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Swahili becomes official language in fourth country (South Sudan)

July 6, 2017



English is currently the only "official" language in South Sudan, although the plan to adopt Swahili as an official language has been in place at least since secession in 2011.

Neither of these languages is widely spoken in South Sudan. There was a fairly big upset a few years ago when the language of instruction switched from Arabic to English, and they still have a long way to go to make it work in a country with high levels of illiteracy.

The move to add Swahili has been stated as an attempt at aligning the country towards the East African Community and away from Sudan and the Arab League (although they have also applied to join that group).

This is a very ambitious set-up for them. It shall be interesting to see how they manage going forward.


Actually the fourth country was Rwanda. They adopted Kiswahili as their fourth official language (besides Kinyarwanda, French and English) in 2017.

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