A brief history of the
American Society of South Africa
The American Society of South Africa dates back several decades and during that time has served as an important network for Americans living in this country. In its constitution, the Society is described as “a non-political, non-sectarian, non-profit organization“. Its aims are stated quite clearly:
- To promote social and fraternal association among Americans in South Africa.
- To foster friendly relations between the citizens of the Republic of South Africa and those of the United States of America.
- To enhance the image of the United States of America.
- To assist newly arrived Americans to adjust to South Africa.
- To encourage interest in the United States on the part of the South Africans.
In 1994, membership was opened up to South Africans, although the President and Vice President still have to be American. As Americans living away from home, as South Africans who share our interest in the American way of life, we all want to have that CONNECTION – that connection to things American. The American Society serves as a forum for Americans and their friends and families to stay in touch with each other and to keep up the traditions we all love, AND to have fun.
It is the only American organization in South Africa that caters for the whole family. The American chamber of Commerce is a business network looking after the interests of the US companies operating here. While it does have the occasional social function, its primary purpose is business. The International Women’s Club (AIWC) is a wonderful networking group for women. However, at this point, its membership is predominately South African and international with a few Americans.
The American Society is the only organization for husbands, wives, single adults and children up to the age of 18. It could also be said that it is the most ‘American’ of these groups (based on our membership and the types of activities we hold) and keeps the ‘American spirit’ alive. Traditionally, the US Consul-General and his wife have been staunch supporters of the American Society, often opening up their home to members for activities. We are very fortunate in that Consul-General David Dunn and his wife, Maria-Elena, have been very helpful and supportive.
Clearly, the American Society of South Africa has a very important purpose to serve. It helps newcomers to feel less homesick and more at home here. It introduces other people to the American traditions and way of life. And it helps to keep that wonderful American spirit alive and thriving!
Compiled by Grace Shuurman, President, June 2004