Belgian Failures in Rwandan Independence

Prior to interactions with colonial Europeans, the Hutu and Tutsi groups were based on social factors, such as wealth and importance, rather than ethnic ones.  As the wealthier and more prominent members of society, the Tutsi also held political power.  This continued under European colonialism, as the Tutsi also benefitted from the education provided to them that was unavailable to the Hutu and basically in control of politics in the colonies, as Europeans found it easier to rule through pre-existing institutions of government.  Through this process, the Tutsi naturally developed more power in the colony.  However, due to the prejudices and misinterpretations of the colonists, these previously fluid groups were transformed into static collections of people based on perceived racial differences.  These socials problems eventually led to turmoil, as was shown by the consistent conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi in Central Africa during the second half of the twentieth century.

While the conflict between the two groups partially arose simply from the proximity in which the Hutu and Tutsi existed, I will specifically examine how European colonial powers, such as Belgium, politically failed to create a system in Rwanda during the independence movement that allowed the Hutu and Tutsi to coexist without major conflict.  The Tutsi, who had held political control of the area for centuries, constituted a small minority of the actual population, but remained in control after independence, and this rule of many by few further extenuated circumstances and compounded the social problems that materialized as the conflict between the two groups.