Thursday, February 27, 2020

Political Violence in Rwanda Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 words

Political Violence in Rwanda - Essay Example But understanding the historical context of this horrible phenomenon would evidently show that the root cause of the political violence tearing apart Rwanda goes back to its colonization by Western powers, which institutionalized racist doctrines to their advantage. II Historical Context: Rooting-out the Political Violence Rwanda, a small nation belonging to Africa’s Great Lakes region – considered to be among the most intense conflict zones in the world – has shocked the world not because of its dire poverty but because of the intensity of the political violence that erupted between the majority of its own people – the Hutus and Tutsis (Merlino, par. 1-2). At first glance, this could be understood simply as another ethnic violence, but historical facts would strongly dispute such characterization. In a study ordered by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Shyaka showed that the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa communities in Rwanda started not as e thnic groups, tribes or races because they share common culture and language, and live in the same territory, as they all belong to one unique ethnic group in Rwanda known as the Banyarwanda, which during the pre-colonial period served one monarch – the â€Å"Umwami.† Neither can they also be classified as social classes because they were all socially stratified. Instead, Rwandan identity was defined by their clan or lineage, which also implies their economic status. Furthermore, these communities were better distinguished by their expertise (eg. Hutus were known farmers; Tutsis, cattle breeders; and Twas, fishermen, hunters and potters). However, this identification had been deconstructed by European colonizers, who stripped off Rwandan society of its intrinsic values and imposed those which served colonial interest and who sharply racialized Rwandan people into opposing ethnicities, done through mythical and ideological construction using the Hamitic theory. Thus in the colonial period, Rwandan society was organized hierarchically into three antagonistic races: the minority Tutsis (9-14%) as the superior conquering race had become the privileged candidates to assist colonizers; the majority Hutus (85-90%) as the inferior Bantu race had become the dominated; and the Twas (1%) as the pygmoids. Such distinction created resentment and frustration on the part of the majority Hutus, while arrogance on the part of the minority Tutsis, alienating them from each other and making them easily colonized. In fact, European colonizers played them off whenever it works best to their colonial interest. (7-19) Succeeding events from 1950s onwards (Revolution of1959-1961, 1963-64, and Coup d'etat 1972-1973) were characterized by Hutu power ideology – annihilate Tutsis being the cause of Hutu sufferings, deeply polarizing Rwanda society. This erosion of middle ground tragically marked Rwanda’s decolonization and early postcolonial politics, which wo uld later culminate to the 1994 genocide. (Newbury and Newbury 7) III Local and International Conditions Exacerbating Political Violence The confluence of events in the local and international level exacerbated the enmity between Tutsis and Hutus leading to the 1994 genocide. First, the shift of political power from the oppressor (Tutsi) to the oppressed (Hutu) in the postcolonial Rwanda did not in any way improve but instead worsened their antagonism, as Hutus, instigated by the colonial power,

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