Rwanda

Language

Language

Kinyarwanda is an official language and the chief spoken language in Rwanda. It is also spoken in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in southern Uganda. Kinyarwanda is a tonal language of the Bantu language family, closely related to Kirundi spoken in the neighboring country Burundi and much more distantly related to other Bantu languages such as Swahili.

In addition to Kinyarwanda, Rwanda's other two official languages are French and English. While French was the former language of administration under Belgian colonial rule, since the civil war the Rwandan government has moved away from the Francophone sphere of influence, most prominently switching the primary language of education to English in 2008. The result of this has been that those people educated in Rwanda previously tend to have some knowledge of French, while huge numbers of returned refugees who were educated in neighboring Anglophone countries tend to know English. In addition, Rwanda has recently introduced Swahili as a required subject in the school curriculum as a result of its membership within the East African Community. Swahili is also widely spoken among traders and returned refugees from Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

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