The history of Rotary in Africa dates back to 1921 when the Rotary club of Johannesburg was founded in South Africa (then the Union of South Africa). Eight years later, (1929) Rotary was established in North Africa when the Rotary club of Cairo, Egypt was chartered.
Within a year,(1930) the Rotary club of Nairobi, Kenya was formed to take Rotary to East Africa, and nine years later, (1939), the Rotary club of Dakar, Senegal, brought Rotary to West Africa.
RC Port Elizabeth
RC Cape Town
RC East London
Johnathan B. Majiyagbe (RC Kano, Nigeria) was the first Rotary International President from Africa. Johnathan joined Rotary in 1967 and served in various capacities: District Governor, Committee Member, Chairman, Director, and Trustee of the Rotary Foundation.
In July 2003, Jonathan took office as the new President of Rotary International, as the first president of African origin, it was a historic moment for Rotarians on the continent.
Jonathan’s presidential theme for his year in office was “Lend a Hand” His reasoning was, “We will lend a hand to alleviate poverty, relieve the scourge of disease, educate, and lend a hand of fellowship to all Rotarians.
In July 2006, Jonathan had the following to say on why he is a Rotarian:
I had an occasion years ago to make some statements as to why I am a Rotarian. One statement was that Rotary provides a vehicle for fulfilling that natural instinct in people of goodwill everywhere to care and to volunteer time for the needs of their neighbours. Another was our worldwide fellowship.
As the years have gone by, I find that my conclusions are being reinforced in my club, in the district, and in our Rotary world.
The fellowship that abounds at club meetings generates true friendship. The friendship has a way of spreading to the local community. Civic responsibilities are enhanced and community needs are met.
The same fellowship is present in all the clubs in the District, at District conferences, Rotary Institutes, and Conventions. Some of the best friends are made not only in the local clubs but also in the district, Zones and indeed around the world.
Rotary makes me feel as much at home in Nigeria as it does elsewhere. In all the places, I am surrounded by Rotarian friends. I am in the company of a global community united by common values; delightful members old and young of the Family of Rotary.
As Rotarians, we define those values and reflect upon them in a number of ways: the Object of Rotary, the Rotary International Mission Statement, the Annual President’s theme, the Declaration of Rotarians of Businesses and Professions and the Four-Way Test.
But for most of us or indeed all of us, it comes back to the three simple words “service above self”, otherwise translated as “Lend a Hand”.
For me, Rotary is one great gateway that leads to many doors – the chance to meet great people you would otherwise never meet, to learn about cultures you never knew existed, to break bread with otherwise total strangers and so break down the barriers of ignorance and intolerance, to support a strong Rotary Foundation and its programs and participate in a crusade for building world understanding and peace.
An organization with a track record of 100 years of humanitarian service, a catalyst and supporter of global effort to eradicate polio and architect of the Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution commends itself for membership.
Whereas nations and governments carry out programs for their citizens in fulfillment of obligations to do so, Rotarians execute projects that meet the needs of people no matter where not because of their gain or a duty to carry out the project. Their joy is the ability to volunteer and their benefit is an opportunity to serve.
Today, nearly 100 years later, Rotary is in 53 Countries on the continent with 33,644 members in 1,485 clubs
MAURITANIA, MOROCCO, (and) TUNISIA
FASO, CABO VERDE, CÔTE d'IVOIRE, GAMBIA, GUINEA, GUINEA-BISSAU, LIBERIA,
MALI, SENEGAL, (and) SIERRA LEONE
GHANA, NIGER, (and) TOGO
CAMEROUN, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, CHAD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO,
EQUATORIAL GUINEA, GABON, REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO, RWANDA, (and) SAO TOME &
(part of) MOZAMBIQUE, ZAMBIA, (and) ZIMBABWE
ETHIOPIA, KENYA, (and) SOUTH SUDAN
ISLANDS, DJIBOUTI, MADAGASCAR, MAURITIUS, MAYOTTE, REUNION, (and) SEYCHELLES
NAMIBIA; (and) SOUTH AFRICA
(and) SOUTH AFRICA
ESWATINI, (part of) MOZAMBIQUE, (parts of) SOUTH AFRICA
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