Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda


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The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda

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The day the people rises up and no longer wants you, hates you in unison and from the bottom of its heart, when you will make it nauseous, I I ask myself where you will escape. Where can you go?

A condition of the unfolding and extension of the killings, the participation of the maximum possible portion of the population in them, also made it possible to exonerate those who conceived them. During a foreign tour, representatives of the provisional government explained to Western diplomats and at the United Nations that the massacres were the result of an uncontrollable dynamic of popular fury HRW, The most recent estimates of the numbers of killers strongly qualifies this representation of popular massacres, resulting in a range of , killers in the strict sense , or between 14 and 17 percent of the active Hutu adult male population Strauss, Each of the episodes of violence that the country experienced occurred in a regional context.

The parallel history of neighboring Burundi had a strong impact in Rwanda on several occasions. In , the assassination of the democratically elected Hutu President of Burundi, Melchior Ndadaye, prompted the exodus of several hundred thousand Burundian Hutu refugees to Rwanda, some of whom were to take an active part in the massacres HRW, Added to this dynamic of exported and imported violence were the cyclical effects of repetition.

However, 80 percent of Rwandans had been born after independence and had not lived through this period Uvin, The evident similarities between the situations of , , and make sense only in their reformulation, organization and integration into an official ideology.

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It is the fact that certain social groups claimed responsibility for them which makes them seem like repetitions of the same conflict. Appropriated and reinterpreted, these disparate contextual elements became the raw material for self-fulfilling prophecies Lemarchand, , which can only be transcended by the writing of a common history. The reign of Rwabugiri, the last mwami before colonists reached Rwanda, was particularly violent.

At the time, the kingdom was in a period of territorial expansion and the armies raised by the court finished conquering the region of Gisaka , gained a foothold on Ijwi Island first in , then in , and later , entered the Bushi region and organized raids in Ndorwa and Butembo This itinerant court was riven with divisions. The main clans — Kono, Ega and to a lesser degree, Tsobe — vied with each other for power and influence around the King. The royal faction initially consolidated its position by assassinating the Gereka lineage in , when Rwabugiri was still a child.

The dynamics of rivalry changed when the King grew up and began to actually exercise power. The struggle was increasingly centered on the opposition between the old aristocracy and a new elite, gathered around the young mwami. Betrayals and political assassinations were frequent. However, he became ill soon after the event and decided to go after the culprits, Rwampembwe and Nkoronko his own father.

They were massacred with their followers in These successive twists tilted the balance in favor of the Ega clan, which married one of its daughters, Kanjogera, to the mwami in the early s. The territorial expansion of the kingdom was linked to these conflicts at court: in , the Queen Mother Murorunkwere decreed a campaign against the Ndorwa region, then in Ijwi Island, to appease court rivalries after the massacre of the Gereka. The proliferation of military campaigns and the many cases of looting, as Armed Forces passed through the countryside, set off waves of popular protest which sometimes led to all-out rebellion, such as at Save in The reconstitution of clientelist networks by the redistribution of the remaining livestock to the most powerful leaders provoked the ruin of many small breeders.

In , smallpox decimated the Royal Armies. Faced with these events, which undermined the sacred quality of the royal institution — and therefore, its popular standing — the consensus Rwabugiri had built appeared very fragile, and it did not survive for long. The precise dates of these events is uncertain, as well as the number of victims. The exact reasons for this decision remain unclear to this day.

The Political Economy of Genocide: The Case of Rwanda

Rutalindwa succeeded him. Her son Yuhi Musinga, who was still a child, rose to power. In August , the Berlin conference determined the eastern borders of the Congo Free State — which was the property of Leopold II, King of the Belgians — along an oblique line which included the mountainous ridge towering over Lake Kivu in western Rwanda. England and Germany divided up the territories east of this oblique line in July England took Uganda and Germany took Rwanda and Burundi.

Their final layout was settled during the Brussels conference of Nonetheless, several violent operations with German support allowed the court to strengthen its hold on Rwanda, first against the attempted secession of Gisaka in and then, more importantly, against the insurrection in the northeastern quarter of the country in Besides this support for the court, the protectorate also encouraged the gradual establishment of Christian missions in Rwanda.

The number of victims is still unknown. Rukara was captured. With help from some notables from Nduga who were loyal to Musinga, the German Resident Gudovius organized a punitive expedition. Its goal was to obtain the complete submission of this region by destroying crops and dwellings. A revolt broke out against mwami Musinga and spread across the north of Rwanda. Ndungutse turned Rukara in to the German troops, hoping they would take mercy on him, and then fled to Uganda.

Rukara and Basebya were executed. At Nyanza, the Germans abandoned the Rwandan troops that had been levied for the war.


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Belgian policy in Rwanda was initially characterized by an apparent preference for indirect administration, but it still had real and profound effects on the country. At the same time, Belgium helped the mwami to assert his authority in the northern regions of the country, but also in the southwest and in the Bukunzi and Busozo areas.

From then on, all the future elites of the country were educated by the Church. The general direction of Belgian colonial policy in Rwanda changed substantially from the late s. His son and successor, Rudahigwa, collaborated more easily with the colonial authorities and the Church. They also created akazi , the requisition of men for unpaid labor in public works. From then on, as long as he held this post, he regularly intervened in Rwandan political life.

A messianic movement known as Nyiraburumuke or Ndanga led an uprising of the populations of Bugesera and Gisaka. Ndungutse was proclaimed mwami.

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On March 24, almost rebels attacked Mukano Hill, which was under the control of Chief Lukeratabaro, but were fought off. The next day, the Belgian Resident ordered that a military expedition depart to the rebel zone. The revolt was put down and Semaroso fled to Uganda. Six of the notables who had taken part in the rebellion surrendered to the Belgian authorities. The Resident put an end to the military operation but kept the region under military occupation for three and a half years.

The Catholic Mission of Rulindo intervened to appease the revolt. His son Rudahigwa converted to Catholicism, along with the court dignitaries. The reports written in , , and by the United Nations missions which visited Rwanda under the framework of the Trusteeship Council were increasingly critical of Belgian colonial policy. In , the Belgian authorities published a ten-year plan for the economic and social development of Ruanda-Urundi. Within the colonial system, the power struggle intensified.

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The Rwandan elites which drew their legitimacy from the Belgian authorities became divided between traditional powerholders the mwami and the court and a new elite generation, many of whose members had been trained in the Astrida region. They expressed their frustration through many pamphlets and publications, especially Kinyamateka , a newspaper edited in Kinyarwanda and created in The death of mwami Charles Mutara Rudahigwa in July, , sparked a crisis, forcing each faction to define its position.

In the mids, the colonial authorities contrived to reverse the course of the policy implemented so far, to some extent. In addition, the General Assembly of the United Nations regularly debated the issue of the independence of the territories under trusteeship. In Kigali, mwami Kigeri Ndahindurwa was sworn in. Though the violence was directed against the Tutsis, the royal institution as such was not targeted. Faced with this violence, Belgium imposed a state of emergency and placed the country under military occupation. After the violence had ended, Colonel Logiest, who had the powers of a Proconsul, made profound changes in the composition of Rwandan administrative personnel.

The elections to fill the positions of bourgmestres mayors and local councilors were a direct consequence of the reforms begun by Colonel Logiest. The Belgian administration supported the parties which came from the Hutu counter-elite Lemarchand, , and official propaganda became the only political discourse in Rwanda since on June 6, , the Special Resident had banned all political rallies.

The run-up to the elections was a period marred with violent incidents. In early July, Tutsi activists set fire to the voting booths of the Rubengera commune local administrative district , in the Kibuye region. Belgian support was decisive for the last blow struck against the monarchy on January 28, The new bourgmestres and local council members were summoned to Gitarama, they were taken there by the Belgians, and the meeting place was guarded by a detachment of Belgian paratroopers.

The Republic was proclaimed. The elections did not produce any change in the results of the January 21 coup; Rwanda thus became a republic before acquiring its independence. Rumors spread that Mbonyumutwa, who was in hospital, had died from his injuries. While trying to get demonstrators to disperse, the Belgian troops killed two of them and wounded two others in Mabanza. At Nyundo, where the Tutsis under threat were prepared to defend themselves, six of them were killed and several others injured.

Twenty-one Tutsi chiefs out of the 43 and vice-chiefs out of were ousted and replaced with Hutus. Half the chiefs and vice-chiefs were then Hutus. The same day, the population burned down 70 huts belonging to Tutsis. In one week, 1, housed were burned down in the regions of Gikongoro and Cyanika. Out of a total of 3,, 2, of them answered the call according to Lemarchand, , the total was 3, The institution of the monarchy was dissolved and the Republic was proclaimed.

Dominique Mbonyumutwa was elected President of the Republic.

Members of the Legislative Assembly were elected from among the participants in the meeting. The violence spread from Nyanza to Kigali, then reached the Kibungu region in the northeast. The Belgian administration suppressed it very slightly. In the referendum, 80 percent of electors voted for the abolition of the monarchy. In the early s, UNAR experienced serious internal dissent. Finally, UNAR was confronted with several core questions: what was its view of the monarchy? What attitude should UNAR adopt towards the new republican regime?

Though UNAR had official offices in Kigali, most of its representatives had fled to the neighboring countries and formed a government in exile. In addition, UNAR was finding it difficult to settle in a single host country. During the s the word inyenzi , which literally translates as cockroach, appeared. Occasional incursions into Rwandan territory continued to occur until It gradually became the single party, and won every seat of the National Assembly in These tensions fell into two categories:.

Later on, regional rivalry appeared fully during the exercise of power when ubukonde was debated. This form of real estate clientelism practiced in the north of the country had been weakened by the assertion of central authority during the colonial period. To many notables from the Ruhengeri and Gisenyi regions, who were real estate patrons themselves, supporting PARMEHUTU meant pushing for the disappearance of Tutsi political real estate patrons which the central authorities had implanted in the north during the colonial period.

This deleterious atmosphere provoked increasing discontent among emerging cadres, students and individuals with primary and secondary education. Very fierce local political competition was combined with rivalries on the national level. In this context of division, court struggles and competition for access to jobs, there was a strong temptation to manipulate the ethnic rift to unify the regime.

Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda
Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda
Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda
Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda
Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda Peasants in Power: The Political Economy of Development and Genocide in Rwanda

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