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The Anglosphere's Newest Member

South Sudan, the world’s newest country, is applying to join the Commonwealth (formerly the British Commonwealth) and to join the East African Community, an economic grouping of mainly English speaking countries like Kenya and Tanzania.  English will replace Arabic as the language taught in schools, though presumably that will have to be phased in.

Rwanda has also taken this route, shifting from a French educational system and aligning itself with the East Africa Community.  (It isn’t joining the Commonwealth, which is normally open only to former British colonies and dominions; South Sudan was indirectly under British rule during the time when Egypt ruled Sudan and Britain ruled Egypt.)

The potential for a dynamic bloc of fast growing, English speaking countries in East Africa is real.  Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have their share of problems, but natural resources, a benign climate and steps toward better governance are creating conditions for a possible takeoff.  South Sudan is making a smart choice, and the new approach will help aid donors shape a coherent strategy to help the country move down this path.

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  • David Frost

    Even Homer nods. Rwanda joined the Commonwealth in November 2009, despite (as you rightly say) being a Francophone country with no formal link to the Anglosphere – and for the same reasons South Sudan wants to.
    Mozambique is the other country (this time Lusophone), for similar reasons, in southern Africa.
    Keep up a superb blog!

    • Walter Russell Mead

      The interns are being flogged even as I write.

  • Donald Potter

    Rwanda has in fact joined the Commonwealth and was a full participant at the heads of government meeting in Perth, Australia last week

  • MarkE

    What a great idea! Why couldn’t the United States start a commonwealth of American speaking countries?

  • Jonathan Klingler

    As a minor point, Rwanda is part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Along with Mozambique, it is one of two nations to be part of the Commonwealth and have no colonial ties to Great Britain.

  • dearieme

    Yup, it’s an intern-national problem.

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