The Taal Monument
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The Taal Monument is on Paarl Rock, a massive granite outcrop comparable to Uluru (Ayers) Rock in Australia.
The Taal Monument on Paarl Rock overlooking the town of Paarl commemorates Afrikaans, a South African language with origins in Dutch, Malay, Portuguese, French, German and indigenous Khoi and African languages. It replaced Dutch as an official language in 1925.
The movement to have Afrikaans recognised in the form of the Taal Monument took root in the bitter aftermath of the Anglo-Boer War. To the humiliation of defeat was heaped the indignity of a ‘superior English civilisation' in the form of British High Commissioner Lord Alfred Milner's aggressive Anglicisation policy.
English was the only language recognised in the post-war civil service and children were forced to wear placards declaring ‘I am a donkey' should they dare use Afrikaans in school. It was the perfect hook for the recovery of Afrikaner pride, and language became their vehicle to promote a distinctive culture.
‘Had it not been for Milner and his extreme measures,' commented Boer General Jan Smuts, ‘we Afrikaners would probably all quite happily have been speaking English by now. By his opposition to our language, he helped create it.'
And so the Afrikaner phoenix was resurrected by language. This was given impetus by Boer military leaders such as Generals Louis Botha, Smuts and Barry Hertzog; and cultural icons like poets Eugene Marais and C Louis Leipoldt.
Paarl was chosen as the site for this Afrikaans language monument site in honour of the community's central role in getting recognition for the language. It was completed in 1975 and opened on the centenary of the founding of the Society of Real Afrikaners in the town.
The Taal Monument consists of 3 convex and concave linked columns representing the contributions of the West, Malays and African people; a fountain for new ideas; and a soaring pillar representing the growth of the language.
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