Taalmonument launches Arabic-Afrikaans competition with R10 000 up for grabs

In celebration of Heritage Month and the Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument’s (ATM’s) 45th birthday, the institution has launched a free competition in which R10 000 is at stake for anyone that can transliterate any short Afrikaans text into Arabic or Jawi (Arabic script adapted to depict specific Afrikaans sounds) writing. In addition, some of the best examples will be exhibited in the monument’s outdoor gallery for a few months to reach a wider audience.

Arabic-Afrikaans, or Afrikaans written using the Arabic alphabet, is generally accepted as the first written form of Afrikaans. Many Arabic-Afrikaans writings – such as student notebooks, voting posters, publications and manuscripts – have been preserved; thus far, 74 of these works written between 1845 and 1957 have been discovered and identified by experts. Among these are excellent examples of the earliest Afrikaans literature. In addition, it is thought that many more Arabic-Afrikaans writings are privately owned.

According to Michael Jonas, director of the ATM, the aim of this competition is to make a modern contribution to this unique writing tradition. “Our mission, after all, is to also highlight the lessor-known histories of Afrikaans and to celebrate the rich diversity of Afrikaans’s development as well as its modern forms. That is why we want to encourage people to reaffirm their participation in this language in this way,” he says. “In the Taalmuseum in Paarl we give a lot of recognition to Abu Bakr Effendi, who played a major role in the development of Arabic-Afrikaans and thereby also Afrikaans in the 1800s in the Bo-Kaap. We would like to see the Afrikaans community build on this.”

The judge is Dr Shamiega Chaudhari, head of the Department of Afrikaans at the University of Fort Hare. She is not only an expert on Afrikaans and Arabic, and enthusiastic about Jawi, but also focusses on decolonisation, identity studies and oratory. According to her, few younger South Africans are familiar with Jawi, therefore the competition offers them the option to do the transliteration using the standard Arabic alphabet. “I consider it a wonderful challenge, and hopefully also a way of provoking greater interest in Jawi,” she says. Jawi is also used for among others to write Malay, Acehnese and Banjarese using the Arabic script. As there is no standardised Arabic or Jawi version of Afrikaans, entrants’ works will not be measured by what is absolutely correct, but by their originality and readability.

To enter, participants must find or write a text in any variant of Afrikaans (standard, Griekwa, Nama, Kaaps etcetera) in Roman script. It must be 100 to 25 words long and in any genre – from religion to rap – after which it must be transliterated into Arabic OR Jawi OR both. To help with this, a few modern Afrikaans examples, online resources and keyboards are available, especially with regard to the reproduction of specific Afrikaans sounds – see www.taalmonument.co.za/arabies-afrikaans/. The winner will receive R5 000 in cash and the two runners-up R2 500 each, sponsored by the Historium Trust. The best 12 entries will be exhibited in the monument’s outdoor gallery, where Roman and Arabic/Jawi versions of the same Afrikaans text will appear side by side.

For entry information, examples and online resources, see www.taalmonument.co.za/arabies-afrikaans/. Email your entry (maximum two per person) with your full name, address, telephone number and email address to bemarking2@taalmuseum.co.za. Competition ends 30 November 2020, and winners and exhibitors will be notified within a month thereafter. It is open to all, and terms and conditions apply. If you have any queries or would like to submit your entry via WhatsApp, contact Jeffrey Pietersen on 021 872 3441 or bemarking2@taalmuseum.co.za.

For more information regarding all the other exciting events such as the music festivals, picnics and conversations, as well as the Taalmonument’s 45th celebrations, call 021 863 0543/4809, visit www.taalmonument.co.za or follow them on Facebook. THE MONUMENT AND MUSEUM WILL REOPEN FOR THE PUBLIC ON 1 OCTOBER 2020.

(Source: https://af.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabiese_Afrikaans  Images: Imraan Christian | www.imraanchristian.com)