African languages on the rise in the U.S.

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BY ASMA MUHAMMAD

According to newly-released data from the U.S. Census Bureau, African languages are on the rise in the United States, which runs counter to Donald Trump’s disdain for Africans (among countless other people across the world) and his all-out efforts to drastically reduce immigration to the United States.

African languages are among the top ten fastest-growing languages spoken at home in the United States, the new data reveal. The list breaks down those African languages in three distinct groups: Yoruba (spoken in Nigeria, Benin and Togo), Igbo (spoken in Nigeria), and Twi (spoken in Ghana) in West Africa; Swahili and other languages spoken in Eastern/Central/Southern Africa; and Amharic spoken in Ethiopia, as well as Somali, spoken in Somalia.

African immigrants in the United States (barely two million in numbers) make up a small share of the immigrant population in the United States, but their numbers have doubled every decade since 1970, according to Pew Research Center, a major U.S. research organization. 39% of the total foreign-born black population in the U.S. are Africans, up from 24% in 2000. While the overall number of immigrants to the United States has slightly decreased in recent years, it has gone up as far as that of Africans is concerned.

Why the rise in the number of African languages spoken in the United States at the very time when Trump has displayed a disdain for people from the continent? Simply because more and more Africans are seeking refuge in the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office recorded this past June an unprecedented rise in African migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The report shows a daily rate of 30 to 40 asylum seekers, primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

African would-be immigrants

African migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border

Swahili, Yoruba and Igbo top the list of African languages spoken in the United States, owing to the fact that Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Senegal and Kenya are among the principal countries of African migrants to the United States (and to Europe.)

Swahili is the leading African language spoken in the United States. Because of the surge in other African languages spoken in the country, the 2020 edition of the guidelines for migrants will be printed in three additional African languages: Igbo, Yoruba and Twi. Five African languages, all from Eastern and Southern Africa, were already in use in the 2010 guidelines.

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