The unexpected death of Rotarian Sam Frobisher Owori of the Rotary Club of Kampala and President-elect of Rotary International on 13th July 2017, shocked many Ugandans and millions of his friends world-wide. I am not a Rotarian and I cannot claim that I knew him enough but what I know for sure is that in the last twenty-nine years his face had become a symbol of Rotary in Uganda. It is no surprise to me that his death has created an opportunity for me to write about living a life of service to others. Records show that he joined Rotary in 1978 and has served it in many capacities and took on the responsibility of growing the Rotary clubs in Uganda from nine to the current eighty-nine in the last twenty nine years. This is no mean achievement considering that for him it was never about numbers but more to do with quality. We mourn an accomplished man who has lived out what was his own to do and made a unique contribution to the world.
All that he was able to do emerged organically and easily from whom he was: a simple man of integrity, compassionate, passionate and hardworking individual. His concern and compassion for others fired him to become a Rotarian and as he rose through the ranks he was socialized adequately to become effective in his community and country. In Rotary, he was able to express what was in his heart. Rotary transformed him into a better person and he changed Rotary in some aspects. The Rotary community he created in Uganda was able to grow and flourish.
He knew who he was – strengths and weakness, his gifts and talents and used them to find his purpose and meaning in life. He used his life to make a difference and to help others. By doing something good, something useful with his life he made many people happy and found joy in his life.
One of my favourite authors, Khalil Gibran(1883-1931) : the renown Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer considered Serving others as the key to lasting joy and the actual true meaning of life.
One of his famous quotes says: “I slept and dreamed that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I served and I saw that Service is joy.”
He also said that: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
Sam Owori gave his love, time, energy and efforts.
Albert Einstein ( 1879-1955)Physicist. He crystallised the importance of service in life in this quote:
“Only life lived in service to others is worth living.’’
As Christians, we are commanded to wear the apron of humility to serve one another. God works through people like Sam Owori and you. Service to others is service to God.
When we love unconditionally, give gladly and humble ourselves to serve others without expecting any rewards: it is the closest we can get to being godly or being perfect. When we connect to people and help them live full lives, our lives will be full too.
Rotarian Sam Owori devoted his time to loving others and creating a community of Rotarians and in doing so, he found purpose and meaning in his life. Once he found what he was created to do and followed it relentlessly he was happy and lived an engaged life. He mentored, sponsored and inspired many Business and professional Ugandans to live meaningful lives and to engage in life fully. No wonder he always looked so alive, confident, open and always had something to look forward to.
Like all professionals of his time: he had many demands on his time but he learned to balance his own good with the good of others. He focused on what was most important in his life: God, family, his health, friends and service to humanity, and profession.Once he got what he wanted, he protected and sustained them.
I salute him for having had the courage and ability to do what he had to do to make a difference in Uganda and the world at large. He never sought his own good but did it for the good of humanity. He left the world a better place than he found it.
His selfless service as a Rotarian that began in 1978, was to serve as a special initiatory experience to prepare him to serve at the highest level as the 108th President of Rotary International from July 2018. He was ready to move with a deeper level of wisdom to access what would have been available to him.He would have been the second African President of this prestigious organization founded by Paul Harris of Chicago in February 1905. It is an international organization found in almost all countries and committed to serve and foster friendships. Many Rotarians in Uganda had already been galvanized for the Montreal meeting next year. Who could not have felt proud of him as a fellow Ugandan? Sadly, he died at the threshold of attaining this highest office in Rotary.
Like Rotary International itself, Sam Owori will be known and remembered by the results he achieved as a Rotarian.
Norah and the three sons may be the unsung heroes who gave Rotarian Sam Owori the secure and stable base to take off and land on. We thank you for this role and mourn with you during this difficult time. God will give you the courage to continue his work of selfless service to humanity. He lives on in you and all that he created with a lot of love and commitment.
Rotarian Sam Frobisher Owori, you have run your race brilliantly. Rest in Eternal Peace.