Map of Rwanda

This we know: All things are connected
Like the blood that unites us.
We did not weave the web of life
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
-Chief Seattle

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Hutu and Tutsi: The Struggle For Power and Independence

During the 1950s, a movement known as Pan-Africanism swept across the continent as one by one, African colonies demanded their independence from European colonial powers.  In Ruanda-Urundi, the demand for independence began in the late 1950s, but growing tensions between the neglected Hutu majority and the powerful Tutsi minority complicated the struggle (C).  By 1959, the Hutu began to demand social equality, receiving critical support from the Roman Catholic Church as well as the surprising support of Belgian administrative officials, who had gradually shifted their support from the Tutsi to the Hutu throughout the 1950s after sensing the decline in power of the former (C).  Both support systems led to the Hutu revolution known as the “wind of destruction” that was launched on November 1, 1959 in response to rumors of the assassination of Grégoire Kayibanda, the author of the Hutu Manifesto, which demanded the continuation of Belgian administration until the Hutu were ready to assume power, as well as the founder of Parmehutu, a political party dedicated to ending Tutsi rule and abolishing the feudal system (D).  In the Hutu revolution, Hutu across Rwanda massacred an estimated 20,000 to 100,000 Tutsi with thousands more fleeing to Uganda, Tanzania, and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) (A).  In 1960, Parmehutu extremists arranged a provisional government which was decidedly republican and composed almost entirely of Parmehutu members (A).  In January of 1961, a Hutu coup led by the Parmehutu announced the deposition of the mwami and the creation of a republican government.  Although the Belgian administrative authority recognized the new government, the UN declared its formation as “irregular and unlawful” (C).  Therefore on September 25 of the same year, the UN General Assembly held legislative elections to determine whether or not to retain the institution of the mwami (C).  The Hutu majority enabled the Parmehutu to emerge as victor, thus abolishing the monarchy and establishing a republic.  On the 27thof June 1962, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that the territory Ruanda-Urundi would divide into the separate, independent countries of Rwanda and Burundi, as they did not wish to become a single independent nation (D).  On July 1, 1962, Rwanda became an independent country with Grégoire Kayibanda as its first president (D).

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