The Tutsi or Abatutsi are Nilo-Hamitic but Bantu-speaking people living in the Central African countries of Rwanda, Burundi, and the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Historically, they were cattle-herding people often referred to as the Watutsi, Watusi, or the Wahuma and they constitute the second largest population division among the three largest groups in Rwanda and Burundi, the other two being the Hutu (largest) and the Twa (smallest). The Tutsi ethnic group is measured as one of the tallest people in the world, at an average of 6 feet 6 inches tall.
Watusi Girl from Rwanda in her traditional Mutusi dressing and hairstyle. Circa 1971. Credit:© Paul Almasy/CORBIS

The Northern Tutsi that live in Rwanda are called Ruguru (Banyaruguru), while southern Tutsi that live in Burundi are called Hima and the Tutsi that live on the Kivu plateau in the Congo and they are called Banyamulenge. The word Banyamulenge ("Ba-nya-mulenge") can be divided into parts. The prefix "banya" means "people"; "Mulenge" is the name of a region near the city of Bakavu. The whole word means "people of Mulenge."

"Tutsi hunters- Intore dancers performing the ceremonial lion dance. The headdress is symbolic of a lion's mane.

Tutsis were very light-colored, tall and quite than their Bantu-Hutu and pygmoid Twa people as a result they were treated in preferential aristocratic manner by the early white explorers, settlers,  The Germans (from 1890s until World War I [1914–18]) and the Belgian imperialist that ruled Congo, Rwanda and Burundi from 1919-1962. The Tutsi were stereotyped racially as “very tall, 1.8 meters, at least, often 1.9meters or more. He is very thin His features are very fine: a high brow, thin nose and fine lips framing beautiful shining teeth.” The Hutu people were generally stereotyped racially as “short and thick-set with a big head, a jovial expression, a wide nose and enormous lips”(Eller 200).
King of Rwanda with Belgian general
Tutsi King of Belgian Rwanda and a Belgian General

The light colored Tutsi`s were seen to be akin to the whites and were elevated to higher standard, whilst that dark-skinned Bantu Hutus were looked down upon. In fact, German`s in particular saw Tutsis like themselves and were against copulation between Tutsis, whom they saw as superior race, and the Hutus, who were inferior to them. It is historically acknowledged that the Germans used Tutsi-Hutu ethnicity to experiment anti-miscegnation laws in Africa long before Hitler started it in Germany. 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.” Rwanda's 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.
The Tutsi mythology story also depicts their own version of superiority over the Hutu and Twa peoples. With specific reference to eighteenth-century myth on caste system, it states that: "The nwami [King] testing his sons gave them milk to guard. Gatutsi (Tutsi) stayed awake all night and return the full pot of Milk to his father the next day. Gahutu (Hutu) who became tired, dozed off  and let the milk spill half of its content onto the ground. Gatwa (Twa) became thirsty and drank all his father`s milk. As a result the nwami choose Gatutsi as his successor, pronouncing that he was 'forever exempt from physical labour.' Gahutu was made his serf, and Gatwa was expelled from society, assuming the status of the untouchable."
Watutsi King Charles Mutara Rudahigwa, Ruler Of Belgian Congo walking with his wife. Circa 1955

The colonial stereotype that the Tutsi are of great height continues to be perpetuated in recent biblical scholarship. In a 1996 biblical commentary on the book of Deuteronomy/Debarim, Jeffrey Tigay attempts to defend the essential historicity of the biblical accounts of Giants in Palestine (the Anakim) in this manner:
It is conceivable that there were some exceptionally tall people in the area, comparable to the Watusi of central Africa, who often exceed seven feet in height-(Jeffrey Tigay, Deuteronomy, Debarim, Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Commentary; Philadelphia and Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society, 1996: 17.)
It must be emphasized that, though the Tutsi were the minority population, however, most of the upper-class rulers in Rwanda are Tutsi. A system of cattle trading helped keep peace among the different groups. The wealthier people (often Tutsi) lent cattle to the poorer ones (often Hutu). In return they gained their labor, loyalty, and political support.
According to some historians, like Congolese Professor George Izangola, the only difference between the two groups were economic, rather than ethnic. In a 1996 interview with Charlayne Hunter Gault, Professor Izangola explained:  "In Rwanda, the Tutsi and the Hutu are the same people. They are all people--large grouping or communities which go from seven regions of Cameroon to Uganda--all the way to South Africa, in the same culture," Izangola said. "People used to be Tutsi or Hutu, depending on the proximity to the king. If you were close to the king, you owned wealth, you owned a lot of cattle, you are a Tutsi. If you are far away from the king, you are a cultivator, you don't own much cattle, you are a Hutu."

                               Watusi cow from Rwanda

Cattle herding has always carried a higher status among the Tutsi than farming. In the past there was a special class of herders, called abashumba , who took care of the king's prize cattle ( inyambo ). In the time past, Watusi men were renowned for their flamboyant hairstyles.
Watusi man with traditional hairstyle

Tutsis 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 Tutsis speak French, the third official language of Rwanda and Burundi, as their lingua franca. Tutsi who have been refugees in Uganda may also 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'

                           Intore dancers in Rwanda
Tutsi folklore includes poetry, proverbs, folk tales, riddles, and myths. Some Tutsis used to know the names of their ancestors at least six generations back. Many believed they were descended from a mythical king named Gihanga.
One popular folk tale tells the story of Sebgugugu. He was a poor man who was helped by God. God performed miracles to provide food for him and his family. However, each time Sebgugugu wanted more. Through his greed, Sebgugugu lost everything in the end.

                                 Tutsu dancers

The Nilo-Hamitic and pastoralist Tutsi people migrated from the lower Nile areas in Ethiopia and Somalia in group of clans “Ubwoko” and came to settle on southwestern land of what Tutsi call Havila or the African Great Lakes Region, consisting of Burundi, Rwanda, and parts of Uganda, Tanzania and the Congo. In this region, these clans reconstituted the South Kushitic Empire, which lasted from 1270 CE to 1527 CE.

Note the similarities. The prove that Tutsi were from lower Nile. Pharoah Ramses II - small circles on crown indicates wooly hair and a Modern Watusi - the crown can only be cut from wooly hair.

The evidence of Tutsi`s Nilotic origin been proven right by the modern-day genetic studies that the Tutsi have considerably more Nilo-Saharan paternal lineages (14.9% B) than the Hutu (4.3% B). The studies on the the Y-chromosome suggested that the Tutsi, like the Hutu, are largely of Bantu extraction (80% E1b1a, 15% B, 4% E3). Paternal genetic influences associated with the Horn of Africa and North Africa are few (1% E1b1b), and are ascribed to much earlier inhabitants who were assimilated.
Africa |  "Mututsi Coiffure".  Rwanda || Scanned old postcard
"Mututsi Coiffure". Rwanda || Scanned old postcard, Circa 1910

Without digressing, these cattle herders, Tutsi, came to meet the agrarian Bantu Hutu people who were already settled on Rwanda and Burundi lands from the 5th to the 11th century and their social structure was based on the clan. 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.
Africa | Portrait of H.M. Mutara Rudahigwa, former King of Rwanda | Photographer unknown
Portrait of H.M. Mutara Rudahigwa, former King of Rwanda |

As it has already been hinted, the Tutsi first migration into the area was around the 14th century. It was probably not one large, sudden invasion but a slow process that was mostly peaceful. The Tutsi used their ownership of cattle, advanced combat skills to achieve economic, political, and social control over the Hutu. Eventually, land ownership was taken away from the Hutu and became the property of the Tutsi king, or Mwami.

                               Tutsi girl

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.
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.
Leila Roosevelt with Tutsi King Rudahigwa IV Mutare (LIFE, 20 June 1938, p. 44)

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.
WaTusi girls, Circa 1890

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.
Africa | Last queen of Rwanda, Rosalie Gicanda, married King Mutara Rudahigwa (Mutara II) in 1942.  Mutara was a Tutsi tribesman | Photographer and date of this photo unknown.
Last queen of Rwanda, Rosalie Gicanda, married King Mutara Rudahigwa (Mutara II) in 1942. Mutara was a Tutsi tribesman 

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.
Tutsi man

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.

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.
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.
Tutsi Singer

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.

                               Burundi Tutsi in ceremonial dress

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.
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.

Tutsi. Umuhara song of spirits

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.
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.

                              Hutu man playing Inanga

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.

Traditional Tutsi houses were huts of wood, reeds, and straw shaped like beehives. Around them were high hedges that served as fences. Modern Tutsi build rectangular houses with Western-style building materials. These houses have corrugated iron or tile roofs.

 Tutsi like all the Nilotic groups in East Africa were traditionally pastoralists. The reared cattle and depended on their neighbors for most agricultural produce. This situation makes the Tutsi became very rich because owning any sort of producing animal would bump you up the ladder the social ladder.

                            WaTusi cow

However, in recent times, most Tutsi are into small-scale farming which is largely dependent on rain.

Milk, butter, and meat are the most highly valued foods. However, people will only kill a cow on a special occasion. Goat meat and goat milk are also eaten. However, they are eaten secretly because it is against Tutsi customs. Tutsi in rural areas consume milk products, bananas, and sorghum beer. Meals are arranged around work schedules.
Alcoholic beverages are made from bananas and sorghum. People drink them on special occasions.

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

Land tenure:
In Rwanda, originally in effect in the fifteenth century, the Tutsi ethnic groups own 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.

The Tutsi people focus more on the art of basketry rather than ceramics. Basket making in this ethnic group is “the most widespread form of artistic expression

Tutsi Clans
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

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.
Tutsi people of burundi

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.
Tutsi Woman
Tutsi woman

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. In many cultures, words referring to animals are used as proper names, as shown by Kinyarwanda and American Indian names below.

                                        Tutsi dancers
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.

Culture and tradition
Tutsi and Hutu families are patrilineal (the family name is passed on by males). In the past, marriage in Rwanda and Burundi was based on the relations between the two families. Today most Tutsis choose the person they will marry.
 Tutsi and Hutu rites of passage are very similar. The first one, the naming ceremony, takes place seven days after a child's birth.
Marriage is made legal by payment of the bride wealth. It is paid by the groom's family to the bride's family because they are losing her labor. There is no ritual other than marriage to mark the beginning of adulthood.

                      Tutsi marriage ceremony

Royal dancing and drumming groups performed for the kings of Rwanda and Burundi. For rituals, two dozen tall drums were placed around a central drum. The drummers moved around the drums in a circle. Each one took a turn beating the central drum. This style of drumming is still practiced, and it has been recorded.

Singing, dancing, and drumming are important in rural life. People compose many kinds of songs—hunting songs, lullabies, and ibicuba (songs praising cattle).

A game called igisoro is popular with children and adults. It is played on a wooden board with holes for beads or stones. Players line up their pieces in rows and capture as many of their opponents' pieces as they can. In other parts of Africa the game is known as mancala.
Death is marked by prayers, speeches, and limits on many activities. Close family members are supposed to avoid physical labor and sex after a death. When the mourning period ends, the family holds a ritual feast.

In the past, Tutsi men and women wore robes brought in from the African coast. A woman's costume included a white robe and white headbands. Today Western-style clothing is usually worn. Women wear dresses and scarves made from the printed cloth popular in East Africa. Men wear pants and shirts.
Africa | Watusi man wears sneakers but dresses his hair in old-fashioned way. Near Nyiragongo, Belgian Congo.  1950s. | ©W Robert Moore
Watusi man wears sneakers but dresses his hair in old-fashioned way. Near Nyiragongo, Belgian Congo. 1950s. | ©W Robert Moore

               Tutsi dancers

By Joan Casòliva

From the sixth century BC the Twas, pigmy hunters, penetrated the wooded mountains of Rwanda. During the sixth century AD Hutu crop farmers began to arrive in the region. In the eighth and ninth centuries and later during the twelfth and thirteenth, cattle-farming Tutsis arrived in Rwanda, and from the fourteenth century these herdsmen began to settle peacefully amongst the Hutus, living in symbiotic relationship with them. From the sixteenth century onwards the Tutsi principalities began military campaigns against the Hutus and killed their princes, whose genitals they cut, dried and preserved, and hung on royal drums in order to provide a continuous and humiliating reminder to the conquered Hutus of their subjectivity. Despite this the socio-economic oppositions were not yet very great.
During the nineteenth century the Tutsi kings reinforced their dominion. When the royal Nyiginya clan dominated the whole country, the Tutsis scattered amongst the Hutus were incorporated into the military units of the royal clan's central power, although they were not members of the aristocracy. In this fashion a species of hierarchical military caste was established that embraced the Tutsis and excluded the Hutus. A rupture was being created that was to develop further in the following century.
The socio-economic structure set up during the nineteenth century was totally hierarchical. The best positions were occupied by the Tutsis, with a very few exceptions for the Hutus and these in inferior positions. The Hutus, the Twas and a few Tutsi groups were at the bottom of the pyramid. Towards the end of the nineteenth century a deep divide separated the rich and powerful from the weak and poor. The dependency of the poor in respect to the rich took various forms, two power structures standing out above all: the Ubuhake and the uburetwa.
The Ubuhake, originally allies with rights and duties amongst the noble Tutsi families in protection of their interests, had converted this military aristocracy into a land-owning herdsmen aristocracy. According to the Ubuhake, the Hutu peasants had to hand over half of their crop to the mwami (king). This contributed to the impoverishment of the population and accentuated the division between the Hutu people and the Tutsi nobility, the beneficiaries of this new economic system. according to the Ubuhake, the Hutu peasants had to hand over half of their crop to the mwami (king)
In respect to the Uburetwa, C.M. Overdule writes:
“The immense majority of the Hutu people were subject to the uburetwa, which consisted in each man being obliged to work for two days a week (and the traditional week comprised five days) in the service of the Tutsi chief, and this without any form of payment. Generally the Tutsis were exempt from the uburetwa, even if they were not members of the nobility. In this way they procured a privileged status with regard to the great majority of Hutus.
The uburetwa was the most humiliating and extensive manifestation of the people's submission.
The weight of this load was an enormous obstacle for the men, preventing them from working sufficiently and regularly on their own land. This task fell mostly on the women who already bore the heavy charge of the house and the children. What is more, the latter could also be called to carry out tasks in the home of the Tutsi chief. All of this combined to provoke an unprecedented situation of misery amongst the Hutu majority who lived on a minimal diet and with the permanent threat of hunger”.
Already in the twentieth century the Belgian colonisation had a double effect on the socio-political system. On the one hand, from the outset Belgium reinforced the position of the dominant Nyiginya and Tutsi class, supporting the political hierarchy. The socio-economic weight of a Tutsi minority over the Hutu majority was reinforced. Thus Msr. Classe, Catholic Church Primate, told missionaries that they should give their support to the Tutsi chiefs and teach the Hutus submission as a Christian virtue. On the other hand, taken from the perspective of justice and idealism the Belgians, upheld by the missionaries who worked amongst the population, enforced a humanisation of the system with measures aimed at limiting the flagrant injustice and the excessive exploitation.
In 1958, when an educated Hutu group drew up a manifestation demanding social change, the royal court responded with a document that said, amongst other things, the following:
“It might well be asked how it is that the Hutus now claim their rights to the redistribution of the common patrimony. It is a matter of fact that the relationship between ourselves (Tutsis) and themselves (Hutus) has always been based on serfdom; there is not, then, any basis for fraternity between us. If our kings conquered the Hutu's country, killing their petty kings, and thereby subjecting the Hutus to servitude, how can they now aspire to be our brothers?”
Bishop Perraudin was a determinant in the process of Hutu emancipation. In his pastoral letter, 11-02-1959, he clearly stated:
“The rule of justice and of charity demands that a country's institutions truly guarantee all inhabitants the same fundamental rights and the same possibilities for human advancement and participation in public affairs. Institutions that consecrate a regime of privileges, favouritism, protectionism, whether for individuals or social groups, are not conforming with Christian morality”.
On the 1st of November 1959, an incident between young Tutsis and one of the Hutu leaders provided the spark for a popular revolution. In every area Tutsi properties were burned and some of them lost their lives. All in all between 01-11-59 and 31-05-61 (the date of the UN-proclaimed amnesty) the Belgian administration drew up a list of 74 official deaths, of which 61 were Hutus assassinated by the Tutsi militia who tried to detain the revolutionary movement. Some 150,000 Tutsis, especially chiefs and sub-chiefs, left the country. In 1961 a Republic was proclaimed and a provisional government formed. In that same year the UN, strongly influenced by the refugees' propaganda, refused to accept these events and demanded the organisation of a referendum under the vigilance of its observers, the result of which was an 80% vote of NO to the maintenance of the Tutsi monarchy. Once again, numerous Tutsis went into voluntary exile before the Republic was ratified.
Nevertheless, not all Tutsis left the country. The fall of the Nyiginya regime represented liberation for many of them too. To the eyes of the exiled aristocracy those who stayed became traitors to their own ethnicity. The general sentiment was that the Tutsi dictatorship had been definitively expelled: never again a Tutsi government!
The first President of an independent Rwanda was Gregoire Kayibanda. The initial years of his government were full of hope. The Hutu peasant masses entered into education and the country progressed despite the lack of resources. Up to 1967 the exiled Tutsis launched attacks against the country but without success. Overall, little by little the government was being concentrated in the hands of the people of central Rwanda, the President's homeland. The killings of 350,000 Hutus in Burundi in 1972 produced anti-Tutsi reactions in the Rwandan interior. All of this led to the State coup led by General Habyarimana in July of 1973.
The Habyarimana government managed well until the second half of the 1980s. In 1988 the World Bank presented Rwanda as a model of development, and the 1990 Amnesty International report was satisfactory in respect of human rights. Nonetheless, the power was being concentrated in the hands of the northern Hutus, in the President's region of origin, and in the second half of the 1980s it was apparent that some sectors in power were becoming corrupt whilst the country entered into regression, owing in part to external factors such as the drop in the coffee price, the country's main export.

In Burundi, the historical evolution is similar although with considerable differences. One of these has its origin in the composition of the Tutsi ethnic group that controls the two countries. Whilst in Rwanda the mwami (king) and the vast majority of the Tutsi chiefs belong to practically the same clan, in Burundi there was strong rivalry between the distinct Tutsi clans. The Banyaruguru, Bahima and Baganwa are the main clans. The mwami of Burundi came from the small Baganwa clan and was at war with the strong Banyaruguru clan. Throughout history these Baganwa kings had to rely on the aid of the Hutu population in order to avoid expulsion by the other Tutsi clans, and in many Hutus the conviction grew that the mwami was effectively their king.
With the Hutu majority's succession to power in Rwanda, the Tutsi minority, in fear of the same occurrence in their country, initiated a repressive strategy that involved a number of killings, amongst which the following stand out:
1966: State coup led by the Prime Minister Michael Micombero, army Colonel (Tutsi). He declares the Republic. The army initiates a purge of Hutu officials. The Hutus remain practically excluded from power.
1969: Killings of dozens of Hutu public figures, civilians as much as military.
1972-73: Killing of 350,000 Hutus by the State coup leader Michael Micombero. 300,000 Hutus leave for exile.
1988: The country's northern Hutus rebel against the land-owning Tutsis. The army intervenes, causing some 20,000 or more deaths amongst ethnic Hutus in a region of 130,000 inhabitants. Approximately 60,000 Hutus consider themselves obliged to take refuge in Rwanda.
1993: On the 1st of June Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, is elected President. He is the first civil President in Burundi's history. On the 21st of October he is assassinated by the Tutsi military. The Hutus react with the pre-planned self-defence strategy: there is blockade of roads with felled trees, trenches etc. They attack and assassinate Tutsis. The latter, terrorised, take refuge in the administrative buildings, awaiting the army's aid. The army (98% Tutsi) massacres the Hutu population. There are thousands of victims, missing persons, and refugees in neighbouring countries. It is impossible to determine the exact number of victims. The UNHCR estimates the number of persons displaced to the neighbouring territories of Zaire, Tanzania and Rwanda to be over 700,000. In Rwanda there are calculated to be 600,000 refugees, which are added to the 900,000 displaced over previous occasions. The army has taken advantage of the chaos to eliminate the political and administrative bodies of FRODEBU, the victor in the parliamentary elections.
1994: the new President, Cyprien Ntaryamira, dies in the same assault as the Rwandan President, with his companions and staff. There are demonstrations in the capital, disappearances, killings, and the detention of opponents.
1995: The insecurity and the assassinations increase in Bujumbura, which is under military control. The Hutus living in various parts of the capital flee the escalation of violence. The city is becoming a Tutsi redoubt. The army completes a `cleansing operation' in the few remaining Hutu districts, without permitting entrance to NGOs.
1996: State coup by Pierre Buyoya loser of the '93 elections. An international embargo against the regime is decreed, more theoretical than actual. The Tutsi army repression continues and the Hutu guerrillas multiply in the country's interior.
1998: The ex-President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, begins peace talks in Arusha (Tanzania) between the different parties implicated in the Burundian conflict, with no positive result whatever to date.

2.1. The RPF attack and the Arusha agreements
Rwanda was attacked on the 1st of October 1990 by Tutsis of the exiled Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), with the aid of their northern neighbour, Uganda, which in its turn was receiving British and North American support. The justification given for the attack was that Habyarimana would not allow the return of refugees owing to their ethnic origins. Overall the majority of economic operators in Rwanda were Tutsis who had returned to the country during Habyarimana's regime. It cannot be claimed that he would close all doors to the refugees.
France, Belgium and Zaire sent troops to the aid of the Rwandan government. The attack was followed by the government reaction of imprisoning some six or seven thousand people accused of collaborating with the RPF, who were released at the close of several weeks, some of them showing signs of having been tortured. Immediately after the attack the RPF committed various killings such as the extermination of the Muvumba population, or the killings in Ruhengeri on 22-01-91.
In general many young Tutsis had been recruited from all over the country to receive ideological and military training in the RPF headquarters and to form clandestine brigades, widely scattered in the hills. This created huge disquiet in the majority of the population together with the feeling of having been betrayed. The presence of these youths in the hills is confirmed by Tito Rutaremara, RPF idealogue: “towards the end of '87, 36 Front cells had been created in the country's interior”2.
In some regions there were attacks and killings directed against the Tutsi population. Principal amongst these were those against the Bagogwe, a Tutsi sub-group from the north, in January 1991, and against the Tutsis of Bugesera in March of 1992.
The successive guerrilla attacks by the RPF gradually drained the north-east of its inhabitants, provoking a massive flight towards the centre and the south of Rwanda. In February 1993 a large-scale attack that involved not only intimidation but also tortures and killings provoked a general exodus, resulting in the homelessness of a million people in the Rwandan interior. Amongst the locations where the Tutsis decimated the population are: Ngarama, Mukingo, Kinigi, Kigombe, Matura, Kirambo…
On the political level after a series of international pressures a new Constitution was approved authorising the multiparty system. A coalition government was created that proposed, amongst other objectives, that of commencing negotiations with the RPF, which resulted in the Arusha Accords, signed in August 1993. These agreements anticipated a power split between the distinct political parties that had been created; the RPF was making a representation that did not correspond with the country's reality.
Following the assassination of President Ndadaye and the Hutu killings in Burundi, the political parties in opposition to Habyarimana split into two factions, some drawing close to Habyarimana and the rest to the RPF. The Arusha agreements had envisaged a transition period after elections. In the projected situation it was considered almost impossible that the RPF and supporting factions of the parties closely allied should win these elections. The application of the Arusha agreements provided for a contingent of 600 RPF men to install themselves in Kigali, but in practice this number was very much greater.

The assault against the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi
In a climate of extreme tension and polarisation, following the assassinations of top-ranking political leaders and with the political parties totally divided, on 06-04-94 the plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, together with important members of their governments, was to be shot down.
All the analysts agree that this assassination was the spark that lit the fire in Rwanda. The UN special reporter charged with the investigation of the 1994 killings, Rene Degni Segui agrees: “the death of President Habyarimana was to be the spark that would light the gunpowder thereby unleashing the killing of civilians”. Even so, as yet no investigation has been opened to shed light on the responsibility for this attack. The reactions of the Rwandan army, taken by surprise in the offensive unleashed by the RPF, lead one to think that it was not they who prepared it.
Recently come to light, on 10-08-99, is the testimony of a Rwandan military, Christophe Hakizabera, an RPF member from 1990 to 1995. When speaking of Habyarimana's assassination he says:
“The RPF prepared a macabre plan to drive the country into chaos: the death of President Habyarimana. He was considered to be the main obstacle to the forceful seizure of power. The first meeting to plan the assassination was held in Kabale (Uganda), in the Bishop's premises, under the auspices of the Archbishop Harerimana. Later, meetings of this type were held in Mbarara, in the home of Salim Saleh, the Major General, half brother to the Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Then, pertinently, it is known that the decision to assassinate President Habyarimana was taken in Bobo-Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso in March of 1994, and that the Commander Paul Kagame, RPF leader, participated in this meeting”.

The killings of the population in 1994
At the beginning of 1994 there were a million displaced persons from the Rwandan interior that had fled from the RPF massacres, and hundreds of thousands of Burundian refugees in the south running from the Tutsi army killings in Burundi. After the assault the country entered a spiral of violence involving generalised killings from April to June of 1994. The Hutu militia engaged in massive assassinations of the Tutsis and Hutus allied to the RPF. Simultaneously the RPF carried out mass assassinations of the Hutus although members of the Tutsi population also died in the killings.
The media gave sufficient information and there are abundant testimonies concerning the killings carried out by the Hutu militia against the Tutsi population, which were produced across the entire breadth of the territory. One section of militia youth of the MRND party, the Interahamwe, stood out in these vast killings. One of the first assassinations that had major repercussions was that of the Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and ten of the Belgian Blue Berets who were protecting her, at the hands of the presidential guard. Only a firm intervention by the UN contingent would have been able to prevent the killings; but instead of this the withdrawal of the Blue Berets was ordered, leaving a population without protection. On the 9th of April an interim government was formed, presided over by Jean Kambanda, and without the presence of a single Tutsi or a Hutu with any RPF sympathies.
Initially the RPF brigades, formed exclusively of Tutsi youths and scattered throughout the hills, were the prioritized objective of the Hutu militia, but increasingly it became the Tutsis in general who were considered to be the enemy to demolish. Deep, hidden trenches were found between the Tutsi-owned coffee plantations that could only have been intended for the burial of Hutu corpses. Militia bands formed who roamed in search of Tutsis and forced the hill-dwelling Hutus, under pain of death for opposition, to incorporate themselves into the group. Nevertheless, many Hutu families, despite knowledge of the risk they were running, hid neighbours and Tutsi acquaintances in their homes.

The RPF issued a three-day ultimatum for the departure of all the country's foreign residents. In a few days practically all the foreigners left. Joaquin Vallmajo, a Catalan white father who decided to stay, disappeared on 26-04-94 after a group of RPF soldiers detained him. 03-06-94 saw the execution by the RPF of the Bishops of Kigali, Kagbayi and Byumba who had been unwilling to abandon their country and had elected to remain at the side of a group of Tutsi refugees threatened by the Hutu militia.
There are many testimonies to the killings committed by the RPF, but it has been difficult to give them public expression for fear of the victors' reprisals. Almost all the foreigners left the country and amongst the few who remained the testimonies of Marcel Gerin3 and Santos Ganuza are exceptional. The Belgian Marcel Gerin concluded, in synthesis, that in 1994 he and his wife were left trapped by the Rwandan war. They were witnesses to the indiscriminate killings in the area they lived in and they were able to confirm, through the fact of having been held prisoners, how those who apparently seemed to be Interahamwe militia were no more than mercenaries in the pay of the Tutsi army. They managed a miraculous escape whilst awaiting their executioners, thanks to the arrival of a number of journalists and Blue Berets. Although they state that in their residential zone the Interahamwes killed a thousand people in the church, the majority of the massacres were carried out with the arrival of those mercenaries who killed whoever they met without any ethnic discrimination, in a clear operation of whole-territory cleansing. Whatever images of the situation emerged gave one to believe that the authors were the Hutu Interahamwe militia. Santos Ganuza, a Navarrese missionary, was the rector of the Kiziguro parish, also in the east of the country. He says:
“For many years I was the parish rector in the east of the country. In 1994 the Interahamwe arrived and killed some 1,000 Tutsis who had taken refuge in the church without my being able to do anything to prevent it. A few days later, the Tutsi military arrived and killed 10,000 Hutus. The Western world's televisions broadcast pictures of these Hutus assassinated in my parish, identifying them as Tutsis”.
On the 12th of April, the Rwandan army proposed a truce with the RPF in order to prevent the massacres, but the latter turned it down. On the 30th the UN offered to send international troops with the same objective and once more the RPF refused.
An international arms embargo was set up against the Rwandan regime but the RPF continued to receive arms via Uganda. In July 1994 the RPF seized power and three million people crossed the frontiers in search of refuge, mostly into Zaire and Tanzania. It is estimated that between April and July 1994, 800,000 Tutsis and opposition Hutus had been assassinated but there was no news about the population assassinated by the RPF. The UN Commission of experts charged with the investigation of the killings, despite recognising that the Tutsis as much as the Hutus had committed `crimes against humanity', concluded saying:
“there are obvious indications that acts of genocide have been perpetrated against the Tutsi group by Hutu elements, in a concerted, planned, systematic and methodical manner”.

Laurent Nkunda - dressed, Messiah-like in white - whose Congolese Tutsi forces were previously given Rwandan support, symbolises neighbourly meddling in the DRC.

On 20-10-96 the refugee camps within Zaire, located near the frontier, were bombarded and attacked from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.
The attack was justified by saying that Rwandan security must be guaranteed in the face of Hutu militia incursions from the camps, and that it was being carried out precisely in order to liberate the refugees who were hostages of the aforementioned militia.
There was a definite resistance in the Mugunga camp. Many refugees died in the very same camps and the remainder fled and hid in the forest. The three armies prohibited access to journalists and observers. The Tutsi military were looking for those refugees in hiding and was systematically assassinating them.
3.1. The attacks on the refugee camps
In the first days of the attack the Archbishop of Bukavu, Christophe Munzihirwa is assassinated. His letters had denounced the presence of North American military in the zone, had repeatedly demanded a return of the refugees to Rwanda under safe conduct, and that the Tutsi lobbies stop their campaign of misinformation directed at international opinion. At the same time, four Spanish monks who worked in the Nyamirangwe camp were dying, also victims of assassination.
On 15-11-96 the UN Security Council approves Resolution 1080 to send an international force which will allow access and humanitarian aid to the refugees. The very next day Tutsi troops forced some of these to return to Rwanda. It is presented as fact that almost all had returned and the deployment of the international force is suspended. Nevertheless, some 500,000 refugees were still hiding in the forest. Many of them were assassinated or died the victims of dehydration, hunger, wounds or illnesses. About 300,000 survivors were concentrated in Tingi-Tingi, near Kisangani. At the end of February 1997, shortly after the European Commissioner, Emma Bonino's visit for humanitarian aid, the Tingi-Tingi camp is attacked and thousands of refugees are assassinated. The rest arrive in Kisangani where the killings are continuing. Some manage to cross the whole country and take refuge in Congo-Brazzaville or in the Central African Republic, others are to be repatriated to Rwanda by the UNHCR. It is difficult to ascertain with any certainty the number of victims, but all together they must have been around 500,000.

3.2. The overthrow of Mobutu
While the refugee camps in Zaire were under attack an offensive was launched to oust Mobutu Sese Seko, the old dictator who had been in power for over 30 years. The Democratic Forces of Liberation Alliance (DFLA) was created under the leadership of Laurent Desire Kabila, citing as motive the rebellion, the discrimination being suffered by the Banyamulenges Tutsis of the Kivu-Sur province. Despite this the army was comprised of Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian military units. In six months they arrive at the capital, Kinshasa, facing Zairean armed forces that lack motivation and are in permanent retreat. Mobutu flees and Kabila steps into power. The country is re-baptised with the name of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
During the second half of 1997 Africa appears to enter a new stage. The G7 Summit is held in Denver, where the North American President announces his commitment to the continent's development: commerce should replace aid.
3.3. The war against Kabila
Kabila's first journeys were to be to China, Libya and Cuba. During the first half of 1998, at international level many declarations are made qualifying Kabila as corrupt and lacking efficiency in the country's management. In July, Kabila sacks Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian military personnel and politicians, but they refuse to leave and announce their armed opposition to the Kinshasa government from Kivu, the eastern zone under their control. Under the cover of Congolese politicians the Regrouping for Congolese Democracy (RCD) is created, at the head of which is placed the Congolese Zahidi Ngoma.
They occupy the eastern provinces of Kivu and an offensive against Kinshasa and Lubumbashi is launched, exactly the same as had occurred two years previously. A spectacular operation, with the aerial transportation of troops from Kivu to Matadi, the door to the Atlantic ocean, permits the Tutsi military a rapid advance towards Kinshasa: the city is surrounded and water and light sources are cut over a week. When Kinshasa's fall appears imminent, an unexpected event takes place: the intervention of Zimbabwe, followed by Angola and Namibia, for Kabila's aid, which catches Tutsi troops by surprise. The latter suffer a defeat and a number of soldiers are lynched by the population. A phase of slow advance follows, with the capture of various strategic cities, but with a definite stabilisation of the front line.
The countries of the region, grouped within the SADC (South African Development Community) support Kabila. All, with the exception of South Africa, have shown themselves to be unanimously opposed to the pretensions of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Although only three countries have sent military aid, the other nine countries have given moral support to the Congolese government for the halting of what they consider to be an unacceptable expansion of the Tutsi sphere of influence in central Africa.
Chad's dispatch of a contingent of 2,000 men to Kabila's aid, like the veiled support from the Sudan, demonstrates the position of the neighbouring Islamic countries. Uganda's broad support to the rebellion in the south of the Sudan, the Popular Army for the Liberation of the Sudan (APLS) that fights against the northern Islamic government, forms part of the United States strategy for the containment of Sudanese Islamic fundamentalism.
In Angola, the war in the Congo serves to revitalise the old conflict between the government and UNITA. The Angolan government troops that fight alongside Kabila have to withdraw into the interior of their own country in the face of the intensity of the fighting that causes many deaths and homelessness amongst the population.
At the beginning of 1999, in the Makobola settlement in South Kivu, the Tutsi troops kill over a thousand people as a reprisal for an attack by Mai-Mai guerillas. Already in August a similar massacre has occurred in the parish of Kasika. Amongst the civil population in Kivu killings carried out by the Rwandan and Burundian Tutsi military follow one after the other: Bwegera, Burhale, Uvira, Butembo, Masisi, Kamituga, Burhinyi… Many youths enter to form part of the distinct Mai-Mai guerrillas who fight with vastly inferior means.


  1. Tutsi are not necessarily any lighter ("very light-colored") as you described than other Rwandans. You can even see through your photos that they are not generally lighter than the other tribes. In fact if you look at King Kigerli V - descendant of the royal Rwandan family - he has an extremely dark skin tone. Again - scrolling through your photographs, it is clear that the majority have a normal -to dark skin tone. They more have a reddish tone to their skin, a reddish hue (generally the women) but by no means all of them! A lot of Tutsi's have a skin tone similar to the Luo of Kenya, who are also dark skinned!

  2. also you showed the hair cut , dance, etc and you said it 's for tutsi, but here you are misinformed or lying because no hair cut is for tutsi alone or hutu, again these are people who are brothers,related to each other,share the culture ,the country and language ,so everything you said it's for tutsi ,it's also for hutu and whoever that wrote that hutu are "lazy and extremely dirty" this is kind of insult because as I said ,westerners always try to create kind of supremacy and inferiority among united people in order to split them and rule them, again the reason behind this is to create hatred among united people which they did among rwandans and after seeing that the kings are against that ,they switched to hutu people and fed them lies by saying tutsi think they are smarter than you, look the way they have manipulated you , they have ruled this country over 400 years and yet you came to this land before them,etc,and hutu was enjoying the peace and love that has been in the country way before the westerners came to invade it, listened to that and they told him they will make him a leader which made him follow in their hatred steps and when they threw the king out of the country ,they put him in power and kept using him even after they went back to their country in europe which resulted in an unforgettable genocide that killed more than a million tutsi,although the UN and other european countries and USA tried to minimize to half a million and then 800 thousands because they thing decreasing the number would make people not to blame them for having not stepped in and stop the killing,but the truth is ,they all knew what was happening as they could see it live because their satellite was video taping every thing, they even started to call it genocide but refuse to say it publicly to void the blame people would put on them, besides some of them were that genocide perpetrators ( mainly france & UN that was being led by boutros boutros ghali) and thus their friends "especially "USA" could not interfere with their friends' benefits from genocide against tutsi.

  3. it 's clear that you are not sure or you are don't know what and who you talk about. Tutsi and hutu are light colored or dark skinned , it is not easy to tell who is tutsi and who is hutu because some share the same features ,although others don't. I don't know what defines a negro ,but whatever the meaning of that word is,I am sure if you want to use it to hutu and not tutsi ,you are totally wrong ; in fact ethipians who you said the tutsi descended from,are also negro , when I say negro I mean black people. but for some reasons, i guess racism or some sort of creating divisions, the westerners always try to divide black people the way they want , because their aim is ,you should divide people in order to rule them, and they would create any possible division ,whether historically, racially ,etc, and I am afraid you might be one of them ,because much of your post here is not relevant to the true history of Rwanda. there was were you said , opponents of MRND which were mostly hutu committed genocide against tutsi and then you mentioned that many tutsi joined those killers as well. The fact that you put "many" means that ,you either don't know what you are talking about or you are one of tutsi genocide denials. more than a million tutsi were killed, and the tutsi genocide survivors didn't count atmost 500,000 which shows you that if many tutsi participated in the tutsi genocide as you claim then there would be atleast more than 700,000 tutsi when the genocide ceased since those killers would be counted and increase the number of tutsi , so that why i undoubtedly think that you are among the tutsi genocide denials or those why try to hide truth about it by trying to falsify the tutsi genocide history or saying also RPF who was mainly composed of tutsi killed hutu which a lot people can quickly understand since they would think it was a vengeance , but you always fail to mention the truth that those french army came to Rwanda ans set those so called peace zone which was mainly the way to help genocidaires escape to Congo ,since RPF army had already won the battle and stopped genocide. you also fail to mention that ,france was the boss of that genocide,and them with hutu power regime are thought to have shot the president plane so as to make it an excuse for killing tutsi, how can you say that shooting the plane made hutu angry and they killed tutsi as a vengeance , that would be so stupid to take that as a truth, while local leaders had made tons of lists of tutsi to be killed and that was way before the plane crash, so where did new machetes,knives,guns come from just a few minutes after plane crash? RTLM radio had always said there is a particular thing that will happen April 6/1994 and they would say : that particular thing will be done by RPF and then they would say RPF will kill , which means that ,they planned tutsi genocide well and planned to put the blame on RPF so people would thing that RPF commited tutsi genocide and not hutu regime, they killed the president because he agreed to sign peace treaty which they didn't like because they were hoping to remain in power and keep maltreating tutsi, killing them and refusing them to go to school, fire them from their jobs,etc, but now that the peace treaty was signed ,they would share powers with tutsi and that they didn't want it since they would not be able to maltreat them as they used to, and there was one leader "bagosora theoneste" who said :I'm going to prepare apocalypse for tutsi, right after the president signed the peace treaty,and this same guy was among the genocide planners and hated the president for signing that peace T,so it is clearly understandable that that hutu regime killed the president as an excuse of genocide against tutsi.

  4. also you showed the hair cut , dance, etc and you said it 's for tutsi, but here you are misinformed or lying because no hair cut is for tutsi alone or hutu, again these are people who are brothers,related to each other,share the culture ,the country and language ,so everything you said it's for tutsi ,it's also for hutu and whoever that wrote that hutu are "lazy and extremely dirty" this is kind of insult because as I said ,westerners always try to create kind of supremacy and inferiority among united people in order to split them and rule them, again the reason behind this is to create hatred among united people which they did among rwandans and after seeing that the kings are against that ,they switched to hutu people and fed them lies by saying tutsi think they are smarter than you, look the way they have manipulated you , they have ruled this country over 400 years and yet you came to this land before them,etc,and hutu was enjoying the peace and love that has been in the country way before the westerners came to invade it, listened to that and they told him they will make him a leader which made him follow in their hatred steps and when they threw the king out of the country ,they put him in power and kept using him even after they went back to their country in europe which resulted in an unforgettable genocide that killed more than a million tutsi,although the UN and other european countries and USA tried to minimize to half a million and then 800 thousands because they thing decreasing the number would make people not to blame them for having not stepped in and stop the killing,but the truth is ,they all knew what was happening as they could see it live because their satellite was video taping every thing, they even started to call it genocide but refuse to say it publicly to void the blame people would put on them, besides some of them were that genocide perpetrators ( mainly france & UN that was being led by boutros boutros ghali) and thus their friends "especially "USA" could not interfere with their friends' benefits from genocide against tutsi.


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