The Owl Club is committed to sociability among its members. We are drawn from men and women with interests in the fields of art, drama, literature, music, and science. We are an eclectic mix.

The Club has met regularly in Cape Town since 1894.

We meet on the third Tuesday of the month at the Kelvin Grove Club, Newlands, from 18:00 for dinner at 19:00. Dinner is followed by the meting the principal ingredients of which are a talk (by a guest), a musical programme, and an informal talk (called ‘The Wastepaper Basket’), by a member – members are called Owls. 

The audience: Between 60 and 90 Owls and their guests (our average age has been over 70 but recent elections have reduced this) habitually perch (which is what Owls do) on the third Tuesday.

Speaking time: Twenty minutes. Please observe this limit.
The meetings (venue, ambience, etc.,) do not lend themselves to slide shows or PowerPoint presentations; that said, some talks are enhanced by a few well-chosen images. Projected text, tables, and graphs do not work. Owls seek a talk and not a lecture.  The ideal talk entertains and informs, is thought-provoking, and usually not too technical. (If a talk is to include images, we will provide projection facilities (digital projector, screen, and remote control) by prior arrangement.)

Topic: Our guests choose their topics. You may speak on any topic you choose, though the podium is neither to be used as a pulpit nor a hustings! Please discuss your choice of topic beforehand with the Speaker Organiser (dubbed in the aviary of Committee Owls, the Familiar Chat[1]) – to avoid duplication.

Questions: The 4th estate are not present, and questions and comments are not invited from the floor. 
Speakers are not paid. We offer the opportunity to talk, to enjoy dinner and music, and a token bottle of port.
It is our practice to publish talks, or a review of the talk, in the Club’s monthly Notice which is circulated to members (about 200) as a record and to enable absent Owls to enjoy your talk. Would you therefore let the Familiar Chat have a digital/soft copy of your talk, or failing this, your text in hard copy. This is needed for publication. To assist this process, your talk may be recorded.
Several Owls are competent cartoonists, and they may sketch you during the evening for publication in the Notice. You may also be photographed for the Notice.

Dress Code: Owls dress for dinner and the meetings that follow. The Club does not prescribe but most will wear black tie/evening dress. Others adopt alternative elegant attire.

Curriculum vitae: Please let the Secretary have

  • a short CV so that the President can introduce you appropriately;
  • the title for your talk; and
  • a three- to five-line introduction to your topic, that we can publish in the ‘Notice’.

Previous speakers: Our long history of distinguished speakers included Baden-Powell, Mark Twain, Captain Robert Scott, Sybil Thorndike, Jan Smuts, Kitchener, and the Revd. Wm. Spooner. More recent speakers have included Lewis Pugh, Njabulo Ndebele, Bill Nasson, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Helen Zille, Bongani Mayosi, Billy Downer, Tim Noakes, Dugald McDonald, George Branch, Bernhard Gueller, and John Maytham.

Typical Format for the evening:

From 18:00Pre-prandial drinks
20:00Toast to South Africa marks the end of dinner, and is followed by 5-minute break
20:05Welcome & Club formalities
20:10Toast to our guests, and introduction of Guest Speaker
20:20Talk by Guest Speaker (20 minutes)
20:40Thanks to Guest Speaker, and introduction of the musical programme
20:50Music programme: part 1
21:10Bar break
21:25Music programme: part 2
21:45Wastepaper Basket (15 to 20 minutes) – by an Owl
22:05Toast to the Owl Club, after which the President will bid Owls a safe flight home

[1] The familiar chat (Oenanthe familiaris) is a small passerine bird of the flycatcher family Muscicapidae. It is a common resident breeder in Africa south of the Sahara in rocky and mountainous habitat and around human habitation.