October 21, 2021

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The French language has lost its influence in favor of English

Emmanuel Macron opens a new Francophone Cultural Center on May 27, 2021, seven years after the closure of the French company in Rwanda. French, the language of former Belgian colonialism and administration, has lost its influence since the Rwandan Patriotic Front came to power in 1994. Controversy over France’s role in the Tutsi genocide, which killed at least 800,000 people, has caused serious tensions between Paris and Kigali, whose diplomatic relations were severed between November 2006 and November 2009. Reconstruction competed with French English, the language spoken by most Tutsi refugees returning from Uganda, which created the new administration.

President Paul Kagame, educated in Uganda (and partly trained in the United States), introduced English as the third official language in the 2003 Constitution, along with Kinyarwanda and French. It has supported economic openness to English-speaking African countries, especially Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.

French, formerly the language of public education, was abruptly made compulsory in school in 2008, when relations between Paris and Kigali were strained. Rwandan authorities have always rejected any political or ideological desire to push the French background, but rather the desire to train young people in a language that is considered essential to the pragmatic and economic development of the country lies at the crossroads of speaking French and English.

“National Radio no longer reads news in French. On national television, French news is broadcast after 10 pm when people are already asleep.”

Etienne Kattanasi, former presenter of Rwandan television

To AFP

In 2018, 724,000 of the 12.5 million Rwandans, or 6% of the population, speak French, according to the International Organization of La Francophone (OIF). French is the most widely spoken foreign language in the country. This low percentage of Kinyarwanda is the national language spoken by almost all the people of Rwanda, so unlike many other African countries where many local languages ​​coexist, there is no need for a foreign language to understand each other. It is the everyday language and the historical and cultural vector of the country.

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The recent warming of relations between Paris and Kigali was confirmed by the publication of two reports, a French and a Rwandan, concluding that the French had a serious French responsibility – but not complicity – in the 1994 genocide. .

New “Francophone Cultural Center” Opened by Emmanuel Macron in the Rwandan capital “Aims to promote not only French culture, but all resources of francophony, especially artists from the region.”, According to the French president.

The warming of relations between France and Rwanda began a few years ago with Francophony, since OIF 2018 was headed by former Rwandan Foreign Minister Luis Mushikibo.