With its new constitution, Mali has dropped French, which has been the country’s official language since 1960. Ironically, the constitution that demoted French as an official language, is written in French.
The decision comes at a time of growing anti-France sentiments across West Africa due to its perceived military and political interference.
In June, Malian voters approved a new constitution proposed by the country’s military government that moved French from an official language to a working one.
The change raises complicated questions in a country with more than 70 local languages. French has served as a way for Malians of different ethnic groups to communicate; it has also allowed the government to sidestep privileging one group’s language over another’s.
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.
This page was last updated on 2023.08.05