H.E. Claudinah Ramosepele, South Africa’s Ambassador to Switzerland condoling Mrs. Saager after the service

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A man of many Qualities
Hansjürg Saager - 15. 3. 1940 – 18. 7. 2017 / Funeral Service at Reformierte
Kirche Küsnacht / Date 27. Juli 2017 / Tribute by Jürg L. Steinacher

The late Mr. Hansjürg Saager was described by Mr. Jürg L. Steinacher in his tribute “as someone with many qualities, whom people liked to be associated with.”

He was so fond and committed to his interests, be it professional, cultural and social, that he became an expert in all of them. He was a lover of nature, animals and human beings and stood for them in one way on the other.

“As much as Hansjürg stood up for human rights, he fought as much for animal welfare and protection and the conservation of their habitat. This could be seen from the way treated his dearest, faithful, domestic companions, the loveable and capricious greyhounds Witiko and Winnie,” said Steinacher.

Mr. Steinacher said Hansjürg found his calling in Africa, most especially in South Africa where he was able to engage in one of his related interests which became his greatest lifelong projects - The Peace Park Foundation. It is the noble aim of the foundation to establish nature and wildlife conservation areas in southern Africa in such a way that it allows for the migration of diverse ecological communities from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. In order to achieve this, there would be no need to observe national borders, as they would become porous for migration. The Peace Parks are not just a peace project for animals and endangered bio diversity, but also for people. Especially for the people in these regions who will be able to have a livelihood with the support of the Peace Parks Foundation in form of “Fair Tourism”.
The Peace Parks represent a visionary idea for a sustainable future initiated by Nelson Mandela, HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Anton Rupert, were close friends of him and his wife Fränzi.

In the tribute, Mr. Steinacher talk about the genesis of Hansjürg’s adventure to southern Africa began during the time he spent his holidays at the coffee and wheat plantations of the Saager Family in Tanzania, from where the family relocated to South Africa after the nationalisation of the produce.

His father Bruno Saager bought the vinery Eibendal near Stellenbosch which was well established, before South African wines became notable, to be one of the leading traditional wines of the Cape. For years the brothers Ruedi and Hansjürg cultivated and enhanced the quality and the reputation of these wines, as a result of which they received numerous awards each year.

Simultaneously, Hansjürg and Fränzi, along with HM King Goodwill, King of the Zulu Nation, established the joint venture “Bayede”. Bayede epitomises a success story that could be achieved through a combination of Swiss entrepreneurship and African wealth – nature and human resources.

Hansjürg was one of the most experienced and knowledgeable Swiss South Africa experts. He published a widely received book about Swiss economic activities in South Africa. With his unparalleled and extensive, personal network at the Cape, he was able to positively influence much behind the scenes. He received a lot of goodwill and recognition from official and unofficial sides in South Africa, then goodwill, which he freely shared with others.

One of such examples is the SwissCham Southern Africa, which he co-founded and was editor for the chamber’s bulletin and whose strongest pillar he was as a member of the board throughout the years.

However Mr. Steinacher opined that anyone who is altruistic and supportive to the cause to such an extent would also experience human disappointment which Hansjürg did experience.

Looking back at his life today, one will be astonished. Not just about the variety and diversity, but also about the discipline required to face all the challenges and tasks on a daily basis, expressed Mr. Steinacher. “He certainly had that discipline in his genes from his father and mother. But as an enthusiastic sportsman he definitely worked at it. In his teens he was a gifted rower in a coxed four or eight at the rowing club Seeclub Zurich, in later years he hiked in the mountains, he played golf and used his fitness equipment daily.”

He loved concerts and music, but music was of crucial importance to him, especially Mozart. “Mozart’s piano concertos accompanied and supported him during his time at the hospital in Chur,” Mr. Steinacher recollected.

No wonder Mozart’s music was rendered at his funeral service held at Reformierte Kirche Küsnacht, attended by family members, friends, business partners and enthusiasts from near and far to pay him their final respect. Among them were the South Africa’s Ambassador, H.E. Claudinah Ramosepele, and Cathy Bergs from the Peace Parks Foundation.

Photo: H.E. Claudinah Ramosepele, South Africa’s Ambassador to Switzerland condoling Mrs. Saager after the service