Newspaper article International New York Times

T. Cholmondeley, of Kenya, Dies at 48 ; Scion of Storied Family Stirred Racial Tensions with Deadly Shootings

Newspaper article International New York Times

T. Cholmondeley, of Kenya, Dies at 48 ; Scion of Storied Family Stirred Racial Tensions with Deadly Shootings

Article excerpt

A descendant of British settlers, Mr. Cholmondeley was known as an eccentric outdoorsman who liked fast horses, speedy bikes and guns.

Thomas Patrick Gilbert Cholmondeley, the scion of one of Kenya's richest and most fabled white families, was in excellent spirits last weekend, telling friends at a campsite outside Nairobi: "You know, Kenyans are now eating millions of chickens a year. I think I'm going to start doing chickens."

Mr. Cholmondeley, 48, seemed in good health, but he died on Wednesday in a Nairobi hospital while undergoing hip-replacement surgery. Doctors said he had a heart attack, and friends suggested it might have been prompted by a reaction to anesthesia.

His death was front-page news in Kenya, and not only because Mr. Cholmondeley (pronounced CHUM-lee) was a great-grandson of Hugh Cholmondeley, the third Baron Delamere, a British aristocrat who came to Kenya more than a century ago on a lion-hunting safari, fell in love with the country and became one of its most powerful settlers.

Many Kenyans knew him for a different reason: He was a killer.

Mr. Cholmondeley, an eccentric outdoorsman who liked fast horses, speedy bikes and guns, was implicated in two deadly shootings of black men. The first was an undercover wildlife officer whom Mr. Cholmondeley mistook for a robber in 2005. The second was a threadbare poacher who trespassed on his estate in 2006. Mr. Cholmondeley said he never meant to kill the poacher and was aiming at the man's dogs.

Mr. Cholmondeley was not prosecuted for the first shooting, but he was convicted of manslaughter for the second. He spent three years in a grossly overcrowded Kenyan prison. Of 3,500 inmates, he was the only white man.

Both cases stirred deep-seated grievances and suspicions that white people in Kenya were still treated with greater deference and privilege than black people, more than four decades after Kenya's independence from Britain.

In a prison interview, Mr. Cholmondeley seemed contemplative and remorseful.

"It's like 'Groundhog Day,"' he said. "You keep replaying those 10 seconds, those same 10 seconds, thinking what you could have done differently. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.