Sometimes questions arise in the general run of conversation. When the topic turns to the SAVA and our young VC, it’s not always easy for our friends from other places to understand that we are a unique community, far away at the southern tip of Africa. They tend to forget that our community, as far as it has come in such a short time, has only had a name and a face for a little over a year now.
In this article, I will answer some of the more common questions posed:
1) “Why are there so many leaders (or elders) in the SAVA who are new to the community?”
This is South Africa – up until a year ago, when the SAVA was founded, there was no community – hence, in a technical sense, we are ALL new to the SA Vampyre Community.
Leaders in the SAVA are appointed or chosen from those members who show the interest, dedication, skill and talent to do the job of building the local community to the point where the South African VC can also have some more experienced and seasoned leaders. While our leaders have been solitary Vampyres for most of their lives, most have already been involved in other communties (such as the natural or traditional healing, Pagan or Occult communities) for a lengthy period as well. Thus, while some of them may be viewed as being new to the VC, they are experienced in various fields and are able to offer their experience to the SAVA in their work for the community, and also advice to others in the community.
The meaning of the title “Elder” has been under spirited debate in the international community for years. Some contend that it means a Vampyre who has been in the VC for many years and is considerably older than the rest, others say that anyone who posesses sufficient skills or knowledge or experience to teach others in their field, can be called an “elder”. To clarify our position on the word, we do not and never have used the term “elder” as a title in the SAVA – although we cannot rule out the possibility that one day we might.
It takes time to build a community from nothing. Nothing – AND a lot of curious solitaries who have spent perhaps their whole lives up til now not realizing that there are others like them. We have to start somewhere.
Conventions of an already long established community DO NOT work so well in practice in such a scenario. As an anecdotal reference, think of the old employment conundrum: “Accountant wanted – must have experience.” How do you get the job without the experience? How do you get experience if you can’t find a job in the field?
2) “Why does the SAVA use a hierarchic system?”
The SAVA uses a basic hierarchy as does any group that numbers more than a handful of people, and spans across a country, and it does so in order to co-ordinate its activities.
It is hard to designate who does what without allocating positions of responsibility to those who manage various aspects of the body. This is comparable to the titles used in any company – for example, even though a company may consist of 50 or less employees, there is still a Manager, several shift bosses and maybe some heads of department, and then some cashiers, and perhaps the security guard at the door. That is the purpose of the titles or ranks of Magister, Secundus and Primus etc. It’s not to preside over a party or event, or to enable the self-glorification of power-hungry narcissists – but to distinguish those who manage and oversee the work that goes into building the community, finding and recruiting new members, working within their Groups and Halos and so on. In these early times, it is often these leaders who do all the work themselves.
Nobody expects anyone to bow down and kiss anyone’s ring because of a fancy title. Also, those in positions of responsibility in the SAVA are expected to produce, or make way for those who will. In the end, this will ensure a system which produces a corps of competent community leaders for the future.
We are not the only community which uses titles, and in fact there are some groups in foreign communities which employ more than just ranks and titles, but also divide their members up according to what kind of Vampyre they are, determine interaction according to their feeding methods, and even go so far as to establish caste-systems accordingly. SAVA does not follow that practice. All our members are treated with the same measures of worth, respect and dignity, and our policy is a policy of unity in our diversity.
3) “How does the SAVA hierarchy work?”
In brief, the system is laid out as follows: Each member Group (House, Coven, Temple etc) has a founder and / or leader, called a Primus. The Group has a second in command, called a Group/House etc Secundus. Within the SAVA, we have 9 designated Halos, one for each Province of South Africa. In each Halo, all the Primi and Group Secundi of the Groups within a Halo form a Council of Elders. Each CoE is intended to assist the Magister in all work inside the Halo, building membership, holding or planning events, dealing with whatever matters come up which affect the community in that Halo. Each Halo is led by a Magister and a Halo Secundus to assist them. All the Councils of Elders together form the Senate, which advises or assists the High Council and assists the HC in the same way that a single CoE assists the Magister and Secundus. Within the Senate, each CoE is called a Caucus. The High Council consists of all 9 Magisters and all 9 Halo Secundi, and decides policy and other matters regarding the functioning of the SAVA.
All of those holding posts of Magister were appointed the first time round, however, by the end of the 5th year of SAVA’s existence, elections will be held within the SAVA membership to select Magisters from then existing Group leaders of each Halo, and held every 5 years thereafter. Halo Secundi are also Group Primi, and are appointed by their Halo Magister to assist them in their duties, and act as part of the succession plan of the SAVA.
4) “Why is there “so much” drama in the SAVA or SA VC?”
Someone once said that a collective grouping of Vampyres is “a bicker of Vampyres“. Considering the predeliction for drama in our community as a whole, this can be considered to be quite true.
Yes, there is occasional drama in our community, and yes even some occasional arguments – but no more than in any other Vampyre Community. In fact, compared to larger and more established VC’s around the world, the SA VC is considerably quiet.
There are numerous forums and groups associated with the SA VC on Facebook. The SAVA groups are closed and visible to SAVA members only – the most active SA VC group is the “Friends” group – which is populated by people from all over and not just South Africa, and not all of them are Vampyres, and relatively few of them are members of the SAVA – so if anyone were to claim that because there is drama on one little group which is actually a melting pot of cultures, that the SA VC or the SAVA have “so much drama” would be stretching things a little far.
Our country gets bad reviews overseas for various reasons – and this is sad but true. Those in other countries, and in more developed VC’s may look down on us here because of the way it’s all happening here South Africa – BUT we are not the rest of South Africa. We’re SAVA and the SA VC – and we’re building something special and unique. Look at all that we’ve built in JUST ONE YEAR! They may not realize that. I want us to.