Mensa was founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr. Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer. They had the idea of forming a society for bright people, the only qualification for membership of which was a high IQ. The original aims were, as they are today, to create a society that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions. The society welcomes people from every walk of life whose IQ is in the top 2% of the population, with the objective of enjoying each other’s company and participating in a wide range of social and cultural activities.
Mensa has three stated purposes: to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.
Mensa South Africa has over 3,000 members. Internationally, there are over 120,000 Mensans in 100 countries throughout the world. We have active chapters in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Cape Winelands and Kwa-Zulu Natal.
There is simply no one prevailing characteristic of Mensa members other than high IQ. There are Mensans for whom Mensa provides a sense of belonging, and others for whom it is a casual social activity. There have been many marriages made in Mensa, but for many people, it is simply a stimulating opportunity for the mind. Most Mensans have a good sense of humor, and they like to talk. And, usually, they have a lot to say.
Mensans range in age from 2 to more than 100, but most are between 20 and 60. In education they range from preschoolers to high school dropouts to people with multiple doctorates. There are Mensans on welfare and Mensans who are millionaires. As far as occupations go, the range is staggering. Mensa has professors and truck drivers, scientists and firefighters, computer programmers and farmers, artists, military people, musicians, laborers, police officers, glassblowers — the diverse list goes on and on.
The word “Mensa” means “table” in Latin. Mensa is a round-table society, where race, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, educational or social background are irrelevant.
Mensa takes no stand on politics, religion or social issues. Mensa has members from so many different countries and cultures with differing points of view, that for Mensa to espouse a particular point of view would go against its role as a forum for all points of view. Of course, individual Mensa members often have strong opinions–and several of them. It is said that in a room with 12 Mensans you will find at least 13 differing opinions on any given subject!
In such a diverse group, disputes can arise, and the process for handling disputes is outlined below:
DISPUTES WITHIN THE SOCIETY
Members having a dispute with another member or a committee arising out of a Mensa related matter or activity, shall exhaust all avenues of settlement and redress within the Society before taking the dispute to any external authority.
We recommend talking to the person or group with whom you disagree as a first step. Failing that, please record the issues in email for ease of reply, and ensure that all relevant parties have received the email(s). If the matter is regional, it must be addressed with the regional committee next, and only escalated to National if no resolution is reached at a local level.
MENSA SA OMBUDSMAN
The Society may appoint an Ombudsman who may or may not be member of the Society, and who shall mediate in any disputes within the Society. Any dispute that has not been settled to the satisfaction of a party within the Society may be taken to the duly appointed Ombudsman provided that:
- The dispute has followed the prescribed course of attempting internal settlement.
- The aggrieved party has notified the other party to the dispute of the intention to seek arbitration.
- The Ombudsman has set a reasonable time for all parties to make written representation.
- Details of the reasons for the dispute have been set out, in writing, by each party in the dispute.
- The Ombudsman shall not be obliged to call for witnesses, but may make a decision based on the written representations before him. The Ombudsman’s decision shall be final.
Although the Ombudsman’s decision shall be final, a matter can also be escalated to the International Director for Smaller Mensas or the International Ombudsman after it has gone through the local process if the parties still feel strongly that justice was not done.