Day 91 - Richard Leakey
Richard Erskine Frere Leakey is a politician, paleoanthropologist and conservationist. He is second of the three sons of the archaeologists Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, and is the younger brother of Colin Leakey.
As a small boy, Leakey lived in Nairobi with his parents, Louis Leakey, curator of the Coryndon Museum, and Mary Leakey, director of the Leakey excavations at Olduvai, and his two brothers, Jonathan and Philip. The Leakey brothers had a very active childhood. All the boys had ponies and belonged to the Langata Pony Club. They participated in jumping and steeplechase competitions but often rode for fun across the plains to the Ngong Hills, chasing and playing games with the animals. Sometimes the whole club were guests at the Leakeys for holidays and vacations. Leakey's parents founded the Dalmatian Club of East Africa and won a prize in 1957. Dogs and many other pets shared the Leakey home. The Leakey boys participated in games conducted by both adults and children, in which they tried to imitate early humans, catching springhares and small antelope by hand on the Serengeti. They drove lions and jackals from the kill to see if they could do it.
Leakey's career as a palaeoanthropologist did not begin with a dateable event or a sudden decision, as did Louis’; he was with his parents on every excavation, was taught every skill and was given responsible work even as a boy. It is not surprising that his independent decision making led him into conflict with his father, who had always tried to instill in him that very trait. After he gave some fossils to Tanzania and set Margaret to inventory Louis’ collections, Louis suggested he find work elsewhere in 1967.
Richard formed the Kenya Museum Associates (now Kenya Museum Society) with influential Kenyans in that year. Their intent was to 'Kenyanize' and improve the National Museum. They offered the museum 5000 pounds, 1/3 of its yearly budget, if it would place Leakey in a responsible position. He was given an observer's seat on the board of directors. Joel Ojal, the government official in charge of the museum, and a member of the Associates, directed the chairman of the board to start placing Kenyans on it.