’ And Tutsis’ Essay, Research Paper
The culture of the Hutu and Tutsi tribes of Rwanda, Africa interests me for many reasons. One reason is that they are so diverse from our American way of life. Another reason is that I have heard a little bit about them in the news and by talking to people. This sparked my interest and made me want to learn more about them. I will cover a wide variety of information in my report. This will include the land where they live, their way of life, their history and ancestry, and what the government is like in Rwanda. I don’t expect the reader to become an expert on the Hutus and the Tutsis, but I do hope that the reader gets a general understanding about what is going on in their section of Africa. I have learned lots of new information from doing this report, not only about the Hutus’ and the Tutsis’ culture, but about the whole continent of Africa.
The first topic that I will cover is about the people that make up the tribes of the Hutu and Tutsi. The total population of the country of Rwanda, where most of their events have taken place is 7,800,000. The population of the Hutus is 3,000,000 and the Tutsis number only 1,000,000. The physical traits of the Hutus and Tutsis are very different from each other. The Hutu have larger noses and larger all around facial features than the Tutsis. Most Tutsis are seldom less than six feet tall, while the Hutu are very short people. The Tutsis are related to the Masai and the people along the Nile, while the Hutus have a Buntu history. As you can see the people that make up the tribes of the Hutus and the Tutsis are a very diverse group of people.
The way of life for the Hutu and the Tutsis is considerably different. Traditionally, the Tutsi were the wealthy, upper class and the Hutu were little more than slaves. Now the power is a little more equally divided, but is still more in favor of the Tutsis. The Hutu are mainly peasant farmers, while the Tutsis are mainly animal stock breeders. One thing that the Hutu and the Tutsi have in common is that they are both a Buntu language speaking group. The basis of the natives’ religion is a belief that there is a supreme principle of good known as Imana. Followers of this religion use magical amulets in their rituals. One half of the people in Rwanda are Christian, and most of the Christians are Catholic.
The staple foods of the Hutu are cooked bananas, maize, and millet. The staple foods of the Tutsis are dairy products, and agricultural foods that are bought from the Hutu. Only a minimal percentage of both tribes go to school. The children that go to school either go to a religious mission or to a public school. The way of life for the Hutu and Tutsi differs from our lifestyle very much.
Right now the economy is in shambles because of the devastation of the long enduring civil war between these rival ethnic groups. I will expand on this topic later. The industry crashed because most of the country’s efforts were being put into the war effort and not much work was getting done. Very little economic activity is going on and, as a result of this, millions of people are suffering. The agriculture consists of Hutu farmers’ products. Stock breeding is done by the Tutsis who are cattle herders. Tin mining is the leading industry in Rwanda. As you can see the economy was never very strong to begin with, and now with the civil war raging it is worse than ever.
The history of conflict between the two tribes began four centuries ago. The Tutsis are a warrior tribe of Hamatic origin. Sometimes called the “Watutsi”, they invaded the Hutu in Rwanda from the North. The Hutu couldn’t defend themselves and they were taken over by the Tutsi and reduced to serfdom. Each Hutu chose a Tutsi Lord who gave them use of cattle. There wasn’t much conflict until 1959 when a civil war broke out when the leaders of both tribes were killed. The Hutu tried to get equality through the National Party of Hutu Emancipation. This did not work however. In 1960, elections were held under Belgium supervision. More Hutus won and the Hutus took over the government. The Hutu Gregoire Kayibanda was elected president. Two years later Rwanda won independence and the Hutus started mistreating the Tutsis. After independence, violence erupted between the two tribes. In 1973 Kayibanda was accused of being lenient with Tutsis who slaughtered thousands of Hutus in Burundi. The army was unhappy about this so they took over the government. General Habyarinew was appointed president of Rwanda. In 1990 the Tutsis began a civil war against the Hutu government. The Tutsis forced the Hutus to Zairian refugee camps. Since Zaire is a poor country and they couldn’t support the Hutu refugees they forced the Hutus back to Rwanda. Finally in 1994 settlements seemed to be working out. Later in 1994 a plane crashed at Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, with a Hutu leader on board. The Hutus thought the Tutsis were responsible for this act. Hutu extremists began their campaign of genocide after this. 500,000 Tutsis were killed by the Hutu extremists, who also killed Hutus who wanted to live peacefully with the Tutsis. 2137 of the killers were under 18. Trials for the minors are supposed to take place in March of 1997. Altogether since independence, more than half a million people have been killed and just as many have fled to Zaire and Uganda.
Today Rwanda is dominated by the Hutus, and Burundi is controlled by the Tutsi. The most current news is that the United States have sent 1,000 troops to Zaire to help the people in need.
Rwanda, the land where the two tribes are primarily located is called the “African Switzerland” because it is very picturesque. Rwanda covers 9530 square miles of land and is very densely populated. The yearly temperature ranges from 55 to 75 degrees. There is not much rainfall and this often leads to droughts. The central plateau country ranges in altitude from 4800 feet on the shores of Lake Kiva to 14,000 feet in the volcanic mountains of the North. The highest mountain is Mount Karisimbi and it is 13,520 feet high. In our language Karisimbi means “pearl.” The Savanna grasslands of the central plateau run an average height of 5,600 feet. The Hutu live in the mountainous Savanna country in Rwanda and Burundi, between Zaire and the lakes of East Africa. The Tutsi live in Rwanda where they form 10% of the population and in Burundi where they are more numerous. The land in Rwanda is very diverse and they have a very dry climate.
Right now the Hutu are in control of the government. The government is a republican form of government with a constitution that provides for a president and an 44 member legislative assembly. There are five major political parties. The government is divided into 10 circumscriptions. The president appoints prefects that are responsible for local government. The mayor of each circumscription is appointed by the president. Right now the president is General Habyarimana, who is a Hutu. The armed forces serve as a national defense and for internal security. The total number of people in the armed forces is 20,000. The Judiciary system consists of four different levels of court. The lowest level courts are customary courts and the police court. Next highest up is the court of First Instance and then, finally, the highest court, the Court of Appeals. As you can see Rwanda has an organized form of government, but the president has a lot of power in deciding who is to be appointed to what offices.
To summarize my report, the Hutu are more numerous than the Tutsi. They look different physically, but have a similar language. The economy is in bad shape for both of the tribes. The Hutu and Tutsi have had a long history of conflict and the land where they live is quite different from each other. The government is still mainly controlled by the Hutu.
To go over a few key points, the Tutsi are a warrior tribe of Hamatic origin and are seldom less than six feet tall. Another key point is that the Hutu are mainly peasant farmers, while the Tutsi are mainly stock breeders. The year round temperature in Rwanda ranges from 55 to 75 degrees. One last key point is that the staple foods of the Hutu are cooked bananas, maize, and millet. The staple foods of the Tutsi are dairy produce, and agricultural foods that are bought from the Hutu.
I hope that you have enjoyed my report and learned a lot about the culture of the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes of Africa.