Pictured above on the first row: Charter members of Rho Phi Lambda, from left, Herman Warren, Reginald Shaver, Sean Walker, Gerald Sherman, Michael Sudarkasa, Linston Terry, Njagi Makanga, Eric Wright, Gerald Theus and Lou Hureston (not pictured, Robert Kelley III). Standing behind the charter members are the Board of Directors and visiting members from the United States.
BALTIMORE, MD -- The world's oldest intercollegiate fraternity founded by African American men has established its first chapter in South Africa. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1906, chartered Rho Phi Lambda Chapter, in Johannesburg, on Feb. 3, 2011.
The ceremony was held during the Kenneth Harlan Simmons Memorial Charity Dinner. Simmons, a successful African-American architect and professor, was a longtime member of the fraternity known for his work on equal rights, urban planning and community development. He relocated to South Africa in 1994 after retiring from the University of California-Berkeley. Of much significance to the chartering Brothers of Rho Phi Lambda, Bro Simmons was an initiate into the fraternity with its most illustrious son, the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The event, which included an Alpha auction for education, was presided over by the fraternity's world leader, General President Herman "Skip" Mason, Jr., and included members of the fraternity's board of directors, dignitaries and more than 200 others.
The new chapter provided contributions to two outstanding charities: the African Leadership Academy, which hosted the program and the Teboho Trust, a nonprofit organization that provides African children with educational and life skills support.
"This is just the first of many steps Alpha is taking, now and in the near future, to keep the organization growing across the world," said Mason.
The new Johannesburg chapter's 13 charter members relocated from America to South Africa. However, the fraternity aims to expand by inviting native South Africans to join the fraternity through the Rho Phi Lambda chapter.
The charter members include, Brothers James Addo, Leonard Bennett, Robert Kelley III, Reginald Shaver, Gerald Sherman, Michael Sudarkasa, Gerald Theus, Linston Terry, Lou Hureston, Herman Warren, Sean Walker, and Njagi Makanga, a Kenyan-born naturalized U.S. citizen now living in Durban. Bro. Kenneth Simmons is posthumously a chartering member of the chapter.
"We are excited about establishing the first chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha on the African continent in the 21st century," said Michael Sudarkasa, chapter president and a Harvard University-trained lawyer initiated at the University of Michigan. "We look forward to playing an integral part in helping to expand the fraternity's presence in Africa in the coming years."
"In South Africa, we see a number of areas that we can contribute to the community and will work to support initiatives in the fields of education, economic development, health and housing as our organization is already active in these areas in the U.S.," said Sudarkasa.
About Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Founded on December 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., has continued to supply voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world. The fraternity has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community's fight for civil rights through Alpha men such as Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, Andrew Young, Edward Brooke and Cornel West. The fraternity, through its more than 600 college and alumni chapters, and general-organization members, serves communities in the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.