23 September 2004

Language Politics in Rwanda?

KIGALI, Sep 20 (IPS) - Since the 1994 genocide, relations between France and Rwanda have been chilly due to France's links to the Hutu-dominated regime which incited the carnage.

Up to now, France seems unwilling to come to terms with the fact that the former rebel movement, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), led by exiled Tutsis mainly from neighbouring Uganda, is now in control in the tiny central African country.

In July 1994, Rwanda, whose official language had been French since independence in 1962, decreed that all laws be published in both French and English and that daily transactions take place in either.
via the Head Heeb, whose post attracted an interesting comment.
It's worth mentioning that one of the reasons that France was so strongly opposed to the Tutsi rebels was that they'd grown up in Uganda, a former British colony, and therefore spoke English, rather than French.

Over the medium term, I don't think that we'll see much switching between English and French in sub-Saharan Africa. Instead, we'll see a continuing erosion of minority colonial languages as former Portuguese and Spanish colonies align more closely with the Anglophone and Francophone neighbors.

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