Kokanu is a sister language to the minimalist constructed language Toki Pona. Toki Pona utilizes minimalism in the construction of its vocabulary and grammar in order to fulfill certain philosophical and artistic principles. A side effect of its minimalism, however, is that it is by far easier to learn than the vast majority of other languages, both natural and constructed.

For more than a century, people have been trying to construct a language for international use that is easier to learn than the natural languages that are used for inter-cultural communication such as English. The main reason for this has been that natural languages tend to be so full of irregularities and idiosyncrasies that they put those who know them natively at a major advantage over those who have to learn them as a second language, thereby not allowing inter-cultural communication to happen on a truly equal basis. 

The creators of languages like Esperanto, Ido, Novial, Lingwa de Planeta, and Globasa, to name a few of the most well known, attempted to create languages that are much easier to learn than natural languages, and in most cases they succeeded, but most didn't quite succeed in getting those language to be used widely. Esperanto, the most successful by far, endures in a community of up to 2 million people around the world, all speaking to each other in a single common language that allows all of them to express themselves to a more or less equal capacity.

However, with the recent explosive success of Toki Pona, some people have wondered if perhaps an even more widespread and even more egalitarian language could be possible, repurposing the minimalist principles of Toki Pona from artistic expression to practical inter-cultural communication. Those people built the language Toki Ma, which over time has evolved into its current most optimal and stable form, Kokanu. 

Kokanu has about 360 words, compared to Esperanto's thousands, and a much simpler and more flexible grammar. While it is not as minimalist as Toki Pona, it is designed to maximize Toki Pona's context-dependent system. Kokanu is designed such that most concepts will have to be expressed using several words, but concepts that would very often have to be used as a building block to express other common concepts are given their own words. Additionally, common concepts which would require too many words to express are given their own word, and common concepts which are impossible to express as collection of other concepts in a way that is faithful to the common cultural perception of them are given their own words.

A vocabulary created along these guidelines, combined with a flexible and fluidly recursive grammar, allows speakers to easily express any concept, no matter how complicated, when that concept is first introduced in their speech, and then refer back to that concept in more brief terms, having set up the context for the rest of their speech. This strategy allows the language to simultaneously be as easy to learn as possible and to be vastly expressive and efficient.