Dan Roodt verkies as president van Pretoria-PEN

MEDIAVERKLARING DEUR DIE PRETORIA-PEN OP 18 NOVEMBER 2006

(English translation underneath)

DAN ROODT VERKIES AS PRETORIA PEN-PRESIDENT – Steve Hofmeyr ook lid

Die romanskrywer en essayis Dan Roodt is verkies tot die eerste president van die Pretoria-PEN, ‘n skrywersvereniging wat hoofsaaklik Afrikaanse skrywers verteenwoordig. Die ander voorgestelde president was die digter en letterkundige Fanie Olivier wat tans in Kwazulu-Natal woonagtig is.

Die Pretoria-PEN is reeds in 2004 gestig maar eers vanjaar in Berlyn tot die Internasionale PEN toegelaat nadat Nadine Gordimer, ‘n Nobelpryswenner, haar teenkanting teen die vereniging in ‘n brief uitgespreek het. Die brief is vroeër vanjaar in Die Burger gepubliseer tesame met reaksies van Roodt en ander literêre figure.

Sedert die vroeë negentigerjare toe die Afrikaanse Skrywersgilde doodgeloop het, was daar geen landwye skrywersvereniging wat in die belang van skrywers kon optree nie, behalwe die Bloemfonteinse skrywersvereniging wat hoofsaaklik in die Vrystaat bedrywig is.

‘n Veertigtal skrywers, vertalers en senior joernaliste het reeds by die Pretoria-PEN aangesluit, waaronder bekendes soos die taalkundige en biograaf Jaap Steyn, letterkundige Hennie van Coller (wat ook voorsitter van die Akademie is), George Weideman, John Miles, Leopold Scholtz, sanger en digter Steve Hofmeyr, P.J. Haasbroek, Izak de Villiers, Kirby van der Merwe, Margaret Bakkes en ander. Die volledige ledelys kan op die internet besigtig word by www.pretoriapen.co.za, tesame met die PEN-handves in Afrikaans.

Internasionaal verteenwoordig PEN meer as tienduisend skrywers, vertalers en senior joernaliste, waaronder Salman Rushdie wat president van die Amerikaanse PEN is, asook Nobelpryswenner Günter Grass wat een van die sprekers by die mees onlangse internasionale kongres in Berlyn was. Hierdie skrywers is in 144 PEN-sentra in 101 lande georganiseer, met twee in Suid-Afrika. Benewens die Pretoria-PEN, bestaan daar ook die Engelstalige South African PEN in die Moederstad met mnr. Tony Fleischer as president en waarvan Nadine Gordimer insgelyks lid is. Daar is ook sprake daarvan dat ‘n Zoeloe-PEN in Durban opgerig gaan word.

Die volgende Internasionale PEN-kongres sal gedurende Mei 2007 in Dakar, Senegal plaasvind.

PEN is verbind tot die bevordering van letterkunde, spraakvryheid en taalregte. “Hierdie beginsels pas ons soos ‘n handskoen,” het Roodt gesê, “veral gegewe die eenparty-dominante politieke stelsel van Suid-Afrika wat kwalik vir spraakvryheid bevorderlik is en die steeds erge taaldiskriminasie wat deur die owerheid beoefen word.”

In sy eerste brief as verkose president het Roodt die Romeinse digter Catullus oor die skoonheid van poësie aangehaal uit T.J. Haarhoff se Afrikaanse vertaling en die hoop uitgespreek dat soveel plaaslike skrywers as moontlik by die Pretoria-PEN sal aansluit. Belangstellendes kan per e-pos navraag doen by inlig@pretoriapen.co.za.

Roodt het so pas Aweregs, ‘n bundel politieke essays van meer as 500 bladsye, gepubliseer.

Kontakpersoon: Dan Roodt president@pretoriapen.co.za

ENGLISH:

MEDIA RELEASE BY PRETORIA PEN ON 18 NOVEMBER 2006

DAN ROODT ELECTED AS PRETORIA PEN PRESIDENT – Popular singer Steve Hofmeyr also a member

Novelist and essayist Dan Roodt has been elected as the first president of Pretoria PEN, a writers’ association that represents mainly Afrikaans authors. A rival nomination was that of poet and literary critic Fanie Olivier, currently residing in Kwazulu-Natal.

Pretoria PEN had already been formed in 2004 but was only admitted to International PEN this year in Berlin after Nadine Gordimer, a Nobel prizewinner, expressed her opposition to the centre in a letter. Earlier this year, her letter was published in Die Burger, an Afrikaans daily in Cape Town, together with reactions from Roodt and other literary figures.

Since the early nineties when the Afrikaans Writers Guild came to an end, there has been no country-wide writers’ organisation acting on behalf of authors, except the Bloemfontein Writers Association that is mainly active in the Free State province.

About forty authors, translators and senior journalists have already joined Pretoria PEN, among whom public figures such as linguist and biographer Jaap Steyn, literary critic Hennie van Coller (who is also chairman of the SA Academy for Science and Art), George Weideman, John Miles, Leopold Scholtz, singer and poet Steve Hofmeyr, P.J. Haasbroek, Izak de Villiers, Kirby van der Merwe, Margaret Bakkes and others. The full list of members may be seen on www.pretoriapen.co.za, together with the PEN Charter in Afrikaans.

Internationally PEN represents in excess of ten thousand authors, translators and senior journalists. Salman Rushdie is president of American PEN and Nobel prizewinner Günter Grass was one of the speakers at the most recent international congress in Berlin. These writers have been organised into 144 PEN centres in 101 countries, with two in South Africa. Apart from Pretoria PEN, there exists the English-language South African PEN in the Mother City (Cape Town) with Mr. Tony Fleischer as president en of which Nadine Gordimer is a member. There is also talk of a Zulu PEN to be founded in Durban.

The next congress of PEN International will take place in Dakar, Senegal in May 2007.

PEN is committed to the promotion of literature, freedom of expression and language rights. “These principles fit us like a glove,” said Roodt, “particularly given the one party-dominant political system in South Africa which is hardly conducive to freedom of speech, as well as the still serious language discrimination practised by the authorities.”

In his first letter as elected president Roodt quoted the Roman poet Catullus on the beauty of poetry from T.J. Haarhoff’s Afrikaans translation and expressed the hope that as many local authors as possible would join Pretoria PEN. Interested parties may send an e-mail to info@pretoriapen.co.za.

Roodt has just published Aweregs, a collection of political essays numbering more than 500 pages.

Contact: Dan Roodt president@pretoriapen.co.za