[Short and sweet today — busy week]
Today is the birthday (1903) of Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey, also known as L. S. B. Leakey, a Kenyan-British paleoanthropologist and archaeologist whose work was immensely important in establishing human evolutionary development in Africa, particularly through his discoveries in the Olduvai Gorge. He also played a major role in creating organizations for future research in Africa and for protecting wildlife there. Having been a prime mover in establishing a tradition of palaeoanthropological inquiry, he was able to motivate the next generation to continue it, notably within his own family, many of whom also became prominent. Leakey participated in national events of British East Africa and Kenya during the 1950s. He also played a critical role in establishing primate behavior research. Three key researchers, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas, whom he called The Trimates, worked closely with him.
His personal, professional, and political life were always the subject of controversy and I can’t say that I exactly admire him for some of his actions, although I do think well of the role he played in Kenyan independence.
Leakey was born to Christian missionaries in Kenya, and it is ironic that he was a key player in the advancement of the study of human evolution AND a devout Christian given the 20th century battle in the U.S. between certain branches of Christianity and evolution.
There is a tale told that I am sure was invented by Leakey that when he was called to a viva at Cambridge he asked to be examined in Swahili. (He had registered as fluent in Swahili at the Home Office). After some hesitation the authorities agreed. He supposedly then received two letters. One instructed him to report at a certain time and place for the viva (oral examination) in Swahili. The other asked if, at the same time and place, he would examine a candidate in Swahili. Knowing Brits, this could be true.
A good video of a classic recipe I had several times in Nairobi: