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The youngest language in the world today, Afrikaans is celebrated at the Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl, South Africa. Located on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, the monument can be seen for miles around, its highest column rising 57m into the air.
Borne out of the idea that Afrikaans is essentially the language linking both Europe and Africa, and the fact that it spread rapidly throughout South Africa, the monument designers used freeform concrete structures to represent the many facets of the language and its people.
The three tall columns represent the enlightened West which flows down to three half circles on a podium representing the magical and mysterious Africa. Other sections of the structure represent the cultures that contributed to the language, namely African, San, Dutch, British, Malay and French. There is a great deal of geometry involved in the placement of the structures and the onsite info boards provide an explanation.
In the grounds is a small restaurant and a green gallery displaying creative work by local Afrikaans artists. There are a number of picturesque picnic spots to enjoy the monument and views. It’s also a popular location for wedding photos.
An amphitheatre is occasionally used for live acts or for the performing arts and it’s a regular stop on the educational school outings calendar. The monument hosts the annual Fisherman’s Friend Strong Man Run.
The Afrikaans Language Monument took 2 years to complete and was partly funded by the government, the rest paid for by members of the Afrikaans community. It opened in 1975.
The Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl is the 2nd of its kind, the first was constructed further north in Burgersdorp in the 1880s, however, it was demolished by Lord Milner during the country’s period under British rule.