European Intervention And The Rwandan Genocide

1144 words - 5 pages

Genocide is the destruction of a cultural, racial or political group through the use of “..one-sided mass killings..(Hintjens 267).” The April of 1994, “Rwandan subjects and citizens were the main actors in the genocide (Hintjens 244).” The establishment of colonial rule by the Europeans impacted the conflict in Rwanda due to the creation of ethnic boundaries between the Tutsis and the Hutus. Hierarchies were established based upon European racial theories. Throughout the colonization and independence of Rwanda, the tension generated by European intervention only magnified thus leading to quotas and ineffective regulations. Aside from the assassination of the Rwandan President Habyarimana, propaganda through the news and media openly broadcasted the planned genocide as an open secret (Hintjens 246).
“Prior to the arrival of the German and Belgian colonizers, the social aries between the Hutus and Tutsis were fluid (White 472).” During pre-colonial society, the ownership of cattle was the most significant factor of ethnic association between the Hutus and Tutsis. “Any man with more than ten head of cattle was to be permanently classified as Tutsi, and any man with fewer than ten cattle as Hutu or Twa (Hintjens 253).” The Hutus had a fondness for farming and the Tutsi were occasionally known for cattle breeding. The aboriginal group of Rwanda were the Twa. They were the hunter-gatherer party that made up 1% of the population and were commonly placed as the minority (Hintjens 252). Regarding the social group classification, the boundaries were not permanent. Hutu and Twa were appointed as ‘lords of the land’ yet the Tutsi controlled the cattle of the land. The system was flexible and either group could easily ‘cross over’.
Aside from pre-socialization between the ethnic groups, “…differences between the Tutsis and Hutus are not as clear-cut…(Hintjens 247).” From identical languages to economic status, it was difficult to distinguish them from each other. Many Hutus were murdered mistakenly by other Hutus due to the underlying similarities. To place ethnic labels on each individual, the Belgians traced through the ‘male line’ of Rwandan natives to determine Hutu, Tutsi and Twa identities. This proposed great difficulty and error since mixed marriages and concubinage of southern Rwanda were commonly practiced during pre-colonial Rwanda (Hintjens 250).
Racism is defined by the unjust treatment against a group or culture based upon color, physical features and ethnicity (White 471). At the Conference of Berlin in 1885, negotiations were made between European superpowers to give Rwanda to Germany, as well as their neighboring countries: Tanzania and Burundi. Count von Gotzen was the first German explorer to arrive to Rwanda. He discovered heavily populated and well-organized kingdoms, which led to the assumption that the natives of Rwanda migrated from another continent. Toward the end of the World War I, Belgium had gained authority over...

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