Nungwi has in recent times been infamous for the boat that capsized and killed hundreds. However, Nungwi is also re known for very welcoming and friendly people where thousands of tourists and visitors flock to enjoy the beautiful seaside and Zanzibar’s elegant coastline.
“Everyone here was affected by MV Spicer’s tragedy,” Mr. Nassor Maharouky, director of Hotel Mnarani right at the heart of Nungwi tells me. Although born in Pemba, Nassor has made Nungwi his home as any true Zanzibari businessman would. The 40 plus year old is one of those rare individuals whose passion for life usually transforms communities.
I first bumped into Mr. Maharouky (pictured top) in London a couple of years ago when he came to represent Tanzania at the annual trade fare in the UK city. Held in November Excel international fare has had several Tanzanian tourist representations, lately.
Hotel Mnarani was established in 1996 and has become a dear place for those who can afford it. It can take up to 70 visitors. Having visited the hotel twice, I could have just treated the experience as a personal matter needing no mention in our national newspapers let alone this column. What impressed me is how a simple but luxurious project in a remote area of Zanzibar has helped alleviate poverty.
Mnarani the name itself is derived from a lighthouse right at the northern tip of Zanzibar which led ships for many centuries. It takes an hour to reach by a normal car or a bit longer if you board the constant Dala Dalas leaving Darajani in Zanzibar town.
As soon as you arrive you notice the positive manner of all from reception, to those trimming the plants and grass to room cleaners. One might argue that politeness is a trait for all our tourist hotels; however, when you dig deeper you find staff that is content and happy with themselves.
Digging much further you find that these workers feel they belong here. Their lives are part of the hotel and that they are not merely working for a wealthy, bossy employer.
Mr Maharouky explains: “The success of this place is due to team work. I found ideas from the many places I have been around the world then share the activities with the rest of the team.”
One example is staff (including their boss) eating the same meal given to visitors, daily.
This feeling of belonging has produced wonders. Residents around the hotel defend and trust Hotel Mnarani.
One of the workers told me how surrounding shops easily gives credits to any employee of Mnarani because they are sure “it will be paid later.”
The hotel has supported several community projects including the local preschool kindergarten, a local football team, paying college fees for high achieving students from Nungwi and neighbouring villages.
The other most unique example is one which the rest of the country might learn, a problem that has engulfed most of Tanzania. Everywhere you go these days you come across rubbish thrown and which has become a haven for feeding goats, cows (dirty nyama choma)… and even street kids. Hotel Mnarani has created a waste disposal system which guarantees a clean and safe environment for the inhabitants.
Tourism is a crucial sector. Various academics have cited tourism as being amongst top five earners of foreign currency for 83 percent of developing countries. Being one of the top tourist spots for tourists, Zanzibar employed 4, 000 people and 21, 000 indirectly in 1996, according to a research by two Tanzanian scholars, Nathaniel Luvanga and Joseph Litundu of the University of Dar es Salaam in 2003.
Mr Maharouky affirms this by saying his 40- 60 employees support ten people, meaning the institution helps at least 600 citizens. As a coordinator of Zanzibar Association Tourist Association, he has been approached by other foreign hotel owners who want advice on how to handle local employees.
We can go on and on lavishing praise on this hotel and chanting how beautiful it is. It’s amazing scenery by the Indian Ocean, the many tropical flowers (frangipani, bougainvillea, hibiscus, and cactus); let alone a variety of local Swahili food and international menus. If you want further information you may visit www.mnarani-beach-cottages.com
Published in Citizen, Friday 4th November, 2011:http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/editorial-analysis/20-analysis-opinions/16727-hotel-mnarani-and-how-investors-can-help-transform-tz.html