May 19th 2014 The Rwandan Genocide
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. For most, a genocide is viewed as mass killings or the deliberate killing of a large group of people, however, it is rarely understood and involves much more than just the killing itself. Although students study the
Holocaust and other wellknown massmurders throughout history, little is taught about Rwanda.
The Rwandan Genocide was one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the 20th century. From historical causes of the Genocide, including the ethnical, political and economic split of the
Hutus and Tutsis, to the conflict itself, Rwanda remains a country still rebuilding from the shocking events that occurred within those 100 days.
Rwanda is located in the Southern Sahara in Africa and was first settled by indigenous people who raised cattle and lived off the land. Cattle was used to symbolize their wealth and who had the main control. The people of Rwanda could easily marry within the wealthy families by marrying someone who had more cattle. This all changed when the European colonists came to the country. By the 1800s, European countries began colonizing Africa. This was known as the “Scramble for Africa" or the “Partition of Africa”, where European countries explored the idea of colonization and split up parts of Africa for their own gain. All European countries wanted colonies for resources and for political reasons such as their geography and agricultural lands. 2
When Germany entered Rwanda for the first time, they were smart in the way they ruled.
The colonists used a system known as “divide and conquer,” where they split Rwanda into two groups based on their appearance. The Tutsis gained the most power over the Hutus. Tutsis were thought to have very long faces and were very tall and thin, which the colonists used to their advantage. The colonists believed these characteristics were more European, which made them look more superior. When the Germans lost their colonies after World War I had ended, “the
Belgians took control over Rwanda” (Rosenberg). In 1933, the Belgians solidified the categories of "Tutsi" and "Hutu" by mandating that every person was to have an identity card that labeled them either Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa” (the Twa were considered a very small hunting tribe within
“The Rwandan economy is based on the largely rainfed agricultural production of small,
semisubsistence, and increasingly fragmented farms” (Economy of Rwanda wiki). Rwanda was and still remains a landlocked which means it had little access to the waters around Africa itself.
“The Hutus did not want to follow the order of things set by their forefathers or the Belgian
Administration” (Hutus against the Tutsis). As a result, many Hutus left Rwanda during the colonization process in search for a better place to call home. Since most of the Hutus were misled to think of themselves as inferior compared to the Tutsis based on what the colonist had pointed out, they traveled to northern and southern countries which bordered Rwanda. There they believed the Europeans wouldn't have any influences on the people, and the Hutus could just raise their cattle, but most of the Hutus remained where they were within Rwanda.
The colonists knew that by exploding the differences between the Hutus and Tutsis, and
by giving the Tutsis more power and resources. All these resources that were given to the Tutsi
3 by the Europeans such as