The idea to build a monument for the Afrikaans language was announced on 14 August 1942 during the unveiling of a memorial plaque at the cemetery on the farm Kleinbosch outside Paarl, in honour of SJ du Toit, DF du Toit and PJ Malherbe, the three founding members of the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (GRA). The announcement was followed by a public meeting in Paarl on 26 September 1942 where the Afrikaanse Taalmonument committee was established. The chairman was PJ Loots and the vice-chairman SPH de Villiers. The rest of the committee consisted of AL de Jager, W de Vos Malan, JJ Muller, GG Cillie, GC Burger (secretary), HA Rust, WA Joubert, WH Louw, and Miss J Meyer.
Stephanus Jacobus du Toit
Stephanus Jacobus (SJ) du Toit – founding member of the GRA
The purpose of the committee was to raise funds for the construction of a “worthy language monument in Paarl” and for bursaries for “deserving advanced students who wanted to especially dedicate themselves to an intensive study of the Afrikaans language”.
The launch was enthusiastic and a so-called ‘Oproep’ was set up to bring the matter to the attention of the whole of South Africa. This ‘Oproep’ enjoyed wide coverage in the media, but the fundraising, however, wasn’t as successful as hoped and it was nearly three decades later before the monument became a reality.
The Afrikaanse Taal- en Kultuurbond (ATKB) was since 1963 heavily involved in the construction of the monument and eventually took over all administrative and secretarial duties. The organisation also played a large role in fundraising.
In 1963 a committee was established to launch a competition for the design of the monument and 12 architects were invited to take part. According to the brief the monument had to be visible from far away and among others present the cultural and political bloom of Afrikaans. The design by architect Jan van Wijk was announced as the winner.
Jan van Wijk – argitek van die Taalmonument
Jan van Wijk: architect of the Taalmonument
The terrain for the monument west of Bretagne Rock on Paarl Mountain was already selected in 1963. In 1968 the Paarl municipality granted 84 hectares of land to the state.
Building work started in late 1972 and was completed by the end of 1974. The total cost of construction was R700 000. The monument was inaugurated in 1975, one hundred years after the founding of the GRA.