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Manipulation of ethnic identity during the colonial reform of administration (1926-1931) and conflict in Rwanda.

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This study aimed to highlight factors used by the Belgian authorities to divide Rwandans during the Colonial Reform Process between 1926 and 1931. More specially, it is aimed at identifying how they mobilised Hutu, Tutsi and Twa social classes and transformed the ethnic identities. To achieve this goal, unstructured interviews and a questionnaire were used. In addition, several data analyses were also used to measure and decipher the attitudes of both the interview and survey's respondents. The results indicated the conflict started when the Belgian colonisers implemented indirect rules that highlighted a selected elite from the Tutsi Tribe. This group benefited from social and economic advantages which totally excluded the Hutu and Twa tribes. With the reform, the previous traditional structure was destroyed, and with the new administration only Tutsi chiefs remained whereas Hutu and Twa chiefs were rendered obsolete. Tutsi were seen as born chiefs. On the contrary, they judged the Hutu good for manual work and exploited them as a labour force. For a deep acceptance of this new order, colonisers reinforced ethnic policies with ideological assumptions which defined Tutsi as the superior race. In this regard, several ethnologists and anthropologists attempted to prove the Hamitic origin of the Tutsi, allowing Belgians to use the "Hamitic Myth", which assumed that the Tutsi was the only group able to understand development and to command at the request of the colonial state. In addition, Belgians decided to issue identity cards which clearly stated the bearer's tribal origin. This undoubtedly influenced people to develop ethnic feelings and disposed the most fiercely rival groups (Hutu and Tutsi) to ethnic competition that led to outbreaks of violence in 1959 when Belgians shifted their allegiance from Tutsi to Hutu as the fomer was asking for independence. The scarcity of environmental resources increased the desire to monopolise control of the country as this was continually perceived as only means of access to resources. This led Rwandan politicians to use ethnicity as a way to secure power. Consequently, a culture of ethnic violence became entrenched. This culminated in genocide from April to July 1994.


Thesis (M.Com.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2004.


United Nations--Armed forces., Tutsi (African People)--Crimes against--Rwanda., Hutu (African People)--Ethnic identity., Genocide--Rwanda., Batwa (African People), Peacekeeping forces., Rwanda--History--Civil War, 1994., Theses--Conflict resolution and peace studies.