inaugurated in 1975, the afrikaans language monument is a pretty pariah. soaring into the cape paarl wineland’s sky; piercing the fragility of it’s past political domination. i decided to visit it again, not because it is my home language, just because it’s not likely to remain because of its symbolism; it’s an admirable piece of sixties architecture and i’ve always been drawn to it’s phallic nature… go figure. since then we have not had any other monuments that command the landscape with such prominence or celebrate any of our other official languages for that matter. i’ve always concurred with william burroughs who coined the phrase ‘language is a virus from outer space’ for different reasons, but it seems perfectly appropriate for this alien looking structure; even as an afrikaans speaking person i imagine it probably could be from outer space.
afrikaans is a young, rebel language, it fueled the move of coastal europeans to the interior, it resisted british colonization during the boer war and grew to become the language of the oppressor during the years of apartheid. often referred to as a bastard or kitchen language it is made up from european, african and asian languages. it’s future seems precarious but perhaps there is still some reason to hang onto it, or who knows…maybe one day it just lifts off on its own and returns to where it came from?