Our Rotary district is of superior pedigree. It is world renown because our East African leadership has made a difference all over the Rotary world. We have had luminaries such as the late Sam Owori who was the second person of African decent elected to serve as Rotary International President. We also have rising stars who are movers and shakers on the global stage such as PDGs Francis Tusubira, Geeta Manek, Eric Kimani and Varinder Singh Sur to name a few.
At the end of March 2018 we said good bye to PDG Yusuf Kodwavalla and his wife Marie who travelled to the UK for their retirement. His commitment to this district is beyond measure and we will miss his guidance, not to mention his wonderful articles in the Sunday Nation. The Rotarians who inspired me when I was Club President were PDG Mohamed Abdulla, my Governor, PDG Harry Mugo and PDG Kaushik Manek who served as Country Chair and Assistant Governor respectively. PDG Mohamed has spent a considerable amount of time guiding the district in it fiduciary duties and compliance, while PDG Harry shepherds The Rotary Foundation matters as DRFC, and PDG Kaushik leads our efforts in Polio eradication in the region.
Rarely does a sitting RI President make repeated official visits to a country abroad, but this was the case when Gary Huang who served in 2014-15 visited Kenya twice to mark the exceptional year when PDG Bimal Kantaria was at the helm. Bimal got the world to stand up and take notice as he broke every performance record you can think of and made a bold statement that Rotary is the premier networking organisation.
They say that one man’s beef is another man’s poison, and this was true when DG Peter Mbui transferred his membership from the Rotary Club of Nakuru to the Rotary Club of Nairobi-East. When he eventually became the President of the club I served in his Board. I admire his ability to deliver results while paying special attention to people as well as his capacity to grasp the details, which has been enhanced even more in his year as Governor.
My first opportunity to lead a Rotary project came from DGE Jeff Bamford. I was a new to the club and after he shared a project update at a fellowship, I indicated that I wanted to get involved. He invited me to a cup of coffee and produced a gigantic yellow file, which he left in my hands along with a tonne of anxiety as the new project leader. Jeff’s organisational skills impressed us while he served as a Director of Operation Smile where he organised multitudes of cleft lip surgeries for infants of needy families in the country, conducted by hosts of international doctors.
I worked under the leadership of both PDG Tadesse Alemu and PDG Teshome Kebede from Ethiopia and from them I learned to maintain high standards in whatever we do in Rotary. The amazing growth we are seeing out of Rotaract in Ethiopia is a testament to this and it is only a matter of time for that potential to spark Rotary’s growth with the strongest foundation in the second largest population in Africa.
All these role models are of superior pedigree and they provide the kind of inspiration that motivates action to improve lives in our society — a distinctive pedigree which they graciously pass on to us. I’d like to thank every one of the PDGs for the sacrifices that they’ve made to place our District on a pedestal, and for driving our top performance in membership growth and project implementation. I request each one of you not to hold back your gratitude but to express your admiration at every opportunity, and to do so by carrying on the work that they have started with diligence and fortitude.