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History of the Tutsi and the Hutu

The Hutu

Conflict in Burundi

Genocide in Rwanda

Works Cited

The Tutsi

The Tutsi have always been the minority population. Today they account for only 15% of the population and 14% in Burundi. This percentage has not varied much over the years. They gained their dominance over the Hutu through their trading and lending of their cattle. They were able to gain the political support, loyalty and physical labor of the Hutu.

The Tutsi in Burundi and Rwanda were usually the upper class and the political leaders in the area. The Tutsi believed in a hierarchical system, with the mwami (the king), being at the top of this hierarchy. Social status is very important to the Tutsi. For a long time it was considered demeaning to have to work the land. To the Tutsi, the upper class should have a certain posture, body movements and a certain way of speaking to show that they are members of the upper class. Also, people in the upper class were supposed to always walk with an air of dignity and never show emotion. They were the aristocratic minority of the area.

The Tutsi and the Hutu share the common language of Kinyarwanda, as it is called in Rwanda or Kirundi, as it is called in Burundi. They also speak French which they learned from the Belgians. There is a minority of Tutsi that speak English, which they learned from their time as refugees in Uganda.

Today, both Tutsi and Hutu are predominately Christian and animist, though they have different interpretation of animism. The Tutsi believe in the God Imaana. He is a god with the ability to grant wealth and fertility. The Mwami also share this power. They also believe in the Abazima, which are the spirits of dead relatives that carry messages between the spirit world and the human world. It is believed that these spirits can bring bad luck if people are not respectful of them. So, the Tutsi try and gain insight into the spirits needs and wants through fortune tellers.

The Tutsi also tell the story of Sebgugugu. God performed miracles for him so that he and his family always had enough to eat, but Sebgugugu always wanted more. Ultimately he lost everything because of his intense greed.