4.7.1-5: Rwanda

Module 4, Section 7.1-5


7.1 A small republic in eastern Central Africa, Rwanda was the site of massive slaughtering in the 1990s. Its three ethnic groups are the Hutus, with 90 percent, the Tutsi, with 9 percent, and the Twa pygmies with 1 percent of the population. The Twa were the original inhabitants, followed by the Hutu and then the Tutsi conquerors. The conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis exists despite their sharing a common language and culture.

7.2 Rwanda, along with neighboring Burundi, became part of German East Africa, mandated to Belgium as Ruanda-Urundi after World War I, both colonies bordering on the Belgian Congo. The Belgians perpetuated the rule by the Tutsis, and introduced identity cards showing ethnic affiliation. The Hutus rebelled in 1959, and Rwanda became an independent republic in 1962 dominated this time by the Hutus.

7.3 There followed political instability and conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi. In 1993, a Tutsi rebellion was stopped with the help of French troops. In a meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, the two sides agreed to share power, and the United Nations set up UNAMIR, the UN Assistance Mission to Rwanda. It received little funding or support, and UN headquarters failed to act on early warnings of the impending catastrophe. Attempts at democracy and peace ended in 1994 after the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed when the plane carrying them was shot down.

7.4 Massive violence against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus broke out and turned into genocide as a million Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, were killed, with thousands more dying of disease. As William Shawcross points out, while ancient ethnic hatreds are blamed, the violence "also had political drivers." The leaders exploited the conflict, transforming feelings into crises and violence. Violence is chosen; it does not just happen. Institutional structures are needed that would better enable people to address their concerns and legitimate needs for conflict resolution.

7.5 A geo-confederation where the Hutus and the Tutsis each have their own government would reduce the incentive to dominate the other side. The payment of rent would reduce the incentive to grab land; those who have it must pay, and those who don't have it receive more rent. The shared land rent would also provide needed funds for developing the country. As the country develops, land values increase yielding land rent which is then captured by constituted resource rent authorities to be utilized for the benefit of everyone.