By Dr Paul John- www.drpauljohn.com, Port Harcourt, email@example.com,08083658038
At exactly 1925 hours on Tuesday ,July 4th 2017, Dr Sofri Peterside was installed as the president of the Rotary Club International ,Downtown branch of Port Harcourt. Dr Sofri Peterside is currently the president of the National Association of Government and General Medical and Dental Practitioners of Nigeria( NAGGMDP),one of the major affiliates of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA). It seems that medical doctors have taken over the affairs of the Downtown branch of the club as Dr Alex Woke ,the immediate past Rivers state NMA Assistant Secretary and an aspirant for the office of the NMA Secretary in the 2016 election in the state is the current presidential nominee and hopefully will be elected in December 2017 in order to succeed Dr Sofri Peterside in the next Rotary Year which begins in July 2018.
Dr Sofri Peterside settles down to sign some ‘executive ‘ orders
The Down town branch of the club meets every Tuesday at First Floor of the well-built Ernest Ikoli Press center along Moscow road Port Harcourt ,which is the official building of the Nigerian Union Of Journalists (NUJ) ,Rivers state . The time for each meeting is 1730 hours and the meeting lasts between 60 and 90 minutes . Many dignitaries were present at the occasion among whom were Dr Paul John, Dr Alex Woke ,police officers ,bankers,the clergy and other members from different professions.
Meanwhile, Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-sectarian organization open to all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are 34,282 member clubs worldwide, and 1.2 million individuals, known as Rotarians, have joined.
Rotarians usually gather weekly for breakfast, lunch, or dinner to fulfill their first guiding principle to develop friendships as an opportunity for service. “It is the duty of all Rotarians,” states their Manual of Procedure “outside their clubs, to be active as individuals in as many legally constituted groups and organizations as possible to promote, not only in words but through exemplary dedication, awareness of the dignity of all people and the respect of the consequent human rights of the individual.” The Rotarian’s primary motto is “Service Above Self”; its secondary motto is “One profits most who serves best
The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
- The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service
- High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
- The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
- The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
This objective is set against the “Rotary 4-Way Test,” used to see if a planned action is compatible with the Rotarian spirit. The test was developed by Rotarian and entrepreneur Herbert J. Taylor during the Great Depression as a set of guidelines for restoring faltering businesses and was adopted as the standard of ethics by Rotary in 1942. It is still seen as a standard for ethics in business management. The 4-Way Test considers the following questions in respect to thinking, saying or doing:
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
The first years of the Rotary Club
The first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul P. Harris called together a meeting of three business acquaintances in downtown Chicago, United States, at Harris’s friend Gustave Loehr‘s office in the Unity Building on Dearborn Street on February 23, 1905. In addition to Harris and Loehr (a mining engineer and freemason), Silvester Schiele (a coal merchant), and Hiram E. Shorey (a tailor) were the other two who attended this first meeting. The members chose the name Rotary because initially they rotated subsequent weekly club meetings to each other’s offices, although within a year, the Chicago club became so large it became necessary to adopt the now-common practice of a regular meeting place.
The next four Rotary Clubs were organized in cities in the western United States, beginning with San Francisco, then Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The National Association of Rotary Clubs in America was formed in 1910.On November 3, 1910, a Rotary club began meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the beginning of the organisation’s internationality.On 22 February 1911, the first meeting of the Rotary Club Dublin was held in Dublin, Ireland. This was the first club established outside of North America. In April 1912, Rotary chartered the Winnipeg club marking the first establishment of an American-style service club outside the United States. To reflect the addition of a club outside of the United States, the name was changed to the International Association of Rotary Clubs in 1912.
In August 1912, the Rotary Club of London received its charter from the Association, marking the first acknowledged Rotary club outside North America. It later became known that the Dublin club in Ireland was organized before the London club, but the Dublin club did not receive its charter until after the London club was chartered. During World War I, Rotary in Britain increased from 9 to 22 clubs,and other early clubs in other nations included those in Cuba in 1916, Philippines in 1919 and India in 1920.
In 1922, the name was changed to Rotary International. By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members.
In order to carry out its service programs, Rotary is structured in club, district and international levels. Rotarians are members of their clubs. The clubs are chartered by the global organization Rotary International (RI) headquartered in Evanston, Illinois. For administrative purposes, the more than 32,000 clubs worldwide are grouped into 529 districts, and the districts into 34 zones.
The Rotary Club is the basic unit of Rotary activity, and each club determines its own membership. Clubs originally were limited to a single club per city, municipality, or town, but Rotary International has encouraged the formation of one or more additional clubs in the largest cities when practical. Most clubs meet weekly, usually at a mealtime on a weekday in a regular location, when Rotarians can discuss club business and hear from guest speakers. Each club also conducts various service projects within its local community, and participates in special projects involving other clubs in the local district, and occasionally a special project in a “sister club” in another nation. Most clubs also hold social events at least quarterly and in some cases more often.
Each club elects its own president and officers among its active members for a one-year term. The clubs enjoy considerable autonomy within the framework of the standard constitution and the constitution and bylaws of Rotary International. The governing body of the club is the Club Board (sometimes called Club Council), consisting of the club president (who serves as the Board chairman), a president-elect, club secretary, club treasurer, and several Club Board directors, including the immediate past president and the President Elect. The president usually appoints the directors to serve as chairs of the major club committees, including those responsible for club service, vocational service, community service, youth service, and international service.
Rotarians may attend any Rotary club around the world at one of their weekly meetings.
A district governor, who is an officer of Rotary International and represents the RI board of directors in the field, leads his/her respective Rotary district. Each governor is nominated by the clubs of his/her district, and elected by all the clubs meeting in the annual RI District Convention held each year. The district governor appoints assistant governors from among the Rotarians of the district to assist in the management of Rotary activity and multi-club projects in the district.
Approximately 15 Rotary districts form a zone. A zone director, who serves as a member of the RI board of directors, heads two zones. The zone director is nominated by the clubs in the zone and elected by the convention for the terms of two consecutive years.
Rotary International is governed by a board of directors composed of the international president, the president-elect, the general secretary, and 17 zone directors. The nomination and the election of each president is handled in the one- to three-year period before he takes office, and is based on requirements including geographical balance among Rotary zones and previous service as a district governor and board member. The international board meets quarterly to establish policies and make recommendations to the overall governing bodies, the RI Convention and the RI Council on Legislation.
The chief operating officer of RI is the general secretary, who heads a staff of about 600 people working at the international headquarters in Evanston and in seven international offices around the world.
According to its constitutions (“Charters”), Rotary defines itself as a non-partisan, non-sectarian organization. It is open to business and professional leaders aged 18 and upwards, with no regard to economic status.
One can contact a Rotary club to inquire about membership but can join a Rotary club only if invited; there is no provision to join without an invitation as each prospective Rotarian requires a sponsor who is an existing Rotarian. Some clubs, though not all, have exclusivist membership criteria: reputation and business or professional leadership may be a specific evaluation criterion for issuing invitations to join, and representation from a specific profession or business may be limited to a percentage of a specific club’s membership.
Active membership is by invitation from a current Rotarian, to professionals or businesspersons working in diverse areas of endeavour. Each club may limit up to ten percent of its membership representing each business or profession in the area it serves. The goal of the clubs is to promote service to the community they work in, as well as to the wider world. Many projects are organised for the local community by a single club, but some are organised globally.
Honorary membership is given by election of a Rotary Club to people who have distinguished themselves by meritorious service in the furtherance of Rotary ideals. Honorary membership is conferred only in exceptional cases. Honorary members are exempt from the payment of admission fees and dues. They have no voting privileges and are not eligible to hold any office in their club. Honorary membership is time limited and terminates automatically at the end of the term, usually one year. It may be extended for an additional period or may also be revoked at any time. Examples of honorary members are heads of state or former heads of state, scientists, members of the military, and other famous figures.
From 1905 until the 1980s, women were not allowed membership in Rotary clubs, although Rotarian spouses, including Paul Harris’ wife Jean, were often members of the similar “Inner Wheel” club. Women did play some roles, and Jean Harris made numerous speeches. In 1963, it was noted that the Rotary practice of involving wives in club activities had helped to break down female seclusion in some countries. Clubs such as Rotary had long been predated by women’s voluntary organisations, which started in the United States as early as 1790.
The first Irish clubs discussed admitting women as members in 1912, but the proposal floundered over issues of social class. Gender equity in Rotary moved beyond the theoretical question when in 1976, the Rotary Club of Duarte in Duarte, California, admitted three women as members. After the club refused to remove the women from membership, Rotary International revoked the club’s charter in 1978. The Duarte club filed suit in the California courts, claiming that Rotary Clubs are business establishments subject to regulation under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnic origin. Rotary International then appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The RI attorney argued that “… [the decision] threatens to force us to take in everyone, like a motel”. The Duarte Club was not alone in opposing RI leadership; the Seattle-International District club unanimously voted to admit women in 1986. The United States Supreme Court, on 4 May 1987, confirmed the Californian decision. Rotary International then removed the gender requirements from its requirements for club charters, and most clubs in most countries have opted to include women as members of Rotary Clubs.The first female club president to be elected was Silvia Whitlock of the Rotary Club of Duarte, California in 1987. By 2007, there was a female trustee of Rotary’s charitable wing The Rotary Foundation while female district governors and club presidents were common.
Women currently account for 22% of international Rotary membership. In 2013, Anne L. Matthews, a Rotarian from South Carolina, began her term as the first female vice-president of Rotary International. Also in 2013, Nan McCreadie was appointed as the first female president of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI). The first woman to join Rotary in Ghana, West Africa was Hilda Danquah (Rotary Club of Cape Coast) in 1992. The first woman president in Ghana was Dr. Naana Agyeman-Mensah in 2001 (Rotary Club of Accra-Airport). Up until 2013, there has been 46 women presidents in the 30 Rotary clubs in Ghana. In 2013, Stella Dongo from Zimbabwe was appointed District Governor for District 9210 (Zimbabwe/Zambia/Malawi/Northern-Mozambique) for the Rotary year 2013–14 making her the first female District Governor in the region. She had previously held the offices of Assistant Governor (2006–08), District Administrator (2008–09) and President of The Rotary Club of Highlands (2005–06). She was also Zimbabwe’s Country Coordinator (2009–10). Stella, who is a Master PRLS 5 Graduate has been recognised and awarded various District awards including Most Able President for year 2005–06 and Assistant Governor of the year 2006–07 and a Paul Harris Fellow.
The change of the second Rotarian motto in 2004, from “He profits most who serves best” to “They profit most who serve best,” 99 years after its foundation, illustrates the move to general acceptance of women members in Rotary.
Racial diversity in membership
The first Rotary Clubs in Asia were Manila in the Philippines and Shanghai in China, each in July 1919. Rotary’s office in Illinois immediately began encouraging the Rotary Club of Shanghai to recruit Chinese members “believing that when a considerable number of the native business and professional men have been so honoured, the Shanghai Club will begin to realize its period of greatest success.” As part of considering the application of a Club to be chartered in Kolkata (then Calcutta), India in January 1920 and Tokyo, Japan in October 1920, Rotary formally considered the issue of racial restriction in membership and determined that the organization could not allow racial restrictions to the organization’s growth. In Rotary’s legislative deliberations in June 1921, it was formally determined that racial restrictions would not be permitted. Non-racialism was included in the terms of the standard constitution in 1922 and required to be adopted by all member Clubs.
Rotary and other service clubs in the last decade of the 20th century became open to gay members. Other minorities, in the face of general changes in demographics and declining membership, are also encouraged to join.