n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Die Afrikaanse Taalmuseum en -monument in die Paarl : 40 jaar later

Volume 56 Number 2-1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751



This paper reports on the background and history of the Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument in Paarl and examines the relevance of the entity in the South Africa of today. The Afrikaanse Taalmonument (Afrikaans Language Monument), erected on the foothills of Paarl Mountain, is a well-known tourist destination attracting a considerable number of visitors each year. Although the Monument has a high profile, it is not generally known that there is also a museum for the Afrikaans Language in Paarl, situated in the centre of town. The Museum was inaugurated on 14 August 1975, commemorating the founding of the Genootskap vir Regte Afrikaners (GRA, or Society for Real Afrikaners), which took place in the same building a century earlier. The Monument and Museum form part of the same entity, the Afrikaanse Taalmuseum en -monument (ATM). The first initiative for the erection of a language monument in Paarl dates back to 14 August 1942, at a commemoration of the historical founding of the GRA. At a subsequent public meeting in the Paarl Town Hall in September 1942 an Afrikaans monument committee (ATMK, or Die Afrikaanse Taalmonumentkomitee - Afrikaans Language Monument Committee) was established with the aim of taking forward the initiative. It took more than three decades for the vision of that initial group to be realised. Fund-raising and awareness drives were held nationally, and various issues such as the location of the monument and the form it should take were hotly debated. Eventually, in 1964, twelve architects were invited to take part in a competition to design the monument. The competition was won by architect Janvan Wijk. Van Wijk's design was a purely symbolic, non-functional structure with strong architectural lines, richly imbued with meaning. He had used the writings of two well-known Afrikaans authors to inspire his design.

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