Malians say no to official French language

By Monica Moorehead 
August 4, 2023

In a clear display of decolonization sentiment, the people of Mali, a West African country, carried out a historic decision when they voted in a June 18 referendum to drop French as its official language as part of its new constitution. The new constitution was adopted with almost 97% of the vote.

Mali was colonized by French imperialism in 1892, leading to French becoming the official language in 1960 when Mali gained its independence. While French will remain the official working language, 13 indigenous national languages such as Bambara, Bobo, Dogon and Minianka will receive equal official language status.

According to, “The decision by Mali to drop French comes at a time of growing anti-France sentiments across West Africa due to its perceived military and political interference.” (July 26, 2023)

–- Monica Moorehead

Malians vote on June 18, 2023. Credit: MINUMSMA/Blagjoe