By Amin Kef-Ranger
During an auspicious event that was held at the New City Hall in the central part of Freetown on the 1st July, 2022, members of the Rotary Club of Freetown, inducted their new President, Rtn Hawa Sally Samai, who also happens to be the Executive Secretary of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC), as she gracefully succeeded the outgoing President, Alpha Tejan Jalloh.
Gracing the occasion were high profiled personalities including the British High Commissioner, Her Excellency Lisa Chesney, and other crème de la crème in the country.
The newly elected President, Rtn Hawa Sally Samai, in her induction speech, delivered succinctly and eloquently, holding the audience spellbound, maintained that it was someone, not Edmund Burke, who once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
She intimated how it is over 117 years now since Rotary was founded on 23rd February 1905 as, “a humanitarian service organization which brings together business and professional leaders in order to provide community service, promote integrity, and advance goodwill, peace and understanding in the world.”
The highly pragmatic and consummate Rotarian furthered that in the history that is evolving she is quite honored to serve as President of the Rotary Club of Freetown under the leadership of Rotary International’s first-ever female President, Jennifer Jones.
She recalled how in 1987, Dr. Sylvia Whitlock break the Rotary glass ceiling when she became the first woman member going further to point out that it was as recently as 1989 that the Council on Legislation voted to admit women into Rotary Clubs worldwide.
“Today, we celebrate this induction with a royal ball,” she disclosed proudly adding that royalty signifies status, respect, specialness, and above all, leadership.
Leadership, according to her, is selfless service to humanity also underscoring how service to humanity is the essence of Rotary.
The new Rotary Club of Freetown President, Rtn Hawa Sally Samai, informed the audience how they profoundly believe in giving without expecting anything in return maintaining how they are very committed to add value to society with a quest to leave the world in a better state than the way they found it.
“This is the gist of our four-way test,” she highlighted.
She continued that the theme for this year, “Imagine Rotary”, seeks to encourage Rotarians to dream big and take action. The new President quoted the Rotary International President by stating they all have dreams, but acting on them is a choice and to imagine a world that deserves their best where they get up each day knowing that they can make a difference adding how this should be a year of innovation and creativity.
Rtn Hawa Sally Samai called on members to provide service in Rotary’s seven focus areas: basic education and literacy, maternal and child health, peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water sanitation and hygiene, community and economic development, and support of the environment.
In disclosing what she and other Executive members intend to accomplish, she revealed that during her one-year tenure, she and her Executive will promote the legacy of the immediate past RI President’s Empowering Girls Initiatives by prioritizing women and girls in all their interventions for obvious reasons.
She also informed how they will also continue the focus on water and sanitation with the water is life project in focus and the basic education and literacy through their scholarship and mentorship program.
“As this is an election year we will also focus on peace and conflict prevention,” she stated, pointing out that it’s only when one is served with the Bill for the war that one realizes that no price was too high to pay for peace.
“In addition, we will also continue and build on some of the activities started by my predecessor, Rtn Alpha,” she assured.
Rtn Hawa Sally Samai stated that as a female President in this historical year in Rotary, she wants to encourage all Rotarians and non-Rotarians, to come on board directly or indirectly to support their cause of empowering deprived communities.
She challenged that it’s all about providing the gifts of “time, talent, and treasure.”
The new President enjoined all to provide their time, use their talents, to help them leverage and make donations to ensure they make a difference as a team.
“I urge all of us to bring out the leadership and service (Royalty) in us to make a difference to humanity,” she made a passionate plea ending up extending thanks to all the strong women in her life, her mom, her former Principal, her daughter, Rtn. Nemata, naming only few whom she said are her inspiration.
In her contribution, the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney stated that women can do better in leadership in any position they find themselves energizing members of the Rotary Club of Freetown that they can be what they want to be.
The highpoint of the event was the handing over of the mantle of leadership by the outgoing President, Rotarian Alpha Tejan Jalloh, to the newly elected President, Rtn Hawa Sally Samai, which was followed by a social interaction during which members and non-members gleefully socialized, chatting over drinks and food with soft music in the background.
It must be noted that of late women have really asserted themselves in leadership positions within the Rotary Club of Freetown as evident in the fact that out of Six Members of the Board only one is a male.