Africa is the second-largest continent in the world with a population of 1.2 billion people, it is also the second most populous after Asia. Colonized by other countries, over 2000 distinct languages are spoken in Africa. There are 54 African countries numerous natives, tribes and dialects. In this post, we will outline the ten most spoken languages in Africa.
Most Spoken Languages in Africa
Swahili is a Bantu language spoken by the Swahili people; an ethnic group in East Africa. It is the official language of African Great Lake region and some Eastern and South-Eastern Africans which includes Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and many more others. The langue is estimated to be spoken by at least 15 million people in Africa.
Last year, the South African government mandated Swahili to be thought in South African schools as an optional subject effective from 2020.
Spoken by northern African countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea and many more, Arabic is a Semitic language recognised worldwide and spoken by more than 100 million Africans.
The language comes in different variations such as Morden Standard Arabic and the Colloquial dialects. While the colloquial is like a dialect, Modern Standard Arabic is the written Arabic form found in the Quran, news and online publications. Without a doubt, one of the most spoken languages in Africa.
French is one of the most recognized and widely spoken languages of the world. When France colonized African countries, they adopted the langue and made it their official language. Countries such as the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gabon, Guinea, Benin, Sao Tome, Seychelles, Mauritius and DRC Congo all speak French.
People who understand and speak French with English also have the advantage to secure jobs with multinationals which involves travelling to other countries.
In Nigeria, there are three major ethnic groups – Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa. The Hausa language according to Wikipedia is the Chadnic language with the most speakers. It is spoken by 44 million as the first language and approximately 20 million people speak it as their second language.
The language has gained prominence due to its significance in West African trade and commerce purposes and is also spoken by a small group in the United States.
The official language in Ethiopia, Amharic is estimated to be spoken by more than 21 million people and most known Semitic language after Arabic. The language originated as a result of pidginization process to create a common tongue among people who speak different languages.
Amharic is on Google’s Language Tools and is supported on distribution platform such as Linux which included Ubuntu and Fedora.
Yoruba is a Nigerian language predominantly spoken in West Africa. As of 2017, there are 56 million native Yoruba speakers and the total number of speakers is approaching 80 million in total. It is one of the most spoken languages in Africa and is embraced by Americans and in the Caribbeans. The language dominates the Nigerian music industry and is the number one language in Nigeria’s major commercial city, Lagos.
Oromo is a language officially recognised in Ethiopia and Kenya; it is the most widely spoken of the Cushitic languages. It is the language of the Oromo people in Ethiopia and is spoken by more than 35 million people. It is also spoken by emigrants from South Africa, Libya and Sudan.
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Oromo people make up more than 40% of Ethiopia’s total population and is the largest ethnic group in the country.
Written in Latin script by British colonialists, Igbo language is the local language of the Igbo or Ibo people from South-Eastern Nigeria, one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Igbo has more than 20 dialects and is spoken by more than 44 million people. The language is spread abroad and there are Igbo communities in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Jamaica and in Brazil.
The Zulu people of South Africa is one of the most distinct tribes in Africa. IsiZulu or Zulu language comes from the Nguni branch of South Africa with man 10 million native speakers. In South Africa, more than 50 per cent of the total population understands Zulu became legalised as of the official South African languages in 1994.
To say “Good morning” in IsiZulu, you say “Sawubona”.
From the family of Bantu languages, Shona has more than 10 million native speakers and is the most spoken language in Zimbabwe along with Ndebele and English. It has speakers in Mozambique and Botswana.
There you go. These are the most spoken languages in Africa. Africa is developing fast and gaining worldwide recognition, all blacks should remember they are first Africans before they became something else.
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