(Being excerpts of notes taken from the recently concluded Rotary International Convention in Melbourne, Australia)
‘We are indeed kindred spirits, all bound in unison by doing good in the world, that’s very suffused with hunger, chaos, hate and confusion. Not to talk of wickedness and selfishness…
‘Let the Rotary People of Action go on to conquer the world. That is the Rotary Creed. This is Rotary resilience. This is our commitment.’
FORTUNATELY, we have good rest intervals before we embark on the 14 hours haul to Melbourne. Judging by the nice 8.5 hours flight to Doha, we expect an equally pleasant flight to Melbourne. We are in good company of many Rotarians, including the District Governor.
Today we braved an early light drizzle to tram to the Rod Laver venue of the Opening Ceremony. Another humongous Hall again. Special tribute was paid to our dear departed Past Rotary International President Jonathan Majiagbe. Special tribute was paid to his meritorious service to Rotary and Humanity. The whole hall rose in honour of the first, Nigerian, African and Black Man to have served as Rotary International President. It was truly a moment of grief, yet of pride to Africa. After that, some classy entertainment, was followed by the outgoing RI President, JENIFER JONES giving account of her impressive stewardship, as the first female President of Rotary. Our own Koseleri DG is very complimentary to the success in the era of great lady achievers. Let’s doff our hats to all Lady Rotarians
IT’s 8.43 in Melbourne. Chilly unexpectedly. Mosun and I just had dinner at Macdonald’s. It brings back memories of my student days in Washington DC. Back to our cozy apartment on the fourth floor of a 46-floor skyscraper in Downtown. Melbourne seems nice, though we are yet to explore it. Trust Mosun to spearhead that expedition from tomorrow after the official opening. We run into many Rotarians from diverse parts of the world. It promises to be a remarkable adventure.
We have located AG Chijioke and PP IIfeoma Corona who just arrived via South Africa. Many of us flew on Qatar Airways on the same flight with many Rotarians including our District Governor, through Doha. We hope to see many other Rotarians tomorrow.
ANOTHER day, Another dollar. Like they say in America. Melbourne is busting with Rotarians bubbling with excitement. Many Rotarians have registered at the Convention Center, ahead of the opening ceremony, which promises, as usual, to be an extravaganza. We roamed a bit around the city center on our journey of discovery by Tram. City public transport is free of charge to Rotarians, provided you wear your registration identity. The city is still chilly, but full of warm people. In the House of Friendship, we run into dozens of friendly Rotarians from around the world. The highlight for me was when I joined the medley of songs of the 50s and 60s to the delight of Mosun and Ifeoma, who were amazed at my extraordinary vocal talent. A prophet is not appreciated back home in Nigeria. Behold, stardom beckons in Australia.
…Bring Back our beloveth Bag (BBobB)
AT the point of registration, I found out I was a relic of the old school I am. Possibly a Methuselah. The Korean lady Volunteer starred at me in surprise when I asked for my Rotary bag, which is our traditional entitlement at Rotary Conventions. It’s our bag/badge of honour. It has apparently been phased out without fanfare or recourse to us – faithful attendees. So has our beloved bulky printed program. We may have to protest for breach of protocol. What is a Convention without the bag containing the booklet, notepad, pen, momentoes, especially the handy bottle of water. There should be a campaign to BRING BACK OUR BELOVETH BAG. We feel empty without our precious bags. Our mantle of Rotary Convention bags back home is pleading for reprieve.
…A moment of grief, yet of pride to Africa
TODAY we braved an early light drizzle to tram to the Rod Laver venue of the Opening Ceremony. Another humongous Hall again. Special tribute was paid to our dear departed Past Rotary International President Jonathan Majiagbe for his meritorious service to Rotary and Humanity. The whole hall rose in honour of the first Nigerian, African and Black Man to have served as Rotary International President. It was truly a moment of grief, yet of pride to Africa. After that, some classy entertainment, was followed by the outgoing RI President, JENIFER JONES giving account of her impressive stewardship, as the first female President of Rotary. Our own Koseleri DG is very complimentary to the success in the era of great lady achievers. Let’s doff our hats to all Lady Rotarians.
…Earthquake scare could not stop the fun
WE felt the shake at the Melbourne Marriott downtown. I barely saw the message before it disappeared from the screen. Wow!!
Haba!!!!! Australia is an “island continent” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, southern ocean, Indian Ocean, and Timor!!!!! They always have 5 to 6 and sometimes more earthquakes daily. The magnitude is always negligible and don’t worry all their building have “Cushions” to absorb the earthquakes.
…All hail the dance champion
THINGS in Melbourne are going on very well, despite the earthquake scare. The tremor passed without making serious physical damage, but for minor emotional anxiety about possible aftershock. Life goes on as normal. This has not happened. It has not dampened the upbeat spirit of Melbourne Rotary Convention. Many Rotarians are in such high spirit, typical of the resilient gusto of the Rotary People of Action.
The perfumed air in the General Assembly and the Convention Center is abuzz with hope and optimism as we go into the third day of the Convention session. We are entering into Breakout Sessions/ segment, where days of brilliant topics, reports, dissuasions are interrogated in big and smaller groups, in preparation for another productive Rotary Year. The Breakout Sessions provide harvest of Rotary Knowledge, usually rendered by experts, professional and practitioners in diverse human endeavors. To sweeten our days, there’s always a social event, usually organised outside the official Rotary Convetion by different national, ethnic, Host Communities and other groups to further deepen business and social classification/ interaction. We are burnishing our dance steps in readiness for the Rotary District 9110 party and boat cruise. Did I hear someone whisper a statement, contesting my dancing prowess. You will get the breaking news about the championship from Melbourne. Chikena! End of discussion in Hausa.
…Tales of the indomitable human spirits
TODAY Mild and soothing weather. One is invited by nature to savour the freshness of the air, and the remarkable cleanliness and orderliness of Melbourne. The day started with breakfast, where I always converge in the restaurant with Mosun and Ifeoma, to plan the day. Trust the ladies to have a bumper list of activities. Amazing potpourri of feminine delight. Do not say I told you the array.
After consultation with CHIJIOKE OMILE, Good consensus is to head to the General Assembly. The special attraction for us today is to witness the bounteous and fascinating regale of stories by those extraordinary ROTARY MOMENTS. There you get to see Rotarians and associates tell their extraordinary stories of how they survived wars, overcame destruction, incarceration, disease, poverty, dictatorship and despondency to become great achievers in different climes and sundry dispensations. And the roles that Rotary and Rotarians played to enable them conquer the harrowing vicissitudes of life to emerge champions. Injustice, wickedness and pain flowing across land and ocean. Some have since built multinational organisations that help humanity overcome disease, poverty and tragedies. Some give their time and knowledge so selflessly.
The testimonies are simply fabulous. And you hearing these from real people. You wonder how God has created these wonderful people so specially, to give back so much of their gifts, talents and resources to humanity. These are superlative creatures of our great God. Wonders. Then you begin to challenge yourself in your small dispensation to be a better Rotarian. I am ever so humbled, yet inspired after these therapeutic experience at the Rotary Conventions, to re-dedicate ourselves to the service of sacrifice. Kindly dig deeper. Fortunately, you will find these fascinating stories on the Rotary website for your information and inspiration.
There’s been plethora of friendship, warmth and camaraderie in the spirit of selfless giving, in the joyous interaction of Rotary People of Action doing good in the world. The Breakout Sessions are replete with amazing reports and discussions, programmed to fire our passion further into the future. I always try to remind people that, in the unfortunate occurrence of disaster like earthquake, flood, war and conflict, Rotary is ever present to partner with humanitarian organisations like Red Cross to give relief to the devastated and damaged people. Remember the Rotary relief package called Selter Box. Ever so useful and prompt.
…Hey, I won the dance… if you disagree ‘Go to Court’
LEST I forget, the parties went well. I am sure you can guess the winner of the dance competition. Without bragging, I have the trophy in my kitty, even when some dancers are still threatening to send their petitions/ protest to the Supreme Court of Australia. I trust the integrity of the Honorable Judges to give a free, honest and fair ruling. Meanwhile, victory is sweet always. Praise God.
…Every good thing must come to an end
‘…as we must gravitate from the imaginative Rotary Year of Jennifer Jones, to the exhilarating era of Hope, our faith is renewed and refreshed. Hope for peace in the world. Hope for progress for mankind. Hope for improving, good health care and total eradication of diseases, like Polio. Hope for resolution of human conflicts. Hope for science and technological advancement’
HOWEVER sugary the Odun Egungun (festival of the Yoruba Masquerade for rebirth and renewal) last, it has to come to an end. Eventually. Somewhat sadly, though. However, the din of bata drums, and the soirée of songs ethereal, stimulating the dance of the ogun and Obatala festival are mumbling. But ebbing away like memories of yesteryears, tucked away in the faint horizon, like the grayish dance of the stream meandering between the elegant Crown Plaza Hotel and the iconic Melbourne 2023 Rotary Convention Center. Yet, the fragrance and golden hum is still renting the air, as jubilant devotees to Rotary service (or are they festival devotees) throng the nooks and crannies of Melbourne.
The grey sky has virtually been blocked by gleaming skyscrapers, competing for space in diverse forms, shapes and colors, trying to converse with the god of technology. Unavoidably though, our Egungun Festival is edging towards a close, though we are propitiating Obatala, with palm oil and kolanut . The fading staccato persists mildly still in the distant hills and woods. Notwithstanding our fetish, It’s unavoidably so. Beni o!
We are already fearfully dreading the impending lull of those happy hugs and greetings, of devotees from near and far away lands, whose language you do not speak or understand, but whose body language and lingo in passion is fetchingly and eloquently blazoned across their happy faces, speaking languages of joy and kindness. Plus Love and affection for humanity. And succor to those in need of peace, care, comfort, healing and education/guidance. We are indeed kindred spirits, all bound in unison by doing good in the world, that’s very suffused with hunger, chaos, hate and confusion. Not to talk of wickedness and selfishness. As we throng to the Egungun Festival closure at the Rod Laver Arena (hope you remember the world-renowned tennis champion of yore, gifted with exceptional talent), we are in deep reflection over the images of the 2023 Rotary International Convention.
Wow! Even our exciting and fantastic Egungun Festival must come to an end.
The robust and infectious friendship across creed, race and religion will be edged in all our memories. The convergence of meticulous vision/ planning and impactful execution evident and reported at various forums. The unlimited love and passion shared for the ideals of Rotary in the seven areas of focus. But as we must gravitate from the imaginative Rotary Year of Jennifer Jones, to the exhilarating era of Hope, our faith is renewed and refreshed. Hope for peace in the world. Hope for progress for mankind. Hope for improving, good health care and total eradication of diseases, like Polio. Hope for resolution of human conflicts. Hope for science and technological advancement.
Symbolically, our spirits are buoyed aloft by the triumphant closing speeches of Jennifer Jones and the Inspirational charge of the President Elect/ in-coming President, and other Rotary Leaders. Hope is well alive and kicking in the world. The befitting closure through musical of the exuberant renewal of Begges mega band of the seventies, which renewed our hope for a better future of our world that’s in turmoil.
…The closing glee of colours
I THOUGHT I was the only champion dancer in Rotary, until I saw the whole arena explode in multicolor dance steps. The hope for a better tomorrow is trenchant and compelling. Remember that we survived Covid 19. Let the Rotary People of Action go on to conquer the world. That is the Rotary Creed. This is Rotary resilience. This is our commitment.