Mali Drops French As Its Official Language

By Ebi Kesiena

Malian authorities have disclosed on Tuesday that French will cease to be the official language of the West African Country.

With its new constitution, Mali has dropped French, which has been the country’s official language since 1960.

According to reports, under the new constitution passed overwhelmingly with 96.91% of the vote in a June 18 referendum, French is no longer the official language. Although French will be the working language, 13 other national languages spoken in the country will receive official language status.

Mali which has about 70 other local languages spoken in the country and some of them, including Bambara, Bobo, Dogon and Minianka, were granted national language status under a 1982 decree.

Recall that, Mali’s junta leader Col. Assimi Goita put the country’s new constitution into effect, marking the beginning of the Fourth Republic in the West African nation.

According to the Presidency, Mali’s military since taking power in an August 2020 coup, has maintained that the constitution would be critical to rebuilding the country.

Mali witnessed two subsequent coups in recent years, one in August 2020 and the other in May 2021.

The junta had initially promised to hold elections in February 2022 but later delayed them to February 2024.

However, reactions have trailed that this action as some believe it is a positive move which will eventually reposition the country.
@mandalorian_guy tweeted they are replacing it with English because it gives more opportunity over French and allows for better international advancement.
@thelovelylythronax: For the most part. Despite what others are saying, English is far too rare here to make for a viable replacement (especially in a country with 30% literacy rate), and much of the governmental communication is still being done in French, like yesterday’s report on a clash with terrorists.

The president did give a speech in Bambara, by far the most commonly spoken language in southern Mali, this Sunday, so I imagine we will see more of that, but French is far too entrenched in bureaucratic systems to fully go away anytime soon.

Truth is, people on the streets already do all their talking in Bambara, Fulani, Dogon, Soninke, etc. Practically speaking, for people on the ground, little meaningful change will come out of this in the near future.

Speaking as an American currently in Mali, so take that for what it’s worth.

Credit GistNew

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