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  OBITUARY  

April 30 - May 06 , 1999

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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HORST VON KAUFMANN

FARMER AND COUNTRYMAN

Coastweek - - Horst Von Kaufmann was born in Berlin on 15th October, 1916.

A year later his family moved to Bavaria where he received his early education in the local village school and Gym-nasium (high school).

At the end of January 1933, Hitler overran Bavaria overnight, which put an end to Horst's ambitions to become an engineer.

At this time, the idea of Africa as a destination came into very serious consideration.

He was accepted as a pupil on a coffee plantation belonging to a Dr. Veit in Moshi, (at that time) Tanganyika.

He arrived in Mombasa on 26th June, 1935, and was met by Dr. Veit at Voi, who took him to his plantation.

Initially he was paid nothing, but later received Shs: 30/= a month plus keep.

While working at the Veit plantation, Horst studied engineering through a German correspondence school, which stood him in very good stead in later years.

Early in 1939, Horst moved to Kenya, and worked for a number of farmers in Limuru (wattle and pyrethrum), South Kinangop (Friesian Cattle, pyrethrum and an orchard, also flax for a while, on one farm, and then cattle, sheep and wheat on another) and finally in November, 1944, he went to work for Capt. H. M. 'Black' Harries at Lake Solai where he acquired his own property ten years later.

In Solai, Horst had 11,000 acres to look after, 400 head of cattle, donkeys, and 800 acres of maize. Pig farming was also started.

On this large farm, Horst was kept busy, and to develop the place all sorts of machinery was purchased, including two brand new tractors, a second hand bulldozer from the ill-fated groundnut scheme in Tanganyika, and a Ransome Homestead maize sheller, all of which were maintained in perfect working order until the farm was sold in 1977.

In 1947, the Commissioner of Police started the Kenya Police Reserve, and most European settlers joined, Horst included.

During the troubled times from 1952 to 1959, he was for a time appointed OCS Solai Police Station (when the regular OCS was called to take over Subukia) and was otherwise always the 2 i/c when a regular was posted to Solai.

From 1959 to 1965 he was posted to the Special Branch.

Farming and development at Solai continued apace.

Pigs were delivered to Nakuru Station in a 1926 Rolls Royce which had been converted into a pick-up truck.

Later the RR was sold to an enthusiast who converted it back into a tourer.

In 1948 the Red Poll Cattle Society was founded with Black Harries as President, and Horst as Secretary, but he took over as President in 1952.

New stock for Kenya herds had been imported from England, whose herds were destroyed by being crossed with Danish Red cattle, so Horst switched to importing Simentals instead.

Horst occasionally entered stock at Agricultural Shows, and was the Senior Red Poll Steward at every Nakuru Show as well as at some Nairobi Shows.

In 1960, he was Chief Cattle Steward at the Nakuru Show, and became Show Chairman in 1970.

His son Michael also showed Red Polls on one occasion prior to going to university in England.

Horst served on the main A.S. of K. Executive Committee, and at the 1977 Nairobi Show, he and several other long serving Members were presented with a pair of golden goblets by His Late Excellency, President Jomo Kenyatta.

Towards Independence, with Michael Blundell, Sir Wilfred Havelock, Dorothy Hughes, Humphrey Slade and Lord Tom Delamere, Horst was involved in the United Kenya Party whose approach to non-racial politics was extremely liberal.

In 1957, Horst was elected to the East Rural District Council, and appointed to the County Council a year later, when he was elected Chairman of the Public Health Committee.

This was a very active committee and was instrumental in setting up many rural clinics and social halls, as well as conducting one of the first anti-polio campaigns in Kenya.

Before the first meeting of the PH Committee, the Chairman was called to England to succeed as Lord Wedgewood, and Horst became Chairman.

He was also Chairman of the East Rural District Council for two or three years, and served on the Finance and General Purpose Committee.

In 1959 Horst was Vice-Chairman of the Nakuru County Council during the visit of HRH the Queen Mother, and was on duty as a KPR Officer during the visit of Princess Margaret in 1956.

He and Peggy were invited to a Nakuru Mayor's Luncheon given in honour of the Queen Mother at the Stag's Head Hotel.

In 1961, Horst was elected unopposed, after the opposition candidate stood down, as Chairman of Nakuru County Council.

In 1963 the Nakuru County Council merged with the Baringo African District Council to form the Central Rift County Council.

About that time the Association of Local Government Authorities (ALGAK) was formed, of which the Nairobi Mayor, Harold Travis was Chairman, and Horst Vice.

Some time in 1962, Travis resigned and Horst took over for the remainder of the term.

Horst remained on the Central Rift C. C. until 1968 when he was defeated in what he called 'a very clean campaign' in the elections that year.

Council affairs involved a fair number of social functions, amongst them the inevitable cocktail parties, most of which were a bore, but some were interesting such as the occasion when he met Peter Scott who had come out to perform the official opening of Lake Nakuru National Park.

The cocktails were delayed because the official limousine had got bogged down in a mud hole somewhere in the park !

One memorable occasion was the final passing out parade of the Kenya Regiment national servicemen at Sgt. Leakey Barracks at Lanet which Horst attended in dual capacity: County Council Chairman and parent.

He parked his car in the designated slot, the door was opened by a very smart young soldier, and as he stepped out, he was given a snapping salute by none other than ... his son Ralph.

Horst only went to UK once after emigrating to Africa - in fact his only visit to that country, in 1958 or 1959.

He hated London but very much enjoyed the time in the country and meeting Peggy's family and friends.

He also enjoyed a live performance of Figaro at Glyndebourne.

Horst was very active in the Nakuru Musical Society of which he was the Secretary, as well as Treasurer for a few years, and became an Elder of the Kirk in Nakuru.

Many enjoyable concerts and gramophone recitals were arranged by the Musical Society, and a local farmer donated a concert grand which was housed at the Nakuru Primary School, whose head was Fred Jenner, who with his wife Madge were well known as leading lights in the Musical Society.

Whenever the visiting examiner from the Royal School of Music came to Nakuru, a concert was arranged and on several occasions, Julius Katchen also performed.

At the 1963 Nakuru Show, Dickie Mason was the Chairman, Horst was Chief Cattle Steward and HIM Hailie Selassie of Ethiopia was the Guest of Honour.

He was accompanied by HE Jomo Kenyatta who was Prime Minister at the time.

Horst joined the Kenya National Farmers' Union as a Manager Member, and in 1954, when he started farming for himself, as an Owner Member.

He served on the local area branch and on the Beef Committee.

He later became Branch Chairman, and served on the Executive Committee, as well as a representative of the Federation of Kenya Employers.

Horst continued to hold senior positions in the KNFU, including Vice and Deputy Chairman, until he retired from farming in 1977.

He was Deputy Chairman to the first three African Chairmen, Peter Sifuma, David Wanguhu and Edward Belsoi.

When Alec Ward, the Founder Executive Officer of the KNFU, passed away, Bill Doenhoff took over as Executive Officer for several years until he moved to South Africa in 1970.

Jo Feingold took over from Bill Doenhoff, and whenever Jo was away, Horst stood in for him.

The KNFU was very heavily involved in numerous problems which faced local farmers at that time.

In 1957, Horst was able to buy a property at Kurwitu Beach in Vipingo, where he built what was first used as a family holiday home, and later became his and Peggy's retirement home.

Whenever possible, their sons with their wives and children would visit them there.

All the sons and daughters-in-law remain a very close-knit and united family, and Horst was delighted when all four sons came to Vipingo to celebrate his 80th birthday in October 1996.

Horst became a Free Mason in October 1962 which he considered one of the best things he ever did in his life.

He immensely enjoyed working with like-minded people of all races over many years and this gave him great satisfaction.

One of his happiest moments was when he initiated his eldest son, Happy, as a Mason.

Horst rose to high rank and was extremely well respected in many Lodges throughout Kenya.

Horst became interested in Dowsing in 1947, a science at which he became extremely adept.

This also helped to increase his income after retirement from farming, but he did several dowsings free of charge, including one for a Children's home at the South Coast, and another for the now-in-building Kilulu Home of the Elderly at Mtwapa.

He became a Member of the British Society of Dowsers in 1991, and learnt a lot form their journals.

He found dowsing very satisfying especially when successful.

He also did some work on Geopathic Stress, Rays from Underground Streams, Allergies and other health problems.

Horst and Peggy finally left their Solai farm on 28th August 1977, having sold the it to a group of his Tugen neighbours.

At the Coast, Horst became very involved in local community affairs, undertook odd jobs for many of his neighbours and served as Chairman of the Shariani Secondary School Building Fund right up until September 1998, when he felt that ill-health prevented him from being effective.

He also supervised the maintenance of the local service road that runs in front of the Kurwitu Beach Plots and only handed that over when he became seriously ill last year.

From that illness he made a quite remarkable recovery although he was at times, extremely frustrated that he could not speak with the same forceful voice that we all knew so well, and also that his memory constantly failed him.

Throughout that time he was very faithfully nursed and looked after by Peggy and the family visited as often as they were able.

One fairly recent visit that Horst remembered with special pleasure (it was before he fell ill) was from his son Peter and his two daughters.

The von Kaufmanns have always been well-known for their hospitality and have kept open house wherever they have lived, having their friends as well as their sons' friends during their school days, to stay.

It is evident that wherever they lived, be it during Horst's working life, and latterly at Vipingo, they have made many long-lasting friendships which have endured long after some of the friends concerned had left Kenya.

To Peggy and all the family we extend our deepest sympathy.

- P.D., Mombasa.

 

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