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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
He found dowsing very
satisfying especially when successful.
He also did some work on
Geopathic Stress, Rays from Underground Streams, Allergies and other
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.