TRIBUTES are flowing in from around the world for a former Warrnambool man murdered in Tanzania.
Brian Gunnulson was found dead in his home in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam on January 22.
The 53-year-old had been working and living in Tanzania for 25 years, teaching Swahili and English.
Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen reported Mr Gunnulson suffered two bottle blows to the head before a thief or thieves made off with about $A4000 worth of Tanzanian shillings, his laptop, a solar lamp and his stereo.
His sister, Leanne Gunnulson, said Brian had been planning to return to Warrnambool in about six months to spend more time with their parents, who have lived in Warrnambool all their lives.
Ms Gunnulson said the stolen money had been set aside for his return ticket to Australia.
The police investigation into Mr Gunnulson’s death caused initial angst among friends and relatives, who were dismayed to learn the prime suspect had been taken into custody but then released soon after.
An outcry from the victim’s friends and family led to intervention from high-ranking police officials and the suspect was returned to custody, Ms Gunnulson said.
The investigation is ongoing. The suspect is believed to be a local man who was a close friend of Mr Gunnulson.
If the suspect pleads guilty or is found guilty, he will face the death penalty.
Ms Gunnulson travelled to Tanzania for her brother’s cremation and funeral service, which she said was a truly international affair.
“There were a large number of Tanzanians, but also people from Japan, Germany, Holland, England, Australia, India,” she said.
“There were people he’s known for 20 years. For a lot of people coming to live or work in Tanzania, Brian was their introduction to Tanzania.
“He lived near Coco Beach and that’s where he used to have a lot of his language lessons where he’d teach English to the locals and Swahili to the ex-pats.”
Brian’s friends plan to build a wooden bench at Coco Beach with the inscription “In memory of Brian/Shabani” — the latter being his African name.
Ms Gunnulson said one man spoke at Brian’s funeral about sending his children to learn Swahili from Brian because the former Warrnambool man’s grasp of the language was so good.
Another spoke of meeting her husband through Brian’s language classes, while another said she’d been very lonely until Brian had helped her be able to communicate and get by in Tanzania.
“I’ve received about 70 or 80 emails and my parents have got about 80 cards from people sending their respects,” she told The Standard yesterday.
“Brian had a massive impact over there.
“I couldn’t believe it.
“I didn’t realise the impact he’d had.
“I’ve been getting emails from people all around the world remembering him. He will be so terribly missed.”
She said her brother was very trusting and chose to live in a “local house”, as opposed to the many expats who had guards or who lived in compounds.
“But the thing is that Tanzania is a beautiful country and some of the people are the nicest you would ever meet.”
Mr Gunnelson was cremated and his ashes spread at some of his favourite spots, including the first school he taught at in Tanzania 25 years ago.
In a touching tribute, his neighbours planted a tree in front of his house in his memory.
Ms Gunnulson said the Warrnambool community had been “phenomenal” in their support of her parents.
“They’ve had so many visitors — so many people are there for them,” she said.
“It’s really wonderful. It’s a credit to the community.”
A memorial service for Mr Gunnulson will be held at St Joseph’s Church in Warrnambool on March 1 at 11am.