Rotary Club


The Rotary movement all began on 23 February 1905 when a lawyer, Paul Harris, and three business associates met to form the Rotary Club of Chicago. They wanted a club where they could meet in friendship and trust. Instead of having numerous lawyers or bankers or accountants, they wanted only one man to represent each profession. The name, Rotary, comes from the practice of rotating meetings between the various members’ places of business. It was only later that meetings started to be heid in restaurants for lunch or dinner.

In its first three years, the Rotary Club of Chicago prew to 200 members and the movement spread to other American cities, as well as to Canada, Ireland, England and Scotland. Soon Rotary clubs were being formed all over the world. Today, Rotary International has a membership of more than 1.2 million members, belonging to some 30,000 clubs in 165 countries.

Attempts to bring the Rotary movement to Mauritius experienced several false starts. Perhaps the first real attempt was made in April 1961 when five Rotarians from South Africa, led by Louis Keyzer, met a local group of professionals at the old La Flore Mauricienne restaurant. The following year, Henri Latham Koenig also tried to start a Rotary Club in Port Louis. But it failed again, at least in part it was said, because businessmen and professionals lunched in their own offices and the idea of eating out at mid-day held no appeal.

By late 1963, however, discussions moved into a more advanced stage and eventually bore fruit on 8 April 1964 when Louis Espitalier-Noel and Maxime Series initiated two simultaneous but separate efforts respectively. Maxime Series invited Louis Espitalier-Noel for a 5 o’clock meeting, unaware that the latter had already called one for 6 pm. The spirit of cooperation prevailed, however, and the two groups joined together with the support of Louis Legoff, Club President, and Paul Giraud, both from the Rotary Club of Tananarive in Madagascar.

As from May 13 1964, the provisional Rotary Club of Port Louis began regular weekly meetings on Wednesdays, to be officially admitted to Rotary International on 9 November 1964, with 31 charter members. The Club Charter was symbolically presented on 24 November to the first President, Aunauth Beejadhur, by District Governor John Longman, representing Rotary International, in the presence of President Legoff of the sponsoring club, President Hassen of the Rotary Club of St Denis and all the dignitaries of the island.

Members were initially grouped into three committees – Club Service, Community Service and International Service – to focus participation on different areas of service. The Club worked on its own to start with and it was only three years later that it decided to join District 220, which at the time comprised the English­speaking clubs of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika (later Tanzania), Zambia and Malawi.

In July 1968, a fourth Service committee, Vocational Service, was formed, with Andre Robert as its first Chairman, in order to lend greater weight to this aspect of service, in line with the Club’s ideals.

Over the years the Club has initiated numerous innovative projects. The Outing for the Handicapped, one of the early Community Service projects, has become an annual event, as has The Brains Trust, a public speaking contest for Higher School Certificate students and one that has become a national feature of the school calendar. The Fleurir Maurice and Métiers D’Art competitions were also initiated and originally run by the Ctub, and both have had a major national impact.

As the founder Club in Mauritius, the Rotary Club of Port Louis has also been very instrumental in spreading Rotary ideals of service by creating the Curepipe Club (October 1974), the Grand Baie Club (December 1981) and the Port Louis Citadelle Club (February 1989). Experienced members from the Club were detached to launch these new Clubs.

At the District Level, one of the Club’s charter members, Marcel Lagesse, became the first Mauritian to become a District Governor and, indeed, he became known and respected worldwide for his enthusiastic promotion of Rotary ideals. Another charter member, André Robert, the second President of the Club, was awarded the Service Above Self Award, the highest distinction that Rotary International can bestow. In July 2008, Jean Claude Hoareau, who was sponsored by PDG Marcel Lagesse, became the second member of the Club to serve as Governor for District 9220. In July 2011, Mahomed Baboo became the third member of the Club to lead District 9220 as Governor.

Over the years, together with their spouses and their families,
members of the Club have contributed their time, talents and thoughts to Rotary projects, not for financial or personal gain, but to contribute to the Rotary ideal of SERVICE ABOVE SELF.

To commemorate 50 years of Rotary service in Mauritius, the club decided to donate 50 houses to 50 needy families and organise a Golden Jubilee Rotary Week from the 3rd to 9th November 2014. A photo exhibition retracing 50 years of the Club was inaugurated by the Lord Mayor on the morning of the 3rd November at the Postal Museum. On Tuesday 4 November the first phase of Espace Artistique Mo’zar was also inaugurated. The Wednesday lunch was exceptionally held in the Lord Mayor’s Hall at the City of Port Louis, followed by a tree planting ceremony at Jardin La Compagnie. On Thursday evening was held the award ceremony for the Marcel Lagesse painting competition on the theme “Port Louis in 2064″. The Rotary week ended with the anniversary banquet and the launch of a special commemorative envelope on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 November respectively.

2003-2004 PRESIDENT