarmed out of the woods. Mrs. Leakey rushed to the bathroom with her daughter and helped her escape through a trap door into an attic above. Mrs. Leakey herself was too weak to follow. When Diana emerged an hour later, her mother was lying dead on the lawn, cruelly slashed with Mau Mau knives. Gray Leakey was nowhere to be found.

For days after, native and European police by the hundreds combed the jungle searching for Gray Leakey, a diabetic who could scarcely survive four days anywhere without proper medical care. Last week the search was given up. Cousin Leakey took to the air to warn other Kenya whites against such kindness and complacency as that of Arundel Gray Leakey.

Extract ID: 5225