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Encyclopedia > Tutsi
Total population

2.5 million (Rwanda and Burundi)

Regions with significant populations
Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kirundi, Kinyarwanda
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The Tutsi are one of three native peoples of the nations of Rwanda and Burundi in central Africa, the other two being the Twa and the Hutu. A Human Rights Watch analysis estimated that 77% of the Tutsi population of Rwanda was slaughtered in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.The Tutsi are currently in power in Rwanda, although they do not refer to themselves as Tutsi.[1] Introduction Kirundi (also written Rundi) is a Bantu language (D62 in Guthries classification) spoken by some 6 million people in Burundi and adjacent parts of Tanzania and Congo-Kinshasa, as well as in Uganda. ... Contents // Categories: Bantu languages | Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo | Languages of Rwanda | Languages of Uganda | Language stubs ... The Roman Catholic Church or Catholic Church (see terminology below) is the Christian church in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, currently Pope Benedict XVI. It traces its origins to the original Christian community founded by Jesus Christ and led by the Twelve Apostles, in particular Saint Peter. ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... The Twa, also known as Batwa, are a pygmy people, of short stature, who were the oldest recorded inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of central Africa. ... The Hutu are a Central African ethnic group, living mainly in Rwanda and Burundi. ... Human Rights Watch Banner Human Rights Watch is a United States-based international non-government organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. ... The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass extermination of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutu sympathizers in Rwanda and was the largest atrocity during the Rwandan Civil War. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ...



The ideas surrounding real and supposed ethnic groups in Rwanda have a long and complicated history. The meaning of "Hutu" and "Tutsi" have changed through time and from place to place. In one instance, one finds that Tutsis were associated with the ruling class and king of Rwanda, but in another instance a so-called Tutsi could be impoverished and indistinguishable from so-called Hutus. In another setting, one finds Belgian colonists conducting a census, and defining "Tutsi" as anyone with more than ten cows or a long nose, while a "Hutu" meant someone with fewer than ten cows and a blunt nose. In yet another context, German colonists, amazed by the prominent "European-like" noses of some Rwandans, wove fanciful historical and racial theories to explain how some Africans acquired such noses. In addition, they were amazed by the organized society existing in the Kingdom of Rwanda. According to these early twentieth-century Europeans such organization and such noses could only be explained by European descent, transmitted by way of Ethiopia. The origins of the Tutsi and Hutu peoples is a key issue in the history of Rwanda, as well as the Great Lakes region of Africa. ...


Today there is considerable debate about the racial validity of the term Tutsi as distinct from Hutu. Some researchers believe there is no genetic difference between the two supposed groups, and that what difference did exist can be explained by social and procreative patterns within the Great Lakes region. At one time, there may have been economic and cultural differences in the Rwandan population, although this is also disputed. One such difference was occupational. Some people were farmers and ate a varied diet. Others were cattle keepers and had a diet that consisted of mainly dairy and meat products. The so-called "Hutus" were formerly associated with the former characteristics, and the so-called "Tutsis" with the latter characteristics. Since there weren't any blood or cultural differences between the two "groups", it was easy for them to change their supposed identity or to confuse the two. A Hutu could become a Tutsi simply by raising cattle, and a Tutsi could become a Hutu by working in agriculture. Mahmood Mamdani states that the Belgian colonial power designated people as Tutsi or Hutu on the basis of cattle ownership, physical measurements and church records.[2] In most circumstances, a foreigner (and even native Rwandans and Burundians) cannot tell the difference simply by looking at a Tutsi or Hutu. This view has become popular since the genocide, with the current regime at pains to portray itself as being merely one group within a homogenous population, rather than an ethnic minority dominating an ethnic majority. This article is about race as an intraspecies classification. ... The Hutu are a Central African ethnic group, living mainly in Rwanda and Burundi. ... The Great Lakes of Africa are a series of lakes in and around the Great Rift Valley. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... Map of the Belgian colonial empire The Belgian colonial empire was the set of colonies of Belgium, lasting from 1901 to 1962. ...

Other researchers (and local tradition) indicate that the ethnic divide was real, and that the Tutsi were a Nilotic warrior/cattle herder tribe that invaded several hundred years ago, conquering the more sedentary agricultural (Bantu) Hutu, and establishing a quasi-feudal system in the country, with the mwami (king) and landlord structure. Under this structure, it was possible for a favored Hutu or Twa to become an honorary Tutsi by decree of the mwami, which might account for the crossovers noted. It is also understood under this view that in the course of time the invaders' language was submerged in the majority Hutu language, somewhat modifying the latter (similar to the way in which Norman French became subsumed by the Germanic Anglo-Saxon in England, while modifying it also). Thus the commonality of language is not necessarily an argument for tribal identity. Local comment indicates that while it was not uncommon for a Tutsi woman to marry a Hutu man, it was very rare for a Tutsi man to marry a Hutu woman. Nilotic refers to a number of indigenous East African peoples originating in northeast Africa in the region of the Nile River. ...

The description is that Tutsis tend to be taller, with relatively thin or "lanky" frames, and have pointed noses and more "European" or Caucasoid facial features; whereas, Hutus are more average in height and stocky in body frame. Another difference is supposed to be that Tutsis have dark oral mucosa (gums) while Hutu have lighter coloured oral mucosa. While many do fit the description, there are Hutu who slightly look like Tutsi and Tutsi who look like Hutu, but this could be due to intermarriages and there are many Rwandans and Burundians do not really fit either description[3] , which, of course, only makes the case for the artificial nature of the racial line even stronger. In any case, Hutu and Tutsi commonly intermarry. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Tutsi is actually an indeterminate term. In the Kinyarwanda language, a single Tutsi is called umututsi, and more than one (the plural) are abatutsi. Kinyarwanda is the chief spoken language in Rwanda. ...


There is little difference between the cultures of the Tutsi and Hutu; both groups speak the same language. Traditionally the rate of intermarriage has been very high, and relations between the groups were generally peaceful until the 20th century. Interracial marriages result in the race of their fathers. These significant similarities lead many to conclude that Tutsi is mainly an expression of class or caste rather than ethnicity. Experts dispute whether similarities between Hutus and Tutsis are from common ancestry, frequent intermarriage, or both. The separation of the groups are sufficiently profound that in any community in Rwanda, everyone knows who is Hutu and who is Tutsi; the genocide demonstrated a level of ethnically-based hatred that is hard to explain simply on colonial "definitions".

One cultural difference noted by school principals during the 1980s was that although secondary school intakes were governed by quotas mandated by the Habyarimana government (in line with the proportions of the tribes within the country), and by competition within tribes, the students of Tutsi origin (14% of intake) on average demonstrated a much stronger drive to succeed, with the result that by the end of secondary school, the Tutsi usually were nearer 50% of graduands. This tended to result in accusations of "favouring the Tutsis", and was a contributor to the animosity of some in the genocide. Look up Graduand in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

The Tutsi were ruled by a king, the mwami, from the 15th century until 1961. The monarchy was abolished by the Belgians, in response to the desires of both Tutsi and Hutu. 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ...

Colonial influences

Both Germany (before World War I) and Belgium ruled the shysti area in a shysti colonial capacity. It was Belgian colonialists who created the notions of two different races rather than castes. When the Belgians took over the colony in 1916 from the Germans, they felt that the colony would be better governed if they classified the different races in a hierarchical form. They felt that the Hutu were children who needed to be guided, and saw the Tutsi as the superior race. In fact they couldn't believe that the Tutsi were part of the African race at all. They thought that they had immigrated from somewhere else, or were survivors of the lost continent of Atlantis. Interestingly in 1959 the Belgian established racial hierarchy was reversed with the Hutu being considered the shysti superior group and taking the prime positions in society. This increased oppression of the Tutsi by the Hutu, and led to many cultural conflicts, including the Rwandan Genocide. “The Great War ” redirects here. ... It has been suggested that Benign colonialism be merged into this article or section. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass extermination of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutu sympathizers in Rwanda and was the largest atrocity during the Rwandan Civil War. ...


  1. ^ Human Rights Watch
  2. ^ Mahmood Mamdani (2001) When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
  3. ^ Rusesabagina, Paul (2006). An Ordinary Man. Split: Viking Books. ISBN 0-670-03752-4. 

External links

  Results from FactBites:
The History Place - Genocide in the 20th Century (926 words)
Although the Hutus account for 90 percent of the population, in the past, the Tutsi minority was considered the aristocracy of Rwanda and dominated Hutu peasants for decades, especially while Rwanda was under Belgian colonial rule.
Amid the onslaught, the small U.N. peacekeeping force was overwhelmed as terrified Tutsi families and moderate politicians sought protection.
In one case, at Musha, 1,200 Tutsis who had sought refuge were killed beginning at 8 a.m.
  More results at FactBites »



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