03-09-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
His life was all about diving into the sea of creativity, visions, free, wild talent to be imprisoned in tangible, visible and even profitable works.
Mario Scianna's marvellous adventure came to an end after seventy-three years of intuition, invention and great love for the sea of Kenya.
The Sicilian-born entrepreneur from Parma, who had spent almost forty years on the shores of the Indian Ocean, died on Wednesday evening in his home town of Diani, after a long and troubled illness.
There he was known for having created "The Sands at Nomad", a resort with one of the best restaurants on the coast and for having also created the unique and exclusive retreat on Chale Island, a paradise of privacy and freedom on a small island that changes its atmosphere completely with the changing tides. It took 1,200 workers to build it under his leadership.
Then there is Leonardo's bar, not surprisingly dedicated to the greatest genius in Italian history.
But Scianna's African story began with one of his many great passions, scuba diving.
It is safe to say that if today Kenya is also a renowned international destination for underwater tourism, it is mainly due to him.
In 1982 he landed on the shores of the Indian Ocean on an 'exploratory mission' on behalf of the Tour Operator Francorosso.
At that time there were no organised diving schools.
His "The Crab" was the first to not only offer an extra pleasure and service to tourists coming to Kenya, but to do so through a professional structure, teaching the trade to many future Kenyan diving instructors.
And here came the second insight: in a few years the country's marine destinations were booming as never before, but the boats to transport them on excursions and dives were not enough.
I found no other solution," Mario told me a few years ago, "than to start building them myself. I started working with an expert craftsman from Tanzania, but he abandoned me halfway through. Since then I decided that I would design and build my own boats.
He has managed to forge around forty, each one different from the next. They are unique pieces of design that have attracted enthusiasts, experts at the Genoa Boat Show and VIPs (including Flavio Briatore) who have asked him for a boat like a work of art.
And like a sculpture, it was impossible to agree on the shape, the style, the fairing.
I only build them out of passion, I've never thought of it as a business," the volcanic creative assured me, "they must remain almost living creatures, with their own story.
Like a true artist, his works will remain and his imprint on the beauty of Diani will not be easily erased, in the decades to come. Bye, genius, it was an honour to meet you and hear the life story of one of the Italians in Kenya to be proud of, directly from his voice.
To Rosy and her children the deepest condolences of Malindikenya.net
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