SIFAF Conference in Marrakech, Morocco – April 20 – 22, 2018
This year, the SIFAF conference was held in the city of Marrakech, Morocco. Located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is also known as the red city because of the pink colour of the buildings which deepens at sunset giving the city an alluring hue. The conference opened with the attendance of 287 delegates from all over Africa and Europe. The colourful ceremony was opened by a display of African country flags and a beautiful song and animation performed by school girls from the Soroptimist Boarding House, a project of Soroptimist Club Marrakech caring for girls from rural areas.
The event started with an interesting address by the guest of honour Mme Farida Bennani, followed by an inspiring and moving speech by the outgoing SIFAF Task Force Chairperson Mrs. Nneka Chris Asoluka. Nneka’s message was full of hope and encouragement. Referring to the formation of the African Federation, she said a lot is yet to be done, most of which will be done by the incoming task force and all the Clubs and Union. “Together we can do it,” was her parting shot to the delegates. Her address was followed by a plenary session featuring SI President MarietVerhof-Cohen, SIE President Renata Trottman and SIGBI Vice President Isobel Smith. The SIFAF Programme Director AdakuAniebue gave a wonderful overview of club projects and topped it all by announcing the Best Practice Project Award to the Union of Madagascar. This was a wonderful surprise to the delegates, giving an incentive to report and showcase their club projects.
SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen giving her speech (Image by Elizabeth Nyadwe)
The first day of the meeting ended with a friendship evening. Delegates were taken by bus to Chez Ali resort where we were treated to a sumptuous traditional Moroccan dinner, dance and fantasy war ceremony. A wonderful display of fireworks inscribing the words “Soroptimist Africaine” crowned the evening much to the surprise and delight of the Soroptimists!
Day two was a working day full of reports from taskforce members, workshop sessions and resolutions. Day three started with the announcement of the new taskforce elections results:
- Chairperson: Mary Muia from Kenya
- Vice President Southern Africa Region: LisetteGenseberger from South Africa,
- Vice President Eastern Africa Region: Judith Apondo from Kenya
- Vice President North Africa Region: Fatima El Baz from Morocco
- Vice President West Africa Region: Oludewa Thorpe from Nigeria
- Finance Director: Olufumulayo Saheloa,from Nigeria
- Programme Director: Vivian Namayi from Kenya
The position of Communication Director and Extension and Membership Director was not filled and elections will be done for these positions soon after the meeting.
New President Mary Muia making her Maiden speech at Gala dinner. With her are the outgoing Task Force members from left Laila Binebine, Fati Timbadou, SI President Mariet Cohen, Mary Muia, Nneka Asolouka, Mariam Traore, Sophie Koechie, Ony Rasoloarison and Adaku Aniebue (Image by Elizabeth Nyadwe)
The day continued with workshop sessions on brainstorming the SI CRITERIA, TIMELINE and ideas for achieving the African Federation goal. The key targets picked from the workshops were that the proposed Future African Federation should ensure that:
- It has experienced members available to serve on the Soroptimist International Board and committees.
- It has at least one hundred Clubs, 90 of which shall have been in existence for more than three years; and that the Clubs composing such Federation, have at least 2,000 members.
- It will be capable of providing comparable service to Clubs and members which they receive in their current Federations.
- It will be self-supporting, both financially and administratively.
- It will adopt laws which are approved by the Board and do not conflict with the International Constitution
It was announced that the proposed charter is planned for the year 2020 and will be held in Cote d’Ivoire. The meeting was concluded with a well-attended Gala dinner at the conference meeting venue. It was colourful and lively with a re-enactment of a traditional Moroccan bridal ceremony, fashion show and dance. President Mary Muia made her maiden speech during the dinner leaving the audience in no doubt that we are on the right track to the SIFAF charter! Needless to say, Marrakech along with the warmth and hospitality of the Moroccan Soroptimist’s, blended with the Souks, famous squares, museums, art galleries and traditional cuisines made the SIFAF meeting an unforgettable experience!
Group photo (Image by Elizabeht Nyadwe)
SIE VP Advocacy