The Premier Lecture
Dr. Richard Leakey
Why Our Origins Matter
October 10, 2007
Dr. Richard Leakey has made international headlines for more than 30 years for his work in Kenya. One of the most controversial, influential, and inspirational figures in African politics and world conservation today, he has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific articles and books, including The Origins of Humankind, Origins Reconsidered, and The Sixth Extinction.
In the 30 years following Dr. Leakey's first expedition, he and his team of palaeoanthropologists unearthed more than two-hundred fossils, including "Turkana Boy," a Homo Erectus roughly 1.6 million years old, one of the most complete skeletons ever found.
Renowned for his work in early human origins, Leakey became head of Kenya's Wildlife Department and later an outspoken political outsider, to save Kenya's natural resources, and specifically the African elephant – a crusade that set him against internal corruption, poverty, and dangerous criminals. The personal cost was high (the 1993 airplane crash that took his legs and nearly his life was likely no accident), but his love of Kenya, and his convictions about the direction of his country – and all of sub-Saharan Africa – must take to survive, have been unshakeable.