The Times of Tanzania
Eastern Africa News Network

Merwyn Nunes: He invented Mount Kilimanjaro Certificates awards in 1968

Merwyn Nunes, the man who came up with the idea of issuing certificates to climbers who managed to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro’s highest peak, recently passed away in Dar-es-salaam.

Nunes, a renowned tour operator who previously worked for the state-owned travel firm, leaves an astounding trail of achievements.

He is the man behind the famous ‘Wildersun Safaris,’ but is also credited for founding the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), currently with more than 500 members.

Merwyn Nunes, an Arusha resident who originated from Zanzibar Isles, retains coveted status as a Pioneer in the Tanzanian tourism industry.

The Chairperson of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators Willbard Chambulo announced the death of the late Nunes on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.

“He was a passionate advocate for Tanzania conservation and tourism,” Mr Chambulo states, adding the whole industry was badly affected and are all mourning the legend.

His tour company Wildersun Safaris remains one of Tanzania’s most trusted names in the leisure travel industry.

The Late Nunes (Third from Left) with acquittances at one of the Karibu Travel and Tourism Fairs in Arusha. Other in the frame (Left to Right) include, Collin Hogg, Peter Lindstrome, Anita Warrener, Chris Horsfall and Aafeez Jivraj (Eastwest Photography)

Wildersun was registered on 20 November 1980 as a private tour company jointly established by Merwyn and Pervin Nunes.

Back in the 1960s Nunes was posted to work in Moshi by the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism which by then included the Information department.

It was Nunes who in 1968 came up with an idea of issuing certificates to the mountain climbers during his tenure as a state tourism officer in Moshi.

Before 1998, people who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and reached Uhuru Summit used to be presented with crowns of reeds and flowers fashioned out of the mountain creeper plants.

A reed made of the creepers was coiled around their heads while those who reached Gilman’s point were garlanded with the flowers around their necks.

As time went by, the creepers and special flowers became scarce and to get them one had to go deeper into the denser ravines.

With the plants depleting and environment concerns arising Merwyn came up with the idea of certificates to replace the reeds and flowers.

Two types of certificates were designed by the retired tourism official; a Silver and Gold line for those who would reach Gilman’s Point and Uhuru Peak respectively.

Former Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), General Mirisho Sarakikya, then a Brigadier, was the first person to be awarded with an inaugural certificate during the launch in 1968.

General Sarakikya would go on to climb Kilimanjaro and conquer the Uhuru peak more than 40 times afterwards.

And this maiden Kilimanjaro Certificate was presented by the then minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Hasnu Makame.

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