The Rwanda Genocide of 1994 – Background and Impact

The 1994 Rwanda genocide was characterised by gruesome killings fuelled by ethnic tensions in Rwanda between the Hutu and Tutsi. The Rwanda genocide happened over a period of 100 days between April 7th and July of April 1994. During this period some members of the Hutu ethnic who were the majority in Rwanda killed over 800,000 Tustis and some Hutu moderates.

How the Rwanda genocide began

It was started by Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali, On April 6, 1994, when a plane carrying then president of Rwanda, Juvenale Habyarimana and his Burund counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down over the capital city of Kigali. After an hour of the plane crash, the Presidential Guard, together with members of the Rwandan armed forces (FAR) and Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe (“Those Who Attack Together”) and Impuzamugambi (“Those Who Have the Same Goal”), set up roadblocks and barricades and began slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus with impunity. Since then there is no evidence about who shot the plane. Some have blamed Hutu extremists, while others blamed leaders of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi-led rebel group

The first victims of the genocide were the moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers. These were killed on April 7. This violence resulted into a political turmoil in which an interim government of the unruly Hutu leaders from the military high command stepped on April 9. Here the Belgium peacekeepers were killed and this provoked the withdrawal of Belgian troops.

United Nations directed that peacekeepers should only defend themselves as the genocide was spreading throughout the country with shocking speed and brutality. The ordinary citizens were incited by local officials and the Hutu Power government to raise up against their Tusti neighbors.

This time the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front gained control of the country through a military offensive in early July, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were dead and 2 million refugees (mainly Hutus) fled Rwanda, leading to humanitarian crisis.

Over fourth fifth and one seventh of the total population comprised of the Batwa and less than one percent of these people speaks the same language and are believed to have stayed togather for more ages.

Background of the Rwanda genocide

There were other forms of Genocide in Rwanda since colonial times and these mostly occurred from 1894 colonial invasion of Rwanda.

1894 colonial invasion

Rwanda has literally faced some occasional civil wars which took park from the colonial times and it has been noted that during the 1894 King Kigeri IV Rwabuguri met the German captain Von Gotzen after a year, the king passed away and then succeeded by his young son Mibambwe IV Rutarindwa.

His reign in power short-lived as during that same year, he was removed by a coup in which Yuhi V Musinga ordered for the execution of the old king’s family. The Germans helped the new king to attain powers and oppress the opposition in the country.

There were suppressions that targeted the northern parts of Rwanda which had the famers apprising with much resistance and rebellions that continued up to this regard Rwanda was officially incorporated in to GEACO (German East African Company) and made King Musinga to rule on their behalf.   

In the beginning of the German colonial rule there seemed to have occurred large scale uprisings in 1907 where the wife of the late Mwami Rwabuguri, named Muhumusa organized an upraise against the German authorities.

In this regard she crowned herself as Queen of Ndorwa and said that she will chase out all the foreign invaders out of Rwanda. Thereafter Muhumsa later fled to Uganda where she was captured by the British forces in 1911.

The rebellion had to continue as it received much support from communities in Northern Rwanda up to 1912 when the German forces killed Ndungutse the son to Muhumsa. This thereafter sparked an increased resistance to the colonial administration.

1959 Hutu revolution

The 1959 Hutu revolution forced as many as 330,000 Tutsis to flee the country, durring this period most Tutsi people lost their lives and this presumably made them smaller.

At this stage in 1961, the victorious Hutus had forced Rwanda’s Tutsi monarchy into exile and declared Rwanda a republic. After a United-Nations referendum that same year, Belgium officially granted independence to Rwanda in July 1962.

This rose up tensions in the mid 1960’s as a lot of oppression against the Tutsi minority increased more where Rwanda was declared a republic. Gregoire Kayibanda was made the first ruler and he strictly made the government for the Hutus only. This was done in suppression of the colonial policies that favored the minority Tutsi over the majority Hutu as in this context the racial policies continued and here the Tutsi were regarded as foreigners basing on some of the western writers who probably regarded the Tutsi people to have migrated from Ethiopia to Rwanda.

This preempted that the Tutsi were foreigners and arguably shouldn’t take part in any political position of Rwanda. By 1964 some efforts were made to remove all the Tutsi influence from the political game. Here many Tutsi people remained occupying some relative positions in both civil and education service system.      

With the completion of evicting the Tutsi from government between 1964 to 1967, the Republic democratic movement later turned against the Hutu opposition. Political representatives from this party continued getting removed from the political powers. This enchanted more criticisms to the party for the way in which it handled education and lack of employment opportunities.

From 1966 there was an increased effort for Hutu participation in the education system, which was still dominated by Tutsi people. By 1970 this prompted the Democratic republic government to disband all the ethnic based institutionalized schools and administration in Rwanda.

1973 Rwanda coup

This was ought to have occurred between 1973 as the Democratic Republic government had faced more challenges and criticisms based on education system and increased levels of  un employment in regards to the Hutu people.

It resulted to be the second republic of Rwanda. This was generally aided by the poor administration policies and failures of Regime that was headed by Kayibanda and durring this period there were escalating killings Tutsi ethnic by the Hutu ethnic.

These killings caused a lot of tensions and violence between the Tutsi and Hutu elites from the Northern part of Rwanda who initiated a campaign to eradicate all Tutsi people from schools and public administration. 

This coup took place on July 5, 1973, when Major General Juvénal Habyarimana, who was defense minister in Kayibanda government, took over power forcefully. His intention for doing so was to resolve the general disputes that had taken the government way back from 1972. In this turmoil most prominent people including Kayibanda were executed in the 1973 coup de-tat.

Presumably the civil war and genocide had a role to play in the Rwanda People front (RPF) take over which was termed to be disastrous. The rebels experienced several defeats against the Rwandan army. Here some of the rebels were forced to flee Rwanda to Uganda and some of them were part of the NRA government of Uganda after they reorganized in 1991 and tried to fight over the reigning regime but eventually failed after the death of Fred Rwigyema.

This eventually forced the current president of Rwanda Paul Kagame to return back to home from the United States of America where he for further studies and join his fellow countrymen for the fight against despotic leadership of Hutu government in order to liberate Rwanda. 

This was on course due to the fact that the local population was majorly comprised of Hutu farmers. These did not see the RPF as liberators and they would flee as soon as the rebels approached. By 1993 a number of Hutu people estimated at 950,000 people had fled the northern parts of Rwanda.  

The role of Germany colonialists

By 1894 Rwanda was declared under the colonial rule of the Germans and this was governed under the Umbrella of German East African Company (GEACO). The Germany rule only short lived for a while just after World War 1. Germany lost some of its colonial territories in Africa as a rule passed on by the League of Nations however; there are some of the roles which were stipulated on their rule towards genocide.

The Indirect rule Policy

This was majorly one of the rules which were implied in Rwanda unlike other parts of Africa where they applied direct rule like Tanganyika. Here the Germans had little interest in Rwanda as they decided to use the local chiefs to rule on their behalf and this simply saw the Kingship institutions in Rwanda to remain intact but at the mercy of the colonialists.

The use of forced labor policies by local authorities who mostly forced their neighbors and these were mainly Tutsi who were the chiefs chosen by the Germans over the Hutu and this geared up the genocide since the Hutu people felt as inferiors. This process meant that forced labor be used as a tool to build infrastructure and extract resources that would benefit the Germans instead of local communities.

The German rule led to the creation of social classification among the local communities. This was basically done among the Tutsi and Hutu ethnics; here the Tutsi people who were regarded as minority were handed over more powers and this enhanced the outbreak of the Rwandan Genocide.

The failure of Germans to understand that the local communities in Rwanda had shared a lot in common by speaking the same language dialect and they continued to favor one side of the community who greatly were cattle keepers and also basing on their looks and economically they were cattle keeps thus the Germans roles led to the outbreak of the genocide.

The role of Belgian colonialists

In early 1930 after the outbreak of world war one Rwanda and Burundi were colonies to the German East African company and these were formally known as Ruanda Urundi just after the defeat of Germany in world war, these two states were handed over to Belgium under the reign of King Leopold the 2nd by the League of Nations.

Ideally this was a period of transitions since most of the rules and policies which the Germans had left behind were easily taken over by Belgians and these were not in line with the local communities more especially the two ethnics who had social differences i.e. the Tutsi who were predominantly favored over the Hutus hence resulting to Genocide.

The Belgians application of direct rule during their colonial context in Rwanda, this majorly focused on taking greater part in the day administration as some of the locals were used to indirect approach that was firmly used by the Germans and this preempted to the rise of rebellions against their rule which did not mark the use of local authorities and instead they were made puppets.

Rwanda’s colonial period, during which the ruling Belgians favored the minority Tutsis over the Hutus, this exonerated the tendency of the few to oppress the majority, creating of tensions that resulted into revolts even before Rwanda gained its independence.

The introduction of social classification and identification card which showed the information of the people based on their ethnic and this definitely made an upset to the Hutus eventually sparking off the Genocide.

The Belgians through the Catholic Church and missionaries wanted to promote several doctrines among the local people and this was only favoring one side of the groups and this basically was part of the Tutsi group whose children were privileged to study in better schools than Hutus children and this made that the Hutus were only meant for manual labor.

How colonialists fuelled civil conflicts in Rwanda

As any of the traditional African societies which were colonised by the Germans and later given to Belgians. Initially after the end of world war one, League of Nations with the duty to protect and conserve the integrity and security for their colonies on their behalf after Germany losing the World War 1. This was done as a way of compensating other European powers.

However, here after the Germany rule in Rwanda, the Belgians who later took over power started by following the policies which were earlier done by their predecessors and these were based on racism, division and exploitation all which resulted in to civil war and later genocide.

In remembrance of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi minority, Rwandan people were reaped apart as the Germans and Belgian governments and missionaries literally changed religion to colonialism and besides spreading racism ideologies which they awfully forced to Rwandan people hence sparking off genocide.

The Belgians aggressions system which was harsher and distress to the local people in Rwanda also fueled to Genocide; here the Belgians were more radical in nature as they exploited the poor Africans into forced labor as one hence resulting into the 1994 Genocide.   

The discrimination and persecution made by the colonialists virtually destroyed the traditional and spiritual reigns of the African societies and they were depleted culturally socially and physically damaged hence laying the ground for the genocide  

Belgian colonialists also introduced social classification between the Tutsi and the Hutu, here the printing of social identification for both ethnics and whose features were both printed on paper which made the Hutus inferior to the Tutsi and this therefor led to the escalation of  early 1959 revolution in Rwanda.  

The colonialists had an ideology that referred Africa as a dark continent and in this pretext the Belgians ought to have come to Africa a place full of wilderness and the African cultures were presumably taken as backward, inhumane and they devalued the traditional norms of the local by promoting there western cultures all these brought violence to a larger scale hence leading to the outbreak of the Genocide.

How the genocide impacted wildlife and tourism in Rwanda

Rwanda is popularly known as the ‘Land of A Thousand Hills,’ with stunning scenery, wildlife and friendly people. All this offers unique experiences like gorilla tours, game viewing, and cultural tours in this East African country. It is blessed with extraordinary biodiversity, with incredible wildlife living throughout its volcanoes, montane rainforest and sweeping plains. Travellers come from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the magnificent gorillas, yet there is so much more to see and experience, however the genocide has had both negative and positive impacts on the wildlife and tourism at large in Rwanda today.

Wildlife area conservation land encroachment

It is understandably that after the 1994 genocide most people returned to the Rwanda as refugees and here most of the humanitarian organisations and the government were forced to look for land on where to resettle them and in this regard some of the National park like Akagera conservation area were encroached up to about 400acres of land was lost which negatively impacted on wildlife and tourism in Rwanda at large. 

Increased human-wildlife conflict

This was one of the major impact on the wildlife and tourism development. Here most people more especially the cattle keepers resorted to killing wild animals such as lion as it is evidenced today that the Rwandan government is trying to bring back lions to Akagera National park as a result that some of these lions were killed in past.

Decrease in GDP for the Rwandan government

The genocide initially led to reduction in GDP as most of the wildlife habitats were destroyed and this therefor led to the reduction in the numbers of tourists hence affecting the growth and development of tourism in Rwanda at Large.

Displacement of wildlife species

Due to the outbreak of Rwandan civil wars and genocide led to the displacement of wildlife species such as many animals were killed and others migrated from the conservation areas.

After the 1994 the RPF government used tourism as a tool to promote peace among the communities here both the Hutu and Tutsi ethnics were involved the tourism programs such as the gorilla mist conservation in the volcanoes.

The Genocide has led to the development of Dark tourism in Rwanda today for example the Kigali Genocide Museum and other areas where massive killing occurred today are often visited by many travellers to hear the stories about what happened in the past hence promoting tourism development.

Social economic foundations, tourism actors can directly contribute to peace building while supporting their core business activities by focusing on revitalizing socio-economic foundations. As the tourism sector is a labor intensive industry that markets the country in order to attract foreign visitors and international investment, it could play a role in peace promotion by: developing inclusive business models, providing financial and in-kind contributions, promoting environmental conservation, reconstructing infrastructure, creating employment, supporting women’s initiatives and addressing socio-economic exclusion

Rwanda’s ethnicity

Who Are the Hutu and Tutsi

The Tutsi and Hutu are two ethnic groups that share the same origin. These are the first occupants in Rwanda and some where raring cattle while others didn’t. Those that where raring cattle where known as the “Tutsi” and the rest that never had cattle known as the “Hutu”. However at this moment, anyone can easily change the categories either by owning cattle or intermarriage. It is after the colonization of the area by the Europeans for the Hutu and Tutsi to have an ethnic role. When Rwanda was fighting its independence from Belgium, the Belgians turn on the position for the two groups, facing a revolution initiated by the Hutu, and the Belgians left the Hutus who made up the largest population of Rwanda to take over the new government of Rwanda. This disappointed the Tutsi and led to conflicts between the two groups that continued for years and years.

Slaughter Inside Churches, Hospitals, and Schools

The killing of people was done in very many places including schools, churches, and hospitals among other places where people used to hide. This lead to such places to be turned into places of massive murder after the period of Rwanda genocide.

The worst event in Rwanda genocide took place on the 15th and 16th of April at the Nyarubuye Roman catholic church which is situated in the eastern part of Rwanda at about 60 miles from Kigali city. This occurs as the mayor of the place was advising people his citizens to hide in this place that it will save most of them and the safest place from being killed, but unfortunately he betrayed them to the Hutus and none survived!

At this church, the killing spent like two days and it started with the use of guns and later changed to hand weapons such as the machetes, clubs and knives but this was too tiresome that the murderers reached an extent of making it in shifts  till when the thousands of the Tutsi people where all killed.

Dead bodies where left on the ground un berried and exposed to predators like rats, dogs among other animals which made the event a remarkable one since the Hutu leaders were not allowing the corpses to be buried and some were thrown into rivers, and streams in act of sending them back to their origin as many people had wrong information that they came from Ethiopia.

The same events took in Rwanda in different places but the most hurting ones took place within the dates of 11th April up to the start of May.

The Rwanda Genocide Ends

The Rwanda genocide finally came to an end as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) took over the government of Rwanda. This military group was made up of Tutsis who were exiled in the earlier years and most of whom came from Uganda. These were able to enter the country and take over and gained full control in mid July of 1994 which marked the end of Genocide.