Posted by Young Kimaro on Sep 02, 2018

Rotarian Faye Cran has lived in Tanzania for over 60 years where she started a chicken business from scratch that today processes over 50,000 chickens a week, earning her the name Mama kuku. 

In addition to her passion for chicken business, Mama Kuku was passionate about growing Rotary. In 2008/9, during her term as the Rotary country chair, Tanzania, she saw a total of 22 Rotary clubs formed and over 550 new members inducted - a record for the contry! Mama kuku is also one of the only two Arch Klumpf Society members in the district.

Rtn Young Kimaro, from RC Mwika and the country membership chair for Tanzania, interviewed Faye to get an insight on how she achieved this and the lessons learned.

Tell us a little about yourself and your Rotary journey 

We moved to Moshi when my father brought a farm here. I was 13 studying in Kenya at the Loreto Convent in Eldoret where I passed the Junior Cambridge exams and started working on the farm. Though I loved it I was not making a lot of money. So, I decided to try keeping chicken. I started with 25 chicks, which I bought for one shilling and sold for 20 shilling five months later. I was in business until in 1973 when our farm was nationalized and we lost everything overnight.  However, I was given credit by a friend in Kenya and I started importing day old chicks and carrying them around to sell to customers. They used to say here comes ‘Mama Kuku’ and the name stuck.

About my family, my late father was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Moshi while my late husband PP.  Derick was a member of RC Mombasa when they chartered both RC Moshi and Arusha. We have a daughter, Jacques, who is in Australia and who owns a travel agency and is a member of the RC Melbourne.  Our other daughter, Joyce, is a health care worker in England and our son Michael is a transporter in Tanzania. I joined Rotary through my husband. I used to leave Arusha at 6 am every morning, returning about 8pm ever night and he persuaded me to have lunch once a week with him. And that the lunch meeting of the RC Arusha. I know, wrong reason!

So where Did the passion to grow Rotary start?

It goes way back to when I was the President of the Rotary Club of Arusha. When I was installed, we had only 18 members but by the end of my year we were up to 43. How did this come about ?  I was enthusiastic to invite members to our club. My first success was a lady whose husband worked for the UN. We were working together on a “Menu Book “to help raise funds for Upendo Home for leprosy victims and their families. She was so hardworking and capable and one day I simply said to her “I wish we had someone like you in the RC Arusha”. She replied “I would love to be a Rotarian, but who will invite me”? She was the best secretary ever!

Then at a Lions Club of Arusha installation night, I noticed one active member of the club, whom I had also often seen as a guest at our club functions and he had made generous donations. So, as soon as I got a chance to talk to him, I asked why I had seen him at Rotary so many times and he had donated so much money yet he chose to join Lions instead. He replied simply, “I was never asked.”

I became the Country Chair purely by accident as John Mallya from Rotary Club of Dar-es Salaam – Mzizima, opted out due to family reasons. The District Governor Elect at that time, Dr Tadesse Alemu, asked me to take up the position. I had lost my husband, Derick, and I needed something to keep me busy. Therefore, although I doubted my capabilities and with a lot of encouragement, I agreed.

Once I agreed to be the Country Chair, DG Tadesse then proceeded to give me his expectations! Wow! He wanted five new clubs in his year.  I started wondering what I had gotten myself into.  Tanzania had never opened more than one club in a year; and that year PDG Hatim had already helped establish RC Dar es Salaam Oysterbay!

How did you go about establishing the clubs? 

The first club formed was the Rotary club of Same. At a Rotary Convention, in Salt Lake City I had met Ron Denham, the founder of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Rotary Action group (WASRAG ) and he had informed me of a planned water project in Same District. This created a perfect opportunity to open a club. Together with Rotarians Lucy Renju, Amon Noel and Dr. Mark Mvungi who was the President of RC Moshi at that time, we started mobilizing potential Rotarians and in no time, we found 25 willing members. 

Lucy also saw another opportunity in Mwanga and four meetings later, discussing Rotary and the benefits it could bring to the communities, we had 25 enthusiastic members and a club. This was followed by RC Kilema Kati in Kilimanjaro where Rotarians from Canada had initiated a project to renovate a school. Three  clubs done, two to go. This was becoming easier than I thought and I began to dream bigger! It seemed all you had to do was tell people what Rotary could do for their communities and people wanted Rotary in their area.

And so this continued. We formed clubs at Mbeya, Songea and Ukerewe island. Ukerewe was interesting.  I had travelled with Dev Manik Past President of the RC Arusha and DG’s Special Representative and on our way back, the District Commissioner, Ms. Queen Mlozi travelled with us on the same ferry to Mwanza to pay the club’s charter fee. She was so eager for the club to start.

Other clubs formed that year included Lake Victoria (Mwanza region), Musoma (Mara region), Sumbawanga (Rukwa region) and Shinyanga (Shinyanga region) Babati (Manyara region); Mkuu Rombo, Marangu and Monduli (Kilimanjaro region); Arusha - Golden Sunrise, Tengeru and Monduli (Arusha region) and Morogoro North (Morogoro). In total 22 clubs were chartered in that year and two were in the process (Kigoma and Siha). Unfortunately Monduli and Shinyanga were later terminated.

So, what key lessons did you learn?

Training is essential as new clubs need to be nurtured by their sponsor. I did not become the country trainer the following year, which was the usual path. Therefore I was not able to mentor and nurture the new clubs to grow. 

Starting new clubs is not cheap! It takes a lot of time and often one has to spend money on transport, communication and even meals and drinks for the potential members in the first initial meetings. I was fortunate in that my business was flourishing so I had some money to spare. 

Appreciation is definitely important: People need to be appreciated when they spend their time and even money to form clubs.

Do you think Tanzania can add another 22 clubs this year? what needs to happen?

Yes definitely, you only need enthusiastic and committed people, prepared to put their time and effort, and even money into it. 

What has been your life’s guiding philosophy?

Action not Words! Don’t Quit!