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Nigerians performing a ritual dance. Photo: Pixabay

Fastest growing languages in US are African

Newly released data from the US Census Bureau shows that African languages are among the top ten fastest growing languages spoken at home in the United States.

Published: October 10, 2019, 10:02 am

    Three groups of African languages appear on the list: Swahili and other Central/Eastern/Southern African languages; Yoruba, Twi, Igbo, and other Western African languages; and Amharic/Somali.

    The spread of African languages is the result of recent immigration trends to the US. Although African immigrants are currently only a small share of the nation’s immigrant population, their overall numbers have doubled every decade since 1970, according to the Pew Research Center.

    Africans are 39 percent of the total foreign-born black population, up from 24 percent in 2000.

    This trend is expected to continue. In terms of the population of speakers, the number of Latino migrants living in the US surpass sub-Saharan African immigrants and, consequently, Spanish is still the number one fastest-growing non-English language.

    The share of Americans who speak English at home fell from 78,4 percent in 2016 to 78,1 percent in 2018, according to recently released data from the US Census.

    African languages, however, are among the fastest-growing languages with regards to the speed of growth, due to the continued flow of Africans to North America.

    The desire to migrate is highest in West and Central Africa. Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Senegal and Kenya are among the principal countries of origin for sub-Saharan African migrants to Europe and the United States.

    Seventy five percent of the African immigrants to the US essentially come from 12 of the 55 countries, based on the 2000 census data. Africa is experiencing a demographic bulge particularly of inhabitants aged between 18 and 25 and North America is a top destination for the 22 percent who want to leave the continent.

    Africans typically congregate in urban areas and are one of the least likeliest racial groups to live in racially segregated areas. African communities contribute millions to the economies of Africa through remittances. Ogbuagu (2013) found that Diasporic Nigerians across the globe reportedly remitted $21 billion to the homeland in 2012 alone.

    The US Diversity Visa Program, or green card lottery, is a program created by the Immigration Act of 1990. It allows people born in countries with previously low rates of immigration to the United States to obtain a lawful permanent resident status.

    Each year, 50 000 of those visas are distributed at random. Almost 38 percent of those visas were attributed to African born immigrants in 2016, the US Homeland Department noted.

    African born persons also represent the most numerous group among the applicants since 2013, accordring to the Washington Post.

    The application is free of charge, and the requirements in terms of education are either a high school diploma or two years of a professional experience requiring at least two years of training.

    But President Trump has declared his desire to end this programmme which would drastically change the migration patterns of African born to the United States.

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