In Addis Ababa the African Union (AU) has adopted Swahili as its official language, practicing what it has been preaching about the use of indigenous languages. so in this post i will be listing out the official, national and spoken languages of Africa.
Africa’s widely spoken language had its first try here with outgoing AU chairperson Joaquim Chissano delivering his entire speech in Swahili, during the opening of the AU Heads of State and Government Summit, which began here this morning.
Africa is a continent with a very high linguistic diversity, there are an estimated 1500-2000 African languages.
Of these languages four main groupings can be distinguished:
Afro-Asiatic (appoximately 200 languages) covering nearly Northern Africa (including the horn of Africa, Central Sahara et the top Nile)
Nilo-Saharian gathering appoximately 140 languages with some eleven millions speakers scattered in Central and Eastern Africa.
Niger-Saharian (Niger-Congo) covering the two third of Africa with as a principal branch the Niger-Congo which gathers more than 1000 languages with some 200 millions speakers. The Bantu languages of Central, Southern, and Eastern Africa form a sub-group of the Niger Congo branch.
Also check: List Of Currencies Of Africa – Updated 2021
Khoisan gathering about thirty languages in Western part of Southern Africa.
List of official, national and spoken languages of Africa
Arabic, Berber languages, four dialects (by constitutional amendment) French
Portuguese Narrow Bantu like Umbundu and other African languages.
French Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north).
Setswana (national language with minor differences in dialects), English is the official business language and it is widely spoken in urban areas.
French Native African languages belonging to Sudanic family spoken by 90% of the population.
Kirundi, French Swahili (along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area).
English, French 24 major African language groups.
Portuguese Kabuverdianu (Crioulo) (a blend of Portuguese and West African words).
Central African Republic
French, Sangho (lingua franca and national language) Banda, Gbaya and other tribal languages.
French, Arabic Sara (in south), more than 120 different languages and dialects.
Arabic, French Shikomoro (a blend of Swahili and Arabic).
Democratic Republic of the Congo
French Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba.
Congo, Republic of the
French Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of which Kikongo is the most widespread).
French 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken.
French, Arabic Somali, Afar
Arabic English and French widely understood by educated classes.
Spanish, French pidgin English, Fang, Bubi, Ibo.
Tigrinya (Tigrigna), Arabic, English Tigré (second major language), Afar, Bedawi, Kunama, other Cushitic languages.
Amharic Tigrinya, Oromo, Gurage, Somali, Arabic, 80 other local languages, English (major foreign language taught in schools)
French Bantu languages like Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi.
English Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars.
English African languages (including Akan, Adangme, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, and Ga)
French (spoken by 15-20%) Eight national languages, Soussou (Susu, in coastal Guinea), Peulh (Fulani, in Northrn Guinea), Maninka (Upper Guinea), Kissi (Kissidougou Region), Toma and Guerze (Kpelle) in rain forest Guinea; plus various ethnic groups with their own language.
Portuguese Crioulo (a mixture of Portuguese and African), other African languages.
English, Kiswahili numerous indigenous languages.
Sesotho (southern Sotho), English Zulu, Xhosa.
English 20% some 20 ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence.
Arabic Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities.
English, Nyanja (Chichewa, Chewa) Lomwe, Tumbuka, Yao, other languages important regionally.
French Bambara (Bamanakan), Arabic and numerous dialects of Dogoso, Fulfulde, Koyracini, Senoufou, and Mandinka/Malinké (Maninkakan), Tamasheq are also widely spoken.
Arabic Hassaniya Arabic, Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof, French
English, French Creole, Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri
Arabic Berber dialects, French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy.
Portuguese (spoken by 27% of population as a second language) Makhuwa, Tsonga, Lomwe, Sena, numerous other indigenous languages.
English 7% Afrikaans common language of most of the population and about 60% of the white population, German 32%, indigenous languages: Oshivambo, Herero, Nama.
French Hausa, Djerma
English Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani, Ijaw, Ibibio and about 250 other indigenous languages spoken by the different ethnic groups.
French Creole widely used
Rwanda (Kinyarwanda, Bantu vernacular) French, English Kiswahili (Swahili) used in commercial centers.
São Tomé and Príncipe
French Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka
English, French Creole
English (regular use limited to literate minority) Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)
Somali Arabic, Italian, English
11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, Pedi, Sesotho (Sotho), siSwati (Swazi), Xitsonga (Tsonga), Tswana, Tshivenda (Venda), isiXhosa, isiZulu
Arabic Nubian, Ta Bedawie, diverse dialects of Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, Sudanic languages, English. note: program of “Arabization” in process
English (government business conducted in English), siSwati
Tanzania, United Republic of
Kiswahili (Swahili), Kiunguju (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education) Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), Gogo, Haya, Makonde, Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi, Sukuma, Tumbuka, many other local languages.
French (the language of commerce) Ewe and Mina (the two major African languages in the south), Kabye (Kabiye) and Dagomba (the two major African languages in the north)
Arabic (and the languages of commerce) French (commerce)
English (used in courts of law and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts) Ganda (Luganda; most widely used of the Niger-Congo languages, preferred for native language publications), other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Acoli, Swahili, Arabic
Western Sahara Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
English major vernaculars: Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, and about 70 other indigenous languages.
English Chishona (Shona), Sindebele (Ndebele), numerous but minor tribal dialects like: Sotho and Nambya, Shangani, Venda, Chewa, Nyanja, and Tonga.