An Introduction to Buffaloism
as practiced by the
Grand Lodge of Southern Africa.

The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (R.A.O.B.) is a Charitable Organisation which is active, not only in its local community, but, at all levels of Society.  It is non-political, nor does it look to religion to inspire participation. It does, however, inspire Members to commit to a peaceful and meaningful way of life. It is often described as an extended family, a social organisation or a mutually supportive group of like-minded people; each true in its own way, they do not adequately describe the true picture: that is painted on a much larger canvas.
The worldwide Membership of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes is composed of a number of sections or "banners" and whilst they differ in numerical strength and procedures, all have the same purpose freely and aptly described as "the pursuit of Brotherhood" and the practice of Philanthropy. We are sometimes referred to as the “Buffs” or the “Buffaloes”.

We are the Grand Lodge of Southern Africa.

Ours is a Brotherhood firmly based on the family principal, that the total power and strength of the family shall be available to the individual in accordance with his need, and the point must be made at once that the degree to which needs can be satisfied depends entirely on the fidelity to that principal of each member of the family, YOU and I.
This introduction is not a literary composition on the origin and development of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, however to be able to understand the Order we must first look at how it has progressed in the time it has been in existence.
The origins of the Order were in the theatrical fraternity of the 1820's. It was, it seems, born out of the need for social activity. As time went on the Order grew and spread becoming active in philanthropic works. It opened orphanages, readily took its place in the community and accepted its responsibilities towards the needs of its Members. All the fascinating history of the Order is freely available to anyone who is interested.
The Order underwent a fundamental change to become the organisation it is today. The combination of providing support and care for our Members and taking part in the wider life of the community at large has evolved throughout the Order.

There are four Degrees in the Order:                                     
First Degree – Brother
Second Degree – Certified Primo
Third Degree – Knight Order of Merit
Fourth Degree – Roll Of Honour

The First Degree is conferred on Initiation into the Order.
The Second Degree is subject to an examination conducted by a committee convened for that purpose, plus service in the Order of a standard satisfying the Members of the Minor Lodge. Members of the Second Degree or higher are entitled to attend the Provincial Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge meetings.
The Third Degree is awarded for sustained service to the Order of a long period; generally, this Degree (and the Fourth Degree) is awarded by a Minor Lodge to Members of the Lodge who reach the standard of service that satisfies its Members. Members of the Third Degree and higher are entitled to become Members of the Knights Chapter and to attend its meetings, if one is established in the Province.
The Fourth Degree is awarded on exactly the same basis as the Third Degree. Members of the Fourth Degree are entitled to become Members of the Roll Of Honour Assembly and to attend its meetings, if one is established in the Province.
The function of the Knights Chapter and Roll Of Honour Assembly is chiefly ceremonial, but they practice, as do all units of Buffaloism, benevolence as a primary duty.
The Period of service for all Degrees is clearly shown in our Rule Book.

There are three main levels within the Order:

The Minor Lodge (M.L.)
The Minor Lodge is the cornerstone around which the Order is built. First and foremost we are all Members of our own Minor Lodge. Brothers can, if they wish, belong to more than one Lodge; all Brothers must be part of a Lodge. The majority of Lodges meet monthly, though some meet fortnightly if needs dictate.  Each Minor Lodge supports its Members and the community at a local level. It is the only unit authorized to Initiate into Membership of the Order. Members of any Degree may attend its meetings.

The Provincial Grand Lodge (P.G.L.)
A Provincial Grand Lodge collectively administers a group of Minor Lodges known as a Province. Members who have chosen to be active at this level and have proven their knowledge of the rules and procedures attend the Provincial Grand Lodge to carry this out.  Provincial Grand Lodge meets once a month. It is composed of Delegates from each Minor Lodge in its area of jurisdiction plus a number of Brethren who, as a result of holding or having held certain offices, are given ex-officio rights of Membership of the Provincial Grand Lodge. In order to attend a Provincial Grand Lodge in any capacity you must hold the Second or higher degree.                                                                                     

The Grand Lodge (G.L.)
It was originally under control of the Grand Lodge of England and was granted its own Charter in 1921.
Grand Lodge is made up of delegates from Provincial Grand Lodges and administers the Order nationally. Grand Lodge meets twice a year. The degree of participation at any level is entirely voluntary and at the discretion of each individual Brother. Many do confine their activities to their own Minor Lodge and do not seek advancement. There is no stigma attached to anyone who does not wish to become active at Provincial Grand Lodge or Grand Lodge.
The provision of care and support for our Members works hand in glove with our support for local, regional and national charities.
It is composed of Delegates from each Provincial Grand Lodge plus a number of Brethren who, as a result of holding or having held certain offices, are given ex-officio rights of Membership of the Grand Lodge In order to attend a Grand Lodge meeting in any capacity you must hold the second or higher degree. Exceptions to the afore mentioned are allowed in areas where firmly established Minor Lodges are in existence, but because of distance and lack of populace the minimum number of Minor Lodges to form a Provincial Grand Lodge cannot be satisfied. In such cases these Minor Lodges work “direct” under Grand Lodge at the discretion of that authority.

The image we would wish to present is of a group, who, by their works, encourage members of the community to lead satisfying and enjoyable lives and who provide our Members with a sense of belonging. Tangible assistance is provided when needed. Importantly this support is not dependent on what an individual puts in rather by what is needed.
The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes at all levels supports its community and, through its charitable works, raises many Rands for most worthwhile causes, far too many to list, all chosen by the Membership locally, regionally or nationally.
The range of charities we support is very wide as are the internal funds we have for use for our Members in times of difficulty or need.
The support we provide for our own Lodge Members and their families is augmented by a comprehensive range of benevolent funds administered by Grand Lodge and includes educational grants. Aged Members and widows of deceased Brethren benefit from our annuities or special grants. As long as the need exists our assistance continues.
We are not a “secret society” or organization, our rules and ceremonies are in the public domain. Our Order is steeped in history, much more information is available but to go in too deep at this stage would only serve to confuse.


Membership is for life and Members can be as active as they wish at whichever

level they choose.  All that is required is that you are a Member of a Lodge;

 further progress is in the hands of the individual as is the frequency of his attendance in his Lodge.
Membership of a Lodge of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes is open to all adult males (over the age of eighteen) without distinction as to social position, religious faiths or political beliefs. Before a candidate is accepted, he has to convince the Members of the Lodge in which his application is made that he is a loyal citizen and supporter of the constitution of the country and that he is genuinely desirous of taking part in our work. On the basis of giving to the extent of his power, in cash or in service, whatever is required to meet the needs of a less fortunate Brother or the dependant widow and children of a deceased Brother.

The method of giving reflects the diversity of our Membership ("to the extent of my power") and the basic contribution expected from Members is fixed at a figure it is reasonable to assume all Members can pay without defaulting on their personal or family obligations. It is called a registration fee and subject to one exception, which need not concern you at the moment, is paid each time a Brother enters a Lodge. This fee is divided and channelled into Minor Lodge, Provincial Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge funds for the maintenance of our benevolent work and for administration. It is after we have contributed this basic fee that the opportunity arises to practice our undertaking to give "to the extent of our power". And during any Lodge session you will be able to subscribe, of your own free will, with no penalty if you cannot, or special privilege or praise if you do. To the many Benevolent and Administrative fund of the Minor Lodge, Provincial Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge which together form the power and implement the purpose of the Order. These opportunities for voluntary giving, especially to our benevolent projects, serve a double purpose for not only do they provide a valued addition to the funds available in the various sections. Even more important for the stability of the Order, they serve as a reminder to everyone concerned how much depends upon the degree to which the Brethren honour the obligation taken by them at their Initiation.

The key words or Hallmarks of our Order are JUSTICE, TRUTH and PHILANTHROPY. These are noble sentiments and we strive to work towards a better understanding of the needs of our community. By encouraging our Members to lead active and useful lives we believe we can influence others and show that, by following our philosophy, society can grow and improve.
The principle aims of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes are:
• Friendship
• Charitable Works
• Social Activity
• Mutual Support                                                                             
• Care
The social side of our Order within the Minor Lodge, the unit with which you will at the moment be most nearly concerned, is as varied as the personalities and positions of our Membership, differing in each Minor Lodge according to the desires of its Members. The great universal factor that runs like a golden thread through all of them is the tremendous opportunity for personal friendships that abound when people moved by the same idea and ideals meet together and have completed the formal business of Brotherhood. There are no rules in this sector of Buffaloism except to remember that you are meeting on equal terms as Members of the same family and the atmosphere and entertainment will be as good as you make it.
Finally, don’t judge too harshly or too quickly the things of which your understanding is for the moment limited. Stay with it, and with us, long enough to get a grip of the potential underlying strong dominant organization based on the faiths to which we have jointly pledged our word and make it even more powerful for good.

If you have stayed with us to this point you will know what value to place on any highly coloured stories you may have heard about us. Everything we do is part of a single-minded plan to secure and maintain the homes and lives of our Members and their families. Protection of the fatherless, the orphan child, the widow, the sick and the aged, is all part of and stems from our own home experiences, the measure to which we succeed is the measure to which many thousands of Buffaloes, all over the world, believe in and act on their promise to share the responsibility with us.

There is no real mystery about that promise and you cannot pretend you didn't understand. Simplicity itself is at the heart of it. You have promised in these terms, "I will also to the extent of my power, succour and defend a worthy Brother, under circumstances of difficulty and need. Nothing complicated about that; you obtain, with us, the right and the responsibility to give, to preserve these intensely practical and yet altruistic ideals for our mutual security.

Do not get the idea that we are completely introspective in our thoughts for other charities. There has never, in the last hundred years, been any worthwhile public endeavour to brighten the lives of the sick and needy in our own and other countries unless Members of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes have been actively involved in that endeavour. We can keep you busy.

This is the moment of decision, if there is a doubt in your mind do not come in; it will not be held against you; the man in whom we find no joy is the one who comes in, pledges his honour to participate, and then walks out because he "doesn't like it".

If you do come in just take this piece of friendly advice. Making judgement on procedures, of which your understanding is yet imperfect, is an unrewarding exercise. Time is all you need, procedures, unlike principles, can always be altered or modified. Concentrate on getting a grip of the potential underlying a strong dominant organisation based on the faiths to which we have jointly pledged our word. You may make it even more powerful for good.

Give it a go – You might enjoy it


If this introduction has left you with the desire for further information we are more than willing to discuss and answer any questions you may have.

For information about the R.A.O.B. G.L.S.A. in your area please contact:

The Grand Secretary,
R.A.O.B. G.L.S.A.
P.O. Box 228
Henley on Klip

Telephone: 016 366 0607
Mobile: 082 494 8741
Fax: 086 638 5034






Compiled by the R.A.O.B. Grand Lodge of Southern Africa