Vickie Remoe Institute of Digital Communications

Mali drops French as its official language

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Following the adoption of a new constitution, Mali has dropped French as the country’s official language.

In June, a referendum garnered an overwhelming vote of 96.91 per cent in favour of the new constitution, leading to the removal of French as the long-standing official language of the nation.

Colonel Assimi Goita, Mali’s junta leader who took power in August 2020, emphasized the importance of adopting a new constitution as a crucial step towards rebuilding the country.

Historically, since 1960, French had served as the official language in Mali, Guinea, and other French West African countries due to Mali’s colonization by France in 1892.

As part of the recent change, Mali will now uphold approximately 70 local languages, including Bambara, Bobo, Dogon, and Minianka, which had been granted national language status back in 1982. Meanwhile, French will still hold its position as the working language in the country.

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