Taalmonument offers R40 000 for unsung language heroes

As part of the Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument’ (ATM’s) 45th celebrations, the council invites the public to nominate suitable candidates for their fourth Neville Alexander prestige awards worth R20 000 each.

According to Michael Jonas, director of the ATM, these awards attempt to acknowledge the unsung heroes of Afrikaans and multilingualism, and to promote language projects. Alexander (1936-2012) was an award-winning linguist, activist, educator and academic who strongly advocated multilingualism and mother-tongue education in South Africa.

“The awards will be bestowed on people or organisations that have devoted or are devoting their time and life to making Afrikaans accessible to all and using the language as a medium to promote cohesion and nation-building,” says Jonas. In 2018 Suzie Matlhola of Johannesburg and Ernest Loth of Paarl were awarded the prizes in Bloemfontein. Matlhola’s passion for Afrikaans and her unwavering work to teach the language to non-mother tongue speakers in Soweto, among others, made her the one obvious choice. The efforts by Loth – a playwright and motivational speaker – to promote Afrikaans at all levels and in all places, among others with his drama texts ‘Eendag is Daar’ and ‘Donkerland’ that have been included in school textbooks, landed him the other prize.  

“In 2018 the renowned prof Johan Lenake, an expert on Afrikaans and other African languages, was the guest speaker and emphasised the benefits of multilingualism and how to convince parents that this is in the best socio-economic interest of their children,” says Jonas. “In this, the 45th year of our existence, we wish to continue to promote the development of the languages of Africa by reminding people what has been achieved in this regard with Afrikaans.”

The winners will be honoured by the chair of the board on 10 October 2020 during the ATM’s 45th birthday celebrations and the Neville Alexander memorial lecture. The two winners will receive a certificate and R20 000 prize money, sponsored by Naspers, that can be utilised for relevant language projects. Other previous winners include the faculty of education at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (Wellington), Sabina Dumas, Susan Smith, Elizabeth Dennise van Schalkwyk, and Woorde Open Wêrelde.

An electronic nomination form is available at the ATM and the nominations, for individuals or organisations, must reach the ATM by Monday, 7 September 2020, at PO Box 498, Paarl 7646, or by e-mail at admin@taalmuseum.co.za. For more information, see www.taalmonument.co.za, call 021 863 0543/872 3441 or send an email to kommunikasie@taalmuseum.co.za.