June 1, 1943 |
Kuki Gallmann is an Italian born, Kenyan national, world renowned best-selling author, poet, respected environmental activist and conservationist.
Fascinated by Africa, Gallmann moved to Kenya in 1972 with her husband Paolo and son Emanuele, and acquired Ol ari Nyiro, a 98.000 acre estate in Western Laikipia, in Kenya's Great Rift Valley. At the time the estate was still a cattle ranch, which she would later transform into a conservation park. Both her husband and son eventually died in tragic accidents within a few years.
Kuki decided to stay on in Kenya and to make a difference. She chose to work toward ecological conservation in the early ‘80s, becoming a Kenyan citizen. As a living memorial to Paolo and Emanuele, she established The Gallmann Memorial Foundation (GMF), which promotes coexistence of people and Nature in Africa and is active in education, biodiversity research, habitat protection, reforestation, community service, peace and reconciliation, poverty alleviation and public health. GMF promotes environmental education of Kenyan students. She dedicated Ol ari Nyiro to this ideal, converting it into the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.
Humanitarian and Environmental Work
To bring attention to major environmental topics through art, in 2006 she founded the Great Rift Valley Trust together with her daughter Sveva and other Kenyan personalities. The Trust invites extraordinary world artists beyond the confines of race, nationality and religion, to create original and outstanding fusion art with Kenyan 'slum' artists at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy. Near the Cradle of Humankind, the Trust also co-produces the Laikipia Highlands Games, sports for peace, and the Earth Festival to help the environment.
In 2008, after Kenya's horrific post election violence, she founded the Laikipia Highlands Games (Sport for Peace) to put together, through peaceful but challenging competition of sports, youth across the ethnic, tribal and political divide. The LHG won for Kenya the 2009 Event of Year World Award by the Peace and Sport Foundation in Monaco. The LHG promotes peace through sports amongst previously warring tribes.
In 2010 she founded Prayers for the Earth, to involve local tribal elders and youth to recapture the traditional respect for the environment on which their livelihood depends, and reconnect to the Earth through traditional worship.
In 2011, with her daughter, she acquired and donated 300 acres for a model community project called “Land of Hope” in Laikipia West, which aims to benefit impoverished communities of the area. With support from Maisha Mareful, and Italian Onlus, a vocational centre for women and youth, a nursery school and feeding programme, a dispensary, and a high altitude athletics training centre are part of the scheme. This last in partnership with Martin Keino, of Keino Sports Marketing, completed in 2013.
Sveva, her daughter, holds an MSc in Human Sciences from New College, Oxford and coordinates the award-winning 4 Generations Project, an innovative education scheme to protect proactively local endangered cultures, by bridging the intergenerational gap. Sveva is also leading several art projects and community projects amongst local tribes to promote peace and improve their living standards.
Gallmann Memorial Foundation
The Foundation proves that Africa can survive out of the ecological, creative and sustainable use of its natural resources. She transformed Ol ari Nyiro into a Nature Conservancy (LNC) managed holistically after selling the livestock. Due to relentless protection, Laikipia Nature Conservancy is a biodiversity oasis that supports and protects a variety of extraordinary variety of plants and animals, the only pristine forest in the area, which includes endangered species such as elephants, cheetah, over 470 species of birds and rare and endemic plants and insects, in addition to archaeological sites.
- the Order of the Golden Ark by the late HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, 1991
- The Mimosa d’Oro for Woman of the Year award in Catania, Italy, 2012
- The American Association for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Founder Award, New York, 2002
- Illchamus Elder 2005
- The Peruvian Order por la Protecion del Ambiente, 2006
- Event of Year World Award by the Peace and Sport Foundation in Monaco 2009
- The Africa Hero Award by the Africa Foundation (US, New York) 2010
- Grosso d’Oro Veneziano International Award for life time Conservation achievement (Italy)2012
- World Ambassador for the Migratory Species by the United Nation Convention for Migratory Species (CMS), 2006 
- Honorary Degree in Human Sciences at the University of St. Lawrence, US
- Honorary Warden the Kenya Wildlife Services
- Trustee, National Museums of Kenya, Endowment Fund
- Patron District Peace Committee
- Laikipia Wildlife Forum (with Gilfrid L. Powys)
- Land of Hope (with daughter Sveva)
Projects, Buildings and creations
- 1987/1990 Ethnobotany research, essential oils, traditional knowledge
- 1988 The Wilderness Education Centre(LWEC)Environmental visits for local children for free
- 1989 The Ivory fire, 18th July Nairobi National park
- 1991/1992 Laikipia elephant monitoring project and elephant corridors(with Zoological society of London, WWF, KWS)
- 1995 The Mukutan Retreat eco-lodge
- 2000 Makena’s Hills Center of Origin
- 2003/2006, with UNDP, Lelechwa eco-charcoal project
- 2006 GMF built and donated a maternity Clinic to the Ol Moran Community.
- 2007 Woodhenge, amphitheatre for events and prayers
- 2009 during one of the worst droughts in Kenya’s history, KG started an emergency Nursery school, a famine relief and feeding programme, that has so far benefited over 35,000 women and children and is ongoing.