First Rotary Club of Each Country



Brief histories of the first clubs of each geographic regions or countries


The Rotary Club of Casablanca, the First Club of Morocco

Rotary International District 9010

A Part of Our History of Rotary in Africa

It is (indeed) 66 years ago.
Rotary International had already existed for 25 years and the ideals of Rotary had already conquered most of the countries of America and Europe, even some Asian nations, Oceanic and Africans more than 300 clubs on five continents .
Continuing its extraordinary expansion and its prodigious influence around the world, the Rotary movement penetrated Morocco and the motto "Serve" attracted businessmen and professionals in Casablanca.

It was indeed on the initiative of Etienne FOUGERE from the Rotary Club of Lyon and Governor of District 49 (at the time, this district covered all France) that the proposal to establish a Rotary Club in Casablanca was presented in January 1930, to the Board of Rotary International.

In early February he was designated as Special Representative of Rotary with the approval to form the first club of Morocco and the Governor Etienne FOUGERE immediately undertook the necessary steps.
He found in André Jouhaud, farmer and sheep rancher, an ardent admirer but also an effective promoter of the ideal of serving Rotary.
The latter undertook to collect 20 candidates who will be with him, the founding members of the new Rotary Club of Casablanca.

At this time, the Automobile Club of Morocco included a group of elite engineers from the major schools, renowned doctors, teachers, industrialists, farmers and businessmen, all of whom came to settle in its luxurious rooms and organizing the first International Rally of Morocco, which would enhance its brand image and put out the value of its members.

André Jouhaud chose those not for their success or ambition, but those who recognize duties towards society, their neighbor, those who were motivated by the desire to serve, as founding members of the first Rotary Club of Casablanca and Morocco.

The first meeting of the 21 founding members was held under the chairmanship of Governor Etienne FOUGERE on 15 March 1930 at the restaurant of the Hotel des Ambassadeurs, at the Rue Pierre Parent and on the same day the application for Admission was sent to Rotary International.
The Rotary Club of Casablanca was born.

Although the application for club membership was delivered on 19 May 1930 it was not until after two years that the Charter was eventually presented.
This symbolic gesture but meaningful and important month will be done by the Governor André GARDOT, as the head of District 49 who gave the charter solemnly bearing the number 3328 to President Paul GUILLEMET, founding President, at the ceremony organized to this end on 30 March 1932 at the Hotel Restaurant des Ambassadeurs, which became the first meeting place of the Rotary Club of Casablanca, where the statutory meetings were held during lunch on Mondays at 12:30 pm.

Since its inception, the Rotary Club of Casablanca has continued to participate actively in the expansion of Rotary and influence of his noble ideal of "Serve" across the country, as it has always worked to put into practice this ideal and by strengthening the image of Rotary by various actions inspired by all the goals and objectives of humanitarian movements.

It would take several dozens of pages to draw even a brief review of 66 years of service of the maiden club in Morocco, about the work of a few hundred men of goodwill who have relayed to carry out this noble mission.
I will confine myself here to discuss the achievements and events that have marked the life of the Club during this period which I will split into two phases: from 1930 to 1955 (year of the ascension of Morocco to Independence), and 1955 to today.

This first period will not be show many activities or achievements for two major reasons - first the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, which hampered the life of Rotary; secondly the events and political tensions that effected national life between 1944 and 1955 but eventually led to Morocco obtaining its independence.

The 1930s were mainly devoted to the planning and development of the Club Casablanca, which nevertheless took an active part in the expansion of Rotary in Morocco by co-sponsoring with the Rotary Club of Malaga (Spain), the Rotary Club of Tangiers in 1932; sponsoring the Rotary Club of Rabat in 1933; and witnessing its support to the Rotary Club of Tetouan created in 1933 with sponsorship from that of Madrid.

The Second World War and its impact on political life entails, as elsewhere, the dormant Club Casablanca.
It was not until 1946 that it resumed its normal activities for participation in the expansion of Rotary in Morocco by co-sponsoring with the Club of Nice, the Rotary Club of Agadir in 1950, and sponsoring the Rotary Club of Marrakesh in 1951, and also to contribute effectively to many humanitarian and social efforts to expedite recovery efforts after the war.

The Club has been at the same time, fully aware of its responsibilities, especially in terms of public interest in addressing one of the most tragic concerns of our time - infant mortality.
In this context, and for over ten years it supported and generously subsidized work in developing responsibility for the redemption and social rehabilitation of young people.
We recognised that success through this project will enhance the public admiration and image of the Club and further increase involvement in these activities by public authorities, which is exactly what occurred.

The year 1950-1951 was also marked by the first visit by a President of Rotary International to the RC Casablanca: it was the Canadian Arthur LAGUEUX.
The following year a large delegation of Portuguese Rotarians will be received by the Club of Casablanca.

In 1953, hundreds of American Rotarians traveling to Paris to attend the International Convention, made a stop in Casablanca to visit our Rotary Club.
These visits to the mother club of Morocco, showed to the population, the importance of Rotary International and the role of Rotary in Morocco while developing international friendship and understanding.

FROM 1955

In 1955, Morocco, which had 9 Rotary Clubs (those of 1930 - Casablanca; Rabat - 1932; Tangier - 1933; Agadir - 1950; Fez - 1951; Marrakech - 1951; Safi - 1954; Oujda - 1955) recovered its nation's independence.
This momentous event in the history of the country would bring some changes in existing administrative and legislative structures - Dahir of 1958 on Associations.
The Club of Morocco had to conform and adapt to this new situation, which created only minor problems.
Solutions were found and happy with the good monitoring and understanding of national authorities, which I quote in the first fire BARGACH Ahmed Hajj then Governor of the Prefecture of Casablanca.
Rotary membership of an elite Moroccan responsible therefore become possible, even necessary, the moral of dignitaries.

With our acceptance as described above, our Auguste His Majesty King Hassan II, that glorify God, agreed to be the honorary Chairman of our club in January 1963.

In November 1964, our friend TAZI Mohamed Abdou, sponsored and organized in Casablanca, the first Rotary Forum or conference involving all clubs in Morocco, represented under the chairmanship of the Governor of District 173 Robert Malavialle, and with the participation of the former governor of the District.

The year 1966-67 under the leadership of its President Mohamed BENMEJDOUB, and representative appointed by the Governor of District 173 for Morocco, Casablanca Club took two successful initiatives:-

  • The establishment in September 1966 of a permanent administrative secretary at the premises of the Royal Automobile Club with the support of its President Hadj Mohamed EL Zizi, who will serve as liaison and Information Office for all clubs in Morocco.
  • The Organization in Casablanca with the approval and the presidency of the Governor André FRET, of the 1st General Meeting of Rotary Clubs of Morocco.
    This General Assembly saw the participation of delegations from 11 strong clubs was enhanced by the presence of Authority served as the major personalities of Casablanca which was to become the capital of Rotary in Morocco, see the Maghreb: it confirms the absolute necessity and the urgency to develop effective procedures of admission of national clubs in all existing and future and gradually give them responsibilities of management .... The foundations of the future District Maghreb then came to be discarded.

    Our Club was the first to do so: an Extraordinary General Meeting held in March 1967 decided unanimously to renew Mohamed BENMEJDOUB for a 2 year presidency and gave priority in recruitment to senior nationals.
    Our rules were amended accordingly and the years 1966-67 and 1967-68 during which I had the honor to watch over the destiny of our Club, saw a prodigious expansion of our workforce reaching some 125 members with input from a score of national but also Consuls General of Foreign Countries in Casablanca to devote the international vocation of our movement.
    The cosmopolitan nature of our Club will be highlighted particularly between 1966 and 1968 by the organization on February 23 of each year of great international evening on the occasion of the anniversary of Rotary, under a theme proposed by Consul General of the country, a member of our club, an evening when guests were the ambassadors of countries accredited to Morocco, the Moroccan Government ministers, local authorities and various personalities of Casablanca.

    I will mention two: The evening of Austria under the theme of the Congress of Vienna of 1815 remarkably restored with the help of the Ambassador of this country who did not fail to carry by plane from Vienna, in Austrian specialties despite the time required to travel by some members of our club, to honour the personalities that have marked this Congress, such as the Prince de Talleyrand, or Metternich and Eugene de Beauharnais.
    But as the evening of the United States of America placed itself under the banner of "Wild West" and organized by the Consul General of that country, a member of our club, at his residence to the Villa Mirador in Anfa. Such was also the location of meetings of the Conference of Anfa in January 1943, between Her Majesty Mohamed V, President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill).
    This evening, also enhanced by the presence of the authorities and the diplomatic corps and the usual protocol which Rotary had given way to relax, enabled through the term "cow boy" tree by the participants, to live the real atmosphere of "Far West American.

    Other significant achievements marked the activities and life of the Rotary Club of Casablanca during the years 1966-67 and 1967-68.
    Note in particular its active sponsorship and the creation of the first Interact Club of Morocco.
    To this end, some fifty boys and girls from the four high school classes were co-opted in high schools Mohamed V, Al Khaouarizmi, Moulay Abdellah and Chawqui.
    For its first year of existence, our godson Interact Club was invited to participate in the Convention Interact and our delegation aroused the admiration of all participants.

    Similarly, our Club, anxious to persevere in the expansion of Rotary in Morocco, sponsored in 1967, a Club in Khouribga.

    Branding of the Club Casablanca in the district, was enhanced by the participation of a large delegation of Rotarians Casablanca (about fifty people) to the Rotary International Convention held in May 1967 in Nice.
    Through this delegation, the Moroccan group made 15th place among the 101 countries represented.

    Add to this that the exhibition booth mounted by the Club on behalf of Casablanca of Morocco and was honored by the message sent by His Majesty Hassan II to the Convention, was named among the top 5 in over 40 countries exhibitors.

    The year 1967-68 will be for our Club a year of the consecration hoisting Club District 173, with the accession of Feu Hadj Mohamed El ZIZI to the post of Governor and the appointment of Casablanca to house the work of the District Conference in May 1968.

    As mother club of Maghreb (with the first Club of Algiers and Oran also created in 1930), our Club will not remain indifferent to the suspension of Rotary in Tunisia by its government's decision to the advent of this country to independence in 1956.
    After several unsuccessful attempts by the Central Council of Rotary International, our Club, represented by Mohamed BENMEJDOUB (in his capacity as representative of District Governor for Morocco) and Mohamed BENMEJDOUB made careful presentations to the Tunisian authorities for Rotary revival in Tunisia.
    This intervention was successful and the Club of Casablanca had the privilege and satisfaction of co-sponsor with that of Sainte-Maxime/Saint-Tropez the new club Tunis in 1969.

    I do not want to close this decade of the 60s, without focusing on the extent of bone actions and international public interest during this period.
    On the socio-educational, in addition to various operations' schools operations, operations sunglasses, ...) for thousands of schoolchildren in poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of Casablanca, and assistance provided to institutions such as the Society of Muslim Charity, Friends of the Blind, the birthplace of the Poor, the future of the Moroccan girl, Dar El Aamila ... Our Club itself resolutely in support (for awarding grants, fellowships and of equipment) for the rehabilitation center, and rehabilitation of disabled Azrou created by Past-President Feu Professeur René Rollier for training and rehabilitation of leprosy victims in support of hospital Leprology specialist d'Ain Chock.

    On the international front, our club has established its first contacts with those of Paris-West and Paris-Nice, and has received for the first time in Morocco, a journey by the Rotary International Youth composed of 13 children of Rotarians from 10 European countries and organized a tour through our country, that lasted two weeks during which these young foreigners have been received by Rotary families and have enjoyed traditional Moroccan hospitality, and customs and culture and civilization of Morocco.

    It must be said that this decade rich in action and achievement, has enabled our club in the wake of the independence of Morocco, to strengthen its brand image in District 173 in particular, and of Rotary International in general.

    THE 1970s

    Credited with this experience and potential for a safe continuance, Casablanca Club began this decade with pleasure and ambition to move forward and assert its experience and potential.
    The early 70s were marked by the appointment in 1972 for the office of Governor of District 173 for the year 1973-74, our friend Mohamed BENMEJDOUB at an age below 40 years which will prove to be of the 4 youngest District Governors of Rotary world.
    Because of his position as a member, Club Casablanca must therefore support the actions recommended by the Governor in supporting the recommendations of Rotary International, and especially on the rejuvenation and expansion of the movement, the creation of new clubs in Casablanca in particular.

    After some hesitation and at the insistence of Governor BENMEJDOUB; Casablanca Club agreed to sponsor the creation of the Casablanca Club Northeast Mohammedia consisting mainly of young Moroccans.

    In international service, the same year was established contact between the Casablanca Club and the Cannes Club in the framework of the Inter-Country France Maghreb, included Governor BENMEJDOUB as one of the founders.

    But this decade also differs:
    • By the visit to our Club by RI President W. Jack Davis and the President of the Rotary Foundation William C. Carter (former President of Rotary International) in October 1977.
    • By sponsoring a first Rotaract Club in Casablanca in 1979.
    • By direction of our Agenda Public Interest in youth (especially students) and young children who need help.

      Thus a significant financial effort was made by our Club to provide equipment to study advanced mathematics classes and the special Lyautey Mathematics High School preparing to contest the advanced examination studies, composed mainly of young Moroccan students which was facing closure from a lack of Government funding and was rescued by the French Mission to Morocco.

      This action judged by its value to our Club, has provided a few dozen Moroccan students, great value to continue their studies and for our country to reap the benefits of great engineers for the future.
      This was greatly appreciated by our International President Jack Davis who did not fail to visit these "Top" classes at Lycee Lyautey during his visit to Casablanca.

      Similarly our Club resolutely bent on assisting particularly young girls who could not continue their studies, by ensuring adequate training.
      To do this, we worked in close collaboration with the "Happy Hour" Institute, to equip a workshop entirely linked to learning sewing in the rooms of this institution, that can train more skilled seamstresses whose adaption to life could be easily achieved.

      Similarly, thanks to the help of our wives who formed a cell of action for that purpose and under the instigation of Mdm. Kenza BENMEJDOUB, a section of the fight against malnutrition of babies, created the " Happy Time" Institution which enjoyed the support of our Club and which ensured the supply of baby milk for several years.
      Another ongoing, supported by our wives, was undertaken for the benefit of abandoned young children and rejuvenated the Lalla Hasna Institution in Casablanca.

      Finally, this decade has been marked also in terms of recognition by the award in 1973-74, to our friend Mohamed BENMEJDOUB as Governor of District 173, the "Rotary Foundation for Distinguished Services"
      In the same year, with his wife Kenza, he received the distinction Paul Harris Fellow from the hands of the President of Rotary International Bill Carter, who praised him to be the first recipients of the awards in Morocco.

      THE 1980s

      For Club Casablanca, this decade will be more rich in events and achievements.

      Upon Rotary year 1981-82 we were honored to receive officially the President of Rotary International Stanley E. McCaffrey who was also President of the University of California in the United States.
      During his stay in Casablanca, President McCaffrey wished to visit our main works and expressed his interest and administration especially for the training workshop conducted and sewing equipment for the institution "Happy Time" by our Club for the benefit of dozens of young girls who were able to continue their studies.

      The year 1982-83 was marked by the appointment of our Past President Fath Allah Bennani to the office of District 173 Governor for the 1983-84 year allowing the Casablanca Club to provide its 3rd District Governor.

      At the same time, we enjoyed high the prestige and reputation in this large District 173 which by now grouped the area including South-East France, Monaco, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

      During 1983-84, the Club Casablanca will be doubly for the honor.
      In addition to being the Club of the Governor in the form of Fath Allah Bennani, it will be a caring member of our royal family who appointed our Club President, our friend Moulay Zine Zahidi, as Minister of Trade and Industry by His Majesty Hassan II, that glorify God.

      On 1 July 1984 involved a great event, namely the partition of District 173 giving birth to a District 901 Maghreb, which in 1991-92 eventually became District 9010.
      The honor falls again at Club Casablanca to provide this new District's Governor-founder in the person of our friend Abdeslam TAHIRI who received the unconditional support of both his club but also Past Governors.

      1984-85 was also marked by the visit to our club of International President Carlos Canseco, one of the most prestigious Presidents of Rotary International and friend of Rotary Morocco, who had the opportunity to know our country already in the previous year when he represent his predecessor RI President William E. Skelton, at the last of the District 173 Conferences held in Agadir, Morocco, the Governor Fath Allah Bennani.

      If the Casablanca Club had the privilege, honor and merit of having contributed, after having already been initiated in 1973-74, the creation and launch of our young Maghreb district by offering a Governor - Founder competent, dedicated and loved by all, and in doing so, benefit from the experience of all its leaders, it will not fail to continue to provide Rotary International some of its great leaders.

      Thus, the same year 1984-85 was crowned by the election to CEEMA (Continental Europe, Middle East and Africa) our friend Past Governor Mohamed BENMEJDOUB, as Director the Central Council of Rotary International for the years 1986-87 and 1987-88.

      The honor created by this election could not fail to affect the mother club of Morocco which had nominated Mohamed BENMEJDOUB to this position because the name "Rotary Club Casablanca" will be during the two years cited at all major international events of Rotary:-
      Institute International, International House (School of Governors) World Congress, the Council on Legislation ... etc, and it will remain forever inscribed on the annals of Rotary International, intimately linked to that of Mohamed BENMEJDOUB.

      But this honor has also echoed throughout the Rotary Moroccan, North African, Arab, African and Muslim because our friend Mohamed BENMEJDOUB was also the first Arab-African and Muslim to hold this position within the highest levels of our Organization.

      During the years 1986-87, at the instigation of Mohamed BENMEJDOUB, then Director at the Central Council, Morocco received Rotarians for the first time, an event of international scope.
      This was the 4th Conference Méditerranérnne Goodwill and Development held in Marrakech on 3 and 4 December 1986 and which groups more than 500 participants from nations bordering the Mediterranean but also other countries' Europe and Africa.
      This conference chaired by the International President M.A.T. Caparas, gave an opportunity for the latter at the invitation of the Director Mohamed BENMEJDOUB, to visit the Casablanca Club and its major works that enjoyed a donation Presidential but also an important 3H grant of the Rotary Foundation to encourage vocational training in rural areas.

      Recognizing the need to promote and develop international relations in general, Moroccan Rotary Club and Casablanca in particular during his two years as Director at the Central Council, Mohamed BENMEJDOUB took the initiative to found in this period (1986-88) two Inter-Country Committees between Morocco on the one hand and Germany and Turkey on the other hand, and encouraging in this context a youth exchange with Germany and a match between the Rotary Club of Istanbul in Turkey and that of Casablanca.

      Continuing on this momentum and willing to further strengthen its international relations, the Club Casablanca in 1989 had another match with the Club de Bordeaux East in the framework of the Inter-Country France-Morocco by Mohamed BENMEJDOUB during the establishment of District Maghreb.

      I do not want to close the achievements of Club Casablanca during this decade, without noting the work on the permanent plan for the expansion of Rotary in our city.
      We co-sponsored with the Rotary Club of Casablanca-North Mohammedia, the creation of the 3rd Casablanca club, the Rotary Club of Casablanca-Anfa in 1985-86, following the encouragement and recommendations of the Governor-Founder of our district Abdeslam Tahir.

      Anxious to increase the number of youth clubs in our district, we set a target of some 600 Rotarians (instead of 40 clubs and 1,200 Rotarians, numbers required by Rotary International to authorize the establishment of a district).

      THE 1990s

      This was an auspicious beginning to a decade rich in events for our club.
      At the invitation of the Past Director Mohamed BENMEJDOUB and in consideration of close friendship that existed between them, the International President Paulo V.C. COSTA agreed to pay an official visit to Marocet Casablanca.
      During this visit in March 1991, President Paulo was received by many authorities at the initiative of the Club Casablanca.
      He opened and chaired a large tree planting ceremony in the presence of local authorities.
      The ceremony was included under the general program of Rotary International on environmental protection entitled " Protecting our planet Earth."
      Also at this presidential visit and upon the proposal of the five mother Clubs of Casablanca, to achieve a common "arboretum" in the immediate vicinity of Casablanca on land that local authorities, approving the idea, put at their disposal.

      The year 1991-92 will again provide Casablanca Club the honour of electing of one of its former presidents.
      Our friend Dr. Abdelmajid BERRADA as District Governor Maghreb become this year from District 9010 of Rotary International.
      From the work of our friend Governor Abdelmajid, I mention, among other achievements, two very important achievements for our district in 9010:-
      a). enrichment in terms of expansion, like what was done in 1989-90 by our friend Governor Azzedine Kettani, by creating a dozen new clubs in Morocco and Tunisia but also and especially the revival of Rotary in Algeria by setting up a new Club in Algiers after a suspension of our movement in this country which has lasted more than twelve years.
      b). Club Casablanca then had the pleasant duty but also the joy and pleasure to sponsor the new club in recognition, in a sense, the first club founded in Algiers since 1930.
      The fame and sympathy enjoyed by the Club of Casablanca on the international level of our organization and relationships forged by our Past Director Mohamed BENMEJDOUB at the highest Rotary International, will encourage the continuation of presidential visits to our country.

      Thus, our Club but also all other Rotary Clubs of Morocco, had the honor and privilege to review an official visit in November 1993 International President Robert R. Barth.
      The highlight of this presidential visit is the ceremony presided over by President Robert Barth, at which the Medal of Honor, the highest award of Rotary International, was presented by our Prime Minister Karim LAMRANI to the Presidency Council, awarded to our Sovereign and Honorary President His Majesty Hassan II in recognition and appreciation for persevering in the development and well being of his people but also for the active role that the our King continues to take to promote understanding and world peace, two of the main objectives of Rotary International as the first non-governmental organization service in the world, and official consultant to the United Nations.

      Similarly, as was the case with his predecessors on an official visit to our country, President Barth was collected by laying a wreath of flowers on behalf of Rotary International, on the tomb of His Majesty Mohammed V and signed the Golden Book of Mausoleum.
      But this visit by our International President also allowed him to experience the vitality of Rotary in Morocco by direct contact with all the clubs which joined together for this purpose in Casablanca and Rabat, and in particular to measure the enthusiasm and the contribution by Club Casablanca in the development of the ideals of Rotary in our country.
      This vitality and this contribution was mainly expressed by the tribute paid by the various clubs around sixty members and their leaders by awarding the distinction of Paul Harris Fellow.
      Thirty of these recipients were from Casablanca Club thus demonstrating the ongoing support provided by our Club to various programs of the Rotary Foundation.
      Among the official acts that would perform on the occasion of this visit, President Robert Barth solemnly presented the "Benefactor of Palms" of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International to our friend the Past Director Mohamed BENMEJDOUB, the first in our District to benefit from this distinction, for the various actions which he continues to undertake to consolidate and increase the funds of the Foundation, maintain and develop activities for peace and a better world.

      I would not conclude on this historical overview without mentioning that this year 1995-96 was marked by the appointment of our friend Past-Président Hadj Mohamed Bensalem EL KABBAJ to the office of Governor of our District, such nomination highlighting once again, honour to the Casablanca Club and confirming its determination to continue to monitor the development and expansion of Rotary in our district and internationally.

      As I noted in the annals of our Club, revival during the year 1992-93 of the "Plaque Annuelle", a magazine describing the results of our activities through the events experienced and key business achievements.
      This booklet that I recommend to all future Presidents and Committees of our Club to continue to edit, will, I believe, be a source of some information to update the history of Club Casablanca while consolidating and strengthening its activities.

      In relation to this history through the major events that have marked the 66 year life of the Casablanca Club, I would not claim to have covered all the actions it has undertaken and achievements since its inception in 1930.
      Several other achievements worthy of interest can be put into the assets of the mother Club of Morocco in each area of action of our movement.
      Their impact on the local, national and international levels, matched only by the will of its active members and their ardent desire to serve.
      And voluntarily, I have not, for fear of generating some omissions or sensitivities to touch some modesty, provided names of successive Presidents who have watched over the destiny of our Club during 66 years and who, with the support of members of different generations that have succeeded, have all contributed their many achievements, their dedication and selflessness, growth and branding of our current Club Casablanca.

      I leave it to individual readers to discover in "box", their list and years of their mandate.
      I finally enjoy the indulgence and friendship of all those of my fellow Rotarians who identified errors dates or some unintentional omissions in this history through which I held mainly to link the past and present I leave the title: "Rotary Club Casablanca ... 66 years of service."

      Authored by Past Director Mohamed BENMEJDOUB


    acknowledgements to the author, Google translations, the Committee, Members and Webmaster

    posted by RGHF Webmaster Greg Barlow October 2008

    RGHF Home | Disclaimer | Privacy | Usage Agreement | RGHF on Facebook | Subscribe | Join RGHF - Rotary's Memory Since 2000