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Religion in Rwanda

Religions of Rwanda

The country has been inhabited by the ethnic groups hutu (bantu) and tuas (pygmies) since early times, but in the 15th century this highland where 2 major African rivers - Congo and the Nile - originated, invaded by warrior and cattle people watusi ( Tutsis) who came from Ethiopia. After subjugating the locals, the Tutsis established a kingdom whose structures were not altered by German colonialism that invaded the area in 1897, and incorporated it into German East Africa, which also consisted of Burundi and present-day Tanzania.

After the First World War, the area under the name of Rwanda-Burundi was transferred to Belgium, which administered it from the Congo (current Democratic Republic of Congo). Among the 3 groups living in the area, the Tutsi Warriors came to dominate the state apparatus. But in 1959, the Hutu peasants revolted against the Tutsi monarchy. According to Countryaah data, the Hutus were organized in the Hutu's Liberation Movement (Parmehutu).

After a bloody civil war, the Belgian colony administration decided to retire. Parmehutu won the UN-supervised elections in 1961, proclaimed the year after the Republic of Rwanda and broke with neighboring Burundi.

The power structure that accommodated the Tutsi chiefs was dissolved and the land distributed in private plots. Yet, they failed to create truly national unity or overcome the ethnic contradictions. The following year, the Civil War broke out again. It cost 20,000 lives and resulted in 160,000 Tutsis being thrown out of the country.

Parmehutu lacked ideological foundations and instead organized the society on the basis of ethnic criteria: the Tua people (about 40,000) were employed in crafts, the Tutsis by cattle farming, and ownership of the land was reserved for the Hutus. This system hardly gave way to human development, as the capital of Kigali's pity testifies. President Gregoire Kayibanda spearheaded this development and cultivated his own plot of land. The consequence was that the population was self-sufficient in food, but there was almost no trade.

In the late 1960s, this problem was solved by the introduction of coffee plants. The coffee plantations had been burned down in 1959, when (for no reason) they were perceived as being introduced by the colonial power.

The new development strategy did not solve the country's economic problems, but instead aggravated the social as a rural bourgeoisie was developed that overlaid the ethnic divisions and contradictions and led to a series of violent uprisings.

Faced with the threat of a new civil war, Colonel Juvenal Habyarimana overthrew President Kayibanda on July 5, 1973. Habyarimana had until then been Secretary of Defense. He now disbanded Parmehutu, imprisoned Kayibanda (who died a short time later), and initiated diplomatic efforts to reconcile Rwanda with neighboring countries, but whose relations had been tense during the "presidential monarchy" of his predecessor.

The close relations between General Habyarimana, France and President Mobuto in Zaire (current Democratic Republic of Congo) caused disagreement within the ruling party, the revolutionary national movement for Development. The more progressive sector of the movement criticized the situation and Habyarimana's liberal politics, but by the 1980 Congress they were thrown out of the party.

Alexis Kanyarengwe was Minister of Labor and Party leader. He had to seek asylum in Tanzania to escape prison. Congress's main resolution stated that the government's economic project was based on "planned liberalism." Still, the plan ended up being a complete opening for foreign investment.

 

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