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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Multiculturalism and cross-cultural awareness: Not really intertwined (Part III)

By Ardain IsmaThis last part focuses on the small African country of Rwanda, where ethnic hatred degenerated into genocide in 1994. Dr. Ardain Isma (left in the picture) does not intend to bring graphic descriptions about horrific crimes committed by one group of people against another. He rather presents the case in a historical context in an effort to bring more light into what has been, until now, largely commercialized in Hollywood. The latest is the gut-wrenching Raoul Peck movie, “Sometimes in April.” Rwanda is a small country in Sub-Saharan Africa that borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Uganda. Its official language is French, but English plays a major role due to the fact that the Tutsi-led rebel army that swept to power and ultimately put an official end to the genocide in 1994 was mainly made of Rwandan born in refugee camps in neighboring Uganda, where English is one of the main language. Most of today’s leaders of Rwanda, including its president, Paul Kagame, are more Anglophone than Francophone. But what happened in this small African country in 1994 represents the mirror reflection of what could take place when people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds are not made aware of their differences and are not taught to accept or, at the very least, to tolerate one another.           Rwanda and The Strategy of Ethnic DivisionWhen the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame lunched their first attack in Rwanda from their bases in Uganda on October 1, 1990, President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was close to securing two decades of his grip on power. The attack came at a time when his popularity was steadily deteriorating among Rwandans. At the beginning, no one in the Rwandan government regarded the RPF as a serious challenge, despite the RPF clear-stated goal of doing away with Habyarimana to pave the way for hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees who had been living in exile for a generation to return home.The Rwandan leadership did not see the rebels as a real threat. As a matter of fact, they welcomed the move as they saw it as an opportunity to eliminate dissent within the country. Thus, the government exaggerated the rebels’ advance by playing the ethnic card. So they started painting all Tutsi in the country as RPF sympathizers or, even worse, as collaborators. To make it easier for its propaganda machine, the government embarked up on a major campaign designed to do one thing: redefining the population of Rwanda into two categories: “Rwandans,” meaning those who supported the government, and the “Ibyitsos,” meaning the Tutsi minority and dissident Hutu. Ibyisto in the local language means accomplices of the enemy.To boost its campaign and to create legitimacy for its claims, the Habyarimana government used fear and past hatred. It brought old memories of past domination by the Tutsi and played on the “glory” the Hutu revolution in 1959 that crushed their rule and, simultaneously, forced thousands into exile. Another reality that played well in favor of the government genocidal aim was the fact that it was easy to differentiate Tutsi from Hutu for their long physical appearance. Furthermore, Rwandan law required all citizens be registered according to their ethnic group.Although it seemed easy in the surface, destroying centuries of close coexistence amongst people who had shared a common language, a common history and common cultural traditions could not prove to be easy. Centuries of mixed marriages, living next to each other, going to school and to church together could not be erased overnight. Besides these facts, the government had to surmount another hurdle in its quest to make ethnicity a predominant issue: it had to unite the Hutu camp, still divided between rich and poor, between north and south and between members of different political factions.From the beginning, the government was ready to use all means, including the use physical attacks to achieve its political goal. In mid-October of 1990, about a thousand Tutsi considered as ideological foe and Hutu opponents were slaughtered. This incident was the first of several more to come before the full-blown nineteen ninety-four genocide. By early 1992, the government had founded, financed and trained the youth wing of its party called Interahamwe, which means those who fight together. Many observers believe that the move was in line with preparation for the genocide. While all these were going on, killings of innocent Tutsi and Hutu opponents continued unabated, thus creating a sense that it was “okay” to kill for political ends.    The propaganda chest gameThe attack by the RPF, however, sent chill to both Tutsi and Hutu for two different reasons. The Tutsi feared they would be slaughtered again as memory of revenge killings during the time of invasions by refugee groups in the 1960s came back to hunt them. The Hutu, in the other hand, could not remove from their mind the memory of dreaded killings of thousands of Hutu by Tutsi in next-door Burundi in 1972, 1988, and in 1991.While confusion and fear reigned, the authorities did nothing to calm the population. To the contrary, they enflamed their fear in hope of boosting support for themselves. They knew   that the RPF had been substantially reduced as a result to heavy losses they suffered during the early phase of the war. They knew that the Rwandan army backed by several hundred highly trained and well-armed French troops was twice the size of the rebel army.In an effort to bring along hesitant supporters who refused to sign onto the genocidal campaign, Habyarimana sought help and found it among the academic community in Rwanda. With the help extremists intellectuals, Habyarimana was able to put together a propaganda machine, using the Roger Muchielli book titled Psychologie de la Publicité et de la Propagande published in Paris in 1970 to train his cadres. This was evident when a document entitled “Note Relative à la Propagande d’Expansion et de Recrutement” was found in Butare prefecture where the author, taking notes from the Muchielli book, in a detailed analysis, explained the best effective way to convince the public to participate in the campaign.The author of the document advocates using all means “necessary to sway the public, including lies, character assassination, fear tactic and exaggeration to attack the enemy, whether it was in his private or public life.” The author claimed, “Morality in propaganda is irrelevant,” except if it can be used as one more weapon against the enemy. He continued by saying that, in the campaign, it is quintessential neither to ignore and underestimate the power of the other side nor to overlook the intelligence of the targeted population. To the author, propagandists must always be committed to winning over the unconvinced or uninterested and to forcing divisions among “supporters of the other point of view. They must persuade the public that the adversary stands for war, death, slavery, repression, injustice, and sadistic cruelty.”Beside the alarmist advocacy mentioned above, the people behind the propaganda machine proposed two things that must be maintained at all time: one was to invent fake event to give credibility to the campaign, something that became frequent use before and during the genocide. The author admitted this tactic is very dishonest, but he added that it should work perfectly fine as long as it remains undetected. In fact, many observers believe that the so-called “attack” on Kigali in October of 1990 was an example of such fake events, just as other “mysterious” discovery like the reported discovery of radio communication equipments, arm caches, the passage of a stranger with a mysterious bag etc.The second thing was what the author called “Accusation in a mirror,” which means ascribing the enemy. That means, “The party which is using terror will accuse the enemy of using terror.” In this way, the propagandists believed it was easier to persuade hesitant listeners that their attacks were legitimate and in purely “self-defense” since they were being attacked by the enemy.It is not clear if all government officials and their supporters who directed the genocide were in fact implemented the instructions found in the document or if they were even aware of it. However, the Bugesera massacre in March of 1992 and the overall campaign to convince Hutu that Tutsi were out to extirpate them were in line with lessons thought in the document. The media: An effective propaganda machineAs in most form of propaganda, it can’t be effective without the use of the media. The propaganda campaign in Rwanda was no different. The authorities had used all forms of communications to intoxicate the population with hatred. The newspaper Kangura, shortly after the RPF attack in October 1990, was transformed as the main government mouthpiece, lunching virulent attacks against Tutsi and blatantly accusing them as the enemy of the State. Other newspapers supported and financed by business people tied to the regime and other rich top government officials quickly joined the bandwagon. An intensive study of the media role before and during the genocide revealed that at least eleven of the forty-two newspapers created in 1991 were tied to the government genocidal campaign.But the papers were published and distributed in and around Kigali, the capital, and only 66 percent of Rwandans are considered to be literate. Thus, making the use of radio an even more effective tool in the propaganda machine. It can reach a much wider audience to preach the message of hate. At the start of the genocide, Rwanda had only one radio station, Radio Nationale De Rwanda. It was very popular among all Rwandans—the elite as well as the average people. According to a United Nations report, in 1991, about 30 percent of all households contained a radio. As the campaign moved to full gear, this estimate became quite irrelevant because the government distribution of free radios to the general population. At the peek of the genocide, it was reported that more than ninety percent of the population had access to a radio. Those who had no radios listened to the news from their neighbors or in the local bar.Radio Rwanda, up until in the early nineteen nineties, was in effect the official voice of the government and, to some extent, the voice of the president himself, announcing special government events, exams results for examinations to secondary education and nominations to as well as revocations from government positions. Broadcasting excerpts from the president’s political speeches before the evening news was a routine event. Radio Rwanda became notorious for its blatant falsification of information, especially with regards of the progress of the war. The government was always winning and pounding the enemy positions, according to the news announcers. It was very difficult for the majority of population to verify these claims since access to independent news sources was severely limited.In April of 1992, under pressure from the international community and pressure from the battlefield, Habyarimana yielded to pave the way for the creation of a coalition government comprising of the three main opposition parties: the Mouvement Démocratique Républicaine (MDR), the Parti Libéral (PL), and the Parti Social Démocrate (PSD). The new coalition government’s move was to demand swift changes in the direction of Radio Rwanda. Its first action was the removal of Ferdinand Nahimana, a fervent supporter president Habyarimana. He was fired from his position as a supervisor of Radio Rwanda at the Rwandan Office of Information (ORINFOR). Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro, a member of the opposition, replaced Nahimana few months later. His nomination was designed to change the direction of the radio and to move it toward a more balanced, independent position. In December of 1993, shortly before the genocide began, to the surprise of many observers, Higiro agreed to allow the RPF to participate in the broadcasts of Radio Rwanda. However, before the killing started, this decision did not get the chance to be implemented.The RPF, however, had its own medium. Shortly after the civil war began, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) created Radio Muhabura. At the start, it could not reach the entire population, and many Rwandans were afraid to turn on to it for fear of government reprisals. But when more and more people realized the nationalistic stance of the RPF, emphasizing on minimizing differences between Hutu and Tutsi, the number of its listeners grew sharply during the months of 1992 and 1993, even though Radio Muhabura made it clear that it represented the voice of the RPF.In April of 1993, Hutu extremists decided to establish a radio station of their own. Many observers believed it was a move by Habyarimana to offer an alternative to the new direction at Radio Rwanda and to counter the RPF increasing influence over the population as Radio Muhabura was becoming ever more popular. The new radio was incorporated as Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). Businessman Félicier Kabuga was the project’s main financial backer. His daughter was said to marry the son of the president. Alphonse Ntilivamunda, Habyarimana’s son-in-law and a high official at the Ministry of public works, was another contributor. It was a kind of family affair.There were other founding members. They all had ties to the government. Among them were Augustin Ngirabatware, the minister of planning, and son-in-law of Kabuga, and André Ntagerura, the minister of telecommunications. There were also other figures like Simon Bikindi, from the Ministry of Youth. Bikindi was a famous musician who earned his fame for his staunch anti-Tutsi songs. Others like Pasteur Musabe, general director of the Banque Continentale Africaine, Augustin Ruzindana, governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, joined later.Despite all these people’s tied to Habyarimana, the MRND, Habyarimana’s own party still had to have its own representatives in the project. They were Joseph Nzirorera, executive secretary of the party, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, president of the MRND after President Habyarimana abandoned that position, Georges Rutaganda, vice-president of the MRND militia, the Interahamwe, the army chief of staff and a protestant bishop. The Coalition Pour la Défense de la République (CDR), a fascist party with strong connection with Habyarimana was represented in the project by Stanislas Simbizi and CDR’s chief ideologue, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza.Right from the start, RTLM positioned itself as a serious contender, introducing what it called “interactive broadcasting” by creating talk shows where the audience was invited to call in to convey its opinion. Listeners were invited to call to pass any piece of information that they might have. Many Rwandans who listened to RTLM, including many Tutsi who were always the subjects of gossips and false information, liked the new station, especially for its lively music and informal style.Although RTLM was without question a very popular station, the people had no doubt about its role as a propaganda tool for Habyarimana and his cronies. The people have come to learn quickly the RTLM’s tactic of accusing others for crimes committed by its own supporters, a clear reference to “accusations in a mirror.” In a third world countries where many people can’t read, the power of newspapers can be no match with that of radios. And the case of RTLM was no different. Instead of competing with other established media tied to Habyarimana, it took its message and carried it to a higher ground by taking the same themes and, sometimes, the same words that were being used in the written press.RTLM, with its power to reach a wider audience, quickly eclipsed newspapers like Kangura and other journals to impose itself as the official voice of Habyarimana in the “fight to save the republic.” As the genocide drew near, the extremists had managed to retake control of Radio Rwanda and subordinated it to RTLM. Targeted by Hutu extremists as a result of RTLM propaganda, Higiro, Radio Rwanda’s director, fled the country, and was replaced by Jean-Baptiste Bamwanga, a former journalist of the station who was removed in 1992 for his role in instigating the killing of many Tutsi in Bugesera. Kantano Habimana, one of the radio hosts could not hide his joy for the return of Bamwanga to Radio Rwanda. He called the move as a clear indication that Radio Rwanda was transformed from a “rival” to a “sister.” So, during the genocide, the sister stations collaborated closely to deliver the message of hate.Rwanda and its historyLike people in all other countries, Rwandans are no different in looking at their history with an utmost respect. When watching the visceral hatred that characterized the nineteen-ninety-four genocide, one might be able to draw the simplistic conclusion that Hutu and Tutsi were born to kill each other and that they had never shared anything in common. At the surface, it looks as such; and Rwandans recent past leaves little doubt that what happened in nineteen ninety four was a time bomb waiting to explode. It is unquestionable that those who engineered the genocide did so, in large part, to achieve political supremacy for themselves while shrewdly exploited long held deep-rooted fear between the country’s two main ethnic groups. The slaughter of thousands of Tutsi by the Hutu, although it was instigated, coordinated and directed by people using sadistic means, foregrounded in sad misconceptions about Tutsi’s origin: where they had come from, who they really were, and, most importantly, their past action against the Hutu.  These elements were just enough to put fire on a dormant fear and hatred that rendered the genocide possible. A review of recent history of this small country of central Africa is quintessential to shed some light on why so much hated could be built up in such a relatively short time and why countries who had the power to stop the killing field simply looked the other way.The three main groups: Hutu, Tutsi, and TwaTwo thousand years ago, Hutu and Tutsi settled the regions that are now known Rwanda and Burundi. Initially they lived disproportionately in small groups, and each is created by a system of lineage or according to degree of loyalty given to a specific leader. Over the years, they had managed to join forces to found the rather complex and sophisticated country of Rwanda through the creation of a common language, Kinyarwanda. The country was also founded on principles that maintain a unique culture and the same set of religious and philosophical beliefs, honoring the same heroes.A largely agricultural country, most Rwandans, since early times were farmers who lived off their lands raising small stock, although a small group of people was doing far well-off than the overall population by creating their wealth on maintaining large herds of cattle. Its rain forest, its regular rainfall and its fertile soil had allowed the country to prosper. With that came a demographic explosion to the point, by 1994, the country topped the list of one of the most densely populated country on the African continent.In the eighteenth century, Rwanda reached state status in which its leadership was composed mainly of wealthy landowners and cattle herders. Developing a system comparable to feudalism, the number of subjects and the number of their cattle were the most important means its leaders used to measure their power. Not all cattle herders held political power, however. The Bagogwe or pastoralists of the northwest and the Bahima of the northeast, although wealthy cattle herders, did not play a proactive role in running the country.  To win allegiance and to win tacit support for military crusade abroad, Rwandan rulers practiced a system of cronyism, granting cattle to their supporters. But owning cattle was not the exclusive means of gaining power. During the late nineteenth century, especially under the rule of Rwabugiri who led the country to reach the zenith of its power, military skills could land someone important position in the country’s hierarchy. For example, farmers skilled in waging and winning wars and also able to command large groups of followers rose to become very influential. In its effort to expand its territorial boundaries, the Rwandan State moved against neighboring communities whether the people were farmers or pastoralists and no matter how they were organized: in lineages or in states.Notwithstanding the fact that power derived from the control over the military and over cattle ownership, rituals firmly rooted in agricultural practices played a profound role in the mechanism of power. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Rwandan State was ruled as a federated feudalistic style of government. The central government allowed the existence of a series of mini states within Rwanda to flourish, in part because their leaders were said to have great control over many aspects of farming productivity, like pesticides, rainfall etc…In contrast to the central part of the country that was tightly governed through a feudal system of dinosaurs competing with each other over land, subjects and cattle ranching, these mini states were loosely controlled, allowing local rulers to govern while the central government provided overall security of the country. As a matter of fact, president Habyarimana, at the start of the colonial period, was considered to be an important ruler of one of the largest of such mini states: the state of Bushiru.To understand the clear origin of the words Tutsi and Hutu, it is important to have the knowledge about the main groups that crafted the Rwandan society. Since the start, one group was pastoralist and the other was farmer. The pastoralists were rich and therefore held most positions of power. The cultivators were poor and were treated like subjects at worse, and like ordinary people at best. As the society developed and become more modern, the privileged group began to seriously think of itself as superior to ordinary individuals.So the elite group was called “Tutsi” because its members were cattle ranchers. “Tutsi” was a way to describe its status. In other words, “Tutsi” originally means a rich cattle rancher and later came to be the term used to describe those who occupied the highest layer of society. In contrast, the word “Hutu” which means originally a subject of a more powerful person later became the preferred word used to describe the masses. These distinctions were well defined in the early nineteen hundred when Europeans first arrived in Rwanda; although there were people who today would be called “Hutu” that occupied high positions within the power structure of some mini-states.The class factor was one of the main drives that created such clear rift between the two communities. Like every society, privileged people tend to marry their own. Rwanda was no exception as Tutsi, for generations, almost exclusively married within themselves. It was obvious that the two groups over the years became well defined in appearance. Hutu were short, but built and strong, whereas Tutsi were slim, tall with a narrow-featured.However, despite the great disparity between the two groups, some Tutsi did marry Hutu. Such practice created a subgroup, and because Rwandan law required a child to take the category of his father, some people were born to be called Tutsi while they clearly looked like Hutu and some people were called Hutu where they perfectly looked Tutsi. There is another group that resembled both Tutsi and Hutu. During the genocide, mistaking identity was the cause for many killings. A clear testimony was the murder of colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, a Hutu and the mayor of Kigali, the capital. He was assassinated after being mistaken for a Tutsi.The last entity forming the state of Rwanda is a group of people very different from both Tutsi and Hutu. Twa is the name given to the people in this category because of their size—smaller than both Hutu and Tutsi. They are a marginalized group and make up about one percent of the overall population. For centuries, they were hunters who live in the forest. However, in recent years, some Twa have become city dwellers and work as potters, construction workers and servants. They are discriminated against by both Tutsi and Hutu, and in some cases, it would not be surprising to find members of either group refusing to even share food with the Twa, let alone marrying them. According to many observers, during the genocide, the Twa could be found in both side of the conflict. Some were killers, while others were victims.Colonial Changes in the Political SystemWhen the Europeans arrived in Rwanda at the end of the nineteenth century, the relationship between Hutu and Tutsi took a dramatic turn.  As the United States sought to erase European influence in the American continent, colonial powers in Europe turned to Africa as their new frontier, their new sphere of dominance. In eighteen eighty-five, a major conference in Berlin was held, which sole purpose was to carve up Africa amongst the European empires. So the Berlin Conference assigned Germany to take over Rwanda. Count von Gotzen was the first German explorer to reach Rwanda in 1894. It took several years for Germany to set up a colonial administration in Rwanda. Though Germany effectively ruled Rwanda directly from berlin from 1899 to 1919, when it was transferred to Belgium following the defeat of Germany in World War I.The Germans, who established a colonial administration at the turn of the century, and the Belgians who replaced them after the First World War, ended the occasional open warfare that had taken place within Rwanda and between Rwanda and its neighbors. Both Germans and Belgians sought to rule Rwanda with the least cost and the most profit. Making use of the impressive indigenous State was the obvious way to do so, but the colonialists found its complexities troublesome.The multiple hierarchies, which had allowed the ruler to maximize his control by playing off rival officials, now permitted both ruler and his subordinates to evade control by the colonialists. The dense administration within central Rwanda—with the least important representatives of the ruler sometimes governing only a few hundred people—required a relatively high proportion of local goods and labor for its support. The colonialists preferred to have these resources at their own disposal, to cover their expenses and to pay the costs of building an infrastructure to link Rwanda to the world economy. At the same time, the Belgians saw the autonomous enclaves, where central control was light, as anomalies potentially disruptive of good order.In the 1920s, the Belgians began to alter the Rwandan State in the name of administrative efficiency. Always professing an intention to keep the essential elements of the system intact, they eliminated the competing hierarchies and regrouped the units of administration into “chiefdoms” and “sub-chiefdoms” of uniform size. They used force to install state officials in the autonomous enclaves, destroying the power of the heads of lineages and of local small states. They fixed and made uniform the goods and services that local officials could demand, thus—they thought—reducing the burdens on the population.Rwandan officials were not helpless pawns but rather real players in the game of administrative reform. Politically astute, they understood how to evade the intent of European orders even while apparently conforming to them. Chiefs and sub-chiefs seemed to accept the reduction in numbers of officials, but in fact kept on using unofficial representatives out on the hills who continued living off the local people. As a result, the density of administration and consequent customary burdens on the people diminished little, if at all, in the central part of the country, while in the north and southwest, they actually increased because of the installation of resident officials. At the same time, the chiefs and sub-chiefs—and later other administrative agents—enforced a series of wholly new demands imposed by the colonialists as part of their effort to integrate Rwanda into the world economy. They often found ways to turn these new requirements, such as building roads or planting cash crops, to their personal profit.The elite profited not just from direct European backing but also from the indirect and unintended consequences of the administrative changes. Under the old system of multiple officials, power-holders ordinarily limited demands on subordinates, knowing that those who felt unreasonably exploited could seek protection from rivals or could move elsewhere, even clearing new land in the forest, if need be, to escape exactions. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Belgians made it far harder for the weak to escape repressive officials; not only did they eliminate the multiple hierarchies but they also restricted changes in residence from one region to another and they prohibited new settlement in the forests. The one avenue of escape still possible was migration abroad and thousands took that route beginning in the 1920s. But those who preferred not to leave Rwanda had little choice but to submit to increased exploitation of officials now freed from the constraints that once limited their demands.European administrators generally overlooked the abuses of those officials who got the taxes collected, the roads built, and the coffee planted. They established European-style courts, which they expected would protect the ordinary people, but they usually did not. The judges saw themselves as defenders of the elite, not the masses. At the same time that the Belgians enabled the officials to demand more from the people, they decreed that Tutsi alone should be officials. They systematically removed Hutu from positions of power and they excluded them from higher education, which was meant mostly as preparation for careers in the administration. Thus they imposed a Tutsi monopoly of public life not just for the 1920s and 1930s, but for the next generation as well. The only Hutu to escape relegation to the laboring masses were those few permitted to study in religious seminaries.The historical rift between Hutu and TutsiBy assuring a Tutsi monopoly of power, the Belgians set the stage for future conflict in Rwanda. Such was not their intent. They were not implementing a “divide and rule” strategy so much as they were just putting into effect the racist convictions common to most early twentieth century Europeans. They believed Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa were three distinct, long-existent and internally coherent blocks of people, the local representatives of three major population groups, the Ethiopid, Bantu and Pygmoid. Unclear whether these were races, tribes, or language groups, the Europeans were nonetheless certain that the Tutsi were superior to the Hutu and the Hutu superior to the Twa—just as they knew themselves to be superior to all three. Because Europeans thought that the Tutsi looked more like themselves than did other Rwandans, they found it reasonable to suppose them closer to Europeans in the evolutionary hierarchy and hence closer to them in ability. Believing the Tutsi to be more capable, they found it logical for the Tutsi to rule Hutu and Twa just as it was reasonable for Europeans to rule Africans. Unaware of the “Hutu” contribution to building Rwanda, the Europeans saw only that the ruler of this impressive State and many of his immediate entourage were Tutsi, which led them to assume that the complex institutions had been created exclusively by Tutsi.Not surprisingly, Tutsi welcomed these ideas about their superiority, which coincided with their own beliefs. In the early years of colonial rule, Rwandan poets and historians, particularly those from the milieu of the court, resisted providing Europeans with information about the Rwandan past. But as they became aware of European favoritism for the Tutsi in the late 1920s and early 1930s, they saw the advantage in providing information that would reinforce this predisposition. They supplied data to the European clergy and academics who produced the first written histories of Rwanda. The collaboration resulted in a sophisticated and convincing but inaccurate history that simultaneously served Tutsi interests and validated European assumptions.According to these accounts, the Twa hunters and gatherers were the first and indigenous residents of the area. The somewhat more advanced Hutu cultivators then arrived to clear the forest and displace the Twa. Next, the capable, if ruthless, Tutsi descended from the north and used their superior political and military abilities to conquer the far more numerous but less intelligent Hutu. This mythical history drew on and made concrete the “Hamitic hypothesis,” the then-fashionable theory that a superior, “Caucasoid” race from northeastern Africa was responsible for all signs of true civilization in “Black” Africa.This distorted version of the past told more about the intellectual atmosphere of Europe in the 1920s than about the early history of Rwanda. 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