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Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that has been in existence for hundreds of years. Today there are Freemasons of some form in almost every corner of the globe.
Freemasonry is not a weird cult, its members are all “regular good guys” and are upstanding members of society. Freemasons practise Charity, they promote truth, honesty and fairness. They are secular but all members believe in a Supreme Being, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or any other religion. Freemasons do not discuss religion or politics in any of their gatherings and promise to uphold the laws of the land. Freemasonry is not a secret society.
Although a number of Masons had settled in the Cape of Good Hope in the 1700’s, the first lodge was formed on 2nd May 1772.
Abraham van der Weidje, a captain of a ship sailing to the East Indies, called at the Cape and under authority from the Grand Master of the Grand East of the Netherlands Lodge; he summoned a meeting of Masons that were residing in the Cape.
The Lodge De Goede Hoop was founded on this day with Abraham Chiron as its Charter Master.
On 27 December 1800 the 1st English lodge was formed in South Africa when Lodge No.1 at the Cape of Good Hope and No. 321 in the Registry of the Grand Lodge of England, came into existence.
During the next 87 years Freemasonry spread rapidly from the Cape Province to the provinces of the Eastern Cape, Natal, Northern Cape and Free State and ultimately to the Transvaal, where on 21 September 1887, the Lodge Golden Thistle of the Scottish Constitution was the first lodge to be chartered in Johannesburg.
The first English lodge to be chartered in the Transvaal in 1887 was the Transvaal Lodge No. 1747, which was based in Pretoria. In May 1890, Johannesburg Lodge No. 2313 was the first English lodge to be formed on the Witwatersrand.
When a break in the relationship between the Netherlands and the 3 Grand Lodges became imminent, the English Grand Secretary advised Districts in South Africa of the situation. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England wrote to Colonel Colin Graham Botha advising him that, in the circumstances, it would probably be prudent to break away from the Netherlands. As a result, in 1961, the Grand Lodge of Southern Africa was duly established.
Today, the Grand Lodge Centre is based in Orange Grove, Johannesburg. 5 Provincial Divisions have been established over the years, being Southern (1863), Northern (1906), Central (1962), Eastern (1977) and Eastern Cape (2002). The harmonious interaction between the various Divisions, as well as that enjoyed with the Sister Constitutions, plays a very positive role in the overall development of South African Freemasonry.