Freemasonry South Africa
Freemasonry is a fraternal secret society limiting its membership to adult men who believe in a Supreme Being. While it absorbed a good deal of occult symbolism from its roots in Renaissance Hermeticism, and a great many male occultists have belonged to it in the last 300 years, it is not an occult order. Similarly, while it was closely associated with liberal political causes for the two centuries after 1717,and Masons such as Louis Thiabult, Piet Retief and President Brand and Cecil John Rhodes have played important roles in political affairs and South African history, it is not a political organization. Non-members are often surprised to learn that its actual focus is self-improvement.
Freemasonry does not seek to persuade anyone to join it – candidates should come forward of their own free will and apply.
In the Order are men of widely divergent intellectual, cultural and social backgrounds, but all are motivated by Brotherly love. Although there are no barriers to the Freemason’s improvement within and without the Lodge, the Order demands respect of social conventions and teaches that, whereas some may rule, others must obey.
The Southern point of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, was opened up by the Dutch East India Company as a trading station to supply ships on the route to the East Indies with fresh produce. So naturally the Dutch East India Company established the Lodge De Goede Hoop (Lodge Good Hope) as Lodge No. 12 on the register of the G.E.N., which was ratified on 1st September 1772.
For its existence, the Lodge depended on visitors and, while conferring several Degrees, it failed to attract the local residents as members, mainly because of the rigid social and religious attitudes of the confined Cape society, which consisted primarily of two broad classes: the Company official and free burgher. Due to rigid Company policy, Company servants were not permitted to trade nor own land until they were released from their contracts, after which they were allowed to settle in the Cape and become free burghers. The Masonic philosophy of equality in the Lodge violated the structure in the Cape where difference in rank between Company officials and free burghers was practised. Religious interference was also widespread. As a result the Lodge went into recess in April 1781 to be opened again in 1794 as more prominent persons of the Company were attracted, such as Johannes Andries Truter, who would later become Chief Justice of the Cape. This offered some protection from the Company and the pulpit. Where previously members were of a transient nature, more and more initiates were locally born and primarily resident in the Cape, which offered stability.
Since its revival in 1794, Freemasonry South Africa and Lodge De Goede Hoop has remained active and is Lodge No 1 on the register of the Grand Lodge of South Africa. It has been instrumental in the establishment of Lodges under the jurisdiction of other Grand Lodges in South Africa.