Rwanda, in east-central Africa, is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby/2008/ 04/23-End/rwanda_sm00.jpg http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby/2008/ 04/23-End/rwanda_sm00.jpg Steep mountains and deep valleys cover most of the country. Lake Kivu in the northwest, at an altitude of 4,829 ft (1,472 m), is the highest lake in Africa. Extending north of it are the Virunga Mountains, which include the volcano Karisimbi (14,187 ft; 4,324 m), Rwanda's highest point.
The original inhabitants of Rwanda were the Twa who now make up only 1% of the population. While the Hutu and Tutsi are often considered to be two separate ethnic groups, however they speak the same language, have a history of intermarriage, and share many cultural characteristics. Traditionally, the differences between the two groups were occupational rather than ethnic. Agricultural people were considered Hutu, while the cattle-owning elite were identified as Tutsi. The 1933 requirement by the Belgians that everyone carry an identity card indicating tribal ethnicity as Tutsi or Hutu enhanced the distinction. Since independence, repeated violence in both Rwanda and Burundi has increased ethnic differentiation between the groups.
Rwanda was first a part of the German East Africa colony (1890). Later it was incorporated into the Belgian Congo. http://aes.iupui.edu/rwise/countries/GermanEastAfrica.gif http://aes.iupui.edu/rwise/countries/GermanEastAfrica.gif http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/willow/history-of- africa3.gif http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/willow/history-of- africa3.gif After WWI, the territory became a Belgian League of Nations mandate, along with Burundi, under the name of Ruanda- Urundi. The mandate was made a UN trust territory in 1946. Until the Belgian Congo achieved independence in 1960, Ruanda-Urundi was administered as part of that colony. Compare maps on pgs 343 and 580 in your textbook.
Under Belgian rule, the minority Tutsis dominated the government. The education system was controlled by the Tutsis and favored enrollment of Tutsi children. Secondary service was limited to training for civil service and the priesthood. Belgium eventually encouraged power sharing between Hutu and Tutsi. However ethnic tensions led to civil war, forcing many Tutsi into exile (Uganda). When Ruanda became the independent nation of Rwanda on July 1, 1962, it was under Hutu rule.
In Oct. 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Tutsi rebels in exile in Uganda, invaded in an attempt to overthrow the Hutu-led Rwandan government. Peace accords were signed in Aug. 1993, calling for a coalition government. But after the downing of a plane in April 1994 that killed the presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi, deep-seated ethnic violence erupted. Who is responsible for shooting down the plane is unclear. One theory suggests it was Hutu extremists who rejected the Hutu-Tutsi power-sharing plan proposed by President Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu moderate.
The presidential guard began murdering Tutsi opposition leaders, and soon policemen and soldiers began attempting to murder the entire Tutsi population. In 100 days, beginning in April 1994, Hutu rampaged through the country and slaughtered an estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi and their moderate Hutu sympathizers. A 30,000-member militia group, the Interahamwe, led much of the murderous spree, but, goaded by radio propaganda (“cut the tall trees”), ordinary Hutu joined in massacring their Tutsi neighbors.
In response, the Tutsi rebel force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, swept across the country in a 14-week civil war, routing the largely Hutu government. Despite horrific reports of genocide, no country came to the Tutsi's assistance. The UN, already stationed in Rwanda at the time of the killing, withdrew entirely after ten of its soldiers were killed. In the aftermath of the genocide, an estimated 1.7 million Hutu fled across the border into neighboring Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Although Tutsi rebels took control of the government, they permitted a Hutu, Pasteur Bizimungu, to serve as president, attempting to deflect accusations of a resurgence in Tutsi elitism and to foster national unity.
Amid the legitimate refugees from the genocide were Hutu militiamen, who began waging guerrilla warfare from refugee camps in Zaire. The Hutu guerrillas in Zaire, as well as Zaire's threat to exile their own ethnic Tutsi, led to Rwanda's support of rebel forces, headed by Laurent Kabila, bent on overthrowing Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko. But Rwanda soon grew disenchanted with Kabila's new regime because his government was not able to prevent the raids from Hutu guerrillas that continued to traumatize the country and destabilize the region. In Aug. 1998, a little more than a year after Kabila took over, a rebellion began against his reign, instigated by Rwanda and Uganda.
In April 2000, President Bizimungu resigned and Vice President Paul Kagame became the first Tutsi president of the nation. (It was Kagame's rebel force that seized Rwanda's capital and put an end to the genocide in 1994.) Rwanda continued fighting against the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) throughout its four-year civil war. Finally, in July 2002, the two countries signed a peace accord: Rwanda promised to withdraw its 35,000 troops from the Congolese border; Congo in turn agreed to disarm the thousands of Hutu militiamen in its territory, who threatened Rwandan security.
In May 2003, 93% of Rwandans voted to approve a new constitution that instituted a balance of political power between Hutu and Tutsi. No party, for example, can hold more than half the seats in parliament. The constitution also outlawed the incitement of ethnic hatred. Aug 2003 presidential elections, the first since the Rwandan genocide, Paul Kagame, who had served as president since 2000, won a landslide victory. Under his leadership, Rwanda has been called Africa’s “biggest success story” and Kagame has become a public advocate of new models for foreign aid designed to help recipient-nations become self-reliant.
The events, places and people are real! Questions: What are some of the legacies of colonial power present in Rwanda? What role did Western/European powers play in Rwanda in the 1994? What were some of the destabilizing factors in Rwanda society? What other observations did you make?