By Lisa Vives
If you think you’re hearing more Swahili, Yoruba, Amharic or Twi coming from your neighbour’s home, you’re right!
Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds African languages are among the top ten fastest growing languages spoken at home in the U.S.
The Census list features three groups of African languages: Swahili and other Central/Eastern/Southern African languages; Yoruba, Twi, Igbo, and other Western African languages; and Amharic/Somali.
Although African immigrants make up 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 now make up 39% of the total foreign-born black population, up from 24% in 2000.
Despite President Trump’s unkind comments about African countries, African migrants continue to seek refuge in the U.S. In June 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials recorded an unprecedented rise in African migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, arriving at a rate of 30 to 40 people a day. A majority of these asylum seekers are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola.
This is not a trend that is expected to change drastically anytime soon.
North America is a top destination for the continent’s mushrooming under-30 population, particularly those between the ages of 18 and 25 who want to leave. This 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, which explains why Swahili, Yoruba and Igbo are leading the African cohort on the Census Bureau’s list of fastest-growing languages.
Swahili is the major African language spoken in the U.S. And for the first time, the country will, in the upcoming 2020 census, print guides in three additional African languages—Igbo, Yoruba, and Twi. The previous census in 2010 had guides printed in five African languages all of which were from East and South Africa.