Rwanda Brief History

By | May 27, 2022

According to petsinclude, Rwanda is a state in central-eastern Africa, bordered to the North with Uganda, to the East with Tanzania, to the South with Burundi, to the West with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The highlands of the Rwanda are populated not only by the small pygmoid element (➔ twa), but also by the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. Between the secc. 15th (ca.) and 19th century the Tutsi monarchy grew at the expense of the Hutu political entities, reaching roughly the current borders of the Rwanda under the reign of Kigeri IV Rwabugiri. The power of the monarch was based on a strong centralization and on the separation between the dominant element of the Tutsis and the Hutu population. Passed under German influence between 1897 and 1906, during the reign of Yuhi V Musinga the Rwanda was united with the kingdom of Urundi in the Protectorate of Rwanda-Urundi (1916), which following the German defeat in the First World War in 1920 passed under the international protection of Belgium (➔ international mandates). European power favored the Hutus to weaken the Tutsi monarchy, setting the stage for the 1959 uprising, when the Tutsis were massacred. In 1961 the monarchy was abolished and replaced by the Republic. Thousands of Tutsis fled to neighboring countries, Uganda in particular. Independent since 1 July 1962, under the presidency of G. Kayibanda and the government of the Parti de l’émancipation du peuple hutu (Parmehutu), Rwanda experienced serious conflicts related to the attempt to restore the monarchy by the Tutsis, struck by a new massacre in 1963. Following the military coup in July 1973, the Hutu general J. Habyarimana took office and in 1975 established an authoritarian one-party regime (Mouvement révolutionnaire national pour le développement, MRND). The Front patriotique rwandais (FPR) was fueled by the discontent of the Tutsi refugees in Uganda, which quickly brought its guerrilla actions to Rwanda (1990), increasing the instability of the country. Following the explosion of the Habyarimana plane near the capital Kigali (April 6, 1994), the president’s militia began an indiscriminate massacre that cost the lives of more than half a million Tutsis. After the resumption of the activities of the PRF, it was the Hutus who fled by the thousands to Tanzania, Zaire and Congo, fearing reprisals from the Tutsis. Following the French military intervention, which the FPR opposed due to Paris’s past support for the Hutus, a provisional government led by moderate Hutus was formed, while the head of the FPR, Paul Kagame, assumed the post of vice president and defense minister. (July 1994). Congo, Democratic Republic of), where it tried to impose its control on the eastern regions of the country (since 1996). In 2000 Kagame became president of Rwanda. In 2002, Rwandan troops withdrew from the Congo in exchange for disarmament and the repatriation of Rwandan Hutu extremists. The new Constitution banned openly ethnic formations from the 2003 electoral competition: it was a plebiscite for the FPR and for Kagame. Accused in 2004 of having ordered the downing of the Habyarimana aircraft, Kagame opened an official investigation (2007) which identified (2010) the perpetrators of the Hutu extremists, guilty of having wanted to wreck Habyarimana’s negotiations with the FPR and of having used the incident as a pretext to physically eliminate the Tutsis.

Economic conditions

The economic system is in highly critical conditions; the country essentially depends on the intervention of international organizations. The primary source of income remains agriculture, a very poor sector in which the vast majority of assets are still employed, yet unable, due to its general backwardness, to meet internal needs. Prevailing crops for food (sweet potatoes, cassava, vegetables, some cereals, etc.), with a very small presence of industrial crops (coffee and tea); the zootechnical patrimony counts on 1.8 million heads of sheep and goats, 1 million cattle and 350,000 pigs (2006). Forestry is lacking. The mining activities, started during the Belgian domination around the cassiterite and tungsten deposits, they are not supported by adequate infrastructure and investments. The exploitation of natural gas in Lake Kivu is gaining momentum.

The industrial activities are based on small businesses for the processing of agricultural and livestock raw materials (production of beer, sugar, oil, soaps; processing of leather, skins and tobacco; small textile plants) and cement factories.

The communication routes, lacking the railways altogether, make use of about 14,000 km of roads (less than 3000 km of asphalted roads). The inland waterways have a certain diffusion, in particular on the Kivu for connections with the Democratic Republic of Congo, while air transport is headed by the international airports of the capital and Kamembe. Foreign trade is clearly passive.

Rwanda Brief History