Mensa has three stated goals
- To identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity.
- To encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence.
- To promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.
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 South Africa has over 1,000 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. When it comes to education, they range from preschoolers to high school dropouts to those with multiple doctorates. 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, labourers, police officers, glassblowers — the diverse list goes on and on.
Mensa is an international society, free from all social distinctions (racial, religious, etc.).
Famous Mensans include Scott Adams, Geena Davis and General Norman Schwarzkopf.
- Mensa is the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world. The only qualification for membership is having an IQ in the top 2% of the population.