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2019 Report of AGM held at Howick - Natal Midlands

The GSSA Annual General Meeting this year was held in the picturesque town of Howick in the Natal Midland. The hosts were the Natal Midlands Branch of the GSSA.

The days events started in the beautiful St Lukes Anglican Church hall in the center of Howick .

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Despite the minor setback of no power due to the power cuts, the team rolled on with business as usual. The chairman, Malcolm Brown, and his team should be congratulated on their successful attempt.

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The AGM started exactly on time and after the welcome address by President, Simon du Plooy, the work started in earnest.

The National Council discussed the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the 1820 Settlers at the 2018 AGM. With this in mind Gerrit and Hettie Muller visited the Eastern Cape during the year to establish if this was a feasible idea. But instead of being met with great enthusiasm at the idea by the participating authorities were given the cold shoulder instead! It was decided that should we want to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the 1820 Settlers, we will have to do it on our own. All branches are encouraged to get their members to write articles for 2020 celebratory Familia edition.

The Finances of the GSSA were examined in detail and the treasurer gave a thorough account of the state of affairs. The statements were audited by Gerrit Muller.

The development of the GSSA Web Shop was presented by Dennis Pretorius. In short, the only issue still to be sorted out was the e-wallet Payfast┬Ł system. Data you can expected to purchase will be - 1984 Voters List, the E-SAGI Database and the Cemetery Recording Database. The newly acquired GISA data is also in the pipeline to be added to the web shop. The system should be up and running later this year.

One of the highlights of the AGM was the 1972 Voter roll named the Rhino Project. The photographing of these books at the Pretoria Archives was well underway under the guidance of Annemarie Dreyer from the Northern Transvaal Branch. This project was adopted as a National Project. Once photographed this project will be OCRd which will render the project searchable. In the mean-time PDFs can be purchased of the scanned document to generate funds.  

A matter of concern is the Cemetery Recording Project which has seen a decline in new data being added. This is due to the fact that obtaining this data is not as easy as it used to be and data now obtained from the registers must be done with written permission from the various councils involved. This poses a problem since no feedback is received from the various departments that are contacted for said permission.

Last year one of the challenges up for discussion was not only to reverse the dwindling member numbers but to try and reverse the age profile of its members by recruiting younger people. Gerrit Muller put together a very comprehensive strategic meeting to discuss the finer points of the age-old problem membership numbers and the age groups. 

The AGM concluded with the Gala evening that took place on Saturday night; The guest speaker was Mathew Marwick who gave an outstanding presentation on The Contribution by SAs Traditional Boys Schools to World War I. He offered his view on related issues like the patriotic / jingoistic cultures at some of the schools before the war; the examples of heroic sacrifice set during the war by the great public schools in Britain like Eton and Harrow; the role of patriotic schoolmasters in fostering such an ethos; and the considerable importance at those schools at the time of such old-fashioned views as courage, honour and duty. His talk had a particular KZN focus, and he offered anecdotes for each of Maritzburg College, Durban High School, Hilton College, Michaelhouse and Glenwood High.

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