The Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument
Stunningly accentuating the Paarl Mountain, this monument dedicated to one of the youngest African languages, Afrikaans, is a visual and cultural delight. The sculpture, rich in symbolism and history, tells how Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa gave birth to a language uniquely named after the continent where it was formed.
Audio tours in six languages explain the background and architectural thinking that made this project, first mooted in 1942, come to life in 1975, but local guides are also on hand to explain it from personal perspectives.
In the visitor centre informative temporary exhibitions shed even more light on the language’s rich tapestry and on the builders that made the monument possible; outside an open-air exhibition usually focuses on new creative writing in Afrikaans.
As it boasts 101 hectares of indigenous flora, fauna and gardens, the natural environment can be explored via footpaths winding between granite outcrops and fragrant herbs. Visitors can take in the incredible views of the Cape Winelands, Cape Peninsula and Drakenstein mountains, also while relaxing at the local bistro that offers coffee, good food and great wine. For the children, there are playgrounds and outdoor games.
Stargazing and full moon picnics as well as cultural, music, sport and other events, including the commemoration of South Africa’s national days, take place throughout the year - it is recommended to combine a visit with one of these fun experiences.
In the centre of Paarl itself, the museum is located in the historic homestead of prominent activist Gideon Malherbe and boasts the printing press on which the first newspaper in this language was printed. Although Afrikaans originated organically over a huge area, specific events in Paarl ultimately led to it being recognised as an official language in 1925. This small house museum recognises these facts by also giving attention to Arabic Afrikaans, the first written form of the language, and telling the history of amongst others Afrikaans music and culture in the broadest, most inclusive sense possible.
Both the museum and monument reach out to non-mother tongue speakers of Afrikaans through various workshops aimed at adults and youth as well as literacy projects and sponsored school visits.
• Museum and monument can each be explored in 30 to 45 minutes
• Less than 1 hour from Cape Town
• Close to famous wine estates
• Monument open until 8pm during the summer