Rotary International

Where did it all start?

It all began in a Chicago office block way back in 1905, when four men met to establish the world’s first Rotary Club. Since then, Rotary has grown into an international organisation with nearly 34 000 clubs and over 1,22 million members around the world.

Despite this phenomenal growth, the goals of Rotary have remained unchanged for over 100 years. With its well-known motto, ‘Service above Self’, Rotary continues to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service to those in need.

Rotarians also commit themselves to upholding high ethical standards in both their personal and professional lives and to promote international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship. As befits a secular organisation committed to service, membership is open to all people regardless of race, language, gender or political preference.

In South Africa, the first Rotary Club was established way back in 1921. This was based in Johannesburg and, over the years, many other clubs were established.

In the early seventies several people living in the burgeoning suburbs around Northcliff and Blackheath decided the time was right to establish their own club. And so it was that a provisional Northcliff Rotary Club applied for its charter from Rotary International in April 1973. The charter was granted on 16 May 1973 with 32 charter members.

The timing was perfect as the club’s launch coincided with a visit to South Africa by Rotary International President, Roy Hickman – the highest functionary in Rotary. To commemorate the event, a glittering banquet was held in the ballroom of the Carlton Hotel. The sumptuous five-course meal cost a grand total of R7 per head and everyone was greatly honoured that Rotary International President Hickman was on hand to present the charter of the new club in person – the first time this had happened in South Africa since the chartering of the original Johannesburg Club in 1921.