Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

Effects of imperialism on the Rwandan genocide

There is a great deal of history in the country of Rwanda. The first people to live there were the group called Twa. By the 10th century, Hutu farmers were living there as well. Tutsi warriors finally came after the 14th century, arriving with there cattle. Tutsi created a monarchy by the 16th century. Every tribe had a common language used to communicate with each other, as well as a common culture, and race issues were not a problem until the 20th century.
Germany became the original European superpower to colonize land in Rwanda back in 1899, managing it through their king at the time. In 1916 the Belgians gained power and control, during World War I. Belgium received it as a League of Nations mandate in 1919 and continued indirect rule but restructured the system to increase ethnic divisions. The Tutsi were the Belgians favorites, more than the Hutu and Twa, which created an insane amount of problems in future times including race issues between tribes. The Belgium made Rwanda a UN trust territory in 1945. Tensions were rising when the Hutu were protesting against the Tutsi for voting and other rights in the 1950s. The violence quickly escalated after the Hutu sub chief was attacked by Tutsi rebels. Many Tutsis were left dead or if they were lucky, escaped to surrounding countries. Troops from Belgium got involved and created a policy reversal, which created a government run by the Hutu. Monarchy ended in 1961 with more African countries becoming democratic. Rwanda become independent in 1962, when it split into two separate countries, Rwanda and Burundi
Tutsi rebels did not let up with the attacks of their own on the Hutu throughout the duration of the 60s. The First Republic, run by Hutu, came to an end with a 1973 rebellion managed by the Hutu Minister of Defense, Juvenal Habyarimana. Tutsi rebels in Uganda created the Rwandan Patriotic Front, also known as the RPF, and attacked Rwanda with an invasion in 1990. The troubles ended for the time being when an agreement treaty was signed in 1993. But the peace was destroyed once again in April 1994 when president Habyarimana’s aircraft was gunned down. To this day there is still no evidence that it was the Tutsis who shot the plane down, but they took the blame either way. “Hutu politicians opposed to the late president Juvenal Habyarimana were targeted in the first few days after the plane crash, which has yet to be satisfactory explained. But now the killings seem to be directed purely against Tutsis,” according to Hilsum. At this point the Second Republic had come to an end, and the 100 days of ruthless genocidal massacres had began. Hundreds of thousands ran and escaped to the nearby countries of Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (back then known as Zaire). The RPF battled dirty and unclean conditions. The Tutsi began fighting back with attacks against the Hutu refugees in 1996, and Hutu soldiers answered with more violence towards the Tutsi. Militia troops were sent by Rwanda to take out the Zairian soldiers helping the Hutus. Many of the refugees were returned to Rwanda, but others stayed in order to attack northwestern Rwanda using guerilla warfare. Around 124,000 people were sent to court for crimes committed during the genocide. When the president resigned, the first Hutu president was elected in 2000. There are still trials going on today, for the brutal and relentless crimes from the genocide.
Rwanda’s economy today is very weak and the country is also very undeveloped industrialism wise, because of the aftermath and trail left by the terrible genocide which occured not much more than 20 years ago. Agriculture is responsible for many of the products produced, and the majority of the population are some type of farmers. The most common crops grown are tea and coffee. Sweet potatoes, cassava, pyrethrum, cattle, sorghum, bananas, and beans are also grown. There is little soil that is fertile, which makes it hard to expand the agriculture. Uganda is Rwanda’s only trading partner because they don’t good relationships with other countries. This causes trade to be extremely expensive. The majority of citizens in Rwanda are Christians, which was introduced to Rwanda in the early 20th century by missionaries. In today’s day and age 65% are Catholic, 9% Protestant, 1% Muslim, and 25% follow indigenous beliefs. The tribes of Rwanda are still mainly Hutu and Tutsi. As of now there is no troubles between the tribes and they are relatively peaceful. Since the genocide, 90% are Hutu, and the rest are mainly Tutsi, besides the 1% Twa. The three official languages that are spoken in Rwanda are English, French, and Kinyarwanda. July 1st marks the day that Rwandan independence day is celebrated. The government is made up of Transitional National Assembly of 70 seats, along with the President as well. Due to the high population in relation to the small country size, there are lots of diseases that spread quickly throughout the country.
Imperialism is responsible for many of the problems caused in Rwanda during the last century. Not only did the genocide greatly affect Rwanda, but it also impacted its surrounding countries. In Burundi, thousands of Hutu and Tutsi were also killed due to a similar situation. The colonial structure enforced by Belgium and Germany truly sparked the hatred and racism in Rwanda. According to Dowden, the Tutsi, only making up about 10% of the Rwandan population, “were a kind of feudal cattle-owning aristocracy who lorded it over the Hutu peasants.” The Tutsis were given huge advantages in education, giving them a much greater opportunity to land professional jobs. Before the colonization led by the Europeans, Africa was a land of peace. But once the greedy politicians of Europe came to enslave and abuse the Africans, there began to be many conflicts between the ethnic tribes and cultures. If imperialism was not brought to Africa the many conflicts and problems in Africa could have been prevented. But most of all it could have prevented the merciless genocide in which nearly a million innocent people were slaughtered in bloodthirsty massacres over a span of just 100 days.
“The Rwanda genocide is considered the worst ethnic killing since the Holocaust. In 100 days, an estimated one in 10 Tutsi in Rwanda were wiped out, along with many moderates among the Hutu, who make up the majority of the population. The efficiency of the killers who chased down the Tutsi at roadblocks and in the streets with sharpened sticks, nail-studded clubs and grenades, surpassed that of the Nazis, some historian contend.” According to Lafraniere. The suffering of the Rwandan people and the financial crisis they face today could have all been prevented if it wasn’t for the carelessness of the imperialistic European nations of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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