Why Do The People In Mali Speak French When They Live In Africa? By Lauren Sarah Louise McColl 1B
Mali is a multilingual country. The languages spoken there reflect ancient settlement patterns, migrations, and its long history. Ethnologue counts 50 languages. Of these, French is the official language and Bambara is the most widely spoken. Altogether 13 of the indigenous languages of Mali have the legal status of national language.
French, which was introduced during the colonial period, was retained as the official language at independence and is used in government and formal education. However, estimates of the number of people who actually speak it are low. Figures estimated in 1986 give a number of 386,000 speakers of French in Mali, derived from the numbers of school attendees. This would mean roughly 21% of the population speak French, by 1986 figures, a number considerably lower than those who speak Bambara
Almost all people who speak French in Mali speak it as a second language. 1993 estimates are that there are only around 9,000 Malian speakers of French as a first language
French is more understood in urban centres, with 1976 figures showing a 36.7% "Francophone" rate in urban areas, but only an 8.2% rate in rural areas. French usage is gender weighted as well, with 1984 figures showing 17.5% percent of males speaking French, but only 4.9% of women.[