MONDAY August 17, 2020
By Adam Ihucha
Tranquility News Correspondent, Arusha
Gérard Pasanisi, a legendary French national, who devoted his entire life nurturing tourism, wildlife conservation and diplomatic ties between Tanzania and France, breathed his last at 94 on Thursday August 13, 2020.
Mr Pasanisi, who passed away peacefully after a short illness, is scheduled to be buried on Tuesday August 18, 2020, at Nice, a seaport city in Southeastern France.
The man, who spent 40 years in Tanzania, is credited to have poured his energy into cultivating the current multi-billion-tourism industry, and spearheading wildlife conservation, particularly in the country’s southern circuit, soon after independence in 1961.
Mr Pasanisi is the founder of Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club (MKSC), one of the country’s successful tour companies at the moment with its base in the Tanzania’s northern safari capital, Arusha.
“We’ve lost a man who poured his soul into developing tourism and wildlife conservation in Tanzania. We’ll remember him as a person whose initiatives in the industry had created job opportunities for the poor communities,” the incumbent MKSC Director, Mr George Ole Meing’arrai, said.
Indeed, MKSC is a pioneer tour company operating in Tanzania’s soil to roll out the first 100 per cent safaris electric cars (e-cars) in the East African region two years ago.
The initiative aims at bringing down vehicular pollution within national parks in the natural resource rich East African country.
The pioneer e-car operating in Serengeti, the Tanzania’s flagship national park, is a carbon-free technology, reliable and comfortable vehicle solely depending on solar panels to reel its engine.
“His legacy goes beyond tourism and conservation. He also touched lives of many through corporate social responsibility, the spirit that drives our company,” Mr Meing’arrai recalled.
Hopefully, the history will also do justice to Mr Pasanisi as a man who significantly shaped diplomatic relationship between Tanzania and France.
In 1974, the then Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Sheikh Hasnu Makame, designated Mr Pasanisi as a representative of Tanzania Tourist Corporation to France, Italy and Benelux, the position he held for 20 years consecutively.
During his stint, he organised and financed numerous study tours and visits of various Tanzania’s tourism ministers to France, including of the third phase regime’s Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye.
In 1976, Mr Pasanisi was appointed by the then Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, to spearhead a mission for restoring diplomatic tie between France and Tanzania, the assignment he did successfully.
Mr Mkapa, who served as the Tanzania’s third phase president for a decade between 1995 and 2005, also passed away towards the end of last month in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, after a short illness.
In 1978, just two years after he reinstated the diplomatic relationship, Mr Pasanisi had successfully managed to mobilise funds in France for Tanzania to build the new airport terminal in Dar es Salaam.
For many, there is no doubt that his endeavours, particularly the support he obtained from the French Ministry of Defense in favour of the anti-poaching drive, deepened the links between Tanzania and France.
When numerous roads were opened in the once 50,000-square-kilometre Selous Game Reserve for the petroleum prospecting Geo-source trucks in 1985, intensive elephants poaching increased dramatically.
In 1988, on the request of the Tanzania’s Wildlife Division, Mr Pasanisi interceded with Mr Brice Lalonde, the then French Minister for Environment, as France presided over the European Union.
As a result, during the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, ivory trade was banned and Mr Passanisi ensured the Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism also outlawed bush meat in every lodges and restaurants in the country.
In 1993, Mr Pasanisi was designated Honorary Consul of Tanzania to France. He was also Chairman of Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (TAHOA).
Way back in 2007, Tanzania once again saw an upsurge of elephants poaching which reached a deadly proportion in 2012, 2013 and 2014, prompting Mr Pasanisi to form a Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania (WCFT) to rescue the situation.
Through the WCFT which Mr Pasanisi founded along with the late president Mkapa and in partnership with the former France President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, over 25 fully equipped four-wheel-drive vehicles were donated to the Tanzania’s Wildlife Division, last year alone.
“Mr Pasanisi devoted his life to fight so many battles for Tanzania, a country where his soul will never ever leave,” Mr Meing’arrai noted.