The Hutu people, also known as the Abahutu, are agricultural Bantu-speaking  ethnic group in Central African countries of Rwanda, Burundi, and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo where they form one of the principal population divisions alongside the Tutsi and the Twa.
Hutu woman carrying firewood with her baby on top of her at D R Congo

The Hutu is the largest of the four main population divisions in Burundi and Rwanda and constitute over 12.5 million people. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, 84% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians are Hutu, with Tutsis the next largest ethnic group at 15% and 14% of residents in Rwanda and Burundi, respectively. The Twa pygmies, the smallest of the two countries' principal populations, also share language and culture with the Hutu and Tutsi. It must be noted that for centuries before the arrival of Europeans, the Hutu and their Nilotic Tutsi neighbors in Rwanda and Burindi have spoken a common language, believed in the same religion and lived in unison, in the same areas. Through intermarriage, Hutus have been able to become hereditary Tutsis and Tutsis have been able to become hereditary Hutus. Prior to Rwanda’s colonization, the Tutsi and Hutu were characterized by an occupational distinction. Hutus were mainly cultivators and known as the “masses” in comparison to the Tutsis who were predominantly herdsmen and therefor considered the “elite” (Gourevitch, 1998; Human Rights Watch, 2006). The Europeans introduced ethnicity based Rwanda and Burundi amongst Hutu and Tutsi based on their physical appearance.
Hutu mother and her daughter from Rwanda. © Jonathan Torgovnik

The Hutus are slightly shorter, stout and dark-skinned people as compared with the their neighbor`s, the Nilotic Tutsi. As a result of this physical appearance the early European explorers, settlers and later the imperialists perceived the dark-skinned Bantu Hutu people as inferior to the light-skinned, taller and cattle-owning minority Tutsi. This flawed, stereotyped and shameful ethnic classification was conceived by John Hanning Speke in his development of the “Hamitic Hypothesis”. In it, Speke declared “that all culture and civilization in central Africa had been introduced by the taller, sharper-featured people, he considered to be a caucasoid tribe of Ethiopian origin, descended from the biblical King David, and therefore a superior race to the native Negroids” (Gourevitch, 1998, 198).
Hutu girl from Ruhengeri, northwestern Rwanda. Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

 In Speke own words the Hutu were a typical specimen of a "primitive race," "the true curly- headed, flab- nosed, pouched- mouthed Negro" while the Tutsi were "descended from the best blood of Abyssinia" and therefore far superior (Speke, Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile). A Belgian doctor wrote: "The Tutsi] … have a distant, reserved, courteous and elegant manner…The rest of the population is [Hutu]. They are negroes with all the negroid characteristics…they are childish in nature both timid and lazy, and as often as not, extremely dirty.”

The Hamitic Hypotheses was strongly upheld by imperialists, who subsequently favored the Tutsi over the Hutu.“Because Europeans thought that the Tutsi looked more like themselves than did other Rwandans,they found it reasonable to suppose them closer to Europeans in the evolutionary hierarchy and hence closer to them in ability” (Des Forges, 1999, pp.34). Tutsi became favorites and allies of European colonizers (Germans and Belgians). They were catapulted to higher status and soon caused the Tutsi elite to regard themselves as superior, and the Hutu to see themselves as “an oppressed people” (Human Rights Watch, 2006, pp 3) Subsequently, the colonizer’s did not only establish the Tutsi and Hutu as separate ethnic groups but, by resting this distinction upon coincidence with social class, defined them as ranked ethnic groups (Horowitz, 1985, pp.25). Tutsi kings ruled over Hutu peasant farmers for three centuries. But in 1959, the Hutu finally overthrew the Tutsi monarchy. This racially divisive political game played by the imperialists was the origin of the Hutu-Tutsi ethnic genocide that occurred in Rwanda and Burundi.

                                  Hutu people from Burundi

The Hutu tell proverbs, folktales, riddles, and myths. Samadari is a popular folk hero. He broke the rules everyone else had to follow. He could make fun of the rich and powerful and insult the wealthy cattle owners.
There is a saying in Hutu that “Umuhusha tunga ahusha umugore,” that is, “A loser mischoses his wife,” which stresses the importance of a woman as a spouse. Another saying, “Ikigaba ca nyina,” tells us that “A mother watches the education of the children.” Without such careful watching, the saying implies, the bad child will always be an insult to her.

                                   Hutu man and his wife,Burundi
Hutu just like Tutsi and Twa people speak Rwanda-Rundi as their native tongue, which is a member of the Bantu subgroup of the Niger–Congo language family. Rwanda-Rundi is subdivided into the Kinyarwanda (in Rwanda) and Kirundi (in Burundi) dialects, which have been standardized as official languages of Burundi and Rwanda. Additionally, many Hutu speak French, the third official language of Rwanda and Burundi, as their lingua franca. Some moderate Hutu people that fled the genocide to settle in Uganda speak English.
Personal names may be based on events, poetry, or beliefs. The name Ndagijimana means "God is my herder." Hakizumwami means "only the king can save." Muvunanyambo means "the defender of noble cows," “Inzoka” which means snake; “abantu” which stands for human beings: “abanyamahanga”, which means foreigners; “abakoloni”, meaning colonizers; “ba gashakabuhake”, which stands for imperialist;
“inyangarwanda”, meaning enemy of Rwanda; and “Inyenzi”, means cockroaches.
Kinyarwanda animal names

Gasimba 'insect', Kagurube 'pig', Kabwa 'dog', Senkoko 'chicken', Sehene 'goat', Sentama 'sheep', Kajangwe 'cat', Kayuki 'bee', Kavubi 'wasp', Gikeri 'frog', Kimonyo 'red ant', Gakoko 'little animal'
Senguge 'monkey', Rukwavu 'rabbit', Mpyisi 'hyena', Ntare 'lion', Rgwe 'leopard', Senyoni 'bird', Kanuma 'pidgeon', Kanyange 'royal crane', Semusambi 'crested crane', Segatashya 'sparrow', Sembeba 'rat.'
Greetings of the Hutu are:
Morning: Warumutse ho? The answer is: "Waaramutse"
Afternoon: Wiiriwe ho? The answer is: "Wiiriwe"

The land cultivating Hutu people originated from West Africa as a part of the members of Great Bantu migration to the Central, East and South Africa. They were the people that brought iron technology into the Great Lake Region. The Hutu came to meet the aboriginal pygmy Batwa people already occupying the region. The Bantu stayed with the Twa or Batwa people and after some time defeated them. The Batwa left for the rainforest since they were foragers. The Hutu stayed in in their settlements in Rwanda, Burundi and Congo until the 5th to the 11th century, the Nilotic cattle herders, Tutsi, emerged from their Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somali) to settle amongst them. The WaTutsi in settling amongst the the Hutus - adopted their language, beliefs and customs. Kings, or Bahinza, ruled over limited clan groups. The Hutu believed that the Bahinza could cause rain, protect crops from insects and cattle from decease. The Bahinza derived their power and status from this belief.
Over time, Hutu-Tutsi relations took the form of a client-patron contract called the ubuhake. At first, the agreement meant that Hutu could use Tutsi cattle in exchange for personal and military service. Over time ubuhake became a feudal-type class system through which land and cattle, and therefore power, were in the hands of the Tutsi minority. The Hutu indentured themselves to a Tutsi lord giving him agricultural products and personal service in exchange for the use of land and cattle.

                           Tutsi girls with their traditional female hairstyle at a wedding

At the apex of the class system was the Tutsi king, the Mwami. The Mwami was considered to be of divine origin. A myth tells of three children born in heaven fell to earth by accident, and one of these children, Kigwa, founded the most powerful Tutsi clan. The Mwami trace their lineage to this divine founder. In the middle of the 16th century, Mwami Mibambwe I Mutabazi was able to centralize the monarchy and reduced the power of neighboring chiefs. Early in the 19th century, Mwami Kigeri IV established the borders that were in place when the Germans arrived in 1894.
Exploration and Annexation Several European explorers came close to Rwanda in the 19th century, but none penetrated into Rwanda. Sir Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke in 1855 passed close to Rwanda in their search for the source of the Nile. Henry Morton Stanley, in 1876, also came into this region but did not go into Rwanda.
The 1885 Conference of Berlin declared the area that later became Rwanda and Burundi would be under German influence and control. It was 9 years after this conference that the first European traveled into Rwanda. This was the German Count von Götzen who later became the governor of German East Africa.
Rwanda and Burundi were located at the juncture of three empires and became the object of a diplomatic fight for possession. The Belgians and Leopold II, the Germans, and the British wanted possession of the territory. However, by 1910, and agreement handed control of Rwanda and Burundi to the Germans.
German Colonial Rule The Germans ruled indirectly through the political structure created by the Mwami. The Germans also conducted military operations against Hutu chiefs in the North that had not come under the Mwami's control. In the 1920s and 1930s the Germans ordered extensive coffee planting; they began to collect tax in cash, not in agricultural products in order to force the plantation of coffee. At his time the first missionaries also arrived in Rwanda. The White Fathers established missions and schools as early as 1903.
During World War I, the Belgians gained control of Rwanda and Burundi. After the war, on August 23, 1923,the League of Nations mandated Rwanda and Burundi under Belgian supervision.

                              Hutu vertical flute player

The Belgian Administration Under Belgian administration, the power of the Mwami was curtailed. They modified the ubuhake system and eliminated the paying of tribute. With the formation of the United Nations the Belgian mandate changed. The Belgians retained trusteeship but were required to integrate the Rwandans into the political process. This lead to limited political representation in the government. In 1952, Belgian implemented the Ten-Year Development Plan, a series of broad socioeconomic reforms in order to promote political progress and social stability; however, this program subsequently granted the Tutsi minority political, economic and social domination over the Hutu majority. In 1959, after seven years of escalating civil unrest between the Hutu and Tutsi, the Belgian administrators declared a state of emergency and called in ground forces and paratroopers from the Congo to restore order. In the same year, administrators called for the new election of communal councils in hopes of diffusing the imbalance of Tutsi power.

Juvénal Habyarimana (March 8, 1937 – April 6, 1994) was a ethnic hut man and the third President of the Republic of Rwanda, the post he held longer than any other president to date, from 1973 until 1994. He was nicknamed "Kinani", a Kinyarwanda word meaning "invincible".

With the support of the UN General Assembly, the Trusteeship Council recommended that the future success of the region depended on the formation of a single united Rwandan-Burundi State. Following the premature election of 1960, Belgian authorities granted de facto recognition to the republican Rwandan State in order to avoid more social unrest. Belgium, according to the UN General Assembly, was still accountable for fulfilling their Trusteeship agreement and was asked to supervise elections to ensure the establishment of stable transitional governments in both Burundi and Rwanda. However in April of 1962, both countries decided that a political union was impossible due to the unresolvable long-standing historical antagonism between their two republics.On June 27, 1962, the General Assembly voted to terminate the Belgian Trusteeship Agreement, and days later Rwanda attained independence.
Post-Independence: In 1962 Rwanda became independent, with Gregoire Kayibanda, leader of PARMEHUTU, as president. A new constitution was ratified. Soon after, in 1963, the Tutsi invaded Rwanda but were repelled. In retaliation, over 12,000 Tutsis were massacred by the Hutu, while countless Tutsis fled the country. The following year, the economic union of Rwanda and Burundi was terminated; Rwanda introduced its own national unit of currency, the Rwanda franc. In, 1969 Kayibanda was reelected to a second four-year term. Kayibanda's presidency came to an end in 1973 when he was overthrown in a bloodless coup led by Major General Juvenal Habyarimana. The constitution of 1962 was partially suspended, and the National Assembly dissolved. At the Bujumbura Conference of 1974, Zaire, Burundi and Rwanda agreed to cooperative action in defense and in economic affairs. In 1975, Habyarimana launched Le Movement Revolutionaire National pour le Development (MRND) as the nation's sole political party and he was, in single-party legislative balloting, reelected president in 1983 and 1988.

Hutu and Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, in a Rwandan court, wearing the pink prison uniform, and shaved head, of Rwandan prisoners.

The Civil War began in 1990 when between 5,000 and 10,000 rebel Tutsi invaded Rwanda from neighboring Uganda; Habyarimana and the rebels agreed to a cease-fire on March 29, 1991. On June 6, 1991, the president signed a new Constitution legalizing opposition parties. The MRND changes its name to the Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MRNDD). In October Dr. Sylvestre Nsanzimana, the former deputy Secretary-General of the OAU, was appointed to the new post of prime minister. On November 7, seven parties were legalized. On December 30, the new Parti Démocrate Chrétien (PDC) joined the MRNDD in a coalition government formed by Dr. Nsanzimana. The leading opposition parties, MDR, PSD, LP and PSR, refused to participate in talks concerning their cooperation in the coalition unless a prime minister was elected from a party other than the MRNDD.
On February 11, 1992President Habyarimana began new talks with the newly legalized opposition parties, now numbering 12, on forming a multiparty government. In March the MDR, PL, and PSD reached an agreement with the president on forming "a transitional government," on entering into debate on the issue of the National Conference, on general elections, on the refugee problem, and on opening talks with the RDF. The government signed an agreement at Arusha on July 14 and a cease-fire to begin on July 31. On September 18, a joint document was signed at Arusha on a political settlement that including power sharing among the parties. Agreement on presidential power in the proposed transition period was reached on October 12. With several political matters unsettled, a partial protocol was signed on October 31, providing for an executive cabinet headed by a prime minister and a president with reduced powers. After a three-day meeting of the ministers of the Interior and Justice of Rwanda and Burundi, the two sides agreed on November 24 on several measures including the control of refugee activities, actions against arms trafficking, the completion of border demarcation and appealed to the media for restraint.
Even though, in 1993, the government and the RPF sign an agreement on power sharing at Arusha on January 10, ethnic violence broke out in February, resulting in hundreds of deaths among both Hutus and Tutsis. With Tanzania's mediation, the government and the RPF agreed to a new cease-fire beginning March 9; the accord further stipulated the departure of foreign troops from Rwanda and their replacement by a UN-OAU force. A UN Security Council resolution reached in June established the Uganda-Rwanda Observer Mission (UNOMUR). The Rwandan government and the RPF signed a new peace agreement on August 4 at Arusha. Hopes for peace were soon disappointed, as obstacles to peace arose. Opposition to the deal grew among the Hutu majority, initially led by the CDR, which refused to participate in the proposed interim assembly. The CDR set up a broadcasting station, Radio/TV Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which denounced the Arusha agreement. The UN Security Council voted on October 5 to establish a new force for Rwanda in accordance with the Arusha agreement.
When President Juvenal Habyarimana and the President of Burundi were killed on their return to Kigali from Dar es Salaam in 1994, ethnic violence erupted again with a vengeance. Allegedly, their aircraft was shot down from the ground, by persons still unknown. A short time after the crash, organized murders began in Kigali, mostly of Hutu opponents of the MRNDD and CDR, but included many Tutsis as well. The government fled to Gitarama and the RPF approached the capital. Thousands were killed in Kigali by April. The killing of Tutsis then spread to other parts of Rwanda and continued unabated for weeks. The Rwandan government forces were no match for the RPF and were forced steadily to retreat.
In mid-June, the French government announced that 2,500 French troops would be sent into Rwanda to set up a `safe zone' in the south-west, with the goal of preventing further deaths. The Security Council approved the French intervention, called Operation Turquoise, on June 22. French forces first landedin Zaire, then crossed into Rwanda and set up the `safe area' on the south-western Zaire border. By this time it was estimated that half a million people had been killed in a period of only a few weeks On July 4, the RPA completed the capture of Kigali and also took Butare, Ruhengeri, and Gisenyi. Except for the French-occupied zone, the RPF now controled all of Rwanda, and France promised to hand over the zone to UN forces.

                         Marginalized Rwandan Hutu family

On July 17, the RPF announced that one of its leaders, Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, had been chosen to be President of Rwanda. The next day, the RPF declared that the war was over. Though the fallen regime continued to maintain that it was still Rwanda's rightful government and pledged to renew the war, a measure of stability was gained when other countries quickly recognized the new government.
On November 25, a new Transitional National Assembly of 70 representatives was inaugurated in Kigali in accordance with the Arusha accord. The MRNDD was excluded, its seats distributed among other parties.
Early in December, a panel of three African jurists, Atsu Koffi Amega of Togo, Haby Dieng of Guinea, and Salifou Fomba of Mali, presented a study of the murder of Tutsis to the UN. It concluded that "[o]verwhelming evidence points to the fact that the extermination of Tutsi by the Hutu was planned months in advance. The massacres were carried out mainly by Hutus in a determined, planned, systematic and methodical manner, and were inspired by ethnic hatred." It also argued that there were "serious reasons to conclude that Tutsis also carried out massacres, summary executions, violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity with regard to Hutus."
Early in1995, on January 7, President Bizimungu met with the presidents of Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, and the Prime Minister of Zaire to discuss Rwanda's domestic difficulties and the problem of refugees.

                          Hutu kids of Congo refugee camp

On January 11 there was an attack on the RPA by the army of the former government. In March about 2.5 million Hutu refugees remained in Zaire, Burundi, and Tanzania, either from reluctance or inability to return. New refugees were still leaving Rwanda to join them. Hutu refugees were unwilling to return to Rwanda even when thousands left Burundi camps in late March, for fear that they would be attacked by Tutsis in Burundi, where an internal crisis had arisen in which Tutsi extremists were thought to be closely allied to the RPF leadership in Kigali.

Victoire Ingabire, a hutu and Rwandan opposition leader in a Rwandan court, wearing the pink prison uniform, and shaved head, of Rwandan prisoners.

On February 22, the UN Security Council decided that the International Tribunal for Rwanda should convene at Arusha; it called on governments throughout the world to arrest suspects. Later, the OAU Committee for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution met at Tunis on April 20-21 and called for the rapid institution of a tribunal. Within Rwanda, judicial proceedings began; a massive number of arrests, as high as 23,000, quickly clogged an inadequate legal and penal system. Many detainees died in custody from illness and overcrowding, at rates as high as 300 per week. In April 1995, a new Rwandan political organization, the Rassemblement pour le Retour de la Democrate au Rwanda (RRD, was inaugurated at Bukavu in Zaire, claiming to represent the Hutu refugees. It maintained that it was distinct from the MRNDD, but its leadership was kept secret. In December, the International Tribunal on Rwanda made its first formal indictments for genocide, charging eight unnamed local officials in Kibuye with the crime.
Genocide trials began in Rwanda in December 1996. By June 31, 1997, 142 cases had been tried. Eight defendants were acquitted and 61 sentenced to death. International human rights organizations denounced the trials as unfair, mainly on grounds that most defendants did not have access to adequate legal representation and had been unable to cross-examine witnesses. In late 1996, the Alliance des Forces Democrates pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL) led by Laurent Kabila broke up the main Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire. In May 1997, Kabila assumed power in Zaire, changing the country's name to the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the end of the year, RPA and Angolan troops remained in Rwanda.

                             Displaced D R Congo Hutu people at Goma
The Hutu economy is almost exclusively agriculturally based. More than 90% of the population makes its livelihood by producing food crops or through industrial work involving the processing of crops. Agriculture contributes more than 40% of the nation's GDP. The most fertile agricultural areas in the country are the mountain regions forming the Congo-Nile watershed and the central plateau, where two crops can normally be harvested each year. Principal food crops include bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, sorghum and beans. Principal export crops include coffee, tea, pyrethrum, cotton and cinchona.

                             Hutu farmers and animal breeders at a market in DR Congo

Cattle have played an important political and social role in the country under the Tutsi, whose dominance was traditionally based on the ubuhake (a feudal patron-client relationship based on possession of cattle). Most farmers have some livestock, though animal husbandry is generally considered a supplemental source of income.

Traditional Hutu houses are huts made from wood, reeds, and straw and are shaped like beehives. High hedges serve as fences. In recent years, modern houses have been built with modern materials.

The staple foods of the Hutu include beans, corn, millet, sorghum, sweet potatoes, and cassava. Milk and beef are important foods. Goat meat and goat milk are eaten by people of low social status. Meals are often planned around a family's work schedule.
An alcoholic drink made from bananas and sorghum grain is saved for special occasions.

Commercial trade
Hutu crafts include pottery, woodwork, jewelry, metal work, and basket weaving.
Hutu basket weaver

Sexual division of production:
The main priorities of women are childbearing, childcare, and housework. However, in many rural areas, women also work in agriculture through planting because “their fertility is believed to be transferred to the seeds.” Women are never seen holding high, respected positions, and men handle most of the production of goods.
Veiled Hutu girl from Ruhengeri, northwestern Rwanda. Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

 Land tenure:
Originally the Hutu were the land owners before the Tutsi arrived with cattle from the Horn of Africa. However, in the fifteenth century, the Tutsi ethnic groups gradually became the owners of the land, and the Hutu worked for them. This is called “cattle clientage,” which means that the Hutu “cared for the land and the cattle but did not own it.” This caused the Hutu people to ultimately become possessions of the Tutsi, which was called ubugabire. When the country of Burundi gained independence in 1962, the ubugabire system gradually decreased by 1977. The majority of land is still owned by the Tutsi today , and the class division still exists in other sectors of the economy as well

                         Burundian Hutu kids
Because the rainy season in Burundi is quite long and there is no farming or harvesting during this time, the Hutu people find a cure to their boredom through art, including ceramics. These ceramics are the tan color of the earth or dyed black.

Sebagabo Simon (2004:21) affirms that the semantic change of Rwandan Burundi terminologies to create ethnic concept in Rwanda is a root cause of genocide genesis. These terms have undergone different meaning change according to periods. In pre-colonial period, the term “Ubwoko” means clannish identity, which is a group of families who originate from the same family and have a common ancestor. Rwanda has 20 clans refered to as ubwoko in Kinyarwanda, namely Abanyiginya, Abagesera, Abega, Ababanda, Abacyaba, Abasinga, Abashambo, Abahinda, Abazigaba, Abungura, Abashingwe, Abenengwe, Abasita, Abatsobe,
Abakono, Abanyakarama, Abarihira, Abahondogo, Abashambo, and Abongera. These clans were mainly used as Rwandan and burundi identity. When you ask an old man or woman in Kinyarwanda language to mention their identity, he or she replies by naming the different clans such as Umugesera, Umunyiginya, Umushambo and so on. This is different from western concept of Umutwa, Umuhutu and Umututsi confused to ethnic group.

                                                    HUTU%        TUTSI%           TWA%
ABANYIGINYA                         53.50              41.50
ABASINDI                                  88.16              11.52                0.32
ABEGA                                        74.38              25.07                0.54
ABASINGA                                 93.48              6.25                  0.26
ABASHAMBO                            63.07              36.70                0.21
ABAGESERA                              93.57              5.87                  0.54
ABAKONO                                 32.57              67.43
ABATSOBE                                 54.96              43.40                1.63
ABAHA                                       19.90              78.15                 1.94
ABABANDA                               94.12              4.98                   0.88
ABAZIGABA                               93.92             5.53                    0.53
ABACYABA                               87.14             12.76                   0.08
ABUNGURA                               95.94             3.69                     0.48
Table 1: Distribution of clans per social classes
When colonialists arrived in Rwanda, they started to learn the Rwandan culture from political, social, and religious perspectives. On the religious aspect, they decided to bring a new religion, Christianity. However, because of poor knowledge of Kinyarwanda, the local language, the colonialists failed to understand some concepts related to culture.

As far as ethnic conflict is concerned, colonization changed semantic meanings of Rwanda identity “Ubwoko, Umuhutu, Umututsi, Umutwa”. As explained above those terms have nothing with “Race or Ethnic” concept according to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) definition: “Ethnic group refers to a group whose members share a common language and culture” (see Akayezu, TC, para 513)
The totems known as ibirangabwoko in Kinyarwanda for these clans are :
umusambi                'crested crane'   for Abanyiginya/Abasindi/Abatsobe
inyamanza                'wagtail'            for Abagesera
sakabaka                 'black kite'        for Abasinga
ifundi                        'robin'              for Abungura
inkende                    'squirrel'           for Abahinda
ishwima '      animals tick-eater bird'  for Abahondogo
umuhari                      'jackal'            for Abasita
intare                         'lion'                for Abashambo
uruvu                        'chameleon'      for Abarihira
ingeragere                 'deer'               for Abongera.
igikeri                        'frog'               for Abega/Abakono
impyisi '                     hyena'             for Abacyaba/Ababanda
ingwe                       'leopard'           for Abazigaba and Abenengwe
                              Smiling Hutu woman
Moieties and Phratries
In the list of totems above, it was noted that some totems are shared with other clans . For instance, the crested crane is shared by three clans, namely Abanyiginya, Abasindi, and Abatsobe. The frog totem is shared by both Abega and Abakono. Abacyaba and Ababanda have the same totem hyena and the leopard totem belongs to both Abazigaba and Abenengwe. The only way to explain why these separate clans have the same totem is that they might be subclans of the same clan which split voluntarily or unvoluntarily. Social groups consciously and voluntarily separate from each other to create a new collective identity like the Christian Church or the Muslims who split into distinct groups but kept the same symbols and rituals. Social groups can also change collective identity due to migration and memory loss but keep their collective symbol because it is the only one that has not been erased from collective memory.
Abega and Abakono who share the same totem the frog, Abacyaba and Ababanda whose totem is the hyena and Abazigaba and Abenengwe whose totem is the leopard are probably moieties, groups with a common ancestry who split into two. Abanyiginya, Abasindi and Abatsobe would be a phyratry : a social group which was divided into three separate clans.
There is a possibility also that Abahinda whose totem is inkende ‘squirrel’ and who were the reigning dynastly in Karagwe, Tanzania before immigrating to Rwanda for unknown causes, might be related to Abazirankende, a subclan of Abagesera whose totem is the wagtail. Abazirankende means ‘those for whom the squirrel is a taboo’.
The only clans whose totems are not known are Abanyakarama who are supposed to have originated from Burundi and Abashingwe.
Clans as a social construction
It has been a long held belief that clans are natural social groups which are made up of people who are biologically related. The case of Rwanda shows this not to be the case. This is evidenced by two observations :First, endogamy is allowed within the same clan and second, the same clans and totems are interethnic.
Besides clans, Rwanda also has lineages called in Kinyarwanda imiryango whose singular form is umuryango. A lineage is a group of people related by descent from a common ancestry , igisekuru. The name of the lineage comes from the name of the common ancestor such as Abahidiro from Gahindiro, Abajiji from Bajiji, Abenebwimba from Bwimba, Abaganzu from Ruganzu, etc. Exogamy has to be practiced. Marrying somebody from the same lineage , however remoteit might be , would be considered as incest. Rwanda is a patriarchal and patrilineal society. Children take the ethnicity and the clan of their fathers. It is not the same with clans, however, endogamy is very common.
The other evidence that clans are not social groups which are genetically connected is the fact that although Rwanda has three distinct separate ethnic groups, namely Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, the three groups share the same clans and totems.
Clans and castes
Both clans and castes are social categories that people are born into. In many cases, one’s social status depends on which clan or caste one belongs to. It seems as if they are created to fulfill a societal need, especially in the area of work specialization and share of social responsibilities. Kings came from the Abanyiginya clan. Abatsobe clan provided royal ritualists, abiru, who memorized all rituals used in the new monarch’s coronation and were the keepers of all the royal secrets. The Abega and Abakono clans provided queens.
Abagesera, Abasinga and Abazigaba, which are referred as abasangwabutaka ‘primordial clans’ literally ‘the ones found on the land’, played the role of abase, ritualists for other clans.
They could perform all the rituals done by the head of the family of somebody from another clan if he was absent or do these rituals on the behalf of members of other clans because they were forbidden to do it themselves. Clans could also engage in the practice of guterana ubuse , which is about insulting each other for fun. In a sense, they are not different from the caste system of West Africa. Among the Fulani , for instance, an ethnic group found in many West African countries, clans are associated with castes. They have 12 castes which are not based on social hierarchy like the low and high castes in India and the Burachumins of Japan, but on work specialization instead. such as the caste of griots, the caste of wood carvers, the caste of blacksmiths, the caste of grave diggers, the caste of hunters, the caste of farmers, the cast of cattle herders, the caste of circumcizers, etc.
In some societies , clans have totemic features to distinguish themselves from other clans such as headwear, chestwear, armwear, tattoos, etc. Among the Pacific Northwest Indians such as Chinook, Haida, Nookta, Tlinkit or Hawaiians, clans have totem poless. For instance, the Haida have two clans with their respective totems the raven and the eagle. These two totems appear appear on their totem poles.
In Rwanda there is no physical symbol to designate the clan member. People know their clan membership and totem through oral tradition.
Totems and proper animal names
Totems don’t , in any way, differ from proper names. All are used for identification purposes. The only difference is that totems are a symbol for a group whereas proper names refer to individuals.

Religious Belief
Today most Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi are Christians. However, some traditional beliefs survive. Traditionally, WaTutsi  believe in Supreme being and a distant Creator God called Imaana. This god has the power to grant wealth and fertility. The king shares in this power. It can be seen in his sacred fire, royal drums, and rituals. Spirits of dead relatives, called abazima , carry messages between Imaana and the human world. However, the abazima may bring bad luck to those who do not respect them. People offer gifts to protect themselves from the abazima. They also try to learn the spirits' wishes by seeing fortune-tellers.

                                       Hutu woman praying
Culture and tradition
When a baby is born, the baby and mother stay alone in their house for seven days. A naming ceremony is held on the seventh day. Children who live nearby take part, and food is served.
Women take care of the home. They also plant, hoe, and weed the crops. Men and boys look after the livestock and clear the fields to prepare them for planting.

                                   Hutu kids from Burundi

In the past, the families of the bride and groom decided all marriages. These days most young people choose the person they want to marry. Marriages are legal when the man's family pays the bride wealth to the woman's family. It is paid in cattle, goats, and beer. For the ceremony, the bride's body is covered with herbs and milk to make it pure.
Marriages between Hutu and Tutsis have always been rare, although Hutu men were allowed to court Tutsi women. Such marriages occur more often today, but they are still uncommon.

                           Hutu girls performing traditional weeding dance
Music, dancing, and drumming are important parts of rural life. Men and women have different dances. The dancers move their arms and bodies quickly. They also stomp their feet in time to the music. People sing alone (solo) or in a chorus. There are many different kinds of songs. They include hunting songs, lullabies, and songs in praise of cattle ( ibicuba ).
Hutu literature consists of myths, legends, and praise poetry.
Both young people and adults enjoy a game called igisoro (or called mancala in other parts of Africa). Beans are placed in holes in a wooden board. The players line up their own pieces in rows and try to capture those of their opponent.

In the past, Hutus wore skirts of cloth made from tree bark, and cloaks made of animal hides. These have long been replaced by Western-style clothing. However, handmade beaded necklaces and bracelets are still worn.

                                             Hutu woman

Death and afterlife beliefs:
When someone dies, it is marked by a period of prayers and rituals, and close family members of the deceased do not partake in specific activities, including working in the fields or having sexual relations. The family then declares when the mourning period is over, and a ritual feast is held



The Zairian/Congolese Abahutu (abantu) people live in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the border with Uganda and Rwanda. They resemble the Hutu people in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Their mother tongue is similar to Kinya-rwanda spoken in Rwanda, to Kirundi spoken in Burundi and to the gikiga spoken in Bufumbira, south-west Uganda. They form less than 5% of the entire Congolese population. They are found in the Kivu region in the actual districts of Nyiragongo, Rusthuru, Masisi, Walikale, Kalehe, Lubero and the town of Goma (the provincial capital city).

Before 1885, the Bahutu people (formerly known as the Congolese Hutus and discriminatively called Banyarwanda) were living in well structured kingdoms united and led by the "umwami"(meaning the "king"). The Germans are the first western society to have visited the kingdoms.
Abahutu at creation recognized and identified themselves as “abantu” (singular “Umuntu”) meaning a "human being". The abahutu oral tradition is silent about the origins of the word “Hutu”.  Some people believe the word emerged well before 19th century. Arabs-traders had infiltrated the African great lakes region well before the 19th century. At that time the Arabic and the “African” languages (the Bantus languages as we will see latter) symbiosis resulted into the "Kiswahili" language we know today. A human being was then identified in Swahili as “muTU’. It is then said that Whites arrived in one of the Bahutu kingdoms. Pointing the finger to a citizen of the abahutu kingdom, the Whites asked one of the African servant who was with them” who is that?". The African guider replied he is a" Umuntu", meaning "a human being". The Whites exclaimed " u'm'Hutu" trying to pronounce correctly in Swahili what the African guider has just told them. The Whites spread the news that they saw a" 'Hutu". The word HUTU was thus born. Latter in 19th century the western powers explored central Africa. The abahutu oral tradition states that when Europeans came to the abahutu empire they asked the king “who are those”? The king said "n’abantu" meaning they are human beings. The European captured the word "Bantu". The word "Bantu" was thus born. Latter all African communities who related to a human being as a "NTU" were called "baNTU" people and belonged to the "BANTU" ethnic group known today. A human being is called “umuntu” in the language spoken by Abahutu. However the word “Umuntu” (plural "Abantu”) used in capital letter would as realized above mean a “Umuhutu” (plural "Abahutu").
For long time people believed the words Hutu, Tutsi and Twa were created in Rwanda and Burundi by Belgium to divide and therefore to better rule over those two countries (Machiavelli principle: divide to better rule). Scientists are no longer accepting that thesis that the words were created by Belgians in order to rule over the two countries. Belgium only had control over the two countries in the 20th century soon after the World War I. However Belgium introduced the presence of ethnic group on identity card. In case of Rwanda, it was in 1933 that Belgium instituted the rule to add Hutu, Tutsi and Twa on the National Identity card.
Many scientists are now studying in-depth the hypothesis that Bahutu are actually one of the biggest ethnic Bantus group and that they are the major components of the Bantu people. These findings would be useful in Congo-DRC as discussed below. Abahutu originally were part of the great empire that extended from actual south-west Uganda to Eastern DRC, to Rwanda, to Burundi and to north-western Tanzania. This empire was divided into kingdoms that were administered and led by the “umwami” (resulting in the word umwami meaning a king). In some parts of Eastern DRC the descendents of the “umwami” are still leading the Abahutu community. In the district of Rutshuru the Abahutu united around their "umwami" Ndeze kept the abahutu traditional power throughout colonization and Mobutu regime. Mr. Ndeze is amongst the descendants of the "umwami".
Victoria Ingabire is a Hutu and Rwandan opposition leader

The Abahutu kingdom was kind of independent. One would say in today's language that there was federalism in the Abahutu Empire. The most close kingdoms to the Congolese abahutu organizational structure were the Hutu kingdoms in North-Rwanda (in the Bushiru, Murera, Bukamba, Buhoma, Bugoyi) and in South-West Uganda (in the Bufumbira). All these kingdoms spoke the same language. There are three hypotheses on the language that was spoken by Abahutu originally. Some schools think it is “kihutu”, others say it is “Kinyarwanda” (the actual Rwandan national language), and others stipulate that it is “kibantu”. Seemingly the Kihutu is the language spoken by the Bahutu people (in Eastern DRC). Linguistics however identify numerous horizontal variations within the kihutu language. 
With the colonization era the fate of the Bahutu people lacked consideration. The Berlin conference in Germany in 1885 resulted in the tearing apart of Abahutu kingdoms as Germany, Great Britain and King Leopold II of Belgium shared the colonies in central Africa. After 1885, the Abahutu were divided into Eastern Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, North-Western Tanzania and southern Uganda. However the Eastern Congo border is only traced latter in 1911 following agreements regarding precise border markings between King Leopold II (Belgium) (taking Congo), Great Britain (taking Uganda) and Germany (taking Ruanda and Urundi).The border markings between Congo and Ruanda were drafted at the Brussels Convention on 11 August 1910. Latter the convention was approved by the 14 June 1911 Law. Following this division Abahutu families found separated from their family relatives and friends across the Eastern Congo border. Some members were living in Congo on one hand and the other relatives living either in Ruanda (actual Rwanda) or in Uganda on the other hand. Migration between these families took place voluntarily and unofficially. This is important to understand the issues around "Transplants", a "discriminative word" used in DRC to identify the immigrants from Rwanda during Belgian colonial rule era.
Following the First World War (1914-1919), Germany lost the war campaign and lost the control of Ruanda and Burundi. These two German colonies were placed under Belgium trustee by the Society of Nations (actual UNITED NATIONS-UN). Belgium encouraged and supported movements’ across the eastern Congo border towards 1937-1955 mainly from Ruanda into Congo. The highly populated Ruanda, the well structured Abahutu kingdoms (Bushiru, Bugoyi, Buhoma, Burera etc, in Ruanda) and the hard work and loyal spirits of Abahutu people on one hand and the increasing need for human resources in the Eastern Congo to work in the Belgian commercial and wide scale farms on the other hand motivated the Belgium into encouraging and supporting the migration. Belgium latter even recruited Abahutu from Ruanda-Urundi to go and work in the mines as far as Kipushi, Kolwezi, Likasi in the Katanga province, deep in Congo far several miles away from Ruanda-Urundi. Belgium felt the Abahutu had particular social structures that entrusted the hard work and the loyal spirit.
Early 1902 Germany also had noticed the highly populated Ruanda and Urundi and was thinking of organizing migration of some of the Abahutu into the actual Tanzania (that was also a German colony). Soon after Ruanda-Urundi was put under Belgian trustee by the Society of Nations (actual United Nations) Belgium realized some emigration is needed in the highly populated Ruanda. In 1926 Belgium studied the Ruanda migration file. The conclusions of the study were drawn in 1936. However migration of population between Congo and Ruanda did not cease when the Berlin Conference divided central Africa. Borders did not make sense to the population. Relatives and family members continued to visit each other and to move and settle wherever they wished to across the “Berlin borders". The Kivu region (including North-Kivu, South-Kivu and Maniema provinces)(currently famously known to be red zone of war crimes by the rebels and militia) was only created by Belgium in 1933.It is quite clear that Belgians did not force any "Umuhutu" {(singular word meaning 1 (a) Congolese Hutu)[ 2(more than one) umuhutu = Abahutu]} into migration but they simply encouraged, supported and financed the migration. It is clear that Rwanda and Burundi are German colonies. They were just put under trustee to Belgium.
"Nyirarukundo" an elderly lady who lived in "Rusho (murugano)" county in "Masisi "(unfortunately passed away in 1999 at the age of 80 years!) Explains" they brought to us big potatoes and informed the land across the lake (currently known as Lake Kivu) is fertile"!"..." My husband and I decided to go and see as well as others were going to settle there. We first settled in the area down the Nyiragongo volcano. It was all bushes. No people lived there. One day as I went to fetch water down the river I escaped death from a lion threat. When I went back home, I forced my husband to leave and we went back to Bushiru (region of North-Rwanda). Few months latter we decided to cross again. This time we settled in Rusho. It was all bushes. Now the fields are all green!”
The Belgian's motivation was driven by the already existing self-initiated movement across the eastern Congo border. This is crucial to understanding subsequent conflicts that arose around migration.
With independence of the Congo on 30 June 1960, Abahutu acquired the Congolese citizenship as all Congolese.  Before independence they freely contributed to the management of the province and the country. After independence they continued to be part of the administration until Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngwendu wa Zabanga came to power and the "kanyarwanda" war took off in the Kivu region. Abahutu people were massacred and were being forced to leave the Kivu region. President Mobutu made it worse latter in 1971. He stripped off the Abahutu people citizenship pretending they were transplants "aliens". But at the same time he failed to chase them from the Kivu region as they were tightly rooted there and some of their family members were settled in the Kivu region well before the 19th century. The consequences were multiple. The Abahutu people were not protected by any state and were apatrid. At the same time Mobutu needed support of the Abahutu in the region. So he decided to unofficially ('verbally") "give" citizenship to the Abahutu native of the Rutshuru district. This was apparently a way of dividing the mighty Abahutu ethnic group in the Eastern Congo-DRC. Abahutu were victimized and marginalized for more the 33 years Mobutu was on power in Congo-DRC (that he named Zaire in 1972). This confusion arisen during the 33 years rule of Mobutu constitutes the major source of the current crisis in the Kivu region.
With the multiple political parties in Zaire in 1990, Abahutu stood up for their rights and wanted to claim their ultimate right, the right to citizenship. The issue of nationality was raised by the civil society and discussed in the Sovereign National Conference. On the 20 March 1993 they were severely oppressed and massacred. Mobutu government sponsored Maimai militia, in the name of kivu region autochthons, attacked the poor defenseless Abahutu peasants in the farms in the districts of walikale and Masisi in Ntoto, Mokoto, Nyaripi, Katoyi, etc.
With the arrival of Kabila Laurent Desire and the AFDL rebellion they were subsequently massacred. Most of them had welcomed Rwandan Hutu refugees in their lands and have assisted them with food and shelter. This did not please most of the Rwandan-Ugandan-Burundian supported rebellion that latter toppled Mobutu and installed an anti-Abahutu regime in Kinshasa. Wide scale massacres continued against Abahutu people in Eastern DRC. The United Nations Commission for Human Rights sent a delegation in the Kivu region to investigate the massacres and wide scale crimes committed against Abahutu people and the Rwandan Hutu refugees in 1996-1998. The delegation was led by Mr. Roberto Garreton. Reports of the Roberto Garreton investigations still sit in the United Nations offices. They were discussed once at the UN and were put in the drawers and until today they remain pending.
The Kivu region remains torn by wars. The Congolese minorities like Zairian Congolese Abahutu in the kivu region might be crashed by the fighting in the Eastern Congo where control over the African Great lakes region seems to become an international conflict.
Following a couple of consortium in Congo it was discovered that other Congolese people tend to marginalize Abahutu because they feel they are not Congolese, they are called “Hutus” (identical to the Hutus of Rwanda and Burundi) and are identified as Rwandophons (people speaking kinyarwanda-a national language of another country). The fact that Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda makes it difficult. Congolese feel people whose mother tongue is Kinyarwanda are merely “Rwandese” (have Rwandan citizenship). This is a wrong school of thought and the Congolese government has to work hard to educate all the Mobutu generation and the subsequent generations about the right school of thought. Kinyarwanda is just a horizontal variation of the Kihutu , the Abahutu original language that was rendered a national language in Rwanda by the Rwandan Hutu regime soon after independence of Rwanda in 1962.

In recent research scientists stipulate that it would be beneficial to the Congolese government to draw a policy to emphasize the fact that “Abahutu are Congolese not transplants-aliens, have the rights in DRC as any other citizen of DRC and speak “Kihutu”. The Kihutu should be known amongst the 332 Congolese dialects as a language spoken by Abahutu people.  Thus the false umbilical cord mistakenly linking Abahutu to Rwandese would be eradicated from the minds of Congolese people taken in hostage by the Mobutu controversial rules on citizenship. The Abahutu are Congolese Hutu  and speak the Kihutu.