View Full Version : Rwanda from the Hutu perspective

12-22-2004, 09:12 PM dex.org.uk/sr178/hester.htm+%22Hutu+resistance%22&hl=en

When the Belgians introduced compulsory passes for all Rwandans in the 1930s, a differentiation between Hutu and Tutsi was vital to their 'divide and rule' strategy. Attempts were made to categorise people using racial characteristics--skin colour, nose and head sizes. They failed. The dividing line between Hutu and Tutsi could only be based on wealth. A Tutsi was defined as someone who owned ten or more cattle and the division rigidly enforced. Traditional Tutsi leaders were expected to police the new order. Numerous new chiefdoms were arbitrarily created, paid salaries by the colonial administration and encouraged to levy taxes and 'customary' tributes. Hutu resistance was brutally suppressed, with many killed. Mutilation and amputation were favoured Belgian punishments--carried out by Tutsis. By the 1940s thousands of Hutus had fled from the barbarism to Uganda.

The racist pass system stopped any possibility of 'overcoming Hutuness'. The divisions were legally fixed and inflexible. Simultaneously growing numbers of Tutsis with no access to the colonial gravy train faced impoverishment. The establishment of cash crops (principally coffee) robbed many of their land. In 1952 the Tutsi Mwami (king) abolished the traditional custom of exchanging labour for land which had given even the poorest peasants some--extremely unequal--rights to land. It was this act which fuelled a mass revolt by farm workers and peasants in 1959 which overthrew the Tutsi aristocracy.

With breathtaking cynicism the colonial authorities changed sides dramatically, backing the Hutu dominated 'revolution' and fanning anti-Tutsi discontent. The Belgians had been increasingly concerned at the growth of a small but restive urban middle class who were inspired by radical nationalist ideas and the anti-colonial movement across Africa. Most of them were Tutsis. Years of pent up Hutu rage, coupled with anti-Tutsi Belgian propaganda, directed the revolt against all Tutsis. Thousands were killed, and many more fled across the borders. In 1961 the Party for the Emancipation of Hutus which had won limited local government elections proclaimed independence.

The new Hutu ruling class maintained the developments of the colonial period. Rwanda continued to depend on coffee exports, and nothing much changed for the overwhelming majority--both Hutu and Tutsi.

Periodic pogroms of Tutsis were launched by the Hutu rulers to deflect discontent. But the weakness of Rwandan capitalism in the face of the collapse of commodity prices in the early 1970s caused splits in the ruling class. In 1973 army commander General Habyarimana staged a successful coup. He formed a new party of government, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MNRD), concentrating power in the hands of Habyarimana's Akazu (or clan).
Increasing numbers of Hutus opposed the MNRD, but faced ruthless repression. The tiny trade union movement was tightly controlled and coopted by the MNRD. Control in the countryside was maintained through a network of cooperative groups overseen by MNRD loyalists. Even the Catholic Church had a seat on the Central Committee. Ethnic politics was encouraged. Tutsis were excluded from the army and Hutu soldiers forbidden to marry Tutsis. With increasing poverty and growing pressure for access to land, government propaganda stoked up fear of Tutsi Inyenzi (cockroaches) taking Hutu land.

But opposition grew, calling for an end to military rule and for multi-party elections. The crippling economic crises of the 1980s put the government under enormous pressure. Coffee prices plummeted in 1987 and 1989. Gross Domestic Product fell by 17 percent in three years. In 1990 the desperate Habyarimana government adopted the IMF's Structural Adjustment Programme in exchange for continued credit and foreign aid. Rwanda faced massive cutbacks in public spending.

In neighbouring Uganda the victory in 1986 of the National Resistance Army led by Yoweri Museveni boosted the anti-MNRD opposition. Many Tutsi refugees from 1961 had fought alongside Museveni. They formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front, dominated by Tutsis but with significant Hutu involvement. In October 1990 they invaded Rwanda from Uganda.

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12-24-2004, 03:49 PM
Another reason not to understand the blacks celebrating AFRICAN CULTURE .

No more than I'd want to celebrate the celtic culture of my ancesters in Syria or early Ireland .

12-27-2004, 02:18 AM
Another reason not to understand the blacks celebrating AFRICAN CULTURE .

No more than I'd want to celebrate the celtic culture of my ancesters in Syria or early Ireland .
What we can learn though, is that genocide can happen anywhere in the world. It happens in Rwanda, Cambodia and in Bosnia-Herzogovinia. And it does not take much to get the age old hatreds enflamed.