Languages of Rwanda

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Languages of Rwanda
Please Do Not Step or Sit on Graves - Genocide Memorial Center - Kigali - Rwanda.jpg
Sign in Kinyarwanda and English in Kigali
OfficialKinyarwanda, English, French, Swahili
VernacularAfrican French
SignedRwandan Sign Language
Keyboard layout
An anti-AIDS campaign poster in English, Rwanda.

Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda,[1] and the first language of almost the entire population of the country. It is one of the country's official languages alongside French,[2] English,[3] and Swahili.[4] Rwandan Sign Language is used by the educated deaf population.

French had been the language of administration from the country's time under Belgian administration, between the First World War and independence in 1962. Since the 1994 genocide, the complications of relations with successive French governments and the return of numerous Tutsi refugees from anglophone Uganda meant an increase in the use of English by a higher proportion of the population and administration.

In 2008, the government changed the medium of education from French to English.[5] By 2018 the Rwandan government had introduced French as a foreign language class at the primary school level, and French was still widely used by members of the upper classes. A Rwandan historian, Antoine Mugesera, stated that French is still used among the educated, but Kinyarwanda is used for matters relating to simple topics and messages.[6] English is now considered as the primary language among other foreign languages.

Swahili is used by some people, in commerce, and is taught as a subject in schools.[7]


  1. ^ LECLERC, Jacques. «Rwanda» dans L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde, Québec, CEFAN, Université Laval, 24 Dec. 2015 (accessed 29 August 2016)
  2. ^ "Rwanda: MPs Approve Law Making Kiswahili Official Language". All Africa. All Africa. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  3. ^ English To Become Official Language In Rwanda
  4. ^ "Kiswahili adopted as Rwanda's fourth official language". 10 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Rwanda". 15 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Rwanda reconsiders role of snubbed French language". Agence France Presse at the Daily Monitor. 2018-08-10. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  7. ^ "Aménagement linguistique," Rwanda

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