Why were Sub-Saharan countries much more likely to keep their colonial languages' official status after independence?

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,036
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I can give a good contribution about this: I've got some Senegalese friends and also one from Mali. They work in Italy now.

Well, they find it natural to speak French [even if they don't trust France!].

I speak French and it happens I discuss in French with them. I have actually asked to them why they find it so natural to speak French ...

As for I have understood there are two points:

* one is in common with India about English ... the presence of numerous local dialects and the absence of a national language preceding the colonial invasion.
But Indians, thanks to their national identity went beyond this problem.

* French is a kind of noble lingua franca. If a Senegalese man speaks in French to a Senegalese women ... well ... he makes a good impression, since he has to be well educated.

I would add a third reason: in those countries Islam has been accepted as a natural religion, nothing more [this is why in Senegal Christians and Muslims cohabit without problems]. In Senegal they can read the Koran in Arab, but they haven't accepted the Arab language as common language [it's like in Italy where a part of the Catholics still uses Latin ...].
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,743
UK
This isn't true. Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, all have ENglish as official languages, alongside native tongues like Akan/Twi, Ibgo/Yoruba, Zulu/Xhosa, etc.

English is an official language in India, Singapore, and Malaysia.

The Arab countries were colonised until relatively late - and largely since the Ottomans lost WWI.

Languages of Ghana - Wikipedia
 
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Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
4,867
India
* one is in common with India about English ... the presence of numerous local dialects and the absence of a national language preceding the colonial invasion.
But Indians, thanks to their national identity went beyond this problem.
There are two official languages in India, Hindi and English. Things are complex, Hindi is spoken by 41% of the population, additional 5% speak Urdu(Muslim variant of Hindi), North Indians who are 75% of the population and speak Indo-Aryan languages, they mainly prefer Hindi, the South Indians who speak Dravidian languages wanted continuation of English, they took English additionally with Hindi except Tamil Nadu which wanted English only. Also, in many parts of North India, there has historically a strong anti-English sentiment. One side argue India should have a native Indian language as lingua franca (Hindi) others supports a non-native neutral language aka English. Infact, English ended up dominating even in former Portuguese and French enclaves in India.
 
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deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
14,533
Europix
Allong the good explanations pointed out already, having French as official language is very convenient politically: all ethnicities in the state (and all sub-Saharian states are extremely multi-ethnic) are equal, there isn't the "risk" giving a certain ethnicity a superior status by adopting it's language as official language.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,827
SoCal
This isn't true. Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, all have ENglish as official languages, alongside native tongues like Akan/Twi, Ibgo/Yoruba, Zulu/Xhosa, etc.

English is an official language in India, Singapore, and Malaysia.

The Arab countries were colonised until relatively late - and largely since the Ottomans lost WWI.

Languages of Ghana - Wikipedia
Algeria was colonized pretty early and so was Tunisia (albeit not as early).

Also, while there are some Sub-Saharan African countries that have a native language as an official language in addition to a European language, there doesn't appear to be that many such countries.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,827
SoCal
There are two official languages in India, Hindi and English. Things are complex, Hindi is spoken by 41% of the population, additional 5% speak Urdu(Muslim variant of Hindi), North Indians who are 75% of the population and speak Indo-Aryan languages, they mainly prefer Hindi, the South Indians who speak Dravidian languages wanted continuation of English, they took English additionally with Hindi except Tamil Nadu which wanted English only. Also, in many parts of North India, there has historically a strong anti-English sentiment. One side argue India should have a native Indian language as lingua franca (Hindi) others supports a non-native neutral language aka English. Infact, English ended up dominating even in former Portuguese and French enclaves in India.
Why was Tamil Nadu so resistant to Hindi?

Also, are people in northern India less Anglophone than people in southern India are?
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,743
UK
Algeria was colonized pretty early and so was Tunisia (albeit not as early).

Also, while there are some Sub-Saharan African countries that have a native language as an official language in addition to a European language, there doesn't appear to be that many such countries.
Well quite a few Arab states are Islamist, if not officially in most cases. So that couuld be a factor, since Arabic is the Quranic language.

But most countries that were once European colonies have the colonial language as an official language. In the case of Africa and Asia, it's largely as a lingua franca, and to maintain national unity.
 
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Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
4,867
India
Why was Tamil Nadu so resistant to Hindi?

Also, are people in northern India less Anglophone than people in southern India are?
Tamils see Hindi as a symbol of North Indian dominance and it was influenced by Dravidian nationalism, so they learn only Tamil and English only at school, rest of the country study both Hindi and English at school along with mother tongue. The proficiency of "spoken" English is extremely poor among North Indians, Hindi is the defacto lingua franca. South Indians are more fluent in spoken English but that's too confined to cities mostly, in countryside of Karnataka and Andhra/Telangana people are far more proficient in Hindi.
 
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