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The Political Structure Of The Hutu Peoples

2132 words - 9 pages

The nature of the political structure of the Hutu peoples before the 19th century is only properly understood when a multitude of other factors are examined. Aside from examining the basic political system in which the Hutu lived it must be determined why the Hutu shaped their particular system in this way. This entails the assessment of factors such as their history based off of where they came from, what their identities became over hundreds of years, and how other groups reshaped their political society. Another factor that will be closely examined is the role of culture as an influence in the shaping of the Hutu’s political society. It is imperative to understand the basic political formation of a society before it can be properly inspected so as to recognize how it impacts all other aspects of society and vice verse.

Before it is examined why the Hutu’s political structure was it must first be established what it was like. As will be explained later in much greater detail, the Hutu found their way into the region of what is known today as central Rwanda around 1000 A.D. as part of the Bantu expansion. This migration displaced the peoples known as the Twa who, ultimately, assimilated with the Hutu. While there were peoples obviously living in this region at the time that the Hutu “discovered” it the Hutu considered themselves the rightful occupants of the land (Adekunle, 4). The Hutu were largely pastoralists who mainly grew sorghum but also herded a small number of cattle; it is assumed that the Hutu’s reason for migration to this region was because of the abundant savanna, fertile soil, ample rainfall, and generally high elevation that reduce that amount of disease carrying insects. From this formed what might be considered minor kingdoms but was more accurately a clan or, as the Hutu call it, “ubgoko”. This clan was headed by an “abahinza” who acted as a sort of king but there were difference between the two. First, the abahinza was chosen by the members of his clan because he was seen as someone who could make wise and effective decisions for their entire lineage. Second, he was not a tyrant as most rulers are popularly seen as but more of a mediator who helped solve the problems of his people in terms of disputes. Lastly, the abahinza were believed to have to power to bring rain “as well as protect crops from insects and cattle from disease” (Adekunle, 4). As the size of the Hutu clan grew it formed into what is best described as a proto-state which consisted of many different lineages living together but under the rule of one abahinza. All land is held collectively by the lineage, meaning that what is done with the land is decided upon collectively (Linden, 10). This land stayed with the lineage indefinitely, being passed down through generations, expanding only when the forest that bordered their territory was cleared in a process called “kwicaishyamba”. In this process lies the exception to the rule of...

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