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Tutsi Tribe

Political Aspects
Economic Aspects
Social Aspects

Political Aspects

How did the Political Aspect of the Tutsi Tribe change? 

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 in society.

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.