Rhonda James makes Rotary Club of Pretoria West history

Past District Governor Stella Anyangwe introducesnewly-inducted President Rhonda James while Immediate District Governor Riana Pretorius looks on. Supplied

Past District Governor Stella Anyangwe introducesnewly-inducted President Rhonda James while Immediate District Governor Riana Pretorius looks on. Supplied

Published Jul 10, 2024


On the eve of its 65th anniversary, the Rotary Club of Pretoria West marked a historic milestone by inducting Rhonda James as the first coloured Club President in the club's storied history.

Founded on July 7, 1959, with 26 members — all white men — the club's changing demographics reflect Rotary International’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

The induction ceremony took place at the Premier Hotel in Pretoria on Saturday. It was attended by a host of distinguished guests, including Immediate Past District Governor Riana Pretorius, Past District Governor Stella Anyangwe, and Assistant Governor Thabang Chiloane. The hall was adorned with memorabilia depicting the club's rich history, including a framed Pretoria News story announcing the club's launch in 1959.

James expressed her immense gratitude in her induction speech and outlined her vision for the upcoming year. "It is with immense gratitude that I step into this role, knowing the dedication and commitment of each member, which has brought us to this point,“ James said. She extended her most profound thanks to her predecessor, Matsepo Afrika, for her exemplary leadership and highlighted the club's remarkable achievements under her guidance.

James' vision for the club centres around three key pillars: community engagement, youth empowerment, and sustainable initiatives. She emphasised the importance of strengthening ties with local organisations and community leaders to address pressing needs, actively participating in community events, and fostering Rotary’s commitment to service and goodwill.

"Youth empowerment is crucial,“ James noted. "Our youth represent the future, and I believe in investing in their potential."

She announced plans to establish an Interact Club to empower young people to become agents of positive change in society.

On sustainability, James expressed a commitment to protecting the environment and promoting eco-friendly practices. "I envision our club leading by example through eco-friendly projects, promoting renewable energy, and advocating for environmental stewardship," she said.

The club also remains dedicated to the global fight against polio. James pledged active participation in fundraising events, awareness campaigns, and vaccination drives to contribute to the eradication of polio and ensure a polio-free world for future generations.

In a notable moment during the ceremony, James, in her first duty as Club President, inducted Dion Smith as a new member of the Rotary Club of Pretoria West, demonstrating the club's ongoing growth and commitment to inclusivity.

"Rotary is not just an organisation; it is a movement driven by compassion and a shared commitment to making the world a better place," James said in closing. She invited all members to join her in upholding Rotary’s values of integrity, diversity, and service above self.

The induction of James as President of the Rotary Club of Pretoria West marks a significant step towards greater inclusivity and diversity within the organisation, setting a positive example for Rotary clubs worldwide.

As the club embarks on this new chapter under James; leadership, members are optimistic about the impactful initiatives and meaningful service that lie ahead. The Rotary Club of Pretoria West continues to be a beacon of hope and positive change in the community, dedicated to transforming lives and communities for the better.

Pretoria News