Taalmonument offers thousands of Rands for flash fiction

Although the current lockdown and general situation due to the coronavirus pandemic are serious matters, the Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument (ATM) also wants to highlight the humour that makes people’s daily lives more bearable. With Afrikaans neologisms such as ‘koeshoes’ (when you dodge someone that is coughing), ‘grendelgriep’ (cabin fever) and ‘kwarantynwyn’ (moonshine, home-made alcohol) as well as the funny memes and jokes spreading like a virus on social media, it is clear that there is no shortage of creativity at this time. Therefore, as part of the ATM’s 45-year celebrations, everyone is invited to unlock their pens and write something funny, absurd or ironic. It can be limericks, poems, thoughts, haikus, slogans, flash fiction or lyrics about these historical times – something that plays out at your home or anywhere else during the lockdown.

According to Michael Jonas, ATM director, the institution is a living monument where there is a continuous interaction between the structure, nature, visitors and language creators. “We like to give up-and-coming writers, musicians and poets a chance to expose their work to a larger audience. Most visitors are not only very interested in the history of Afrikaans, but also curious about the language’s development and her latest creative incarnations, as it offers new perspectives on the worlds of Afrikaans-speaking Africans,” he says. “Although we are currently temporarily closed due to Covid-19, we consider it a golden opportunity to highlight our web and social media presence among more people. Through this competition we want to remind South Africans that we live in unprecedented times that we and our descendants will talk about for a long time. It’s important that we write about it and also important that we notice the humour so that we can laugh behind our masks.”

Participants must write a maximum of 250 words in any variant of Afrikaans and email their entries with full name, email address and telephone number to marketing2@taalmuseum.co.za by 16 June 2020. The winner will receive R2 000 and the two runners-up R1 000 each. All three also receive an annual permit (family of 4) for the monument and museum, which will be valid from the day the ATM is re-opened to the public. The top 12 entries will be on display in the Groen Galery for a few months – first virtually, if necessary, and then in real life.

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. Every few months an exhibition of various up-and-coming Afrikaans writers’ works is presented in the gallery’s display cases, made from recycled wood and glass, to focus on the cultural and ecological aspects of the monument. See www.taalmuseum.co.za/groen-galery/ for the current ‘Bible in Kaaps’ and previous exhibitions.

The website also offers virtual tours of the monument and museum, information in six languages about 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 numerous resources for school and research projects.

For inquiries about the monument or to find out more about the many popular events and discounts, including those for the 45th year celebrations, visit www.taalmonument.co.za or its Facebook page. Send an email to admin@taalmuseum.co.za.