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Hutu And The Tutsi

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Hutu and the Tutsi

The Hutus and the Tutsis go back to almost two thousand years ago. They began as small organized groups based on loyalty to an outstanding leader. They worked together to start building the country of Rwanda. They created a highly sophisticated language of Kinyarwanda. They also agreed on a certain religious belief that they would all follow, and their culture was based off of song, dance, and poetry. Most of the people were farmers of small stock. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

Rwanda became a major state in the early eighteenth century. There were two main types of people in Rwanda, the cultivators and the pastoralists. The pastoralists who lived in the northeast were called Bogogwes, and the people in the southeast were called Bahimas. Both the cultivators and the pastoralists sought out to expand Rwanda by attacking neighboring people. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

The rulers decided the people’s power by the number of cattle they owned and by the number of soldiers they owned. The rulers would sometimes give out cattle in order to win the support of people. By the end of the nineteenth century, the ruler governed the central regions closely through multiple hierarchies of competing officials who administered men, cattle, pasturage, and agricultural land. He also began to allow small states within Rwanda. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

As the Rwandan state grew in sophistication and power, many people in the government and people wealthy in cattle began to view themselves as more superior than ordinary people. The word “Tutsi” means a person that is very wealthy in cattle and is in the elite social group. The word “Hutu” originally meant a subordinate or follower of a more powerful person, but soon came to be known as the large group of ordinary people. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

Near the end of the nineteenth century, Europeans began to live in Rwanda. The Germans began to set up a colonial administration, which was then taken over by the Belgians at the end of WWI. Both the Germans and Belgians wanted to rule Rwanda with the least amount of cost and most profit. They did this by having multiple hierarchies. This had allowed the ruler to maximize his control by playing off rival officials who now permitted both ruler and his subordinates to evade control by the colonialists. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

In the 1920s the Belgians started to alter the Rwandan government in the name of administrative efficiency. They eliminated the competing hierarchies and regrouped the units of administration into “chiefdoms” and “sub-chiefdoms” of uniform size. The chiefdoms and sun-chiefdoms were the rulers of the local states. The Belgian’s purpose for the chiefdoms was to govern the states in a way where everyone was equal. The only fault of the Belgians was that only Tutsis were allowed to be chiefdoms and sub-chiefdoms. Eventually the chiefdoms got greedy and began to take more and more taxes from the people for their own causes. Through the evolution of the Tutsi chiefdoms, the Tutsis now had more power than the Hutus. The Belgians decided that only the Tutsis were allowed to have a higher education, which was meant mostly as preparation for careers in the administration. The Hutus however were left to be the laboring masses. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

By assuring a Tutsi monopoly of power, the Belgians set the stage for future conflict in Rwanda. The Belgians were not intending to set up the situation this way, they only thought that they were helping settle out the differences between the Hutu and the Tutsi. The Belgians truly believed that the Tutsis were superior to the Hutu. Little did they know, they were only causing greater conflict between the two. Tutsi writers told the European scholars about how the Tutsi took over the Hutus. With this knowledge, the scholars wrote how the Tutsis were far superior to the Hutus in all the educational books that were then read and taught in school books in Rwanda. And because the Rwandans had great respect for the European scholars, they “bit the bullet” and accepted the suffering they would get from knowing that the Tutsis were more superior to them. People of both groups learned to think of the Tutsi as the winners and the Hutu as the losers in every great contest in Rwandan history. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

As years passed, the European scholars found that they were being fed lies about the Tutsis superiority over the Hutus. So the European government had to cut back on the “special treatment” towards the Tutsis and have more of a common ground between the Hutu and Tutsi.

The Belgians supported the Tutsi until the 1950s. As an effect to this, the Hutu began to have more privileges along the lines of education and some even became part of the government. The Tutsi people were now frightened because they thought the Hutus were trying to take over the government. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

The first fighting began in November 1959, when several Tutsis attacked a Hutu sub-chief. This act of violence was the start of harsh violence between the Hutu and the Tutsi. Once the word got out that the Hutu sub-chief was killed by the Tutsis, the Hutus paid them back by killing some Tutsi officials. The Hutu and Tutsi kept “paying each other back”. Several hundred people were killed before the Belgians could take over control again. (“The Hutu Revolution”)

Near the end of 1959 the ruler of Rwanda,

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