We are very sad to share with you the news that Kamoya Kimeu passed away earlier this week after a short spell in hospital with kidney complications. We send our deepest condolences and thoughts to all of his family.
Our subsequent appeal to friends and well-wishers to help the family with medical and funeral expenses, via a page set up by Louise Leakey on GoFundMe, raised its target within 24 hours of going online. We wish to thank the many people who contributed. Many of you knew Kamoya personally, had worked with him in the past or simply appreciated his enormous contribution to understanding our past. He was undoubtedly one of the worlds most renown fossil hunters, and a mentor to many more that have since followed in his footsteps.
Kamoya was a fossil hunting legend. He worked extensively in the Turkana Basin from 1968 through to his retirement in 1993. Among his many finds of human ancestors, including the skull of Homo habils, KNM-ER 1813, was his most remarkable find- that of the Turkana Boy skeleton. He spotted a small piece of the skull, on a Sunday morning walk, on August 1st of 1984. After months of excavation, the iconic, 1.6 million-year-old Homo erectus skeleton emerged. This skeleton is widely known as the Turkana Boy, or the Nariokotome Boy- named after the site where it was found. This find was highly significant due to its completeness and nothing like it has ever been found since, in east Africa. His many discoveries have contributed enormously to the understanding of human prehistory.
Kamoya, was recently awarded an honorary degree from Case Western University, in recognition of his major contribution to the field of paleoanthropology. He worked with both Louis and Mary Leakey at Olduvai and went on to explore the Turkana Basin with Richard Leakey. He managed the field teams of the Koobi Fora Research Project between 1969 and the year 2000.
Always with a jovial smile, positive attitude and extraordinary resolve to get through difficult situations, his perseverance and leadership led to the many important fossil discoveries both of animals and human ancestors at Lake Turkana. He was a mentor to many who have followed in his path. He will be greatly missed.
Kamoya leaves his wife, Mary Mbiki Kamoya and children- Steve Kamoya, Boniface Kamoya, Jacinta Syokau, John Kilonzo, Jenniffer Mwelu and Nicholas Makau.