Johan Jack Smith, editor of the Afrikaans Language and Culture Association’s (ATKV) award-winning magazine, Linguistdied unexpectedly on Monday night.
“To everyone we know, everyone who loves us and had the privilege of knowing Johan, he died tonight just before 10 of a heart attack. I don’t understand it, I don’t know how or why,” his wife, Almerie Kirsten Smith, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday morning.
Mercia Eksteen, the ATKV’s general manager of communications, says Johan has made a significant contribution to the Linguist and the whole team delivered. “He was someone whose creativity, opposite sense of humor and ability to spot opportunities left us speechless countless times.”
Under his leadership, it was not only a magazine that was particularly beautiful to look at, but it challenged, celebrated the unusual in society and showed that Afrikaans is not stodgy and boring. “Johan has the Linguist developed to kick dust in the eyes of other corporate magazines year after year.”
Mercia expressed her condolences on behalf of the ATKV to Johan’s family.
“Johan, we don’t know how we are going to fill your place. You were more than just a colleague to us, you were our friend, our true North (as the communications department liked to refer to you).
“Rest easy and know that you were loved and made a big difference. Good luck to his wife, Almerie, their son, Rijger, and Johan’s loved ones. We are thinking of you in this difficult time.”
In June, Johan received the JC Steyn scholarship for an MA student in creative writing at the University of the Free State.
His debut novel, Zolawas awarded the Eugene Marais Prize in 2020, and was also shortlisted for the UJ Prize and the Report-book prizes for best novel and the film prize respectively.
Previous writing from his pen has in On the trail of (2017) and New Voices 6 (2017) appeared, and he also wrote numerous reviews and columns.