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The Hutu

The Tutsi

Conflict in Burundi

Genocide in Rwanda

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The History of the Tutsi and Hutu

It is said the Hutu arrived in central east Africa somewhere in the 1st century. Before then, the land was inhabited by the Twa. The Twa were pushed out and forced to flee by the Hutu. The Tutsi invaded around the 15th century. They came from the horn of Africa. Their takeover of the Hutu was generally peaceful.

The Tutsi believed in a hierarchical society. So, they put in place a monarchy with the mwami being the king and put in place a feudal system. The Hutu signed contracts or ubihake with the Tutsi. These contracts pledged the Hutu and his descendant’s services to the Tutsi in exchange for a loan of cattle and arable land.

The first interaction the Hutu and the Tutsi had with colonial power was with the Germans, who controlled the area from the 1890’s to WW1. The Belgians took control of the area in 1916 until after WW2. The 'Ruanda-Urundi' area became a UN trust territory; the Belgians were the administrative authority over the area. In 1948 the Belgians allowed the creation of 2 political parties; the Union for National Progress (UPRONA) and the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). The UPRONA was led by Tutsi President Louis Rwagsore, who was assassinated after the UPRONA’s victory in Burundi in the 1961 election. The PDC was supported by the Belgians.

In the 1950’s the Belgians began to increasingly encourage democratic political parties. The Tutsi traditionalist party was greatly upset by this. They believed that the democracy threatened the Tutsi monarchy. In 1959 the Hutu overthrew the Tutsi monarchy in Rwanda. 160,000 Tutsi fled into the neighboring countries. The Hutu Emancipation Movement (PARMEHUTU) gained power over the Rwandan government in the 1961 elections.

Burundi and Rwanda gained independence in 1962.