Languages of Rwanda

An anti-AIDS campaign poster in English, Rwanda.

Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda,[1] and the first language of almost the entire population of the country. It is one of the country's official languages alongside French,[2] English,[3] and Swahili.[4] Rwandan Sign Language is used by the educated deaf population.

French had been the language of administration from the country's time under Belgian administration, between the First World War and independence in 1962. Since the 1994 genocide, the complications of relations with successive French governments, the return of numerous Tutsi refugees from anglophone Uganda and also the general reduction of French cultural influence relative to the United States[5] has meant an increase in the use of English by a higher proportion of the population and administration.

In 2008 the government changed the medium of education from French to English.[6] By 2018 the Rwandan government had introduced French as a foreign language class at the primary school level, and French was still widely used by members of the upper classes. A Rwandan historian, Antoine Mugesera, stated that French is still used among the educated while Kinyarwanda is used for matters relating to simple topics and messages.[7]

Swahili is used by some people, in commerce, and is taught as a subject in schools.[8]


  1. ^ LECLERC, Jacques. «Rwanda» dans L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde, Québec, CEFAN, Université Laval, 24 Dec. 2015 (accessed 29 August 2016)
  2. ^ "Rwanda: MPs Approve Law Making Kiswahili Official Language". All Africa. All Africa. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  3. ^ https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97245421 English To Become Official Language In Rwanda
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/afrique/rwanda.htm "Depuis la fin de la guerre froide, l'Afrique est même devenue plus «visible» pour les États-Unis, et les relations bilatérales que la France a longtemps entretenues avec de nombreux pays du continent s'en trouvent ainsi profondément modifiées (lire diminuées). D’ailleurs, en mars 1998, le voyage en Afrique du premier président américain (Bill Clinton) à visiter ce continent est venu encore confirmer que les «terres francophones» s'ouvrent maintenant à la compétition politique, économique et culturelle. La preuve en est que maintenant ce sont les Américains qui soutiennent militairement le Rwanda, et ce, de manière très active." English translation: Since the end of the Cold War, Africa has become even more "visible" to the United States and the bilateral relations France has long maintained with many African nations thus find themselves profoundly changed (read diminished). Moreover, in March 1998, a trip to Africa by the first U.S. president (Bill Clinton) to visit the continent again confirmed that the "francophone lands" are now open to political, economic and cultural competition.
  6. ^ http://thecommonwealth.org/our-member-countries/rwanda
  7. ^ "Rwanda reconsiders role of snubbed French language". Agence France Presse at the Daily Monitor. 2018-08-10. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  8. ^ "Aménagement linguistique," Rwanda

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