“It is the ATKV’s premise to help people to understand each other better, build bridges between cultural groups and to focus on things about which we agree – of which there are many. In this regard we’ve been quite successful and today the ATKV is probably one of the most inclusive organisations of its kind in South Africa.”
So says Japie Gouws, MD of the ATKV, which has once again come out in full support of the Pendoring Advertising Awards as a platinum sponsor this year.
The ATKV also firmly believes in multilingualism, stresses Gouws. “We cannot demand for Afrikaans if we cannot demand it for other languages. Our attitude and message are that Afrikaans-speaking people are truly nice folk and that Afrikaans has great value, just like the other languages. We also wish to stress and showcase the potential of all the other languages, what they can gain from marketing and advertising.”
Stories is a word often used by the ATKV, says Gouws. “We listen carefully to other people’s stories so that we can understand them: where they hail from; their sorrow, their joys. Yes, you also tell your own stories, but in the first instance, you listen to other people’s tales. The problem is that there are many people who talk more than they listen; but there are also enough people who listen to what you say. Everything we do centres on stories. This is how you build bridges, a nation and encourage and achieve reconciliation,” Gouws points out.
Similarly, the Pendoring Advertising Awards also achieved remarkable success in building bridges over the past year. “Pendoring has positioned itself as an organisation that proclaims: ‘Let’s put shoulder to the wheel, pull together and promote what’s important to us: mother tongue advertising’.”
The ATKV is not in the least fighting for Afrikaans; it markets Afrikaans,” Gouws continues.
“We are not belligerent, we don’t rush to court. When you can convince people with anti-Afrikaans sentiments, or non-Afrikaans speakers, of the value of Afrikaans and other indigenous languages, it is so much more gratifying. This is exactly how we approach Afrikaans, and I firmly believe there are still ample opportunities in the current SA environment to market Afrikaans. We really don’t have to wallow in the doldrums. I in fact wish the ATKV could have been twice its size; that there were two or three other organisations that could do this type of thing because there really is great potential.”
When Gouws retires at the end of May after eight years as MD of the ATKV, he will look back at a number of highlights at the organisation.
“One of the most important highlights is the fact that the ATKV could make a substantial contribution to nation building and reconciliation. Cooperation and compassion for our fellow human beings are more important than ever, as a result an integral part of the ATKV’s mission and strategy is to allow all language and cultural groups, through various project and initiatives, to come into their own and to promote cooperation.
“Fact is Afrikaans is not only for whites, it includes all the colours of the rainbow. In reality, Afrikaans is a colourful patchwork quilt; a home with many rooms. In this regard, the ATKV is at a completely different level than a few years ago,” according to Gouws.
“Another highlight is that, on the cultural side, we’ve clearly outlined our focus so that everybody knows exactly what it entails in terms of our projects. We’ve developed an impact instrument to assist us in determining whether a project has merit or not. It is not like a holiday resort that can be measured by its profitability. Cultural projects require money. If it has no impact, we scrap it or adapt it.”
In a difficult environment where publishers have to sweat it out, the ATKV’s LAPA Uitgewers have bucked the trend and performed exceptionally well. More often than not, the company boasts some 40-60 books on the Nielsen top sellers’ list, an achievement of which Gouws is very proud.
“We have a number of great writers with the likes of Irma Joubert, whose books are selling like hot cakes, as well as the two women of Bonteheuwel, Koelsoem Kamalie and Florence ‘Flori’ Schrikker, whose debut cook book was a hit. Their second book, Soettand, was recently launched at the Stellenbosch Woordfees amid keen interest.
Gouws is confident that on the road ahead, the ATKV will go from strength to strength, not only by playing a leading role with organising and staging deserving cultural projects, but also in bringing about mutual compassion, multilingualism and reconciliation in this country.
· Pendoring entries open on 8 May 2017. Entry deadline: 1 August 2017.