Taalmonument’s open-air gallery shines with new poems

The Historium Trust in Paarl was a proud sponsor of the creative writing website INK Skryf in Afrikaans 2021 Writers’ Competition. It culminated at the end of the year with a prestige gala evening in Centurion during which prizes were awarded to the winners. Now, the top entries are now on display in the Afrikaanse Language Museum and Monument’s (ATM)’s Groen Galery in honour of International Mother Language Day on 21 February.

Ink.org.za is an independent website – aimed at promoting quality poetry and short stories in Afrikaans – where poets, writers and lyricists can publish their work. According to Anzé Bezuidenhout, the founder of INK, the organisation had to put on much bigger shoes last year, because the entries flowed in from the country and abroad. “Our judges had to scramble to choose the best poems and stories that had to be included in the Inkspraak, Inspraak Skoliere en Inkspraak Kortverhale volumes. The award ceremony was also the launch of the anthology Inkspraak 2 where guests could acquire their own copy,” she says. Prizes were given to Andries Fourie, Bertie Cloete, Karlie Lubbe, Johan van der Merwe, Pieter Mostert, Morne du Preez, Carmen Edwards, Etna Wepener, Elmarie Nienaber van Kampen, Olivia Lubbe, Jenna Wilkinson and Twana Nel, among others.

According to Michael Jonas, director of the ATM, the mission of this living institution is to amongst others celebrate the rich diversity of Afrikaans’ origins as well as its modern forms. “Most visitors are not only very interested in the history of Afrikaans, but also curious about the language’s development and its latest creative forms as it offers new perspectives on the lived world of Afrikaans-speaking Africans.”

The architect of the monument, Jan van Wijk, felt strongly about nature and therefore he is honoured by this open-air gallery where his ashes are embedded in a boulder, surrounded by indigenous olive trees and granite. An exhibition of especially emerging Afrikaans writers is presented every few months in this gallery’s display cases, made of recycled wood and glass, to focus on the monument’s cultural and natural aspects. The INK exhibition will be physically accessible until April, but it, as well as previous exhibitions, can be viewed online at taalmuseum.co.za/groen-galery/.

By registering for a free profile on ink.org.za, guests have unlimited access to their library and training sections, which act as a type of free workshop. Other membership options are also available to form part of an outstanding platform where words are given wings; currently the categories include general/babble, articles, poems, columns, music & lyrics, fabrications and stories. It provides exposure thanks to monthly projects and an active moderator who provides practical and encouraging commentary on entries. Competitions are also held, and awards given for the best contributions in the categories.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) launched International Mother Language Day to recognise that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion. This year’s observance is a call on policymakers, educators and teachers, parents and families to scale up their commitment to multilingual education, and inclusion in education to also advance education recovery in the context of Covid-19. This effort contributes to the UN’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), for which Unesco is the lead agency, and which places multilingualism at the heart of indigenous peoples’ development. More at un.org/en/observances/mother-language-day.

For more information on all the other exciting events, concerts and courses at the Taalmonument, call 021 872 3441/863 0543, visit www.taalmonument.co.za or follow them on Facebook. The website also offers virtual tours of the monument and museum, information in six languages on the symbolism of the Taalmonument as well as many interesting articles on Afrikaans, multilingualism and the institution’s past, present and future. There are also many resources for school and research projects. THE LANGUAGE MONUMENT, LANGUAGE MUSEUM AND COFFEE SHOP ARE OPEN TO VISITORS. Annual permits are available at R120 for individuals or R220 per family, which includes access to all Full Moon Picnics.