Kuki Gallmann is known for her books about her life in Africa but all starts in Italy. In fact Maria Boccazzi was born in Venice in 1943 and when she was more than twenty years old became a mother of a child, Emanuele, while her former husband decided to remarried and move to the United States.
Mary's life changes one evening when after a dinner with friends has a car accident. She is rescued and brought to the hospital where she will meet Paolo Gallmann. The two fall in love and get married and decide to realize a dream that they have in common. Maria in fact is the daughter of a well-known doctor, explorer and archaeologist from Treviso and Paolo is an agronomist and their dream is to live in Africa. So in the early 1970s they buy a whole ranch in Kenya where they can shaped their dream.
The new couple, with the little son of Maria, Emanuele, move to Kenya where their new life begins. The beginnings are not easy because Mary is often alone for long periods while her husband is busy in activities that take him away for a long time. Meanwhile, little Emanuele grew up and was sent to study at a College: life after the first difficulties finds its settling in this wild and uncontaminated nature.
One day, however, the tranquility of Maria, naturalized kenyan by the name of Kuki Gallmann, is disrupted by the news of the death of her husband Paolo who died in a road accident on a Mumbasa street. Kuki is pregnant and five months after the terrible event, a girl baby named Sveva is born. Meanwhile, Kuki's first son, Emanuele returns to live with his mother in Kenya where he had spent much of his childhood, sharing his Mother's enthusiasm and naturalistic initiatives.
Unfortunately, however, a few years after the loss of her husband, Kuki loses also her son. Emanuele in fact trying to extract the poison from a snake to create an antidote is bitten and killed by poison. Despite the pain Kuki accepts the death of her son as a natural fact related to the African life and so decides not to leave but to remain in her country.
In memory of her son and husband, who disappeared shortly from one another, Kuki creates an organization, the Gallmann Memorial Foundation, dedicated to environmental protection that sees in her vast ranch a shelter for fauna and local flora where are housed numerous scholars, biologists, zoologists... In a short time her initiative is well-known internationally, but also to local crime and to poachers as well, she herself in fact struggles the exploitation of animals hosting and protecting those rape and exploited species such as elephants, black rhinos and buffalos.
But her center is a reference point for the local population as well because Kuki creates within its project also initiatives to rediscovery and hand down the local traditions such as the wool or the wood processing and the traditional herbal medicine.
For more than forty years Kuki has been pushing forward her loving project for Africa from which she has received many good but also bad emotions, the last one exactly Sunday April 23rd when she was the victim of an ambush in her ranch. In her usual perlustration, Kuki has came down to check the road that had been interrupted by a tree but was shot in the stomach. Imediatelly she was transported to the hospital where she received the first care for being transported by an helicopter to Nairobi where she is taken care of by her daughter Sveva.
The incident is attributed to the shepherd tribes who, due to drought, invade private properties to look for feed to their animals, in fact for this reason unfortunately there are frequent private property infringements.
Kuki, despite being in serious condition, reports that doesn't want to leave the country despite the situation has become very dangerous for a long time. Her daughter, a few days after the accident, says that her 73-year-old mother is stable but in slow improvement because she has the strength of that Nature that she has been protecting for years and which is now protecting her in exchange.
Kiki's life has been descrived by herself in many autobiographical books including "I dreamed of Africa" from which in the 2000 was based the movie starred by Kim Basinger. This movie contributed to the fame of Kuki also to the International audience, making her the "lady of Kenya" as well as the beloved Karen Blixen.
In this interview to the Kenyan tv Kuki herself tells us her story and mission, just a few months before the shooting:
1991 "I dreamed of Africa"
1994 "African Nights"
1995 "The colour of the Wind"
1998 "Night of the Lions"
2001 "Elephants in the Garden"