SBA, Fredericks and Le Cordeur win prizes totalling R60 000; Elvis Saal delivers memorial lecture in Paarl

The Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument (ATM) is proud to announce that Gaireyah Fredericks and the Stigting vir Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans (Foundation for Empowerment through Afrikaans, SBA) are the 2020 winners of the Neville Alexander prestige awards for the promotion of Afrikaans. Prof Michael le Cordeur of Stellenbosch University was honoured for his lifelong and outstanding service to the Afrikaans language community. Alexander (1936-2012) was an award-winning linguist, activist, educator and academic who strongly advocated multilingualism and mother-tongue education in South Africa.

The prizes, to the value of R60 000 in total and sponsored by Naspers, were presented by the chairperson of the ATM board, Prof Elvis Saal, on Saturday, 10 October, during a gala event in the Historium Conference Centre in Paarl. He also delivered the memorial lecture ‘To Recreate Afrikaans’ in which the emphasis was on recreating Afrikaans spaces and on the fact that Standard Afrikaans is more multifaceted, that the standard should be further Africanised. This was followed by a discussion ‘Vele Tongvalle, Een Taal – multilingualism in Afrikaans’ with discussion leader Michael Jonas, ATM director, and the young panel members Giselle Botha, Monn-lee Geduld and William Sezoe, after which the 60 guests were able to pose questions to the participants.

Among the initiatives of Fredericks, an actress and writer, are the Moedertong workshops for creative writing, her formal mentorship programme, her promotion of the language among Muslim speakers of Afrikaans, as well as her efforts to expose young writers to literary festivals. Through her work in Afrikaans, Fredericks has become a role model for many, and contributes to the celebration of the language’s beauty and legacy.

The SBA’s mission is to develop literacy through Afrikaans and at the same time attain respect for Afrikaans. With a focus on multilingualism, this organisation has in recent years published a practical job search guide in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English, distributed additional Afrikaans learning materials to school learners, published multilingual children’s books, presented a Mandela Day Youth Leaders Forum, and continued their successful story project, Amagama multilingualism project and Afrikaans Sing! choir event.

Throughout his entire career spanning 40 years, Le Cordeur devoted his time and life to making Afrikaans accessible to all, and use the language as a medium to promote cohesion and nation building. This was initially as an Afrikaans teacher, later a lecturer in Afrikaans and educator of future Afrikaans teachers, as well as his continued involvement in the broad Afrikaans landscape.

[Read the motivations for the 3 winners here.]

According to Michael Jonas, director of the ATM, these honours are an attempt to give recognition to the unsung heroes of Afrikaans and to promote language projects. “This year’s choices were even more difficult than before, because we really had outstanding entries. We thank all those who were nominated for their selfless work to promote Afrikaans; it is being noticed. Keep it up.”

The winners receive a certificate and prize money of R20 000 each for the benefit of relevant language projects. Other previous winners include Suzie Matlhola, Ernest Loth, the Faculty of Education of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (Wellington), Sabina Dumas, Susan Smith, Elizabeth Dennise van Schalkwyk and Woorde Open Wêrelde.