Q: What was the political structure like initially and how was it shaped by its environment?
A: The Tutsi were ruled by a king, the mwami, from the 15th century until 1961. The monarchy was abolished by the Belgians,
in response to the desires of both Tutsi and Hutu. Both Germany (before World War I) and Belgium ruled the area where the
Tutsi inhabited. It was Belgian colonialists who created the notions of two different races rather than castes. When the Belgians
took over the colony in 1916 from the Germans, they felt that the colony would be better governed if they classified the different
races in a hierarchical form. They felt that the Hutu were children who needed to be guided, and saw the Tutsi as the superior
race. In fact they couldn't believe that the Tutsi were part of the African race at all. Oddly enough in 1959 the Belgian
established racial hierarchy was reversed with the Hutu being considered the superior group and taking the prime positions
Q: How did the interaction with the Germans and Belgians change the way of the Tutsi?
A: This increased oppression of the Tutsi by the Hutu, and led to many cultural conflicts, including the Rwandan Genocide.
Current Status in Rwanda:
Rwanda is remarkably at peace. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front; the former rebels who toppled the genocidal regime
has worked hard on abolishing ethnic divisions.
But peace has come at a price. President Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, rules Rwanda with an iron fist. Critics charge there is
no freedom of press or association. Opposition parties have been outlawed. Ironic is it not? The genocide was made possible
because of the government's absolute authority over its citizenry, and now this is how peace is maintained today.