The Afrikaans Language Monument just outside of Paarl in the Western Cape is impressive.
It was designed with the intention of showing how fast Afrikaans, one of the world’s youngest languages, grew through the shape of a rapidly ascending curve.
That’s the intention. The reality is, it’s an embarrassingly large phallic symbol erected by a patriarchal society to boast about its own virility. There are even pseudo-breasts at the base of the spire to carry the imagery even farther.
Oh sure, the whole structure is filled with symbolism (the three spheres are meant to denote the indigenous languages of isiXhosa, isiZulu and seSotho), but when you stand there, craning your neck up to see the monument ascend into the clouds, language is not the concept that comes to mind first.
Or is that just my mind?
Even so, the monument is well worth the visit. It’s situated on top of a hill with a breathtaking view over the Paarl landscape and is surrounded by a botanical garden brimful of indigenous plants just perfect for a picnic. You can clamber all over the structure itself, dip your toes in the pool at its centre, if you’re so inclined, and let your …heart… swell with pride if Afrikaans happens to be your mother tongue. There is even a free guided tour where you can learn all about the history of Afrikaans and the monument itself.
If you’re in the region and feeling especially fond of your heritage, or you just like to gawk at anything that resembles manly might, then by all means do take an hour or two to explore the Afrikaans Language Monument – it won’t disappoint!
For more posts in the Western Cape Whirlwind 2015 series, click here.