This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Rwanda Genocide Essay

1837 words - 8 pages

The Rwandan genocide… in which more than 500,000 Tutsi were killed from April to July 1994 -- will be remembered as one of the seminal events of the late twentieth century. This Central African holocaust demonstrated that genocide is still possible five decades after Nuremberg. It also showed that politics in an African country can spiral downward to catastrophe with stunning speed, that African countries cannot always provide solutions to their problems, and that Western, especially American, declarations about a new interest in Africa are cheap talk. The killings, and the subsequent destabilization of the entire Great Lakes region, have justly attracted a tremendous amount of attention ...view middle of the document...

Mahmood Mamdani has written When Victims Become Killers in order to address this great unanswered question. In a complicated book, he argues that the genesis of Hutu-Tutsi violence can be traced back to the period of Belgian colonialism. Unlike the situation in many African countries -- where supposedly ancient ethnic identities were actually formed during the colonial period -- Hutu and Tutsi groups did exist as transethnic identities of "local significance" before the Europeans came to Rwanda. Mamdani argues, however, that the Belgians turned Hutu and Tutsi into racial identities and then constructed the Hutu as indigenous and the Tutsi as alien. These categories were enforced through state-issued identity cards that proclaimed the holder's race, a segregated education system that amplified the supposed racial distinctions, and the exclusion of Hutu from the priesthood and local governments. According to Mamdani, the "Social Revolution" of 1959 that preceded independence -- in which the majority Hutu overthrew the Tutsi monarchy and sent thousands of Tutsi fleeing into exile -- reinforced the notion of Tutsi as aliens. Finally, the 1990 invasion of Rwanda by exiled Tutsi and the threat of a Tutsi diaspora population in Uganda both furthered the notion that Tutsi were foreign and led directly to the common acceptance by the Hutu population that the Tutsi had to be eliminated as a race.

Perhaps inevitably in the face of an event that almost everyone finds unfathomable, Mamdani's book both succeeds and fails in important ways. The strengths of the book are clear and admirable. First, it provides what might be called an intellectual history of the Hutu-Tutsi division that is invaluable and, in some ways, unique. Using nuance and detail, Mamdani describes what he sees as the formation of Hutu and Tutsi identities as we now know them. Although the book is anchored in its analysis of the colonial era, perhaps Mamdani's most interesting contribution is the manner in which he is able to tell a coherent story of race formation, starting in the colonial period and continuing through independent Rwanda. Indeed, his understanding of the Social Revolution and of Rwanda in the 1980s and 1990s commands attention as an important and provocative reinterpretation of the country's recent history. Anyone from now on who writes on identity in Central Africa -- and there will be many -- will have to wrestle with the case that Mamdani has made.

Mamdani has also made a critically important contribution in his analysis of how events in Uganda -- whence the Tutsi invasion of Rwanda was launched -- affected the course of Rwandan history. This dimension of the crisis has not been ignored by other authors, but Mamdani -- a Ugandan who taught in Kampala for many years -- is an especially sensitive observer of regional politics. In a clever application of his ideas regarding the nature of alien and indigenous identities, Mamdani argues that it was when the Tutsi...

Other Essays Like Rwanda Genocide

The Roles and Significance of the Un-Ictr

753 words - 4 pages THE ROLES AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE UN-ICTR One of the major crimes against humanity in the African history was the Rwandan Genocide. This was an attempt made by the Hutu Militias in Rwanda to eliminate Tutsi – men, women and children – and to erase any memory of their existence. Over a period of 100 days from the assassination of Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6th through mid-July 1994, out of a population of 7.3 million

Rwanda: Mamdami's Argument And Suggestion For Reform

1195 words - 5 pages or Tutsi and how historical, geographical, and political components made these identities. A colonial term for genocide is “ethnic cleansing”, making the world new again so change can occur (Mamdani 12). HISTORY: To understand the Rwandan genocide, it is crucial to look at the historical events that lead up to 1994. The Hutu and Twa were the original inhabitants till the 1300’s when Tutsis’ migrated into Rwanda. By the

Rwandan Genocide

2472 words - 10 pages Rwanda has almost always been somewhat of a melting pot, much like other African nations. People of various ethnicities, occupations, and social classes lived in the country without much more trouble than the surrounding nations. Even so, much like other nations, Rwanda still had underlying issues beneath the surface that still had to be faced. Beginning on April 9th, 1994, the genocide had begun, leading to a systematic killing of over

Hotel Rwanda

825 words - 4 pages | | Hotel Rwanda | The Effects of Trauma on Victims | In the movie Hotel Rwanda, the most memorable event was when Paul Rusesabagina found his fifteen year-old son, Roger hiding in the bushes of his neighbor’s backyard covered in blood. This very tragic day on April 6, 1994 the Rwandan Genocide began against the Hutus and Tutsis. Many Tutsi neighbors had gathered at Paul’s house. They knew Paul was a Hutu, who had many

Hotel Rwanda

762 words - 4 pages In World Geography, we have been learning about the African disagreement between the Hutu culture and Tutsi culture. We watched a movie called Hotel Rwanda explaining to us what the genocide was like. This genocide took place in 1994 after, Hutu, President Juvénal Habyarimana was murdered. In Rwanda, the major religion is Hutu and minority is Tutsi. When this murder took place, there was a sudden outbreak in the nation. The Hutu were split into

Congo Genocide

1128 words - 5 pages 32 years. In 1994 genocide in the neighboring African country of Rwanda hastened Mobutu’s downfall and helped plunged the Democratic of the Congo into the deadest conflict in African history. The Rwandan Genocide was a direct cause of the turmoil in the Democratic of the Congo. The Hutu people were recognized as the ethic majority of Rwanda, while the Tutsi’s were looked down upon as the foreign race. The Tutsi’s wanted power to be

Ir Theories

1235 words - 5 pages faced a very serious humanitarian situation, however we see U.S. intervention in Iraq, but not in Rwanda. Research Question “Why would a democracy like the U.S, where respect for human rights has long been a central component of foreign policy, intervene in a country like Iraq, where human rights have been violated, and genocide against the Kurds has been committed, but not do the same elsewhere, like in Rwanda that has seen one of the most

Legacies Of Historical Globalization

1340 words - 6 pages . Print. "News." Africa Continues to Grow Strongly but Poverty and Inequality Remain Persistently High. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. "Opinion | Your TOMS Shoes Won't save the World." The Miami Student. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. "Rwanda Genocide 20 Years On: 'We Live with Those Who Killed Our Families. We Are Told They're Sorry, but Are They?'" The Guardian. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. "Rwanda, Genocide, Hutu, Tutsi, Mass Execution

Earthquake in East Africa

1010 words - 5 pages population of about 9 million people with the most engaged in subsistence agriculture. It has been well known after the genocide in 1994. The Democratic republic of Congo is situated at the heart of the west central portion of sub-Saharan Africa. It is bounded by Angola, the republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia. The city of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo was hit and it is said

Leadership in President Paul Kagame

2022 words - 9 pages For decades, African nations have been unstable entities characterized by decolonization, civil wars and genocide. One of the most prominent examples of the above since 1950 is Rwanda, a small country in central Africa. Surely it takes a remarkable leader to take charge of such a disheveled territory and establish its first successful republic. Paul Kagame, the current President of Rwanda, was able to do just that. His experiences during his

Difference Essay

618 words - 3 pages example is when Elie had to watch a young innocent boy be hung simply because his mentor was accused of sabotage. No one, including the Lagerkapo refused to defend the boy because they feared the consequences. From the Holocaust to the more recent acts of genocide in Africa and the Middle East, history repeats itself. Since the Holocaust, there has been several attempts at genocide by ruthless tyrants. One example is the genocide in the tiny

Related Papers

Genocide In Rwanda And Burundi Essay

2857 words - 12 pages Genocide in Rwanda and Burundi Between April and July of 1994, more than 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi civilians, were slaughtered in a genocidal campaign organized by the Hutu hard-liners. By educating myself as well as others, I hope that we can prevent genocide organizers from eliminating the minority, Tutsi, and remove the tensions between these two groups. Pressure must be placed on the government to put the 120,000 suspected

To What Extent Was The Rwanda Genocide And Example Of Root And Branch Genocide?

1606 words - 7 pages To what extent was the Rwanda genocide an example of root-and-branch genocide? To what extent was the Rwanda genocide and example of root-and-branch genocide? Plan of the Investigation: While seeking for my Internal Assessment topic I came across the topic Rwandan Genocide and immediately became interested. The term genocide is a term formally used to describe the act of violence towards members of a national, ethical, racial or religious

Hotel Rwanda Essay

944 words - 4 pages did not even initiate themselves to come help the Tutsis. This is viewed as such a bad thing that they did due to them obviously not being all together and apart of the same group because they did not even go to help Rwanda when they claimed that they would be the ones to help keep peace between everyone. It took a long time for the UN to actually step in, this is inferred through the movie and the 100 days that the genocide lasted, just think if

Humanitarian Intervention Essay

1357 words - 6 pages during crime against humanity. (Humanitarian, 2008) Realism explains that humanitarian intervention came about during the genocide in Bosnia but not in Rwanda because even though it might have been the correct moral action to take, intervention in Rwanda was not in the national interest of other states. Also, there was no humanitarian intervention in the Rwanda genocide because the genocide was not explicitly known about. (Hintjens, 1999) On the