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Culture & Religion

Rwanda Quickly Moving From French To English

The country is eager to increase foreign investment and to distance itself from the legacy of Belgian colonialism and French interference, which many believe sowed the seeds of the 1994 genocide.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

A correspondent for The Economist‘s Johnson blog, which focuses on language, reports on a recent visit to Rwanda, where “[b]illboards and posters all over the airport, and all over Kigali, encourage visitors to invest in a newly stable Rwanda…[and] most of these signs are in English.” While it’s not surprising that a country that wants more foreign investment would express this desire in English, what is surprising is the quickness with which Rwanda, a former Belgian colony with French as an official language, is turning away from its former continental European connections. 

What’s the Big Idea?

A good deal of blame for the 1994 genocide is placed on the Belgian and French influences on the government and culture. In 2008, the government mandated that education be provided in English, and in 2009, the country joined the Commonwealth of Nations, which allowed it to create closer ties with economically stable (and English-speaking) Tanzania and Uganda, while distancing itself from the unstable (and French-speaking) Democratic Republic of Congo. The transition has had some bumps, most notably involving a lack of good English teachers, but Rwanda appears to be on a steady course towards the Anglosphere.

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