Mechanical Shrubbery is a social club at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), in Johannesburg South Africa. It is dedicated to the appreciation of British humour, improving student's social lives and furthering the needs of those students who wish to sit around shooting the shit, on comfortable couches, whilst missing lectures.

Mechanical Shrubbery was started in 1978 as a mock political party running for the Student's Representative Council, promising only the ludicrous and impossible. The name of the party was derived from a scene in Monty Python's The Holy Grail (see shrubbery for more information). After receiving virtually no votes, and failing horribly at their political aspirations, the creators of the party approached the SRC and asked to be registered as a social club for the appreciation of British humour.
Since such registration, Mech Shrub, as it is commonly known, has risen and fallen more than once in popularity amongst students. A brief history will suffice:

  • 1978: Registration as a social club.
  • 1979: Clubroom situated on the first floor of the DJ Duplussis building, West Campus
  • 1979-1995: Presumably many fun filled years.
  • 1996: Clubroom moved to a tiny room in the Student Union Building on East Campus, much complaining by Shrubbers to the SRC follows.
  • 1997: Highly intelligent members of Mech Shrub, break into an empty room in the Student Union Building. Upon discovering that it is at least 10 times the size of the current Shrub, declare it Mechanical Shrubbery property and move in.
  • Late 1997: The SRC declares the new clubroom as officially belonging to Mech Shrub. (Squatters become owners in record time.) Mech Shrub beats RAG pub (previous champions for 20 years) in the annual 3 man championships.
  • January 1998 as far as social clubs go Mech Shrub has the second largest membership base, with the Ballroom Dancing Club being first. Mech Shrub also has the largest (stolen) clubroom on campus. The Hot Box is discovered next to the clubroom.
  • February 1998-2000: Weed smokers take over Mech Shrub, playing chess and filling the hallways with the strong smell of grass. The SRC threatens Mech Shrub officials, but nothing is done. Large amounts of hash cake is consumed.
  • 2001: The SRC informs innocent Mech Shrub officials that it is time to revamp their clubroom, orders us out on promise of building a better bar and storeroom/library. Mech Shrub is moved back to the DJ Duplussis building. Membership falls by 80%
  • The SRC breaks down the Student Union Building clubroom and the hot box, and builds a bank in its place.
  • 2002 Mech Shrub all but dies, aquiring the minimum number of members allowed for a social club to continue. Of those 25 members, only 5 visit the clubroom on a regular basis.
  • 2003 Mech Shrub fights its way back to the Student Union Building (now called The Matrix) and a better membership base (80). Events are once again held, and the Shrub flourishes!
  • 2004, a record number of members is attained (240). The Shrub is back!!!

Mechanical Shrubbery is famous for holding various events throughout the academic year, with no consideration for lectures, exams, studying, alcohol poisoning, bodily injury, legal constraints, copyright laws, drug overdoses, local town planning restrictions, road traffic and road usage, healthy toilet habits, cleaning staff, fundamental/universal human rights, electricity and or water useage, the humane killing of animals, pollution, environmental laws physics, mathematics, logic, politics, or university policy.

Some of the regular events include:

  • The 3 Man Drinking Championships. A wonderfully exciting game involving dice, the consumption of large amounts of liquor and a table. The most frequent occurrence at the 3 man championships is beautiful girls vomiting into dustbins, out of windows and into cars. Usually the vomit simultaneously comes out of the nose. Cheap and easy sex is often attained after the 3 man championships, as is large amounts of urination. This is an event welcomed by Shrubbers, and most often scowled at by the SRC, the cleaners and campus health.
  • The 3 Day Movie Marathon. Another brilliant event involving the consumption of large amounts of liquor and psychedelic drugs. Usually held in a large lecture room during the weekend, this event involves the watching of classic movies.
  • The British Humour Movie Marathon. As above, except that eye strain is here caused by illegal copies of Monty Python, Men Behaving Badly, Black Adder, Fawlty Towers and other such essential and brain (tumour?) developing television programs and movies.
  • Punch Parties. Ahh, the Mech Shrub punch parties. An invention of my own if I may add... Take one bottle of cheap vodka, one bottle of coconut liqueur, one 5-litre box wine, 1 cup of fruit juice and a bag of ice. Mix it together in a large bucket and serve with fresh lashings of Monty Python to a large audience. Repeat until societal norms are no longer important.
  • The Friday Drinking Trek. This involves drinking heavily, and then going to all the bars on campus, and drinking more heavily. Once again, cheap (unless your buying the drinks) sex can and is often easily attained.
  • The End of the Year Ball. This is when everyone who was anyone at the Shrub gets together to party all night long. Usually takes place at a classy restaurant. Usually involves getting kicked out of said restaurant.

Mechanical Shrubbery also publishes a quarterly magazine known as The Tea Times.

All in all the Shrub is a cool place to hang out, drink, take drugs or get laid. If you are ever at WITS, look under the Matrix. That is where we are.

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