The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 18 No 6 - June 2020

Covid-19 and the “Zoominati”
of the Military History Society

by Mike Marsh

For more than 50 years the Society has been holding monthly lectures at its branches for its members. On 23rd March 2020, the South African Government enacted a national shutdown to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This ended any opportunity for monthly meetings of the Society.

The Port Elizabeth branch of the Society (SAMSEC) under the leadership of Malcolm Kinghorn, initiated some experiments to see if we could start monthly meetings electronically.

The first meeting was held on the 11th May 2020 at 19h30. The meetings take the form of two 40-minute sessions with a five- minute break between the sessions. Usually the first session is used for the lectures and the second for discussions with all participants able to be involved.

Johannesburg branch then also started doing a monthly meeting and offered training sessions to new participants who were wary of the system.

The frequency of the meetings has since grown to three per month, with 135 members asking for invites. Participating members have been from even the remotest parts of South Africa as well as from the UK, France and Qatar. Three of the lectures have even been given from the UK.

The Society has recorded most of the lectures and has started a Zoom Library on the website where any person missing a lecture can listen and watch the original presentation. This feature was again motivated by Malcolm Kinghorn.

To participate you needed a computer or a cell-phone, a data connection and some free software.

Members register to partake in the meeting, and are sent an invitation to the next meeting which contains all the necessary identity codes and passwords.

The meeting is run by a host who has organised the meeting and controls the etiquette thereof. The host can assign any participant to give the lecture and that participant can show slides and documents with his lecture, just as if it were given in a room.

The lecture programme has covered topics such as:
The Conditions on the Voyages of the 1820 Settlers, Nuclear War, The Peace Treaties of the Boer War, Rock Music, Knitting for Soldiers, Kitchener’s Ladies, The influence of Novels on Starting MI5 and MI6, as well as tributes to famous veterans.

A typical screen view of participants -Zoominati - during a ZOOMeeting

Once the ROOM meetings restart we expect the Zoominati will continue as it has allowed meetings to be held with a globally spread participation addressed by experts in their fields.

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