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European Intervention And The Rwandan Genocide

920 words - 4 pages

Through colonial institutions such as the Catholic Church, Europeans created a prominent social divide between the Tutsis and Hutus. “…The type of education one receives is greatly responsible for his or her behavior (White 475).” Education received from the Europeans in Christianity has shaped the economic, political and social hierarchy of Rwanda past its independence in 1962. Upon the arrival of European travelers, missionaries played a significant role during the colonization of Rwanda. Great emphasis on the creation of an effective Rwandan state and ethnic politics was placed on the role of the church. The conversion of the Rwandan population would allow a peaceful colonization without ...view middle of the document...

King Mwami Musinga was replaced by his son, Charles Rudahigwa Mutara, because Rudahigwa was more inclined to the Catholic church and Christian practices taught by the Belgian missionaries. King Musinga dethronement marked the establishment of the Belgian system of ethnic segregation (Berry 32). This was very influential in early Rwandan society in that to gain political power from the state, you must be affiliated with the Catholic Church (Longman 168).
Catholic Churches used material incentives such as consumer goods, health care and agricultural resources to establish the importance of religion thus alluring natives to convert to Christianity. The people of Rwanda became dependent on the church because it symbolized ‘power’. The Bahutu revolution against oppression began within the church before the elite attacked the state (Staub 883).
“....Hutu-Tutsi relations became a vehicle for inter-Belgian rivalries between the Flemish and Walloons…(Hintjens 254).” The United Nations placed Rwanda under the trusteeship of the Belgians from 1945 to Rwandan independence, established in 1962. After World War II, a new generation of Flemish officials and educated Hutus emerged. More Flemish officials and priests were appointed to service in Rwanda and favored the Hutus over the Tutsis (Hintjens 254). This new generation of missionaries were influenced by social, democratic philosophies and questioned Rwandan society (Longman 169). Gradually over time the Tutsi image of wealth and power was transformed. The new officials replaced half of the Tutsi chiefs from political office with Hutu chiefs and provided educational opportunities.
The Hutu elite encouraged church advocates and leaders to assume political positions in government. Gregoire Kayibanda, a Hutu who served as an editor for a Catholic newspaper and leaded a Catholic consumers’ cooperative eventually became the prime minister of Rwanda in 1960. He had founded the Hutu ‘emancipation’ movement...

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