Chartering of the Rotary Club of Mwika

Officiated by DG Stephen Mwanje

June 17th, 2011




Months ago when the District Governor for the District 9200 Stephen Mwanje was visiting with us in Moshi, he urged us to form a Rotary Club in Mwika,
Rtn. Sadikiel Kimaro’s home village to which he is still maintains strong ties. “You form it and I’ll come to charter it personally,” so he promised. A Rotary Club on a slope of Mount Kilimanjaro where people are largely subsistence farmers? That seemed like a pipe dream. And yet, that setting so much needed the Rotary Club’s spirit of “service above self” to bring about development from the ground up.

Rtn. Sadikiel Kimaro, who is the President of Moshi Club, called a meeting of prominent villagers to sound them out. Much to his surprise, they embraced the idea enthusiastically. But do they know that the Club is not for individual benefit but to serve the community? Are they aware that there are financial obligations to becoming a member? That the Club is part of a global network which means there are rules and procedures that must be respected? So teachers, local government officials, pastors, businessmen and women, traders, constructor, farmers came together to see whether the Rotary waters is what they would want to wade in. The Rotary rigour was imposed from the start. Weekly meetings, punctuality, fees. And to their own surprise, ‘Mwikarites’ found that they could be punctual, not only for the weekly meetings but also for other gatherings as well! “Rotarian” time is, in a small way, replacing “Tanzanian” time.
Club committees were set up – membership, public relations, administration, Rotary Foundation, youth, and projects -- and Club members were appointed to the committees of their choice. Each committee had the members choose their chair. These committees are on a steep learning curve, still learning the roles they are to play in driving the Club forward.

June 17th , the D-day for Mwika Rotary.

Mwika Club members started to arrive at the home of Rtns. Sadikiel and Young Kimaro in Mwika for the event. In the true spirit of Rotarians they lent a helping hand for last minute details – to clean and arrange tables and chairs, to put up road signs to guide visitors from afar onto the right country lane and up to the gate.

DG Stephen Mwanje’s arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport was delayed by several hours. He arrived famished. Hasn’t had a bite the whole morning. A quick detour to Marangu Hotel for a fruit platter to boost up his energy, then he was safely conveyed, together with the District TRF Fundraising Chair Rtn. Fay Cran, the Country Chair Rtn. Harish Bhatt and his young son, and Rtn. Abbas Moledina, Past Assistant Governor to the venue. Mwika Club members were out in full force at the gate to welcome the DG and guests, and there were many.

The District Commissioner of Moshi, Mussa Samizi, himself an honourary Rotarian, came to grace the occasion as did the Past DG of the Lions Club, Himat Shah, fellow Rotarians from the Rotary Clubs of Kilimanjaro region -- Marangu, Mwanga, Kilema, Mamba and Moshi, and many teachers from Mwika. Altogether about ninety were gathered.

The event kicked off with the Club’s invocation, delivered in Swahili by Rev. John Mlay, which incorporated the Rotary’s Four Way Test: “… mindful of the needs of others who are less fortunate than ourselves. May all that we think, do and say, every day of our lives Be true, fair and beneficial to all concerned And build goodwill and better friendship for all, amen.” This was followed by ‘Africa anthem,’ also in Swahili, which is the first verse of Tanzanian national anthem.

Each honoured guest shared their thoughts for the occasion, following which the DG got down to the charter presentation business. He signed the Club charter, read it out aloud to everyone’s benefit, and handed it over to the Club Charter President, John Shao. Then the symbols of Rotary authority – the bell (replacing a drum the Club had used to date) and the ribbon for the President, both provided by the RC of Moshi, the sponsoring Club – were handed over. Lots of smiles and handshakes. Club members called up to the head table to be pinned. Rtn. Fay Cran (alias Mama Kuku) called on to lend a hand in pinning new Charter members to speed up the process.

The pin of the Club’s choice has the rotary emblem embedded in the map of Tanzania in flag colours of blue, yellow, black, and green. The DG presents his banner to the Clubs present. Still he was not done with his hat trick. He pulls out more from his black carry-on bag. Rotary ties. Rotary scarves for the Mwika Club, and Mwika Club would not be outdone.
Young Kimaro, the charter Vice-President, presents to the DG a small clock embedded into wooden block, beautifully crafted by handicapped workers at the Shah Industries that Lion Himat Shah heads.

By now it was approaching 3:30 p.m. and hunger began to bite. Food time. Three stations. One for herbivors and two for omnivors. While feasting, outcame a trolley At his last visit the DG had confessed his love for the Kilimanjaro region’s special delicacy, the ndafu, a whole goat roasted and presented with its head intact. If he kept his promise to come to personally charter the Mwika Club, we promised to serve him this specialty. Both sides kept their promises. Rev. – now Rtn. – John Mlay did the honour of officiating on the passing of the ndafu plate as per Chagga tradition. The Club Chartered; the feast complete with keki; all’s right with the world, at least for that day. Rtn. Abbas Moledina from RC of Arusha, Mt. Meru, handed over $100 to Rtn. Anence Kawiche, challenging the Club to become 100% sustaining member Club.

Later Rtn. Harish Bhatt added his $100 to the challenge. DG’s challenge to the Club? You guys are much too serious. You need to lighten up. Have more fellowship activities. OK, DG Stephen Mwanje, we hear you. We’ll get there.