If you thought you truly understood the conflict that took place in Rwanda in the early and mid 90's that led to the death of some eight hundred thousand Tutsi, I say it is time to re-evaluate what has been fed to us by the Media. Like many conflicts that are happening today, those that are responsible for the current conflict report the conflict as one rooted in the continued fighting between the fighting groups that has spanned over centuries and not something new. This is how the conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi's were reported but once we get past the lies, the truth will reveal that this genocide was proceeded by instilling hatred for one another in the Hutu and Tutsi by outside countries that used both groups as tools to put forth their agenda and not one rooted in so called Tribal conflict that the racist like to say led to it. Take your time reading this but read it all and I promise you it will be time well spent.
During the horrific genocide in Rwanda, 1994, the Rwandan media played a major part in supporting, or creating an atmosphere to sanction the terrible human suffering that ensued. A detailed report from Human Rights Watch in 1999, looked into how the killing campaign was executed, using oral testimony and documentation from a wide variety of sources. It explained how this was planned for a long time and how the international community was aware of what was going on yet ignored it, and were even present during the systematic killings.
"At least half a million people perished in the Rwandan genocide," the report notes. "Perhaps as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population. At the same time, thousands of Hutu were slain because they opposed the killing campaign and the forces directing it."
But one issue about the whole tragedy was how it was portrayed in some of the mainstream media of some western countries. The genocide was often attributed to ancient tribal hatreds. However as Human Rights Watch notes, "this genocide was not an uncontrollable outburst of rage by a people consumed by 'ancient tribal hatreds.'" Instead:
This genocide resulted from the deliberate choice of a modern elite to foster hatred and fear to keep itself in power. This small, privileged group first set the majority against the minority to counter a growing political opposition within Rwanda. Then, faced with RPF success on the battlefield and at the negotiating table, these few powerholders transformed the strategy of ethnic division into genocide. They believed that the extermination campaign would restore the solidarity of the Hutu under their leadership and help them win the war, or at least improve their chances of negotiating a favorable peace. They seized control of the state and used its machinery and its authority to carry out the slaughter.
-- Leave None to Tell the Story; Genocide in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch, March 1999
Richard Robbins, professor of anthropology at the State University of New York also agrees, saying "If we examine cases of purported ethnic conflict we generally find that it involve more than ancient hatred; even the 'hatreds' we find are relatively recent, and constructed by those ethnic entrepreneurs taking advantage of situations rooted deep in colonial domination and fed by neocolonial exploitation." The case of Rwanda is instructive he adds. In his book, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (Allyn and Bacon, 1999, 2002), pp. 269-274, he looks at some of these deeper political and modern causes of the genocide in Rwanda, a summary of which is provided here.
Perhaps there is no better case than Rwanda of state killing in which colonial history and global economic integration combined to produce genocide. It is also a case where the causes of the killing were carefully obscured by Western governmental and journalistic sources, blamed instead on the victims and ancient tribal hatreds.
A country the size of Belgium, with a population of 7 million people (overpopulated according to most reports but Belgium supports over 10 million people), Rwanda experienced in 1994 one of the worst genocides of the twentieth century. Some 800,000 people, mostly but not exclusively Tutsis, were slaughtered by the Hutu-run state. Contrary to media and many government reports, the genocide was the result of Rwanda's political and economic position in the capitalist world system. It involved such monetary factors as its colonial history, the price of coffee, World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies, the global interests of Western nations, particularly France, the interests of international aid agencies, and Western attitudes towards Africa (Shalom 1996).
-- Richard H. Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999, 2002), p.269
The Rwanda area had been dominated by hunter gatherers (the Twa) since 1000 A.D. Hutu speakers began to settle in the area, with farms and a clan-based monarchy that dominated the Twa. Around the sixteenth century, new immigrants from the Horn of Africa, the cattle-raising Tutsi arrived and set up their own monarchy. Hutu and Tutsi were a type of class distinction, rather than based on physical differences. Tutsi were typically more dominant and controlled wealth such as cattle, while Hutu were without wealth and not tied to the powerful. But, people could move from being Hutu, to Tutsi, and the other way round, depending on their wealth and status. In addition, inter marriage was not uncommon, and power was attainable by both groups.
"When the Germans assumed control of the area after the Berlin Conference of 1884" as Robbins goes on (p. 270), "they applied their racist ideology and assumed that the generally taller, lighter-skinned Tutsis were the more 'natural' leaders, while the Hutus were destined to serve them. Consequently the Germans increased Tutsi influence."
As Human Rights Watch also detailed, revisionist history was written by the Europeans:
Because Europeans thought that the Tutsi looked more like themselves than did other Rwandans, they found it reasonable to suppose them closer to Europeans in the evolutionary hierarchy and hence closer to them in ability. Believing the Tutsi to be more capable, they found it logical for the Tutsi to rule Hutu and Twa just as it was reasonable for Europeans to rule Africans. Unaware of the "Hutu" contribution to building Rwanda, the Europeans saw only that the ruler of this impressive state and many of his immediate entourage were Tutsi, which led them to assume that the complex institutions had been created exclusively by Tutsi.
Not surprisingly, Tutsi welcomed these ideas about their superiority, which coincided with their own beliefs. In the early years of colonial rule, Rwandan poets and historians, particularly those from the milieu of the court, resisted providing Europeans with information about the Rwandan past. But as they became aware of European favoritism for the Tutsi in the late 1920s and early 1930s, they saw the advantage in providing information that would reinforce this predisposition. They supplied data to the European clergy and academics who produced the first written histories of Rwanda. The collaboration resulted in a sophisticated and convincing but inaccurate history that simultaneously served Tutsi interests and validated European assumptions. According to these accounts, the Twa hunters and gatherers were the first and indigenous residents of the area. The somewhat more advanced Hutu cultivators then arrived to clear the forest and displace the Twa. Next, the capable, if ruthless, Tutsi descended from the north and used their superior political and military abilities to conquer the far more numerous but less intelligent Hutu. This mythical history drew on and made concrete the "Hamitic hypothesis," the then-fashionable theory that a superior, "Caucasoid" race from northeastern Africa was responsible for all signs of true civilization in "Black" Africa. This distorted version of the past told more about the intellectual atmosphere of Europe in the 1920s than about the early history of Rwanda. Packaged in Europe, it was returned to Rwanda where it was disseminated through the schools and seminaries. So great was Rwandan respect for European education that this faulty history was accepted by the Hutu, who stood to suffer from it, as well as by the Tutsi who helped to create it and were bound to profit from it. People of both groups learned to thinkof the Tutsi as the winners and the Hutu as the losers in every great contest in Rwandan history.
The polished product of early Rwando-European collaboration stood unchallenged until the 1960s when a new generation of scholars, foreign and Rwandan, began questioning some of its basic assumptions. They persuaded other scholars to accept a new version of Rwandan history that demonstrated a more balanced participation of Hutu and Tutsi in creating the state, but they had less success in disseminating their ideas outside university circles. Even in the 1990s, many Rwandans and foreigners continued to accept the erroneous history formulated in the 1920s and 1930s.
-- History, Leave None to Tell the Story; Genocide in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch, March 1999
"We got to organize ourselves, We got to mobilize and there can't be no confusion in our collective solution, If not for ourselves, then for our kids, because we know who our enemy is!"
DPZ "for the hood"
More to come later!
Your Brother Faheem