04 January 2021 | Story Igno van Niekerk | Photo Francois van Vuuren (iFlair)
Anton Roodt

 The Afrikaans words, weerlose meganika, can be roughly translated as ‘vulnerable mechanics’. If you do not know the exact meaning of this, rest assured, you are not alone. At least one person does. Anton Roodt of Roodt Architects has been summoning a storm of positive reviews in the literary world with his debut offering, which is neither an environmentally friendly building nor creative historical restoration for which he is renowned, but a book.

Weerlose meganika was written as part of the requirements for Roodt’s fourth MA degree – all obtained at the University of the Free State (UFS), where the Roodts have been part of the UFS family for three generations. Anton’s father was the Head of the department of Architecture, and his son recently completed his studies in the same department. His wife, Zarine, has been involved as lecturer and research fellow in the Department of Communication Science. Roodt’s wide spectrum of interests shows in the variety of his MA degrees (Architecture, Town and Regional Planning, Environmental Management, and now – Creative Writing).

Roodt, renowned for his creativity and innovative manner of working, has barely stepped into the world of literature; yet the book, published by Tafelberg Publishers, is being described in words probably never used by critics: “verrassend vernuwend” (surprisingly refreshing), “baldadig,” (which I can only translate as ‘wildly playful’), and nostalgic science fiction.

In a Zoom conversation, Roodt shared that he wrote mostly in his spare time. Many hours of study in the buzz of architecture classrooms taught him to focus anywhere and anytime. According to Roodt, the chapters that had to be removed in the final edits of Weerlose meganika comprise sufficient material for a second book. 

Anton and his son, Leon-Pierre, both worked on the cover of Weerlose meganika: Anton designed it and Leon-Pierre was responsible for the graphics. Although publishers usually prefer to appoint their own designers, Tafelberg liked and kept the design as presented. This was no surprise, as design is not new to Anton who, as a student, was involved in the design of rag posters. During a particular rag, he realised that the poster design was extremely successful, as about 90% of them were stolen by students from lampposts and other areas. 

Roodt’s recipe for success? He is naturally curious and wants to learn more about many things. This allows him to connect with interesting people such as his fellow students and lecturers (Dr Francois Smith and Prof Henning Pieterse) in the Creative Writing course, where they kept on pushing each other to improve their work. It is clear that Roodt is on a lifelong journey of learning. And, in case you are wondering – yes, he recently started his PhD studies. At the UFS, of course.

When I asked Anton about the strange title, Weerlose meganika, he explained that he has always been fascinated by juxtapositions. He loves bringing seemingly unrelated elements together. 

Looking at the reviews, he has been successful once again. 

*** If you are curious to know more, Weerlose meganika is available at most bookstores, as well as online.

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