Take the case of Senegal. The French ruled it for almost 300 years, until 1960. It was a favored colony: The Africans of its four main towns had had the right to vote in French elections since the French Revolution. The politician who led Senegal to independence, former President Leopold Senghor, is a French poet who now sits in the French Academy. French is the official language of the country. Everybody looks on Senegal as a French-speaking country in Africa.
In North Africa, the report shows, French is receding in the face of government drives to use Arabic as the language of instruction in the schools. Algeria, with a population of 21 million, was once classified as a province of France. But the report shows that independent Algeria has only 150,000 speakers of French as a mother tongue and 6.5 million speakers of French as a second language.
Unlike the relationship of Spain with Spanish, Portugal with Portuguese and Britain with English, France-with its 51.5 million speakers of French as a mother tongue and its 4.5 million speakers of French as a second language-overwhelmingly dominates the statistics of use of the French language.