Diana Hartley

Name ID 2127

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

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. (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0056186/)

Note 3 (Nov 2019, from Russell Edwards, Lionel Hartley's nephew)

There is no evidence that Diana and Eddie actually married, and she was still Diana Hartley at the time of her death. Brian Herne probably misunderstand information he was given by Lionel.

Extract ID: 3840