European Imperialism In Rwanda

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Before the Germans (and later the Belgians) colonized Rwanda, there was no reported violence between the Hutu and Tutsi people. However, European rule in the country changed the relations between the two groups, and laid the groundwork for genocide to occur a century later. 1897 marked the first year that German colonists entered the country. These Germans, convinced that the Tutsi had migrated to Rwanda from Ethiopia, believed that the Tutsi were more Caucasian then the Hutus, and were therefore racially superior and better suited to carry out colonial administrative tasks. This was part of the Hamitic Hypothesis—the Tutsis were taller than the Hutus, had more slender features, and looked more similar to the Europeans. As a result, a hierarchy/caste…show more content…
Before the Europeans entered, the chieftaincy system was such that both Hutus and Tutsis ruled the land. The Belgians, however, simplified the chieftaincy system, reducing its numbers and concentrating power in the hands of the Tutsi. Further, the Belgians oversaw a land reform process in which grazing areas traditionally under the control of the Hutus were seized and given to the Tutsis. In the 1930s, the Belgians introduced large-scale projects in health, education, and agriculture, but mainly for the use and implementation by the Tutsi. As a result, Tutsi supremacy remained, even though these measures did industrialize Rwanda. Also in the 1930s, the Belgians introduced identity cards labeling individuals as either Tutsi or Hutu. These identity cards prevented any further movement between the classes, and directly undermined the ubuhake system, in which privileged, hard working Hutus could become Tutsis, and less hard working and well off Tutsis could be lowered to the rank of a Hutu (Melson, “Modern Genocide in…show more content…
In order to compel Africans to collect ivory (from 1885 until approximately 1892) and later wild rubber, the Belgians resorted to using fear and terror. In the early 1890s, and continuing on until King Leopold left the Congo, European rubber agents were rewarded with sums of money and potential promotions based on how much rubber they collected. The more rubber collected by a particular agent/company, the more money they would get. This new system ensured maximum production and profits, yet also encouraged widespread abuses and horrific violence against

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