The Roots of genocide Race, Ethnicity, and Power in Rwandan Colonial History
Race in rwanda • Three major groups • Hutu (now 85% of population) • Tutsi (14%) • Twa (1%) • Hard to tell how the groups originated, because early Rwandan history was preserved orally • Big question: Are Hutu and Tutsi genetically different, or is their difference socially constructed?
Rwanda before imperialism • First populated by Twa(traditionally forest people) • Hutu and Tutsi pushed out Twa people • Hutu and Tutsi mixed extensively and developed a shared language (Kinyarwanda) and religion • Hutu were farmers • Tutsi were cattle herders – a much more profitable occupation • Tutsi gradually became a social elite
Rwandan government before imperialism • Established a monarchy by the 18th century • Most (but not all!) government officials were cattle-owners, or Tutsis • People generally married within their social class (cattle-owners or farmers) • Consequently, physical distinctions between groups emerged
Europeans in Rwanda: a brief timeline • 1899 – Germany colonizes Rwanda • 1919 – Germany loses WWI; Belgium takes over in Rwanda • 1950s – increasing waves of decolonization around the world; unrest in Rwanda • 1959-1961 – Hutu revolution against Tutsis and Belgians • 1962 – Rwanda becomes independent
The hamitic theory • Developed by John Hanning Speke, a British explorer • Published 1863 • Described Africans as belonging to two races: • Hamitic – more “civilized” and originating in Ethiopia (and looking more like Caucasians) • Negroid – more “barbaric” and originating in Central Africa Social Darwinism!
How did the Belgians rule Rwanda? • Believed in the Hamitic theory • 1920s: changes in government • Required all government officials to be Tutsi • More power to central authorities • 1933-34: issued identity cards listing a person’s race • Taught Tutsi superiority and racial differences • Effects: • Limited opportunities for Hutu resentment • Sense of superiority among Tutsi • Reinforced idea that races were different
Differences in characteristics Hutu Tutsi
The end of empire • 1945: Belgium starts preparing for Rwandan independence • Gradual attempts to include Hutu in public life • Hutu start organizing opposition to Belgian rule and Tutsi supremacy • 1957: Hutu Manifesto – published by Hutu activists • Describes Tutsi as “foreign invaders” • Calls for majority rule in Rwanda
The hutu revolution • PARMEHUTU (Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement) founded 1957 – all-Hutu political party • November 1959: violence between Tutsi and Hutu political activists • 1960 and 1961: PARMEHUTU wins local elections • Belgium actively encourages Hutu violence against Tutsis • 1962: Rwanda achieves independence • Nearly 20,000 Tutsi killed and 160,000 made refugees
The republic of rwanda • 1962-1973: PARMEHUTU rules Rwanda; systematic violence against Tutsis • 1973: General Juvenal Habyarimana stages a coup and makes himself president • Passed stronger laws against Tutsis • 1990-1993: Rwandan Civil War • Rwandan Patriotic Front – primarily Tutsi exiles • Led to backlash against Tutsis in Rwanda • April 6, 1994: Habyarimana killed in a plane crash