This week has not been the best, following the sad news about the passing of RIPE Sam F Owori. I first heard of Rotarian Sam Owori during the first fellowships at a time the rotary club of Namugongo was still a provisional club. The name Sam Owori appeared in several answer options for the quiz fellowship that night. The year must have been 2012. As years went on and my understanding of Rotary improved, it was very clear Rotarians led by example and rotary had a clear leadership structure. Club directors, club presidents, country officials and district officials had an impeccable rotary record of true service above self. When the news of Rtn Sam Owori being approved as the Rotary International President Nominee, it was clear that his dedicated service had made a difference far and beyond.

I never had a chance to meet RIPE Sam Owori in person until the PETS training early this year. Rtn Sam, the Rotary International President Nominee at that time was ushered into the hall. A simple, soft spoken man dressed in a grey suit complete with necktie greeted us politely and started his keynote speech. He raised many important issues about rotary, but above all he made a passionate call for Rotarians to think out of the box in relation to membership growth. Same proposed practical implementations – for instance he wondered why we had more government administrative districts than rotary clubs in Uganda. The thesis was that human resource structure that support administrative districts including local government officers as well as service providers such as petrol stations was a very good sample space of members to form a rotary club.

Not only did Sam suggest a practical solution to increase membership through formation of new clubs, he encouraged clubs with less than 30 members to try and attract more. In fact he offered to visit clubs that would cross the 50-membership mark. Rtn Sam Owori knew that more hands are needed; he knew the world needs more Rotarians and had offered 2018/2019 to provide leadership at the very top of rotary to make whatever difference was possible. Gone too soon to be with the Lord, may his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.

Benjamin Kanagwa, PhD

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