In my odyssey around Tanga to explore Hotels and Lodges that are friends with TICC I came to stay at Panori Hotel in Tanga yesterday. The visit became so rich in stories that I remained an extra night. This is the story of the Labrosse family and Panori Hotel as told by Julita McNeese. It is a story of longing and waiting across years and thousands of miles. And over a family now spread over the world, with a common connection here in Tanga
Jean Godfrey Labrosse was born in Seychelles 1923 and left for Tanzania in 1950 looking for a better future. He was one of 14 children, the son of a fisherman who had become blind and no longer could provide for the family. The children were sent to other family members or had to work to support the family. Godfrey eventually wanted more of life and set out for Tanzania on a ship at the age of 27. In Tanga he met an Irish priest who helped him get started and took Godfrey to Pangani.
There he found work as a driver delivering goods to the inland. In a year he saved enough money to build a small house and he then wrote to his sister to ask her to find him a wife. His sister choose a good wife, Therese Lafortune . Godfrey went home to the Seychelles and married her in 1952 and they moved to Pangani, Tanzania. The oldest son Patrick was born in 1953, Julita in 1955, Georgette in 1956, Nancy in 1957, Norman in 1959, Marie-Helen in 1961 and Richard 1963.
Around 1955 Godfrey opened the first bar in Pangani. The Lucky Bar, bought a truck and started a fishery packaging and delivery business.
When it was time for the older children to start school the only one was in Tanga, almost 40 km away. The family driver would drive the children in the truck every day back and forth to school, on really bad roads. This journey took 1,5 hours each ways.
Due to unrest in the country the first three children was sent away to school in Ireland for secondary education. For Julita it was 1969-1972. By then their mother had gone back to Seychelles with the younger children for their schooling so when Julita returned she went to stay in the Seychelles .
Godfrey in his turn had now moved to Tanga where he was in the fishery business and owned a small grocery store.
In 1973 Godfrey sold his business to and moved to the Seychelles but could not find himself the right work so he moved back to Tanzania. Now he found a managers job at Kibo Hotel in Kilimanjaro, and his wife could move to live with him again. Back in the Seychelles Julita met her American husband who was working for Philco Ford company as an electronic techician. They married in 1977 and moved to the US, Louisiana and Arkansas where they lived for 22 years, until 2000.
During Julitas time in the US, Godfrey continued to work at Kibo Hotel in Kilimanjaro where he was employed as a manager 1976-1989. The weather in Kilimanjaro was too cold for the mother, as she had arthritis. In Tanga they had a house, but as they decided to move back to Tanga they found the Azania Inn that was owned by an Indian family, at this time just a guest house with four rooms.
At the takeover the name was changed to Panori after the tree sons: Patrick, Norman & Richard. So from 1990 and until now the hotel has been in the family.
The beautiful restaurant is built around a big mango tree and was designed by Godfrey. The two wings with 18 rooms was added in the early 90:s and the main building was extended with conference facilities and office, and lounge. The beautiful garden has a great diversity of plants, of which many come from the Seychelles.
Julita came back to Tanzania together with her husband 2000 and became partner with her father. They took over the lease of Kibo Hotel and ran it as a branch of Panoli. Godfrey passed away in 2004 and but Julita continued operating both hotels until 2009, when she left the Kibo Hotel.
So now Julita is manager of Panori, and owns the estate together with her brothers and sister. Running this place was a promise to her father at the end of his life.
So welcome to Panori Hotel, Tanga, Tanzania. A hotel with a real story, and with family connections all over the world: Seychelles, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, US, England, Denmark and Germany