The first translation of the Bible in Afrikaans was honoured as a part of the ‘Vlam vir Afrikaans’ project at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria on Sunday, 25 August.
During the function, held at the Heritage Centre on the Voortrekker Monument’s Heritage Site, Dr Paul du Plessis, on behalf of the Bible Society of South Africa’s Board of Directors, unveiled a special commemorative plaque. This plaque was in commemoration of the first Bible in Afrikaans launched in August 1933.
‘Vlam vir Afrikaans’ is a project started by the ATKV Centurion branch. The symbolic flame that is a part of the exhibition at the Heritage Centre, was officially lit by the world-famous opera singer, Mimi Coertse, on 8 May 2016. It was in celebration of the official recognition of Afrikaans on 8 May 1925.
Since then, two more commemorative plaques were added – one to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Afrikaans radio and another in celebration of the 41st anniversary of the existence of Afrikaans on television. The commemorative plaques were unveiled by the radio presenter, Magdaleen Krüger, and television presenter, Heinrich Marnitz, respectively.
“We felt that we had to complete this project with the commemoration of the first Bible in Afrikaans. We are delighted that everyone who was at this wonderful gathering today can proclaim, ‘Thank you God, that we are able to read the Bible in our own language,‘” explained Sakkie Kotze, chairman of the ATKV branch Centurion.
During the ceremony, Prof Jaco Beyers, professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria, told the audience more about the circumstances in South Africa in 1933 as well as the process followed to translate the Bible into Afrikaans.
He referred to the fact that in that year, South Africa was still a Union, and that the trauma and loss of the First World War of 1914-1918, still stung in the hearts and psyche of South Africans. In the political sphere, there was a battle between the Prime Minister, General Barry Hertzog, and General Jan Smuts, with regard to which country to support as an ally, England or Germany. This was also the time of the worst drought to date in South Africa, necessitating many farmers to sell their farms and move to the cities in pursuit of work. This urbanisation led to large-scale poverty and socio-economic problems among the Afrikaners.
“The conclusion of the drawn-out saga is that 1933 was a period of hopelessness, of misery, and in many respects, discouraging for Afrikaners in our community. Is it not wonderful, that just at that hopeless, depressing time for Afrikaner people in South Africa, the Bible in our own language, Afrikaans, became available? That the Bible, precisely in such difficult circumstances, brought a message of hope and comfort to people who were yearning for hope and who craved a message for a brighter future,” Prof Beyers said.
Click here to listen to Prof Beyers’ complete speech in Afrikaans. For more information about the ‘Vlam vir Afrikaans’ project visit: www.vlamvirafrikaans.org.za.