CEREMONY OF THE HANDING OVER OF THE CHAIR OF OFFICE FOR DISTRICT 9101 FOR THE YEAR 2018/19 – SPEECH BY DISTRICT GOVERNOR AKI J. ALLEN
- Our Chief Patron H.E. President Adama Barrow, ably represented by H.E. the Vice President, Hon. Ousainou Darboe;
- The Past District Governor, Martin Ouedrago;
- The District Governor Elect, Thomas Some;
- The District Secretary, Hon Benjamin Adam Roberts;
- Assistant Governors;
- Past Assistant Governors;
- Chairmen and Women of the District Committees & Sub- Committees;
- Presidents of the Rotary Clubs;
- Paul Harris Fellows;
- Fellow Rotarians;
- Family & Friends of Rotarians;
- Ladies of the Inner Wheel;
- Other Partners In Service;
- Distinguished Patrons and Invited Guests; and
- Members of the Media Fraternity.
It is indeed an honour and a privilege to stand here today as District Governor for District 9101 for Rotary Year 2018-19; a district comprising of 10 countries, 18 regions, and 77 Rotary Clubs with over 1800 Rotarians. I am gratified to welcome our Rotarian friends, family, and delegates to Banjul, The Gambia for the Handing Over ceremony of the District Leadership from Bamako to Banjul. Let me place on record, from the onset, that I am enthusiastic, indefatigable, charged, empowered, and rearing to go with this mandate of leadership that I have been entrusted with by both District 9101 and Rotary International. It is my honour to welcome the Honourable Vice President, Mr. Ousainou Darboe, and to reassure you of our continued partnership with the Government to achieve a fair and equitable society for our people.
As The Gambia will be holding the annual District Conference in March 2019, it will be a sub-regional event with the representation of Rotary International and we hope the government will give its support and act as host to about 600 delegates who will want to experience the hospitality of the Smiling Coast of West Africa.
The occasion is historic as this is the first time after 39 years of Rotary in The Gambia that The Gambia is taking over the governorship of this District. During this time, we have seen the District boundaries change from 210, 910, 9100, 9101, and 9102. From when big Nigeria was part of this District and now on its own and when Ghana leaving and joining with Benin, Togo and Niger and we are now left with English speaking countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia and French speaking countries of Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Guinea Conakry. And with 2 Portuguese Speaking countries of Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau.
In February 1983, I was introduced to Rotary by an honest, trustworthy, respectful, truthful, compassionate and responsible man of integrity who is no other than my brother, friend and mentor PP Dr. Omorlabi Melville George. In his modest way, Omorlabi invited me to a Rotary meeting held at Atlantic Hotel and simply said you are invited and you don’t have to stay if you don’t like it. The truth is I was overwhelmed by what I saw. Professional business people of integrity discussing nothing about themselves but everything about helping the less fortunate in our communities.
In Rotary Club of Banjul, at the beginning of my Rotary Career, I served as Vocational Chair, Secretary (for 4 years), Treasurer, and then became President of RC Banjul in 1991/92. I was later appointed AG under the governorship of Robert Arthur Willie Keteku and Simon Kafando. Since then my involvement with Rotary has been a life rewarding experience and I am grateful to God Almighty for making it possible for me to attain this high chain of office to continue the good works of Rotary; providing selfless service to the less privileged members of our communities through humanitarian and educational interventions and promoting world peace internationally.
I appreciated the objectives Rotary stands for, more so when another Rotarian good friend of mine selflessly paid a contribution of $1,000.00 to make me a Paul Harris Fellow and by awarding me this honour to became the first Rotarian in The Gambia to receive the Paul Harris recognition. Such a magnanimous honour was conferred on me by none other than Rt PAG Francis Jones of RCB and creator of RC Fajara.
I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the doyen Club in The Gambia – Rotary Club of Banjul who together with Fajara Club had absolute confidence in putting my name forward as a candidate for District Governor. I will continue to count on your support. I also want to pay tribute to the indefatigable Rtn. PP Fatou Bah, my right hand supporter and will advicer who has pledged her full support to see me through the hard and difficult task of leading the district in 2018/19. I thank also the NRC for their unwavering support and commitment to facilitate the enormous work to deliver.
In assuming the office of District Governor, it is my great honour and joy to work with the newly appointed District Officers. They are:-
- Benjamin Roberts (RCF) as new District Secretary;
- E. Alieu Secka (RCF) – Honorary Consul for the Republic of Indonesia and CEO, GCCI. Rtn. Alieu is the new District Treasurer and will be assisted by Rtn
- Paul Gaye (RC Banjul)
- AG Minyan Jobe (RC Fajara)
- Other District Officers that will serve with are from other Clubs in the District.
To my dear wife, Folashade, my immediate family Coxy, Vibert and Adika here, and extended one, I thank you for our support and understanding. Let me also express my thanks and appreciation to the District Nomination Committee for their confidence in me to handle the efforts of District 9101 for the year 2018/19. I can assure them of my desire to achieve the best for the District and I would always knock at the doors of the Past Governors to draw from the wealth of experience acquired in the administration of the District.
A District of 10 countries, 3 official languages, 76 Clubs with most in difficulties, a total population of 1,750 and a vast geographical spread is not an easy task!! So my Past District Governors, I will need all your support. It would be in place for me to pay tribute to my predecessor, the Late Rtn Nicolas Khouvey, Immediate Past District Governor, District 9101. A gentle giant who finally succumbed to an illness that robbed us all of the energy, enthusiasm and vision that he would have provided to carry the District forward a year ago. My thoughts are with his wife, Mama and family especially the little ones. Fellow Rotarians, Distinguished Guests, The Rotary International President Barry Rassin in his acceptance speech last January 2018 in San Diego asked us all to remember R.I. President Elect Sam (RIPE), who passed away last year. Rtn. Sam was a hero to Rotarians in Africa. He referred to himself as an incorrigible optimist who, despite all the darker sides of life, believed in the goodness of the world and the power of Rotary to make humanity shine even brighter. President Barry steps in for Sam and the work of Rotary continues. In Rotary, we build on the work of those who have gone before. As Rotary leaders, we are therefore entrusted with the following tasks:
- Basically to INSPIRE OTHERS to:
- Show love and empathy to members of our club and the community we serve;
- Show enthusiasm for Rotary; and
- Be Agent of Change – Be audacious and do more.
- Lead by Example – Show what to do than telling what to do President Barry has chosen this year’s theme as “Be the Inspiration”. Put simply, he wants Rotarians:
- to build a stronger organization;
- to Inspire younger generations to join Rotaract and Interact Clubs and develop;
- their skills and leadership qualities;
- to Allow formation of new clubs to suit the needs of their members; and
- to Follow whatever it was that inspired us to plan to eradicate Polio 30 years ago.
With such inspiration, this is Rotary’s success story:
- 30 years ago (1988) – 350,000 people were affected with Polio
- 4 years ago (2014) – 359 people were affected
- 2 years ago (2016) – 37 children had Polio worldwide
- In 2017 – Only 21 children affected
- Near future – Achieve near eradication of Polio where
- Every new case discovered will be the last.
- We hope that the gain achieved with the Polio Programme will continue to inspire us to keep our eyes on the ball and focus on the continued immunization programme.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sustainability is now the watchword for Rotary. Let us ensure that the good we do for the world lasts forever. If we care about what the world and Planet Earth will look like in 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years from now, then we should acknowledge some harsh realities and ACT now!
- Pollution, environmental degradation, and climate change impact on our six areas of focus.
- Environmental pollution is seriously affecting the lives of 1.7M children yearly.
- It is estimated that 4 billion people on planet earth live with water scarcity at least one month of the year.
- 80% of our land on earth is within 1 meter of sea level. A 2 meter sea rise will change the face of the earth.
Therefore, fellow Rotarians, let us make Rotary move from Re-action to Action.
MY PROJECT FOR THE DISTRICT
Solar Infrastructure for 10 – 12 Gambian Villages
My project for the District would be within two of the six main areas of focus for Rotary. They are: Water & Sanitation and secondly Economic and Community Development. I am inspired to introduce simple solar technology to transform the lives of small rural communities. The project falls within Rotary’s 2 (two) areas of focus, namely:-
- Water Supply; and,
- Economic & Community Development
Safe drinking water will be provided by a solar driven submersible pump to a high level storage water tank and reticulated to a required number of stand pipes to serve the small village community. By providing an adequate supply of solar driven street lights, where there is little hope to be connected to the national electricity grid, the small village night time activities will be increased under safe and secured conditions. A total transformation in the lifestyle of the villagers is foreseen. Having street lights will provide USB outlets for the charging of mobile phones. This Global Grant project of Solar Lightening & Water Supply in all 10 Countries of the District will be implemented over a three year period and shall comprise of one Project per country with the first four to be implemented under my leadership and three under the leadership of DG E SOME and three under the leadership of DGN. In addition to this Global Grant project for which we are currently working to secure approval. We as a District will pursue our set District Goals for the year 2018-19 that shall enable us to realize:
- a change for the strengthening of weak clubs and creation of few new additional clubs;
- a change for increased, committed, and diverse membership;
- a change for the promotion of better camaraderie amongst all our members clubs and most especially those clubs needing assistance for improved effectiveness;
- a change for members to inspire more people within our communities to volunteer and join Rotarians in the various vocations of service and in our various service interventions
- a change to meet our obligations to Rotary International by meeting the targets we have set for ourselves to donate to the Annual Fund, the Polio Fund, and to the Rotary Foundation.
Fellow Rotarians, our very own Rotary Motto ‘Service Above Self ‘must inspire us as we here in Banjul reach another milestone of exchanging the mantle of leadership as was conceived by the father of Rotary – Paul Harris. Let us be reminded of the ideals of Rotary and how we are expected to be committed to Serving Humanity and contributing to the welfare of our communities.
The global events unfolding across all of our communities and the undeniable challenges confronting us as a civilization, the very core of the service orientation of Rotary, should inspire us to dig deep for purposes of finding the requisite energy and enthusiasm to Be the Inspiration for a positive change in our respective communities with the objective of serving humanity. As your District Governor for the Rotary Year 2018-19, I enjoin you to support me and my team of District Leaders for a successful and memorable Rotary Year as we work hard to put together a successful Banjul District Assembly Conference for all the Clubs in the District.
I equally request of your support for us to meet the timely payment of our District & RI Dues; the timely reporting of our Monthly Rotary Meeting Attendance; and for all Rotarians to be signed on to MY ROTARY as we pursue our 95% MY ROTARY sign-on rate for District 9101.
On this note, I once again thank all of you for attending the District 9101 Official Handing Over ceremony and I look forward to working with you and to equally receive your support to enable us to further enhance and build upon the existing strengths of District 9101 and improve in those areas where we need improvement.
Thank you and we look forward to hosting you again here in The Gambia in March 2019.