Author-card of document number 33785

Lundi February 5, 2024
Rwanda: how the post-independence regimes from 1962 to 1994 were neo-colonial, racist and genocidal
Since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, an opposition has formed among Rwanda specialists, with on one side intentionalists or instrumentalists who consider anti-Tutsi racism as the root cause of cyclical political violence and genocide, and functionalists on the other, who reject indoctrination and identity radicalization as the main cause of the genocide, affirming on the contrary that without the armed attack of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the genocide would not have taken place. Without making an exclusive choice between the two currents of interpretation, the article shows that there is a deep ideological unity and perfect continuity between the regimes of Kayibanda (1962-1973), Habyarimana (1973-1994) and Sindikubwabo (1994), with a triple characteristic: neo-colonial, racist and genocidal. Since these three regimes openly claimed to be the heirs of the ‘1959 revolution’ and anxious to defend and safeguard its achievements, the reflection focuses on the said revolution by showing in two sequences that it was based on a false postulate of ‘Tutsi oppression against the Bahutu’ on one hand, and that it gave rise to neo-colonial, racist and genocidal regimes on the other.
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RWANDA -AND SOMETIMES THE GREAT LAKES region of Africa by extension- has often been a subject of
passionate controversy especially in historical and social knowledge. 1 In 1992, a Belgian Professor known as a
specialist in Rwanda and the region could send a fax to an intelligence operative at the Rwandan embassy in
Switzerland, asking him to provide him with ammunition against his French colleague who was also a specialist
in the same region. ‘...all ammunition will be welcome’, wrote the Belgian ‘scholar’, in search of any
compromising information on the French historian thus perceived as the common enemy of both his Belgian
counterpart and the Habyarimana regime. 2
The use of a war vocabulary - or rather ‘militia jargon’ according to a journalist who had commented on the
fax- and the symbolism of lethal tools by the Belgian professor show how violent the controversy over Rwanda
and the region can be, even in the academic field. 3 This article seeks precisely to explore one of these controversial
subjects in the history of Rwanda. But don't worry, I wouldn't do it with ammunition, but with classic research
For many years, I have been studying a variety of documentary sources and oral histories in an attempt to
understand Rwanda's recent tragic history and the instability of the Great Lakes region of Africa. This
frequentation of sources has intensified more recently in the context of a doctoral research on colonial racism and
its consequences in the region. I apply a decolonial and interpretivist approach to my research. I chose it because
it interestingly challenges mainstream Western knowledge production on Rwanda and the region. It also allows
me not to hide my personal history, my civic engagement or my human interest as a researcher, without
compromising the scientific imperative of an honest and rigorous search for truth.
In the immediate aftermath of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi 4, studies showed opposition among specialists
of Rwanda, particularly among those labelled as intentionalists or instrumentalists on one hand, and functionalists
on the other. Instrumentalists consider anti-Tutsi racism inherent in the so-called 'Hutu revolution' as the root
cause of cyclical violence and the genocide, while functionalists distinguish the Kayibanda regime from that of
Habyarimana with regard to the management of the 'ethnic problem', considering that the first phase of the latter
regime was rather positive. Functionalists add that the Habyarimana regime went into crisis in the mid-1980s and
was completely derailed after the armed attack by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1990. 5
The arguments of the functionalists were relaunched, often with anger and disappointment 6, after the publication
of the last two reports on the role of France in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, respectively
Privat Rutazibwa (, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. An earlier version of this article was
presented at ‘Colloque international sur le génocide perpétré contre les Tutsi’, Paris session from 10 to 14 September 2023 [Paris,
Sorbonne University, Amphithéâtre Louis Liard, 11 September 2023].
The preface to a recent book recalls this in particular. See Raphaël Doridant & François Graner, L’État français et le génocide des
Tutsis au Rwanda (Agone, Marseille, 2020).
The fax message from Professor Filip Reyntjens to Fabien Singaye requesting ‘amunitions’ against Professor Jean-Pierre Chrétien
was later discovered, published and commented in Swiss and Rwandan newspapers. It was also published in Jean-Paul Gouteux, La
nuit Rwandaise. Implication française dans le dernier génocide du XXème siècle (Izuba-Esprit Frappeur, Paris, 2002), p.420. It is also
available at In a 19 May 2019 Twitter exchange in French,
involving Professor Reyntjens and others, a certain Bruno M. Fragolat tweeted: ‘Jean Carbonare and Jean Pierre Chretien first
denounced the crimes of those you served and they did not write the constitution [Professor Reyntjens participated in the drafting of the
Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda in 1978 for the Habyarimana regime]. You asked Fabien Singaye for "ammunition" to attack
Jean-Pierre Chretien! ...What a shame to ask for ammunition to attack people who denounce the killings’. Professor Reyntjens replied:
'It is not for this declaration of JPC that I needed ammunition since we agreed on this point. I no longer know what it was about (I don't
even know the date of my fax to Singaye)’. The translation of this exchange of tweet messages from French to English as well as that
of the other texts cited in this article from French or Kinyarwanda to English was carried out by the author.
Others had already drawn attention to this controversy between academics on Rwanda. See Scott Strauss, ‘Introduction: Rwanda at
twenty years after the genocide’, African Affairs 122/487 (2014), e27–e29; David Booth and Frederick Golooba-Mutebi,
‘Developmental patrimonialism? The case of Rwanda’, African Affairs 111/444 (2014), pp. 379–403.
In this text, I have opted for the noun form Bahutu/Batutsi/Batwa. I use Hutu/Tutsi only when referring to adjectives or established
noun forms such as 'genocide against the Tutsi' or when it is a quotation.
See Gauthier de Villers, ‘L’«africanisme» belge face aux problèmes d’interprétation de la tragédie rwandaise’, Politique africaine, n°
59 (1995), pp. 121-132.
Fondation Jean Jaurès, ‘Réflexions sur le rapport Duclert’ (with Serge Dupuis, James Gasana, André Guichaoua, Marc Le Pape, Johan
Swinnen, Claudine Vidal, 21 January 2022). See also Marie-Eve Desrosiers, ‘Le rapport Duclert et le filtre des lendemains

commissioned by the Rwandan and French States. 7 Above all, they criticize the French report of the Duclert
commission for adhering to the teleological vision which makes all the former Rwandan authorities radicals of
the identity cause right from the beginning of the conflict, and for resorting to a 'retrospective bias' which makes
them carry 'from October 1990 the guilt of what their successors will decide at the dawn of the genocide'. 8 They
reject indoctrination and identity radicalization as the main cause of the genocide 9, and accuse the commission
of 'attributing noble objectives to the RPF' and ignoring that without its armed attack and ceasefire violations, the
genocide would not have taken place. 10
Without making an exclusive choice between the two currents of interpretation, I would simply like to show
that there is a deep ideological unity and perfect continuity between the post-independence regimes of Grégoire
Kayibanda (1962-1973), Juvénal Habyarimana (1973-1994) and Théodore Sindikubwabo (1994), with a triple
characteristic: neo-colonial, racist and genocidal. Since these three regimes openly claimed to be the heirs of the
'1959 revolution' and anxious to defend and safeguard its achievements, I will focus my reflection on the said
revolution by showing in two sequences that it was based on a false postulate of Tutsi oppression against the
Bahutu on one hand, and that it gave rise to neo-colonial, racist and genocidal regimes on the other.
Some researchers have already pointed out the social and not ‘racial’ character of the cleavages in pre-colonial
Rwandan society 11, as well as elements of ideological convergence between the Kayibanda and Habyarimana
regimes. 12 I will bring new insights from less known sources to develop a more systematic and more assertive
analysis in the face of the fallacious theses which have nevertheless dominated Rwandan historiography to this
day. And to assure the reader of the credibility of my argument as well as the most direct access to the numerous
sources - notably archival - that I have used, I have voluntarily chosen to sometimes give large extracts, favouring
direct quotation rather than paraphrase.
A revolution based on a false postulate: the oppression of the Batutsi against the Bahutu
There has never been any oppression of the Batutsi against the Bahutu in the history of Rwanda
To know whether ‘ethnic’ divisions among Rwandans predate or start with colonization is at the heart of this
problematic. A researcher summarized the debate into ‘pro-Tutsi’ and ‘pro-Hutu’ ‘voices’, the former stating that
‘Tutsi, Hutu and Twa lived together harmoniously in precolonial times, until European colonialism invented
ethnic cleavages and put an end to social mobility’, and the latter maintaining that ‘Hutu were conquered and
enslaved by Tutsi; therefore, colonial powers had not invented but solely reinforced the essentialist ethnic
identities that already existed’. 13 This classification itself shows that even the subtlest debates and analyses on
the ‘racialization’ of Rwandan society have so far been unwittingly or intentionally trapped in the ethnic HutuTutsi dualism.
The view that ‘Hutu were enslaved by Tutsi’ cannot be called ‘pro-Hutu’ because even though it was intensely
used by the Hutu supremacy ideology propaganda, this ideology needs to be distinguished from the Bahutu, and
it was itself a derivation of the Hamitic hypothesis created by Europeans based on their racial theories rather than
an emanation from the Bahutu. Jean-Pierre Chrétien and Marcel Kabanda rightly recall that ‘at the heart of these
racial fantasies, the weightiest factor was ultimately contempt, reinforced by the characterization between

génocidaires’, Revue d’Histoire Contemporaine de l’Afrique, (Dossier : Au-delà du rapport Duclert), mise en ligne : 08 novembre 2021,
pp. 9-27, ˂ ˃ (12 August 2023).
Levy Firestone Muse, ‘A foreseeable genocide. The role of the French Government in Connection with the genocide against the
Tutsi in Rwanda’ (19 April 2021), [known as Muse report, commissioned by the Government of Rwanda]. Commission de recherche
sur les archives françaises relatives au Rwanda, ‘La France, le Rwanda et le génocide des Tutsi (1990-1994). Rapport remis au Président
de la République le 26 mars 2021’ (Armand Colin, 2021), [known as Rapport Duclert, commissionned by French President].
Desrosiers, ‘Le rapport Duclert’.
Fondation Jean Jaurès, ‘Réflexions’.
Gudrun Honke, Gamaliel Mbonimana, Emmanuel Ntezimana, et Sylvia Servaes, Au plus profond de l’Afrique: Le Rwanda et la
colonisation allemande 1885-1919, (Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal, 1990).
Antoine Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda 1959-1990. Itotezwa n’iyicwa bihoraho (Kigali, 2015, 2ème édition) ; Raphaël
Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique raciale sur la société rwandaise, 1894-1994, (Université Paris I, unpublished PhD dissertation, 2013).
Petra Vervust, ‘The relative importance of ethnicity, class and race in colonial Rwanda. The cases of prison policies, corvees,
taxation, census and identity booklets’, Journal of Belgian History XLII, 4 (2012) pp. 74-109, p.75-76.

superior and inferior Africans’, and that ‘the ideology that led to the genocide in Rwanda is rooted in a thought
of contempt for all of Africa’. 14
Influenced by the Hamitic hypothesis, White Fathers catholic missionaries and other Europeans described
Rwanda they were discovering as a ‘society with a distinct ethnic divide’ and ‘situations of flagrant injustices’. 15
The French White Father Alphonse Brard, founder of the first catholic mission of Save in 1900, could already
foresee in 1901 that 'it will be... among the Bahoutou that the mission will be carried out above all' because 'they
will be... sympathetic to us in the hope that we will one day free them from the yoke which overwhelms them',
while 'the Batutsi will, in a long time, be more or less hostile to us for fear of losing their influence over the
Bahoutou'. 16 His superior, Monsignor Hirth, affirmed for his part that the 'Batusis' 'hold in servitude' the 'Bahutu'
and assured that the latter 'have suffered for so long that they will welcome us as liberators'. 17
The fantasies of the Hamitic ideology were then theorized in the famous ‘premise of inequality’ by JacquesJérôme Pierre Maquet of the Belgian colonial institute of research on Central Africa (IRSAC). 18 His theory would
have a strong and lasting mark on the historiography of Rwanda. Other notable Western researchers on Rwanda
like Jan Vansina, Catharine Newbury, Alison Des Forges and Claudine Vidal supported the thesis according to
which towards the end of the 19th century, ‘the relations of domination of the Tutsi over the Hutu were in the
process of becoming generalized’. 19 But they do not provide any credible evidence for it.
The view that ‘Tutsi, Hutu and Twa lived together harmoniously in precolonial times' should not be attributed
to the Batutsi either. Researchers like Suzan Thomson and Johan Pottier attribute it sarcastically or in scathing
criticism to the post-genocide Rwandan leadership which they continue to conflate with the Batutsi. 20 But
contrary to the opposing thesis, this one has the merit of not being an instrument of hatred and division, even if
on the other hand it needs to be scientifically established or dismissed. In addition to the testimonies of the
missionaries themselves, explorers and colonial agents, there are studies that have suggested its scientific
admissibility, such as that of the anthropologist Jan Czekanowski published in 1917, Philippe Leurquin in 1960,
Pierre Bettez Gravel in 1968, and Hélène Codere in 1973. 21 What is more, the thesis of the social harmony of
the components of the Rwandan population before colonization has not yet been disavowed by serious research,
as has been the Hamitic ideology on which the thesis of conflict and oppression of the Batutsi on the Bahutu is
In a presentation on the White Fathers and the Rwandan society under German colonial time, historian Stefaan
Minnaert, then White Father himself, observed in 2008:
Once settled in Rwanda ... the White Fathers see that there are poor and rich people among the Bahutu and the Batutsi. In
their writings, they maintain confusion about the mass of the population and the political elite. They designate this mass

Jean-Pierre Chrétien & Marcel Kabanda, Rwanda, racisme et génocide : l'idéologie hamitique (Belin, Paris, 2013), p. 64, 301.
Roger Heremans, ‘Eglise et état dans le Rwanda de 1911’, Dialogue 168 (1993), pp. 69-87, p. 86-87.
Ibid., p. 76.
‘Lettre de Mgr Jean Joseph Hirth à son frère Ernest’, in Bernard Lugan, Sources écrites pouvant servir à l’histoire du Rwanda
(1863-1918), Etudes Rwandaises, volume XIV, numéro spécial (1980), p. 92.
Jacques-Jérôme Pierre Maquet, The Premise of inequality. A study of political relations in a central African Kingdom (Oxford
University Press, London, 1961). IRSAC: Institut pour la Recherche Scientifique en Afrique Centrale.
Claudine Vidal, ‘Economie de la société féodale rwandaise’, Cahiers d’études africaines, no 53, 1 (1974), pp.52-74. See also Jan
Vansina, Le Rwanda ancien, le royaume Nyiginya (Karthala, Paris, 2001) ; Jan Vansina, L’évolution du royaume rwanda des origines
à 1900 (ARSOM, Bruxelles, 1962) ; Catharine Newbury, The Cohesion of Oppression. Clientship and Ethnicity in Rwanda, 1860–1960
(Columbia University Press, New York,1988); Catharine Newbury, ‘Ethnicity and the Politics of History in Rwanda’, Africa Today 45,
1 (1998), pp. 7-24; Alison Liebhafsky Des Forges, Defeat is the only bad news. Rwanda under Musinga, 1896–1931, (The University
of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 2011) ; Alison Des Forges, Aucun témoin ne doit survivre. Le Génocide au Rwanda (Karthala, Paris,
Suzan Thomson talks about 'romanticizing the historical past'. See Suzan Thomson, ‘Whispering truth to power: The everyday
resistance of Rwandan peasants to post-genocide reconciliation’, African Affairs 110, 440 (2011), pp. 439–456; Johan Pottier, Reimagining Rwanda: conflict, survival and disinformation in the late twentieth century, (Cambridge University Press, New York, 2002).
Jan Czekanowski, Forschungen im Nil-Kongo-Zwischengebiet, vol. 1, Ethnographie, Zwischenseengebiet Mpororo, Ruanda
(Klinkhardt & Biermann, Leipzig, 1917); Jan Czekanowski, Carnets de route au cœur de l’Afrique. Des sources du Nil au Congo (Les
Editions Noir sur Blanc, Montrichier [Suisse], 2001. Traduit du polonais et annoté par Lidia Meschy) ; Bachmann Klaus, Every day life
in early colonial Rwanda. Insights from German and Polish sources (Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2020) ; Philippe Leurquin, Le
niveau de vie des populations rurales du Ruanda-Urundi (Nauwelaerts, Louvain, 1960) ; Pierre Bettez Gravel, Remera. A community
in Eastern Ruanda (Mouton, Paris-La Haye, 1968); Helen Frances Codere, The biography of an African society: Rwanda 1900-1960:
based on forty-eight Rwandan autobiographies (Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale, Tervuren, 1973).

(composed of poor Tutsi and Hutu) by the term "the Bahutu"; and the political and economic elite (composed of wealthy
Tutsi and Hutu), by the term "the Batutsi". 22

Many researchers have already emphasized the special place occupied by anthropologist Jan Czekanowsky in
Rwandan historiography because of his professionalism and critical sense when compared to missionaries,
explorers, colonial agents and other ethnographers and amateur historians. 23 He visited Rwanda in 1907 as part
of the scientific 'expedition' of Duke Adolf Frederick of Mecklenburg in Central Africa (1907 – 1909) but his
findings were published ten years later. Czekanowski established that Rwandan society was structured into four
social classes based on wealth and status, not ethnicity. The ‘most privileged class’ was that of ‘royal officials’
including ‘the feudal lords of the King (bagaragu), their lesser chieftains along with their retinue, as well as the
remaining dignitaries in the King’s court’. He notes that ‘Among the number of the lowest level officials including
the community leader, there are a truly significant number of Bahutu, particularly in Bugoye. In Mulera and in
Bgisha, the Bahutu even appear as members of the King’s court’. 24
The ‘second class’ is that of ‘warriors, the “ngabo” … assigned to particular chieftains’. They ‘do not have to
do any work in the chieftains’ fields’, they ‘possess their own land, which was occupied and cleared by their
ancestors generations ago’, and ‘they only have to pay the usual taxes’ and ‘always be prepared for war’. The
‘third class are the “biletwa” – free farmers who do not own land. They cultivate the land of the crown, and pay
the chieftain a tribute of two to three days of compulsory labour during the five to six-day week’. The ‘fourth
class is the pariah branch of the Batwa. They are the hunters, potters, and rainmakers. The police come from
among them’. 25
Czecanowsky also provides very interesting insight into the absence of the institution of slavery in Rwanda.
Colonial and missionary literature extensively evoked the slavery to which the Bahutu were allegedly subjected
by the Batutsi. The leaders of the 'Hutu revolution' supported by the Belgian colonial administration and the
White Father missionaries claimed to free them from this slavery! Even today, the racist anti-Tutsi propaganda
in vogue in the Great Lakes region continues to affirm the existence of this slavery of the Bahutu by the Batutsi
in Rwanda. The diplomatic advisor to the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was able
to declare recently in a television interview that Rwandan President 'Kagame has difficulties with all his other
neighbours, not just the DRC, ... Burundi, Tanzania, etc...' and that 'as long as this gentleman is at the head of
Rwanda, we will always be in difficulty in the Great Lakes region'. And the diplomatic advisor proposed that
'people must come together to oust this gentleman' who 'should not be at the helm of a state'. And to the question
of the journalist who asked him if they should support a rebellion against Kagame in Rwanda, he replied:
It is imperative that people internally... You know, the Hutu constitute what, 90% of the population in Rwanda, but they
live under the slavery of the Tutsi who are at the top there. They had to be able to overthrow this guy. I'm not going to say
here on TV what's going on left and right, but I'm telling you that, ultimately, Kagame will have to leave his position as
head of state of Rwanda for calm to return to the sub-region. 26

The observations of the Polish anthropologist on Rwandan society in 1907 should be able to bring more dignity
and common sense to this subject:
There are also slaves in Rwanda. However, the institution of slavery does not play a role here, even if the number of slaves
in Bugoye and among the Batutsi of Nduga is supposed to be truly significant. So far as I know, here slaves are primarily
women, “baja,” who as small children were sold by their parents during one of the frequent famines in exchange for
foodstuffs. I was unable to determine anything specific about the social position of boys exchanged for foodstuffs. It
appears to me that when they mature they enter into the masses of clients (bagaragu).
Every country that experiences famine from time to time, such as Ufumbiro for example, provides slaves who are not
protected by their relatives in foreign areas; thus, they remain in a subordinate position, and are dependent upon the
protection of their master. In every mission one can indeed see numerous small slaves who have settled there, seeking the
Stefaan Minnaert, ‘Les Pères Blancs et la société rwandaise durant l’époque coloniale allemande (1900-1916) : une rencontre entre
cultures et religions’, in Paul Rutayisire, Jean-Philippe Schreiber et Deo Byanafashe, Les religions au Rwanda : défis, convergences et
compétitions (Editions de l’UNR, Butare, 2009), pp. 53-101, p. 67-68.
Honke, Mbonimana, Ntezimana et Servaes, Au plus profond de l’Afrique ; Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique raciale ; Backmann,
Every day life.
Czekanowski, Forschungen, 262ff. As translated in English by Backmann, Every day life, p. 63
Ibid., p. 63-64.
The interview with Mr Bahizi, Advisor to the Prime Minister of the DRC can be found here:

protection of their master. But in spite of this, on the whole the situation of the slaves certainly cannot be said to be entirely
bad. I did not hear of mistreatment anywhere. 27

Despite the temptation of an ethnicist and contemptuous reading to which he himself sometimes succumbs,
Czekanowsky nevertheless delivers a very sharp analysis of the Rwandan society as well as an incisive critique
of colonization and evangelization. He particularly stresses how exploitation was very limited in Rwandan
traditional society and how it was going to increase with colonization despite its 'humanistic rhetoric'.
Yet in this primitive, undifferentiated society the potential for exploitation is very limited. As long as it is only a matter of
delivering the immediate nutritional needs of the relatively limited number of rulers, then these can be satisfied, even for
those with the greatest appetites. Thus, due to the limited possibilities for exploitation, the basis for social equality is
present even without legally specified norms. Through further observation of the constant internal struggles of an
unorganized state system, where the support of the masses is essential, the second factor that greatly limits arbitrary rule
becomes evident. Those in power must pay attention to their subjects, otherwise they run the risk of being abandoned by
their followers and subjects, and thus of being defeated by their rivals. […].
But it will be another matter with the onset of pacification, through the opening up and organization of the country by
Europeans. The natural, old forms still maintained orderly conditions even if uneconomical. These will be eliminated
through armed force, by overwhelming a reign weakened by emigration. In addition, the opening of export trade creates
countless opportunities to exploit the subjects in a manner previously unknown. The situation of the natives is becoming
worse, for in spite of the humanistic rhetoric, the new legal norms offer them less protection than the old counterbalances
that the state organization was built upon. In Kissaka [eastern Rwanda] one can see many natives from Ussuwi [in today
Tanzania], who have fled there from the blessing of European, humanistic civilization. Under these new circumstances,
the only weapon in the hands of the subjects remains the economic damage to the chieftain caused by the flight of labour.28

One wonders why the myth of ‘Tutsi despotic rule over the Hutu’ has persisted, yet there are contradicting
writings such as those of Czekanowski, as well as those of some missionaries and colonial agents who sometimes
expressed observations different from it. Among the latter, French White Father Alphonse Brard wrote in 1902
that 'among the Batusi the ruling class and the middle class are the few, the poor class is by far the most numerous';
and he mentioned the 'wealthy Bahutu' in the elite hierarchy formed by the King's servants. The same missionary
had nevertheless affirmed, as seen above, that the 'Batutsi' exercised over the 'Bahoutou' an 'influence' and a 'yoke
which overwhelms them'.
Some scholars say it has to do with 'the interests of the colonial policy'. It was easier to build colonial rule ... on
groups of people that were easy to distinguish (based on 'race'). 29 But why this myth still persists today in
mainstream media and even academic literature remains an open question that no one has been able to answer.
Colonization never favoured what it perceived as ‘Tutsi rule’, rather it intended to destroy it as an obstacle, but
chose to consolidate it temporarily out of pure opportunism
The dominant historiography on Rwanda has falsely accredited the thesis so far according to which colonization
and White Fathers missionaries had favoured the Batutsi and consolidated their ‘oppressive power' of ‘injustice
exercised on the Bahutu’ before establishing 'democracy and social justice' in favour of the Bahutu in time of
decolonization. 30 The truth is that the Europeans confused the Batutsi as a group with the ruling class which was
nevertheless heterogeneous, and they reluctantly kept it in power -while progressively making it exclusively
Tutsi- out of opportunism for the sole interest of colonization. From the start, Europeans were determined to
destroy this indigenous power which they perceived as an obstacle to colonization and evangelization. Since this
indigenous power was identified with the Batutsi, destroying it implied the destruction of the Batutsi as a group,
and this is what happened later.

Czekanowski, Forschungen, 262ff. As translated in English by Backmann, Every day life, p. 64.
Ibid., p. 64-65.
Honke, Mbonimana, Ntezimana et Servaes, Au plus profond de l’Afrique, p. 102, 108.
Heremans, ‘Eglise et état’, p. 69 ; ‘Lettre de L. Classe à Mgr Léon Livinhac’ [introductory note to the letter], Dialogue 168 (1993),
pp. 57-63, p.57.

Father Alphonse Brard could write in 1902: 'today, the Batusi no longer have a future, the appearance of
Europeans will ruin their power everywhere...'. 31 He attributed to them the following intentions: 'They do some
politeness to the Europeans out of policy, but if they could throw them all in the water, they would have done it
a long time ago; they consider themselves far superior to them’. 32
The French White Father described the political organization of Rwanda that keeps ‘all the people encircled in
an immense net … in the hand of the King', and he concluded that 'this constitution is unfavourable to our work'. 33
He considered the Batutsi as the ‘great lords of Rwanda’ and regretted that the 'aborigines' - that is to say the
Bahutu - only lacked a leader 'to make their masters take the road to the north', meaning Ethiopia where he
believed they came from. 34
Three years before, Richard Kandt who was then an explorer based in Rwanda wrote a letter to White Father
apostolic vicar Bishop Gerboin in today Tanzania, stating: ‘I used to write, yes Rouanda is a country full of hopes
when we could destroy the power of the Watusi’. 35
Lieutenant Von Parish, one of the very first German colonial officials in Rwanda, already envisioned in 1903
that part of southern Rwanda would be occupied by White colonists because of the good climate, fertile land and
cheap labour. But for him, it was necessary first to get rid of the Batutsi: ‘We should first remove the Batutsi or
at least remove their influence’, he wrote. ‘To achieve this one would enjoy the warm support of the Bahutu while
the Batutsi could only count on the support of the Batwa’. 36
During the First World War, Belgian officer Josué Henry already suggested raising the 'Bahutu' against the
'Watuzi' in his capacity as 'Commissioner general and senior commander of the Kivu troops' responsible for
defending the eastern border of Belgian Congo against the Germans who occupied Rwanda. In a letter of 15
December 1914 to the vice-governor of the Eastern province, he presented this as one of the preferable strategies
to a direct confrontation against the Germans whom he considered 'very numerous, very armed, very well
organized', which would be 'committing the heaviest mistake' and 'putting the colony into a big adventure'. 37
The Watuzi form a very powerful tribe which according to the lowest estimates can mobilize 10,000 to 20,000 warriors.
Can we, under the conditions that I have just expressed by invading its territory, put the Germans in the situation of
exploiting the feeling of national defence vis-à-vis it to our detriment. ... On the other hand, diplomatic action as you
perfectly point out in your letter Mr. Governor General has little chance of success with Wuzinga [King Yuhi V Musinga
of Rwanda, 1896-1931] himself who is too well prepared by the Germans to consider us as despoilers. Also, if I take the
bias. Rwanda does not only have Watuzi. It has numerous and strong Bahutu populations who are subject to them and
who, I am convinced, would not ask better to shake off the yoke…. 38

Many others among the colonial agents and missionaries had at different times expressed their hostility towards
the Batutsi and the indigenous administration, but the latter had benefited from a reprieve due to the colonial
interests of the moment.
The Belgian colonial administration was to put the threat into execution towards the 1960s and afterwards with
success, in what will be presented as the ‘Rwandan revolution’ but in reality, the first genocide against the Tutsi 39
perpetrated to destroy the nationalist party UNAR (Union Nationale Rwandaise) which was claiming
independence and which the colonialists identified with the Batutsi for the purposes of the cause, although being
the dominant party and grouping within it Batutsi but also the vast majority of Bahutu and Batwa. Mason Sears,
head of the United States delegation, could declare this before the United Nations Trusteeship Council upon
returning from a UN Visiting Mission to Ruanda-Urundi which he led from 2 March to 1 April 1960. Not only
does he confirm that the ‘disturbances’ of November 1959 in Rwanda 'are not the fact of a general popular
‘La lettre du Père Brard du 8 février 1902 à Monseigneur Livinhac’ [A.G.M.Afr., 02/1 et N° 098523,48], in Stefaan Minnaert, Le
Rwanda vu par le père Brard (1898-1906). Contribution à l’histoire de l’évangélisation du Rwanda. Ecrits et rapports du fondateur de
la mission catholique de Save (Kigali, 2021), pp.79-127, p. 99.
Ibid., p. 97-98.
Ibid., p. 101.
Ibid., p. 108.
‘Copie de la lettre du Docteur Richard Kandt du 7 juin 1899 à Mgr Gerboin’ [A.G.M.Afr., N° 100164-100165], in Stefaan Minnaert,
Premier Voyage de Mgr Hirth au Rwanda (de novembre 1899 à février 1900). Contribution à l’étude de la fondation de l’église
catholique au Rwanda (Editions rwandaises, Kigali, 2006), p. 511.
Commission Nationale pour l'Unité et la Réconciliation (CNUR) [Sous la direction de Déo Byanafashe & Paul Rutayisire], Histoire
du Rwanda. Des origines à la fin du xxè siècle. (Kigali, 2016), p. 189.
Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale (MRAC), Tervuren, Archives Josué Henry de la Lindi, HA.01.117, 402.
MRAC, Josué Henry de la Lindi, HA.01.117, 402.
see Privat Rutazibwa, ‘The genocide against the Tutsi: the establishment of the genocidal policies since 1959’, AfricArXiv (2023),

revolution against social injustice', but also that the UNAR 'has many members among Hutu' and 'is above all an
African nationalist movement':
As everyone agrees on this subject, the United States delegation would like to join the Visiting Mission and other
delegations in addressing an appeal to the Belgian Government.
We ask him to reflect on the situation in the Territory and ways to lay the foundations for national reconciliation in
Rwanda. Reconciliation, in our opinion, must be based on certain conclusions which, I hope, will be accepted by the
Government of Belgium as soon as it has been able to forget its very natural and necessary preoccupation with the problems
which arose in the Congo just before independence.
These conclusions are as follows:
1o. The violent incidents that have occurred recently in Rwanda are not the fact of a general popular revolution against
social injustice. The violence that has erupted is more like the start of a civil war - a struggle for power - between two
factions of the population in anticipation of independence.
2o. The Unar political party, which has many members among Hutu loyal to the Mwami, is above all an African nationalist
movement, pure and simple, and almost identical to all those found in other African territories.
3o. Unconsciously, the demands for social justice which are at the origin of the recent unrest have become the main obstacle
to independence, which is obviously very dangerous.
4° The loyalty of millions of Hutu to their Mwami, Kigeri V, is, in fact, the key to the restoration of national unity in
5° Kigeri V is above all an upright, humble, accessible, sober man, and, with all the necessary encouragement, he will be
able to rally 90 percent of the population in the very near future.
On the basis of these conclusions, the United States delegation would like to present some suggestions which we hope
will be taken into consideration by the Belgian Government. 40

Belgium had chosen to ignore this advice and continue its plan of genocide against the Tutsi and hunting down
the nationalists who demanded the independence of Rwanda.
The traditional Rwandan administration deserves a posthumous rehabilitation: the colonizers and the White
Father missionaries made it carry the opprobrium of their own colonial atrocities
Colonial officials, missionaries, the alleged revolutionaries of the end-1950s and early 1960s, the media and the
scholarly literature on Rwanda vilified in an inconsiderate and undeserved manner what they called ‘the Tutsi
aristocracy’ or ‘the Tutsi oligarchy’, meaning the traditional Rwandan administration, both that encountered by
colonization and that which served as its auxiliary. Rwanda precolonial administration deserves respect and
recognition for ‘the type of state formation and development which had taken place in the 19th century’ before
colonial rule started. As scholars Leander Heldring and James A. Robinson from Oxford and Harvard universities
observed, ‘Rwanda state [was] becoming more centralized and consolidated’. They assert that ‘political
centralization is a prerequisite for order and public good provision and though states also collapse, once started
there are strong forces leading political centralization to intensify’. 41
In their study titled ‘Colonialism and development in Africa’, both researchers note that without colonization,
Rwanda could have better developed as it was already on good track. Their observation applies to other African
countries in the same category with precolonial centralized states like Bénin, Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia,
Ghana, Lesotho and Swaziland. They note that ‘It is true that the colonial powers brought technology and
institutions that Africans did not have, but Africans in these types of polities were busy adopting these in any
case in the 19th century and they were the most capable of doing so’. The researchers add that ‘These polities also
suffered from the uniform colonial legacies of racism, stereotypes and miss-conceptions that the Africans did not
have and which have since caused immense problems, most notably in Burundi and Rwanda’. 42
Anthropologist Czekanowski had warned that colonial administration would not provide protection to the
populace as traditional leaders did before; that it would rather increase oppression despite colonial and missionary
narrative depicting it positively. He analysed the tax system in traditional Rwanda and distinguished three types.
The first was the farmers’ tax consisting of ‘foodstuffs, hoes, beer, livestock, and labour in kind’ owed to the
Fidèle Nkundabagenzi, Rwanda politique (Les Dossiers du CRISP, Bruxelles, 1961), p. 356.
Leander Heldring and James A. Robinson, ‘Colonialism and development in Africa’ (African Economic History Working Paper
Series, No. 5/2012, ISBN 978-91-980438-5-3, African Economic History Network (AEHN), s.l., 2013), p. 8.
Ibid., p.9.

King and chieftains at different levels. 43 The second and ancient tax was ‘butaka’ ‘primarily paid in foodstuffs
and tabaco, and only to a lesser extent in hard hoe money’. The third was ‘the war tax (umuheto)’ which was
collected by the chieftain ‘entrusted with the King’s cattle’ in a given district. 44
Czekanowsky informs that ‘particular families or communities’ had to deliver ‘objects that require special skill
to manufacture’ like ‘salt, which must be burned out of swamp grass, female leg rings of grass (butega), otter
hides, wildcat hides, cow hides, bark cloth, weapons, etc.’ Those special tax payers were exempted from ‘a
portion of the normal liability, that is, the usual farmer’s share.’ 45
Europeans described these taxes and charges as oppressive in a bid to disparage the local leadership, yet they
were obligations tailored to the population means and owed to a legitimate authority. Colonizers and White
Fathers missionaries needed to delegitimize that very authority of the Rwandan administration they encountered,
for their own advantage. But it was Europeans´ impositions that were to become unbearable instead. The
indigenous Rwandan administration under colonial rule often had to reluctantly enforce these colonial
impositions and constraints, and it should not in all honesty answer for them in the place of the colonizers and
other missionaries.
King Yuhi V Musinga (1896-1931) had to introduce a new tax called “ilali” or ‘foodstuff delivery tax for
travelling Europeans’ 46 generally accompanied by hundreds of porters and askari (African soldiers). 47 In
precolonial Rwanda, taxes and charges were generally levied at lineage level, and farmers’ contributions were
collected once a year at harvest time. In trying to standardize the traditional tax system, the colonizers created
serious excesses. Taxes and charges were extended to individual level, and those traditionally demanded from
poor citizens without land (uburetwa) were levied from all farmers. 48 The bagaragu in precolonial Ubuhake
system were never required to cultivate the fields of their boss (shebuja). Colonization imposed it, and in Buganza,
it was not until around 1930 that abagaragu began to cultivate the land (gutanga imibyizi) for their shebuja. 49
The Ubuhake clientship was a voluntary contract between a servant (Umugaragu / Abagaragu in plural) looking
for wealth (a cow) and protection in exchange for services rendered to a wealthy patron (shebuja). With the
exception of the king, every Rwandan could become mugaragu of someone else, without any ‘ethnic’
distinction. 50With colonization, the introduction of money and administrative reforms changed authority and
dependency relationships, making Ubuhake loose its political and economic influence. 51 King Mutara III
Rudahigwa (1931-1959) and Rwandan chieftains pleaded for its ‘total suppression’ in 1946, but colonial
authorities were cautious, fearing social unrest, as the measure represented a revolution in their eyes. 52 Ubuhake
was eventually abolished by King Rudahigwa’s royal decree n° 1/54 of 1 April 1954. 53
New taxes, constraints, and humiliations were also brought by the same colonization. Tax (umusoro) and forced
labour (akazi) were the main instruments of colonial domination and exploitation, especially under Belgian rule.
Capitation tax was introduced by German colonial administration in 1914, and it went through multiple revisions
under Belgian colonial rule until 1960 when it was replaced by ‘Minimum personal contribution’, becoming the
heaviest of all taxes. Direct taxation was mainly dominated by the capitation tax, the polygamy tax, the livestock
tax, the income tax and the personal tax. Forced labour ‘akazi’, also called ‘work of public interest’ was imposed
to produce food crops (cassava and sweet potato) or cash crops (coffee); for the exploitation of the valley bottoms
for agricultural purposes; for the storage of beans (guhunika); for the layout and maintenance of tracks and roads;
and for erosion control and reforestation. The colonial authorities, both German and Belgian, introduced and
generalized the use of the whip (ikiboko) to punish those who evaded or attempted to evade forced labour. 54
Colonial constraints produced negative consequences on Rwandans. The great famine Ruzagayura (1943-1944)
was caused among other things by the supply of food and beef cows at a ridiculously low price that was dictated
by European merchants, as part of the war effort imposed on Rwanda by Belgian colonial rule during World War
II. 55 The migration of Rwandans, young robust and other valid adult men was mainly caused by the desire to
Bachmann, Every day life, p. 71.
Ibid., p. 72.
Ibid., p. 73.
Ibid., p. 72
CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 181.
Ibid., p. 123.
Ibid., p. 119.
Ibid., p. 118-129.
Ibid., p. 293.
Ibid., p. 295-296.
Ibid., p. 296.
Ibid., p.190, 268 -290.
Ibid., p. 300.

escape forced labour for salaried work in neighbouring British territories. Between 1920 and 1959, around
350.000 Rwandans had gone to Uganda. 56
Other atrocities and humiliations were imposed on Rwandans by colonization, such as the rape of girls and
women; degrading practices such as forcing adults to get naked in public for research or so-called medical
purposes, etc....
Catholic White Father missionaries also introduced a terrible drudgery for the construction of the churches and
their own residences. This was a workload never experienced before by Rwandans. Missionaries could request
thousands of people to cut and transport wood from long distances, to fire bricks and tiles. For the construction
of Save and Zaza missions for example, chieftains in Nyaruguru refused to give porters for the former; and those
in Gisaka preferred to stay longer at the King´s court in Nyanza as a way to escape missionaries´ requisitions for
the latter and thus spare their population. 57
White Fathers of Rwaza in the North could requisition between 800 and 1000 people for forced labour daily. 58
When the population manifested its discontent and anger towards their Baganda auxiliaries, the missionaries
decided to break the resistance through armed expeditions. In an attack carried out on 19 July 1904, the White
Fathers killed people and looted more than 50 cows and several hundred goats. The expedition was reiterated
three times at the beginning of August 1904 and more people were killed, hundreds of huts burnt, banana
plantations cut, and herds of cattle looted, as reveals a 1909 report by the regional superior of the White Fathers,
Father J. Malet. 59
Attributing responsibility for colonial constraints and oppression to Rwandan auxiliaries is a serious sham. The
oppression denounced by the so-called revolutionaries of end fifties was actually exerted on all Rwandans by
Europeans in the context of colonial administration. It was mischievously attributed to the Rwandan auxiliaries
who were most often only instruments of execution of colonial orders, and by extension, to all Batutsi. As
historians from the University of Rwanda note in their book,
Customary officials had gradually become civil servants in the service of the European administration: they could be
promoted, punished, dismissed and transferred. The administration required them performances contrary to their
traditional functions. … The European staff...controlled the smallest detail of political and administrative life, including
the king's court at Nyanza. 60

Noticing that the Belgian colonial administration and influential European priests in the Catholic Church were
using the predominance of the Batutsi in the native administration as the greatest pretext to aggravate the HutuTutsi problem which they had created as a diversion from the demands for independence, King Mutara III
Rudahigwa (1931-1959) had asked the native authorities to vote for their collective resignation so that the colonial
authority could organize elections by universal suffrage or use other means to replace them. In their meeting of
5 April 1959, the chieftains and sub-chieftains of all the country voted for their collective resignation -with the
exception of two, chief Mbanda and Sub-Chief Kimonyo who resisted-, and handed it to the colonial hierarchy.
Belgium never wanted to respond to this collective resignation offer. 61
It is therefore obvious that the concern of the Belgian colonial administration and European priests was not to
establish democracy and social justice. As Antoine Mugesera recalls in his book, what the Belgian colonizers
was not democracy, because no one had prevented them from establishing it during their stay in Rwanda, but their colonial
regime had oppressed the people in general and the Bahutu especially since Rwanda has existed. They are the ones who
decreed that no Muhutu should enter the administration and they had implemented it from 1926 to 1932. As for democracy,
it was a pretext. Without even talking about Rwanda, no colonial regime has ever built a democracy anywhere in the
world. They are incompatible. Any government that oppresses the people like colonialism cannot build a democratic state.
There is no democracy in colonization. There is no colonization in a democracy. They don't coexist, they don't live side
by side, they don't interact at all. No colonialism builds democracy. 62
Ibid., p. 303.
Jean Rumiya, Le Rwanda sous le régime du mandat belge (l’Harmattan, Paris, 1992), p. 15-18.
CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 219.
Minnaert, ‘Les Pères Blancs et la société rwandaise’, p. 88-89.
CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 261,263.
Jean Berckmas Kimenyi (Secrétaire du Roi Rudahigwa), De la déconstruction du Rwanda aux massacres des Tutsi en 1959.
Témoignage d’un proche collaborateur du Roi Mutara III Rudahigwa (S.d., Kigali, 2019), p. 284-285.
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 62.

What colonial Belgium wanted was to crush the Rwandan nationalists who demanded independence and it
succeeded, by means of a racist ideology and at the cost of genocidal violence against the Batutsi. This new,
colonial and racist ideology with its corollaries of hatred and discrimination against the Batutsi then became the
founding policy of the regime of collaborators to which Belgium bequeathed independence as well as its
successors until the genocide of 1994, and it never ceased to spread in the region and in the world.
The page of colonial oppression in Rwanda has not yet been properly written. Belgium and the White Fathers
managed to have the colonial tale of 'the oppression of the Tutsi over the Hutu' written in his place, and the media
has peddled it even today with great credulity, thanks to the decisive action of many Western academics. It should
be noted here that certain Europeans who taught - or even chaired the History department - at the University of
Rwanda between 1963 and 1985 63 such as André Coupez, Jean François Gotanègre, Bernard Lugan, Pierre Erny,
Roger Heremans, produced sometimes openly racist writings intended to justify the dominant ideology of the
time by making people believe that the division and hatred between Bahutu and Batutsi were inscribed in the
history and culture of the country long before the arrival of Europeans. Other Western scholars have conducted
research in Rwanda at different times since the last years of colonization. Almost all of them have chosen to
adhere to the dominant ideology, without ever questioning colonization. 64
Rwandans experienced colonial constraints, impositions and humiliations like other Africans, but they are
probably the only ones to have had in addition, a racist ideology of hatred carrying genocide.
A revolution that gave rise to neo-colonial, racist and genocidal regimes
Neo-colonial regimes
There is a rich documentation showing that the rise of the ‘Hutu leaders’ of the future ‘Rwandan revolution’ was
part of a Belgian colonial strategy to fight the nationalists who demanded independence, once Belgium noticed
it could no longer delay decolonization because of the independentist current that was already strong in various
African countries and was also emerging in Rwanda. The Governor-General of the Belgian Congo told UN
envoys in 1954 that the inhabitants of Ruanda-Urundi could start to administer themselves only ‘in three or four
generations’. 65 A few years later however, the then Deputy Governor General of Belgian Congo and Governor
of Ruanda-Urundi, Jean Paul Harroy, wrote a six-page letter to his superior, Léon Pétillon, in June 1958 with the
seal of secrecy, stating the following:
Nationalisms are awakening; Nasser and Nyerere are known in Ruanda-Urundi; Cairo propaganda, the Voice of Free
Africa, the influence of the T.A.N.U. will soon spark the emergence of political parties […], the definitions and slogans
of the Afro-Asian conferences or of recent Accra conference are published by the press and read favourably by the
advanced and semi-advanced. The natives listening too readily to the words of bad shepherds develop towards the
Government attitudes of mistrust more and more characterized. 66

The deputy Governor General then revealed the strategy of Belgian colonial administration to set up a Hutu
counter-elite with an active promotion of ‘Bahutu’s political education’ which will turn out to be racist anti-Tutsi

André Nisin D’Orval, La Généalogie du corpus 'racial' : une lecture foucauldienne du passé rwandais, Université de la Sorbonne
Paris IV, Mini-mémoire de Master 1, 2011), p. 110-119.
This is the case for example of Jan Vansina, Claudine Vidal, Filip Reyntjens, Catharine Newbury, and Alison Liebhafsky Des Forges
among others.
CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 409-410.
Le Vice-Gouverneur et Gouverneur du Ruanda-Urundi, Jean-Paul Harroy, ‘Lettre à Monsieur le Gouverneur Général à Léopoldville,
objet : organisation et évolution politiques du Ruanda-Urundi’, Usumbura, juin 1958, Archives Africaines, RWA 97. As quoted by
Philibert Gakwenzire, Les politiques de discrimination, persécutions et génocide des Tutsi en commune de Rubungo et de Gikomero
(1960-1994) (Université Libre de Bruxelles, unpublished PhD dissertation, 2017), p. 42.

… Even the framework of the customary authorities, citadel of the pre-eminence of the Batutsi, will soon admit deputy
chieftains, even Bahutu chieftains, whose number will increase in the near future. A very special effort is made to this end,
as much by the Bahutu associations as by the administrators of the territory, who systematically collect all the valuable
Bahutu candidacies. […] The proposed formula will in fact establish, in the immediate future, between Bahutu and Batutsi,
a balance which will gradually be broken in favour of the latter, as more and more Bahutu will be admitted into customary
frameworks. Bahutu’s political education will thus be helped actively, but smoothly…. 67

August-Edmond de Schryver, the soon-to-be minister for Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi (appointed as
minister on 2 September 1959) who had led the ‘Groupe de travail’ [Working Group] in Ruanda-Urundi in April
and May 1959 for consultations to draft a new Belgian colonial policy, held a conference on 16 June 1959 at the
Centre Catholique Africain in Brussels, and stated the following:
… Members of the ruling families (Batutsi in Ruanda and Baganwa in Urundi) use the language of democracy, but only
in language ... They do not want the Whites to stay, only as advisers.
... there is a small group of progressives, Hutus and Tutsis. All are educated and have one voice: Belgium must establish
democracy by force and without being indulgent. Belgium must establish a basic system that makes democracy possible
and maintain its presence (in Rwanda) in a way which is not very apparent, but which is very productive at the same time.
If European rule were to immediately depart from Ruanda, it would not be an exaggeration to say that within 24 hours
there would be a massacre of one part of the population. 68

Speaking of the Batutsi, De Schryver raised his voice at the same conference saying: ‘In short, one would say
that it will be necessary to do democracy in their country, without their involvement, and against them.’ 69
The hatred and hostility of the Belgian authorities towards the Batutsi and the Rwandan leaders made them
indifferent and insensitive to the calls demanding the intervention of the same colonial authority to put a stop to
the racist anti-Tutsi propaganda which was in full swing at that time. On 6 May 1959 in Bujumbura, King Mutara
III Rudahigwa submitted to De Schryver and his colleagues in the ‘Groupe de travail’ a report from the Conseil
Supérieur du Pays (CSP) of Rwanda which he chaired, on the desired political reforms. In terms of human
relations, this report mentioned the 'unfortunate interventions of certain people ill-intentioned or ill-informed
who, through the press and discrediting remarks, fuel racial hatred.' The CSP went on to say that it was 'surprised
that the [Belgian colonial] Government passively witnessed this scene of destruction of our Country and by this
attitude seems to encourage division'. 70
The same De Schryver and his colleagues in the ‘Groupe de travail’ had also received on 28 April 1959, the
declaration from the indigenous authorities and judges of Rwanda on social relations and the rise of hate speech
in the country. These officials said they were 'surprised to see the lack of intervention from the [Belgian colonial]
government, as well as real efforts to eliminate this malaise.' Their declaration went on to say: 'We deeply disavow
any kind of disagreement between Rwandans, which only serves to delay the accession to the legitimately desired
autonomy in the shortest possible time.’ 71
The native authorities and judges of Rwanda expressed their deep concern 'at the fact that publications are
multiplying in the Catholic missionary press: "Kinyamateka and Temps Nouveaux", maintaining the quarrel
between the Rwandan ethnic groups’. They were also concerned that 'insults and malicious remarks always
tending towards division have continued to be expressed, notably in the publication entitled "Ijwi lya Rubanda
rugufi" published by Mr. Habyarimana Joseph, President of the association "Aprosoma"’. 72
Their declaration submitted to the Belgian ‘Groupe de travail’ was accompanied by 12 documents in annexes.
Two of them were the conclusions of their meetings of 5 April and 20-23 April 1959 as well as the names of the
chieftains, deputy chieftains and judges and their signatures. The other ten documents were illustrations of the

Ibid., p. 41.
Kimenyi, De la déconstruction du Rwanda, p. 291-292.
Ibid., p. 314.
AGR2-Joseph Cuvelier, Ministère des Colonies et successeurs en droit. Groupe de travail pour l’étude du problème politique au
Ruanda-Urundi (1958-1959), Numéro de l’instrument : I 47, cote de l’article : no 7. ‘P.V. de la 21e session du Conseil Supérieur du

Pays ; Rapport de la Commission du Conseil Supérieur du Pays’.

AGR2-Joseph Cuvelier, Ministère des Colonies et successeurs en droit. Groupe de travail pour l’étude du problème politique au
Ruanda-Urundi (1958-1959), Numéro de l’instrument : I 47, cote de l’article : no 7. ‘Déclaration des autorités indigènes et juges du pays
à Nyanza’.

propaganda of division and hatred that they denounced, including “les onze commandements” (the eleven
commandments) [of the Bahutu] and "l'Hymne nationale des Bahutu" (the national anthem of the Bahutu).' 73
It appeared, however, that this campaign of hatred against the Batutsi was in reality orchestrated by the Belgian
colonial administration itself. Abbot Alexis Kagame, a Rwandan scholar and member of several international
scientific bodies, clearly expressed this to the 'Working Group' in a letter dated 2 May 1959 that he had promised
to send as a supplement to the hearing he had had with the same group on 28 April 1959.
Speaking of the reforms to be introduced in the executive of Rwanda, Abbot Kagame suggested that alongside
the Rwandan Sovereign 'who should reign and not govern' within the framework of a constitutional monarchy,
there be a government with Europeans to the positions of Prime Minister and other portfolios for which there was
not yet local expertise, but 'that it was nevertheless necessary to entrust certain Ministries to natives, assisted by
European Advisors'. The Rwandan abbot underlined 'that we should find Europeans intelligent enough to
understand that the common good requires this conception and that they agree to serve as second-in-command to
Ministers less competent than themselves'. Abbot Kagame deplored, however, that this future collaboration that
he suggested could be seriously compromised by a campaign undertaken for two years by the 'European
Administration', 'inciting the populations to disregard the indigenous authorities, through propaganda of racial
hatred between Bahutu and Batutsi':
However, a very difficult problem arises here and you will allow me, Mr President, to give you a short presentation of it
in complete frankness. Over the past two years, the European Administration has made a major error by inciting the
populations to disdain the indigenous authorities, through propaganda of racial hatred between Bahutu and Batutsi. ... This
unfortunate campaign, Mr President, began when Rwanda had just launched the idea of autonomy or independence. ... I
must point out, Mr President, that I am not simply reporting the rumours of public opinion: I know from certain and direct
knowledge that officials of the European Administration, and even high-ranking ones, have been very openly involved in
this campaign. 74

The members of the ‘Groupe de travail’, including its president, August-Edmond de Shryver, who would
become Minister four months later, did not want to pay the slightest attention to these calls for decency and
vigilance. King Mutara III Rudahigwa was to die in obscure circumstances on 25 July 1959, and the first
massacres of a genocidal nature directed against the Batutsi broke out on 1 November of the same year.
UNAR (Union Nationale Rwandaise) was the other target. When it officially launched its activities as a political
party in September 1959, it continued the political legacy of King Rudahigwa. UNAR was to be severely attacked
by the colonialists and some of the most influential members of the Catholic Church. A few days after his
appointment as Special Resident of Rwanda, Belgian Colonel Guy Logiest officially declared on 21 November
1959 that ‘We have in front of us a deadly enemy, UNAR. We have to destroy it. One way to achieve this is to
strengthen the enemies of UNAR.’ 75 In a statement issued on 24 September 1959, the leaders of the Catholic
Church had already called on Catholics to beware of UNAR, which they accused of having ‘communist and
Islamic influences’. 76
At the beginning, UNAR had a large following throughout the country and at all levels. Researcher Réné
Lemarchand explains that the high number of members was due to the fact that ‘UNAR had a patriotic discourse
aimed at uniting all Rwandans for development at all levels’. 77 PARMEHUTU itself has long admitted to being
small and of insignificant political importance in the face of the popularity of UNAR within the population, and
among the Bahutu in particular. In a letter to the Belgian Minister for Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi of 4
October 1959, the founders of PARMEHUTU and others who claimed to represent the Bahutu in Rwanda and
Burundi stated that it was a ‘tragedy ... to see that the Tutsi could enlist many Hutu into political parties of their
oppressors’. 78 For these ‘Hutu leaders’ and their European sponsors, nationalist parties, namely UNAR in
Rwanda and UPRONA (Union pour le progrès national) in Burundi were automatically considered as ‘Tutsi’ and
‘parties of oppressors of the Hutu’. ‘Bahutu political education’ aimed to erode the strength of nationalist parties
by siphoning them of Hutu members by racist propaganda.

AGR2-Joseph Cuvelier, Ministère des Colonies et successeurs en droit. Groupe de travail pour l’étude du problème politique au
Ruanda-Urundi (1958-1959), Numéro de l’instrument : I 47, cote de l’article : no 7. ‘Audition de M. l’Abbé A. Kagame’.
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 58.
Nkundabagenzi, Rwanda politique, p. 139.
CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 393.
Nkundabagenzi, Rwanda politique, p. 112.

De Schryver had declared in June 1959 that 'within 24 hours there would be a massacre of one part of the
population' if Belgian colonial rule 'were to immediately depart from Rwanda'. Belgium maintained its colonial
rule until 1 July 1962, and the first genocide against the Tutsi occurred under its supervision. It finally granted
independence to ‘Hutu leaders’, products of ‘Bahutu’s political education’ that it had ‘helped actively, but
The political parties of these ‘Hutu leaders’, namely PARMEHUTU (Parti du mouvement de l'émancipation des
Bahutu) and APROSOMA (Association pour la promotion de la masse) would become the main colonial and
neo-colonial puppets. Joseph Habyarimana Gitera, the founder of APROSOMA stated in September 1959:
‘independence means expelling the White man and restoring slavery, injustice and oppression by the Tutsi’. He
accused the nationalist party UNAR of ‘wanting to drive out the Whites and God so that we rule ourselves', and
praised ‘The Belgian state and the Church of Rwanda [that] have joined forces to liberate the Bahutu and the
humble people from the slavery of the Batutsi’. 79
PARMEHUTU pleaded for the continuation of colonialism! With their usual essentialist and dualist vision of
Rwandan society in Hutu-Tutsi, officials of the party wrote the following in their newspaper Jya Mbere: ‘The
Tutsis want self-rule and independence in 1960-1962, while the Hutus want colonialism to continue for another
time’. 80 The PARMEHUTU manifesto of 18 October 1959 had requested the United Nations to organize a
referendum on independence to assess if Rwandans really wanted the end of Belgian colonial rule. 81
The irony is that when Rwanda regained independence in 1962, Belgium transferred power to these two parties
that were only asking to continue living under Belgian colonization. Grégoire Kayibanda, the PARMEHUTU
leader became the first head of state and Gitera, leader of APROSOMA, the first speaker of the parliament.
A strong bond has continued to unite Belgium and the Catholic Church dominated by the White Fathers
missionaries to the successive regimes of Rwanda. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Rwanda's
independence in 1982, President Juvénal Habyarimana decorated with medals of recognition several Belgians
who played a decisive role in the 'Rwandan revolution', including Guy Logiest whom Habyarimana designated
as 'providential man'. This is the clearest proof of the neo-colonial character of post-independence regimes. As
one analyst pointed out, ‘In the whole history of the decolonization of Africa, Rwanda is the only country to have
offered glorious rewards to its former colonizers’. 82 Belgium would be gradually ousted by France from 1962 in
developing a privileged neo-colonial relationship with the Rwandan regimes until the 1994 genocide against the
Tutsi. 83
Racist regimes
Post-independence regimes from 1962 to 1994 practised overt discrimination and prejudice towards the Batutsi
considered as a separate and different race or ethnic group, though these qualifications are inaccurate in the
context of Rwanda. Four postulates of the Hamitic hypothesis have been invoked to give a false historical
justification to these policies of discrimination against the Batutsi. The first is the clear distinction of ‘races’ or
‘ethnic groups’ that are supposed to be the components of the Rwandan population Bahutu, Batutsi and Batwa;
distinction based on allegedly different physical and psychological characteristics as well as economic activities.
The second postulate is the anteriority of each of these groups in the history of the settlement and occupation of
the land. The third postulate is the numerical importance of each group, and the last is the social and political
status of each group. The regimes resulting from the 'Rwandan revolution' logically deduced from these postulates
of the Hamitic hypothesis two new theses on which the Hutu supremacy ideology is based, namely that 'Hutu are
the first and the most'. 84
Aprosoma – Parti social hutu- ishyaka rya Abahutu, ‘Uko Abahutu bagomba kwica ku ngoyi ya Abatutsi n’uko u Rwanda dushaka
ko rumera muli iki gihe kiri imbere ‘, Ijwi rya Rubanda rugufi, 27/09/1959.

Jya mbere, ‘Prise de position du Mouvement de l’émancipation Hutu, Gitarama (Ruanda), le 30 janvier 1960’ ; Supplément à Jya
mbere n° 5 du 3 janvier 1960.
Nkundabagenzi, Rwanda politique, p.121.
Kimenyi, De la déconstruction du Rwanda, p. 310.
Doridant & Graner, L’État français et le génocide des Tutsis, p. 26.
For a typology of Hutu supremacy ideology and Hamitic ideology, see Privat Rutazibwa, ‘Genocide and media’, Dialogue, numéro
spécial juillet (2013); also available at For the main themes of
Hamitic ideology in Rwandan historiography, see Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique raciale, p. 18. The formula 'The Hutu are the first
and the most' is from an American professor during a seminar in Kigali in 2013 after my presentation of ‘Genocide and media’.

Two colonial authors give a representative view of those postulates of the Hamitic hypothesis. Reviewing the
discoveries of Count Von Gotzen who was the first European to visit the Court of Rwanda, Richard Kandt,
explorer and first German civil Resident in Rwanda gave the following description:
Contrary to the other parts of the colony, he found here a dense population: Bantus Negroes counted in thousands and
named Wahutu. This population is enslaved to Watussi, a noble caste of foreigners, Semites or Hamites; whose ancestors,
originating from Galla countries in the south of Abyssinia, have subjugated all the inter lacustrine regions. 85

In his book published in 1939, Canon Louis de Lacger wrote:
The Batutsi are, without any doubt, the last comers in Rwanda, and their settlement is relatively recent… The historical
autochthones in Rwanda bear the name of Batwa. …The Muhutu is the vegetarian colonizer, …reducing before him the
bush and the inextricable forest…populating everywhere with overabundant birth rate…. It is he, who conquered and
created really Rwanda, who gave it a way of living which is general nowadays; who printed the stamp of his language and
institutions; who baptised all its sites, its mounts, its rivers, its ‘countries’ or cantons; its hills and sections of hills. 86

The artisans of the 'Rwandan revolution' and their heirs often reproduced these colonial textbooks verbatim to
justify that the Bahutu were 'the true owners' of Rwanda, and therefore more legitimate than the ‘first Batwa
occupants’, for having 'cleared' the forest. They also asserted that the Bahutu are ‘the real people’ of Rwanda as
they constitute the majority of the population. For these two reasons, the Bahutu have an exclusive right to
citizenship and political power. This supremacist ideology goes hand in hand with the exclusion of the Batutsi
from the right to citizenship, exercise of power, homeland and property, education and employment, and even to
the cultural heritage of Rwanda.
Joseph Habyarimana Gitera, the founder of APROSOMA political party stated in 1959: ‘Sons of Gahutu, we
are the ones who created Rwanda, cutting the forest. We are the real people of Rwanda. Our weapons are the hoe
and the machete, the very weapons we shall use to defeat the Inyanga-Rwanda’ [‘those who hate Rwanda’,
meaning the Batutsi in this context, and the nationalists who were his political opponents]. 87 In September 1959,
Grégoire Kayibanda, the official founder of PARMEHUTU political party declared the following: ‘Our
movement aims at the Hutu group, outraged, humiliated and despised by the Tutsi invader. …, we are there to
give back the country to its owners; it is the country of Bahutu. …. By who was the forest cleared? By Gahutu.
So, what! 88 Théoneste Bagosora, former Director of cabinet in the ministry of defence under president
Habyarimana, sentenced in 2011 to 35 years in jail by the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)
for his role in the genocide against the Tutsi wrote the following in 1995:
Tutsi have never had a country of their own to make up a people. There have never been a Tutsi people neither in Rwanda,
nor in Burundi, or anywhere else. There have simply been Tutsi who have been naturalized as they progressively arrived
in Rwanda as well as in Burundi…. Tutsi are and will remain Nilotic migrants naturalized either as Rwandans, Burundians,
Zairians, Ugandans or Tanzanians who should rather favour a policy of peaceful coexistence with the people who
welcomed them and moderate their behaviour, proud and arrogant, prone to impose their supremacy in the Great Lakes
region.... 89

On the exclusion of the Batutsi from the right to exercise political power, Kayibanda declared before the
parliament in September 1961, after PARMEHUTU won the parliamentary elections and the referendum on
monarchy amid violence and fraud with the support of Belgium, that the new government was ‘a government of
Gahutu’. 90 While celebrating the tenth anniversary of independence in 1972, President Kayibanda said: ‘The
Richard Kandt, 1905: pp 257-278. As presented by Bernard Lugan, ‘Sources écrites pouvant servir à l’histoire du Rwanda (18631918), Etudes Rwandaises, volume XIV, numéro spécial (1980).
Louis de Lacger (Chanoine), Le Ruanda ancien (S.d., Kabgayi, [1939] 1961), p. 48.
Ishyaka lya Bahutu. c/o APROSOMA J.H. Gitera & Frères. Astrida B.P.99, ‘Umusozo w’ikibazo: Muhutu – Mututsi mu Rwanda’,
Ijwi lya Rubanda rugufi (1959). The original text in Kinyarwanda is as follows: ‘Bene Gahutu, nitwe, twaremye Urwanda dutema
ishyamba, tugize Urwanda. Intwaro zacu n’isuka n’umuhoro, nizo tuzatsindisha INYANGA-RWANDA.’ The title ‘Umusozo
w’ikibazo: Muhutu-Mututsi mu Rwanda’ translates as ‘the end of the Hutu-Tutsi problem in Rwanda’.
République du Rwanda, ‘Dénombrement des victimes du génocide, rapport final’ (République du Rwanda, MINALOC, Kigali, 2004),
p. 13.
Théoneste Bagosora, ‘L’assassinat du président Habyarimana, ou l’ultime opération du tutsi pour sa reconquête du pouvoir par
la force au Rwanda’ (S.d., Yaoundé, 1995).
Speech by Grégoire Kayibanda to parliament, 2 October 1961. As quoted by Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 62.

commune elections of 1963 forever convinced the Tutsi that they should no longer entertain the hope of
governing’. 91
Regarding the exclusion of Tutsi refugees (and displaced persons) from the right to property and homeland, the
Belgian colonial administration had already suggested and endorsed the policy according to which the Commune
councils were to meet to decide whether or not a Tutsi refugee or displaced person was authorized to return in
his property. 92The Belgian administrator of the Territoire of Kigali could state in December 1960 that 'It is already
a development in their favour' the fact that Tutsi refugees had been authorized by the 'Commune councils' of two
communes near Kigali to return 'in the commune, but not on their former lands'; and he could add in his weekly
report: 'They must, in the same way as a foreigner, request land'. 93
The lands of the Batutsi who had fled abroad or who had been displaced inside the country during the
‘revolution’ were first given to other people by the Commune councils, and these transfers were recorded in the
Commune books. Other property of Tutsi refugees or displaced persons, like cattle, was sold and the money went
to the Commune Fund. 94
This was done in a country still under Belgian colonization.
PARMEHUTU and APROSOMA rulers often confiscated the assets for their own benefit or gave them to their
friends, creating conflict. Some of the returning Tutsi even dared to sue local leaders in an attempt to recover
their properties despite the hostile general atmosphere. Therefore, the rules and regulations came to provide a
framework to reduce those cases. 95
In 1961, Makuza Anastase, then Minister of Justice signed a provisional directive on refugee property, intended
for judges, assessors and court clerks. It stipulated about lands of the Batutsi that ‘The plots taken by the interim
or municipal authorities in favour of other persons … must be maintained in the legal situation in which these
new authorities have placed them until the legislator decides otherwise.’ 96
This directive was also issued under Belgian colonial rule, by the Provisional Government, one of the institutions
that had been dismissed by the UN but which the Belgians let continue to operate. Minister Makuza's directive
did not prevent cases and disputes from continuing, as it was in violation of existing laws. Some lands belonging
to Batutsi had not yet been distributed too; so, those in local administration continued to face difficulties. 97
In 1966, President Kayibanda issued a decree reinforcing the 1961 directive stating in Article 3 that ‘The
returning refugee cannot under any circumstances reclaim the land where he previously lived or exploited if it
has already been occupied or has already been the subject of any allocation by the public authorities.’ 98
Land litigation, however, continued, prompting the Minister of Local Administration and Justice André
Sebatware to issue a directive dated 2 February 1970 on land disputes between individuals and the State.The
directive was intended for the courts. Minister Sebatware recalled the directive of 1961 and the presidential order
of 1966 emphasizing the provisions set out above. He told the judges that the two regulations ‘enlightened them
enough’ to ‘know what to do whenever a refugee or a displaced person’ filed a case to get back a ‘land that he
owned before fleeing abroad or being displaced’. The ministerial directive accused the returnees of ‘gross bad
faith in their litigation, often aimed at undermining the authority of the Commune’. 99
The Minister advised the courts to refer the complainants to the office of requests (Bureau des Requêtes) in each
court. Employees of that office could ‘explain to them the rules, and show them that filing a complaint is a waste
of time’. He also demanded that the courts report to the ministry on a monthly basis from March 1970, showing
those who agreed to the explanations and those who insisted on filing a complaint. The minister concluded his
Ibiro by’amakuru muri Prezidansi ya Republika, ‘Imyaka 10 y’isabukuru y’ubwigenge’ (Republika y’u Rwanda, Kigali, 1978), p.80.
As quoted by CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 421.
Réunion tenue à Kigali le 25 octobre 1961 entre les autorités britanniques de l’Uganda et les autorités du Gouvernement du RuandaUrundi (présidée par Monsieur Jean-Paul Harroy, Résident Général du Ruanda-Urundi), p.1, in Archives africaines, A 63 RWA 98. See
especially the declaration of Resident General Jean-Paul Harroy as quoted by Gakwenzire, Les politiques de discrimination, p. 99.
Julien Nyssens, Administrateur de Territoire (Kigali), ‘Rapport hebdomadaire d’information’ (Kigali, 22 décembre 1960), in Archives
africaines, A 63 RWA 92. As quoted by Gakwenzire, Les politiques de discrimination, p. 76.
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 78-81.
‘Circulaire n° 2/1961 du 8/6/1961 du Ministre de la Justice relative aux jugements de caractère foncier’ (République rwandaise,
‘Règlements et instructions relatives à la réinstallation des réfugiés et réclamations diverses. Destinés aux autorités communales,
préfectorales et judiciaires’, Ministère de l’intérieur, service A.P.A, édition 1979), p. 27.
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 82-92.
‘Arrêté Présidentiel n° 25 du 26 février 1966 portant mesures pour la réintégration des réfugiés’ (République rwandaise, ‘Règlements
et instructions relatives à la réinstallation des réfugiés’), p. 11.
‘Circulaire n°99/A.09 III du Ministre de l’Intérieur et des Affaires Judiciaires relative aux litiges fonciers entre particuliers et pouvoir
public’ (République rwandaise, ‘Règlements et instructions relatives à la réinstallation des réfugiés’), p. 22-25.

directive stating that if the courts follow suit, it will be a good co-operation with the Executive branch of the State
in combating the ‘plight of many troublemakers who are increasingly using land disputes to create tensions
between the state and the people, inciting the latter to oppose the former’. 100
Under Habyarimana's regime, a directive issued on 25 October 1973 confirmed President Kayibanda's 1966
Decree, in particular Article 3, stipulating that a returnee cannot claim land and other property that was formerly
his or her own when it was occupied by another person or used by the government for another purpose. 101 A
ministerial instruction of 22 May 1975 also set the end of July 1975 as the deadline for the allocation of all
property left by refugees. It stated: ‘what will not be serving the public interest will be auctioned off,
notwithstanding that the Commune may attribute some of the properties to people who may need them’. 102
The return of Tutsi refugees to their homeland was systematically denied. Scholars who claim that at the end of
the 1980s, the socio-political system in place in Rwanda seemed able to 'peacefully resolve' the problem of 'Tutsi
refugees' do not care about the truth. 103 I will dwell a little more on this question of refugees to prove it, especially
since it played an important role in triggering the RPF rebellion in 1990.
The Kayibanda regime was characterized by insincere calls to refugees to return, yet it enacted laws and practices
full of hatred and violating the rights of the refugees. President Kayibanda actually counted on the total extinction
of Tutsi refugees given the difficult conditions they faced in exile. 'Leave them, they will dry up like a puddle,'
he declared one day to those around him. 104Habyarimana's government had also one unchanging line: the
statement that Rwanda is small, so refugees are required to stay where they are. It added, however, political
reasons that were most evident in the confidential documents: Tutsi refugees were generally considered enemies
of the country.
In 1973, after Habyarimana’s military coup, the UNHCR representative in Rwanda wrote to his headquarters
informing of the new government's instructions on individual refugees seeking repatriation, based on an interview
he had had with the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The new government
had decided to abide by the existing regulations of 1966. What it changed was that the refugee could not enter
Rwanda and have his repatriation request examined after he had arrived, as was the case under Kayibanda’s
regime. The new directive stated that ‘Rwandese refugees wishing to return to their home country should address
themselves either to the Rwandese Embassy (if there was one) or to the UNHCR Branch Office.’ The request
was to be transmitted to the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 105
For each refugee seeking repatriation, the Rwandan authorities needed first to conduct an investigation into the
following: ‘a) Would the population in the “colline d’origine” accept without difficulty the returning refugee? b)
Would the returning refugee represent a political security risk? (c) Were there charges pending of a criminal
nature against him?’ The new authorities chose to carry out the investigation while the refugee was still abroad;
and if he did not fulfil the requirements, they refused him to come. The aim was ‘to avoid a situation where a
returning refugee would have to be taken into custody’, and therefore, the Rwandan authorities ‘asked HCR to
discourage refugees from taking the initiative to return unheralded and on their own’. 106
The UNHCR representative in Rwanda seemed very satisfied with the explanations he received. He was even
effusive and full of praise for the new regime:
… they wished to assure HCR that all cases would be sympathetically examined. It was the avowed policy of the new
régime to make every effort to ensure that the liberty and safety of every Rwandese national would be respected
irrespective of his ethnic origin. My own view is that the authorities are taking a sensible and positive stand on this matter
and that a refugee officially admitted will not be exposed to official discrimination or harassment. 107

‘Circulaire n°2420/A.09 relative à l’arrêté Présidentiel n° 25/01 du 26 février 1966 portant mesures pour réintégration des réfugiés
et réclamations diverses’ (République rwandaise, ‘Règlements et instructions relatives à la réinstallation des réfugiés’), p. 13-19.
‘Lettre n° 497/04.09.01/14 du 22/05/1975 à Monsieur le Préfet de Préfecture (tous), du Ministre de l’Intérieur et de la Fonction
Publique, Kanyarengwe Alexis, Lieutenant Colonel. Objet: destination des biens abandonnés par les réfugiés’ (Personal archives of
Jean Paul Kimonyo, Rwandan researcher and writer).
See among others, Filip Reyntjens, L’Afrique des Grands Lacs en crise. Rwanda, Burundi: 1988-1994, (Paris, Karthala, 1994),
p.257; Desrosiers, ‘Le rapport Duclert’, p. 18 (the author asserts that ‘The Rwandan government was even in the process of concluding
agreements on the issue at the time of the RPF attack’).
‘Mubihorere bazakama nk’ikiziba’. Conversation with R. B., Kigali, 2008.
Stanley Wright, UNHCR chargé de mission in Rwanda, to Mr. A. Noël, Chief, West and Central Africa Regional section, 27 August
1973; 610.GEN.RWA Refugees from Rwanda – General; series 2; box 1086; Fonds UNHCR 11.

Shortly after taking office, Habyarimana met with Ugandan President Idi Amin Dada at the Organisation of
Africa Unity (OAU) summit in Mogadishu (12-16 June 1974), and they briefly discussed the issue of Rwandan
refugees. Upon his return, Idi Amin announced that he had set up a commission at the ministerial level to assess
whether there were any Rwandan refugees who wanted to return voluntarily to Rwanda. The Commission was to
then invite representatives of the Rwandan government to the talks. 108 The Ugandan commission started work,
meeting with refugee representatives who submitted their proposals on what can be done to allow them to return
to Rwanda. The Rwandan delegation visited Kampala from 21 to 28 July 1974. It was led by Foreign Affairs
Minister Aloys Nsekalije, and was comprised of Kamilindi Claudien who was the Minister of Health and Welfare;
Ntigura Jean who was the Secretary General in the Ministry of Local Administration; Lizinde Théoneste who
was the Director General in the Presidency; and Kinuma Faustin who was the Director in the Ministry of Public
Service. On the Ugandan side, there was a team of three ministers led by Major General F. Nyangueso, who was
in charge of refugees. 109
The talks of the joint commission of the two countries took place in Kampala from 23 to 27 July 1974. Rwandan
refugees in Uganda had signed a memorandum expressing their wishes, and Ugandan government representatives
demanded that the joint commission study it. The document outlined six factors that refugees needed to be met
in order for them to return to Rwanda. The first was total security provided by the OAU. Others were: the release
of political prisoners jailed during the Kayibanda regime; the restitution to refugees and displaced of all their
property and lands; the elimination of any kind of discrimination from the Constitution; the equality of all
Rwandans before the law and at various levels; and the creation of an executive committee composed of
representatives of the OAU, the Government of Rwanda, refugees, international organizations and countries that
had hosted refugees, to supervise the operations of repatriation. 110
The Rwandan delegation also shared with the joint commission a memorandum expressing its views. It was
briefly discussed during the meeting of 24 July 1974 and its objective ‘was to provide more clarity to certain
passages of the memorandum of refugees which could not be sufficiently clarified’. 111 The document stated that
‘Rwanda is not ready to start negotiations on the basis of what appears to be suicidal for Rwandans’ 112, citing
social, economic and political problems. The Ugandan government delegation, however, tried to persuade that of
Rwanda to be reasonable. They reminded that the Ugandan government is ‘primarily responsible for its people’,
and that ‘The stay of Refugees in Ouganda is only temporary; and it is ultimately up to their country of origin to
create favourable conditions for the return of their nationals and to welcome them when they express the
intention’. 113 They pointed out that the change in government in Rwanda has led the Ugandan President to think
that ‘there has been a positive change in the attitudes of politicians in Rwanda towards Rwandan refugees’, and
thus ‘it is time to resolve the issue’. In this regard, ‘it was emphasized that the Rwandan refugees in Uganda had
also changed their minds about the current regime in Rwanda’. 114
This insistence of the Ugandan delegation allowed both sides to continue talks and work out a draft agreement
that the two heads of state would sign. The key to the draft agreement was that Rwanda allowed three categories
of refugees to return: those with sufficient means of subsistence; those who still owned land in Rwanda; and those
with special skills that may make them eligible for the labour market. The return of other refugees would be
considered later. Even for the three categories considered, the Rwandan government wanted their repatriation to
take place in 20 years, but the Ugandan side requested not to determine the repatriation period before completion

The UNHCR Representative in Kampala to the High Commissioner, 1 July 1974; 1/UGA/RWA, 610.UGA/RWA 1. Uganda Refugee
situation - Refugees from Rwanda Uganda; series 1; box 38; Fonds UNHCR 11.
‘Comptes-rendus des réunions de la Commission mixte ugando-rwandaise sur le rapatriement des réfugiés rwandais vivant en
Uganda’, p.2 (Annexe 5 à la Lettre n° 451/01.05/CAB/RE du 31 juillet 1974 du Lieutenant-colonel A. Nsekalije, Ministre des Affaires
Etrangères et de la Coopération, à son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République. Personal archives of Jean Paul Kimonyo).
‘Mémorandum des réfugiés rwandais en Uganda’ (Annexe IV à la Lettre n° 451/01.05/CAB/RE du 31 juillet 1974 du Lieutenantcolonel A. Nsekalije, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères et de la Coopération, à son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République.
Personal archives of Jean Paul Kimonyo).
‘Comptes-rendus des réunions de la Commission mixte ugando-rwandaise’, p. 7- 8.
‘Mémorandum de la délégation rwandaise sur les réfugiés rwandais en République ugandaise’, p.1 (Annexe II à la Lettre n°
451/01.05/CAB/RE du 31 juillet 1974 du Lieutenant-colonel A. Nsekalije, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères et de la Coopération, à son
Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République. Personal archives of Jean Paul Kimonyo).
‘Avant-projet d’accord entre le Gouvernement ougandais et le Gouvernement rwandais sur le rapatriement des réfugiés rwandais’,
p. 1-2 (Annexe I à la Lettre n° 451/01.05/CAB/RE du 31 juillet 1974 du Lieutenant-colonel A. Nsekalije, Ministre des Affaires
Etrangères et de la Coopération, à son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République. Personal archives of Jean Paul Kimonyo).
‘Comptes-rendus des réunions de la Commission mixte ugando-rwandaise’, p. 4.

of the refugees’ census. In addition, Uganda agreed to grant citizenship to long-established refugees, if they
requested it. 115
However, the talks ended without an agreement being signed between the two countries. It appears in fact that
the Rwandan delegation agreed to continue the negotiations until 27 July 1974 as a pure diversion, because it had
already declared to the UNHCR on 23 July that Rwanda categorically rejected the repatriation of its refugees. A
telegraphic message the UNHCR headquarters sent to its envoy to Addis Ababa on 26 July 1974 reveals the
Have been advised by Branch office Kampala as follows and this message already transmitted Branch office Kigali QUOTEAAA The
Rwanda government reject possibility mass repatriation of Rwandese refugees on the basis of social economic and political
considerations. In conclusion it requests the Ugandan government to discourage all refugees from returning. BBB The first official
meeting between the Uganda government and the delegation attended by the representative ended yesterday 23 July and no further
sessions on the question of repatriation are envisaged. CCC In private meeting with Rwanda Foreign Minister assured individual
requests for repatriation will always be considered. UNQUOTE. We agree mass repatriation impractical and unadvisable. We hope
this issue now closed and that this information will be conveyed to OAU by governments concerned. 116

The attitude of UNHCR in this matter is very surprising. Its representative in Kampala attended the first meeting
of the Joint Commission on 23 July 1974, and left before the end of the session as revealed by the minutes of the
meeting written by the Rwandan delegation. 117 In a message to his Headquarters in Geneva the following day,
24 July 1974 as shown in the preceding paragraph, he stated that the meeting of the joint Commission he attended
and left unfinished was the last on the issue of repatriation. Nevertheless, the truth is that the meetings of the joint
Commission continued until 27 July 1974 when the draft agreement to be signed by the presidents of the two
countries was approved by both delegations. 118 Influenced by their representative in Uganda, the UNHCR
Headquarters in Geneva also announced the conclusions of the talks between Uganda and Rwanda on 26 July
1974, that is, one day before the end of the joint Commission's meetings!
It is clear that Habyarimana's government policy of condemning Rwandan Tutsi refugees to perpetual exile was
also shared by UNHCR.
In a speech on 1 July 1982 celebrating the 20th anniversary of Rwanda's independence, President Habyarimana
said that ‘refugee issues should be considered first and foremost in the humanitarian field but without forgetting
peace and security’. He reiterated that the lasting solution is that ‘refugees be permanently resettled in the host
countries’. For some of the refugees seeking to return to the country, each one would ‘make individually and
voluntarily a request to be examined in light of laws applicable in Rwanda since 1966 as well as international
conventions’. 119
The same year 1982, Milton Obote's government expelled Rwandan refugees and other assimilated populations
from rural settlements in Uganda. Some returned to Nakivale and Oruchinga refugee camps in Mbarara district,
and others headed to Rwanda. Various numbers of these refugees have been provided. In November 1982, the
UNHCR estimated that more than 60,000 had been evicted; 23,000 of whom went to the refugee camps in
Uganda, and 40,000 to Rwanda. 120 A provisional census by the Rwandan government in April 1983 estimated
that no more than 80,000 had entered the country. 121 The refugees were kept near the border, in Kibondo for the
non-breeders, and Nasho for the cattle breeders. In November 1982 Rwanda closed the border, and about 4,000
people were confined to a cramped space between the two countries in no man's land, incapable even to return to
Uganda out of fear. Security forces in Rwanda also abducted some youths who disappeared. 122 Because of the
mistreatment, about 200 people died, including 35 who chose to commit suicide. 123 Some of the refugees later
returned to Uganda and a number of youths joined the Yoweri Kaguta Museveni rebels who had started fighting
against Obote.
‘Avant-projet d’accord entre le Gouvernement ougandais et le Gouvernement rwandais sur le rapatriement des réfugiés rwandais’.
The High Commissioner to the Representative in Addis Ababa, 26 July 1974, 1/UGA/RWA, 610.UGA/RWA 1. Uganda Refugee
situation - Refugees from Rwanda Uganda; series 1; box 38; Fonds UNHCR 11.
‘Comptes-rendus des réunions de la Commission mixte ugando-rwandaise’, p. 4.
Ibid., p. 15-17.
Mémorandum de la partie rwandaise sur le problème des refugiés rwandais, p.5. Reçu au HCR le 14 juin 1989, 0.10 RWA [C],
External relations- Relations with governments- Rwanda, AF7/269, UNHCR Archives.
UNHCR Head Office to Representative in Ottawa, 16 November 1982, 610.UGA.RWA Refugees from Rwanda in Uganda [19721984], series 2, box 1129, Fonds UNHCR 11.
The UNHCR Representative in Kigali to the High Commissioner, 8 April 1983, 610.UGA.RWA Refugees from Rwanda in Uganda
[1972-1984], series 2, box 1129, Fonds UNHCR 11.
Jean Paul Kimonyo, Rwanda, Demain ! Une longue Marche vers la transformation (Karthala, Paris 2017), p. 64.
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 114-115.

On 26 July 1986, the Central Committee of the ruling party MRND [Mouvement révolutionnaire national pour
le développement] as the highest institution to define the country’s policies issued a statement on the refugees’
problem. 124 In its historical background, the document recalled how ‘the majority farmer had to enter into an
iniquitous bondage contract from which the minority breeder reaped all the benefits’. The MRND statement
seemed to dread an imminent civil war. ‘As for the forced return of the refugees, arms in hand, which would
threaten peace, security, unity and national harmony, the Rwandan people would not tolerate the compromise of
values so dearly acquired’, it reads. This reference to the return of armed refugees, and the timing of the MRND
statement just six months after Museveni took power in Uganda, led the diplomats in Kigali to link this to the
fact that there was a large group of Rwandan refugees in the NRA (National Resistance Army) of President
Yoweri Museveni. 125
The MRND Central Committee's statement continued to address the issue of refugees as a humanitarian
problem, rather than a political issue. The answers it gave to the question were three: the first was a permanent
residency in host countries and where possible, refugees to be granted citizenship. The second was being allowed
to come and visit their families in Rwanda, provided that it does not create insecurity, and afterwards return to
their places of refuge; and finally, the possibility for an individual refugee to submit a request for return. In the
last case, the statement said that ‘Rwanda will continue to consider with kindness requests for individual, free
and voluntary repatriation’. In order to be eligible to the individual repatriation, the applicant refugee had to meet
the following requirements: ‘has never carried arms against the Rwandan Republic; has never participated in a
subversive movement against Rwanda nor in any activities against the interests of the Republic of Rwanda;
demonstrates his ability to provide for his subsistence and development needs once he returns to the country’. 126
In fact, the position of the Habyarimana regime on the refugee question had remained the same since the
Kampala talks of 1974 mentioned above. The Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs himself confirmed to the
UNHCR representative in Kigali that ‘the position taken by the Central Committee … had been prepared a long
time ago and is therefore only the outcome of a process of reflection begun in 1982 with the mass arrival of
refugees from Uganda’. 127
In an open letter dated 28 November 1986, Mwete Muvunyi, a Rwandan refugee in Bujumbura, seriously
questioned Habyarimana about the MRND statement, in his capacity as president of both the party and the
country. He wrote:
Since you refuse to the refugees to return home under the pretext of overpopulation, what will you do with your young
compatriots who are born for the moment? The estimates of certain serious institutions speak of a population of Rwanda
of 20 million inhabitants (against 6.6 million currently) in the year 2000. Will Rwanda have expanded its borders to reach
three times its current area? If not, as it is logical to assume, who will be the next to be expelled? 128

UNHCR's Legal Adviser for Africa also analysed in a six-page document Rwanda's refugee policy, as detailed
in the statement from the Central Committee of the MRND. He pointed out that ‘the solutions put forward by the
National Revolutionary Movement for Development in order to resolve the problem of Rwandan refugees hardly
resist legal analysis’. After indicating the weaknesses of each of the three conditions attached to individual
repatriation, he concluded: ‘… one would naturally wonder about the part of sincerity and honesty that this
condition contains, like all the others on which depends the success of an individual repatriation procedure’. 129
In a confidential document, UNHCR explained that this 1986 policy of the Rwandan government on the refugees’
issue had angered host countries. ‘While the (majority of) asylum countries continued to extend asylum to
Position du Comité Central [du MRND] face au problème des réfugiés rwandais, Note verbale du 28 juillet 1986 du Ministère des
Affaires Etrangères et de la Coopération aux missions diplomatiques accréditées à Kigali. Transmitted from Délégué HCR/Kigali au
siège du HCR/Genève, 05 août 1986, 0.10 RWA [A] External relations -Relations with Governments- Rwanda, UNHCR Archives.
Mwete Muvunyi, Lettre ouverte au Général-Major Juvénal Habyalimana, Président fondateur du MRND, Président de la République
Rwandaise, 28/11/1986. As quoted by François-Xavier Doudou-Kiadila, Conseiller juridique pour l’Afrique, Note pour le dossier :
Quelques réflexions sur la Position du Comité central du MRND face au problème des réfugiés rwandais. Annex to Memorandum on
Rwandan refugee policy transmitted on 2 July 1987 from UNHCR Senior Legal Advisor Asia & Oceania to the Representative in Japan,
0.10 RWA [A] External relations -Relations with Governments- Rwanda, UNHCR Archives.
François-Xavier Doudou-Kiadila, Conseiller juridique pour l’Afrique, Note pour le dossier : Quelques réflexions sur la Position du
Comité central du MRND face au problème des réfugiés rwandais. Annex to Memorandum on Rwandan refugee policy transmitted on
2 July 1987 from UNHCR Senior Legal Advisor Asia & Oceania to the Representative in Japan, 0.10 RWA [A] External relations Relations with Governments- Rwanda, UNHCR Archives.

Rwandese, they resented the attempt by Rwanda to dictate unilaterally a solution that placed the burden on its
neighbours. This reaction was particularly strong from Uganda, which had earlier appeared ready to naturalize
many Rwandan refugees’. 130
Meeting at the OAU Summit in Addis Ababa on 27-29 July 1987, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
called on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to ‘convene a regional conference of countries concerned
with the Rwandese refugee problem to evaluate the magnitude of the problem and propose appropriate
solutions’. 131 The High Commissioner conveyed the idea to the then Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister François
Ngarukiyintwali also present at the same OAU summit ‘who rejected the idea of such a meeting, suggesting that
Rwanda would prefer bilateral approaches’. 132 The following year, president Habyarimana paid a visit to Uganda
on 4-6 February 1988. Agreements with his Ugandan counterpart included the establishment of a Joint Committee
of Ministers between Rwanda and Uganda on the issue of Rwandan refugees living in Uganda. 133
During the Sixth Ordinary Congress of the MRND held on 25-29 June 1988, president Habyarimana mentioned
again the issue of refugees in his speech of 26 June 1988, with the following declaration:
while we wish and ask that even among the Rwandans currently living in Rwanda some consider the possibility of
emigrating, it would be suicidal to invite those who live abroad to return all en masse. ... it would be objectively impossible
for us to welcome them, as Rwanda does not have the capacity. ... The Rwandan Government is well aware that the
problem of Rwandan refugees is a problem that concerns it primarily; ... but it cannot, on its own, find a solution for it
without the support and collaboration of the countries of asylum so that these refugees can settle in the host countries or
be naturalized there. 134

The MRND Congress reaffirmed the content of the party's Central Committee statement of 1986, and called on
the government to continue the bilateral consultations with each host country to convince them to keep the
refugees. 135
While announcing the government program for his new presidential term of 1989-1994, President Habyarimana
once again encouraged refugees to live permanently in the countries where they had taken refuge. He said, ‘A
realistic and positive attitude should guide them to recognize that it is better to earn a living honourably in the
countries that have so generously welcomed them than to risk greater suffering and evident loss of an undoubtedly
superior material situation’. 136
In the same address, President Habyarimana called on the host countries to grant citizenship to the refugees, and
on the international community to support Rwanda's policy on its refugees! Habyarimana also said that his
country's role in providing a solution to that complex issue was the establishment of a Special Commission on
the problems of Rwandan immigrants! Called « Commission Spéciale sur les problèmes des émigrés rwandais »
in French, the commission was created by presidential order no 62/01 of 9 February 1989. The choice of the term
"immigrants” (émigrés) in place of "refugees" (réfugiés) was in accordance with President Habyarimana’s
instruction n° 839/01.10 of 22 June 1976 urging the concerned ministers for
the commencement of a psychological action aimed at convincing Rwandan nationals to stay in the host country. ... the
name “refugee” must be progressively replaced by “originating from Rwanda”. This title is even better in convincing those
concerned that they should remain in the country they are in now, as their coming in big numbers would face the problem
of demographic explosion you know. 137

In 1989 and 1990, the Rwanda-Uganda Joint Committee on Rwandan refugees living in Uganda met three times.
The first meeting took place in Kigali on 15-17 February 1989, the second in Kampala on 14-17 November 1989;
Briefing note on Rwanda (Confidential, for internal use only), p. 3. Annex (2) to Mission report of UNHCR officials in Ethiopia,
Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Zaire from 20 October – 03 November 1990, 0.10 RWA [D] External relations -Relations
with Governments- Rwanda, AF05/601, UNHCR Archives.
Joint communique issued at the end of the visit of H.E. Major General Habyarimana Juvenal President of the Republic of Rwanda
and Founder-Chairman of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND) to the Republic of Uganda 4th February
1988 to 6th February 1988, 100.UGA.RWA [A] Refugee situations – Ugandan refugees in Rwanda, UNHCR Archives.
Mémorandum de la partie rwandaise sur le problème des refugies rwandais, p. 15.
Ibid., p. 7.
Instruction présidentielle relative aux réfugiés no 839/01.10. Transmise aux ministres concernés par le Secrétaire Général à la
Présidence de la République par lettre du 22 juin 1976.

and the last one in Kigali on 27-30 July 1990. The key outcome of the meetings between the two countries was
that ‘efforts must be made either to promote the voluntary repatriation of the refugees or to facilitate their
naturalization and permanent settlement in Uganda’. 138 At the second meeting, UNHCR was tasked with two
responsibilities. The first was to ascertain the wishes of the refugees (counting Rwandan refugees in Uganda and
identifying those who want to return to Rwanda; those who want to reside permanently in Uganda, as well as
those who want to go to another country). The second was to assess the absorption capacity of Rwanda for the
returnees. A UNHCR briefing note on Rwanda reveals that
The Government of Rwanda was not prepared to commit itself in advance of the outcome of the survey to be undertaken
by UNHCR as it feared that the number of refugees opting for repatriation would far exceed those choosing permanent
settlement in Uganda. As a result, the Government of Uganda which was originally flexible on this issue, also made its
final decision dependent on the result of the survey. 139

This is underscored by the fact that UNHCR first asked Rwanda and Uganda to assure it that they would
implement the results of the survey before it started it, yet the third Joint Committee meeting ended with both
countries agreeing to wait for the results of the survey before making any decision. In a communication to both
countries in May 1990, UNHCR stated:
... UNHCR seeks reassurance from the Governments of Uganda and Rwanda of their commitment to implement the results
of the survey. ... given its current financial crisis, UNHCR will be required to make special requests to donors for funds
to conduct the survey. It is essential, for the success of the fundraising efforts, that UNHCR is in the position to assure
donors that the results of the survey will be implemented and lead to a durable and permanent solution for Rwandese
refugees in Uganda. 140

Two months later, the minutes of the third meeting of the Joint Uganda/Rwanda Committee on the Problem of
Rwandese Refugees Living in Uganda held in Kigali on 27-30 July 1990 reaffirmed that ‘The two Government
delegations agreed to await the results of the survey in order to make any commitments’. 141 Delegates from
UNHCR and OAU had equally attended the meeting and even took part in deliberations and signed the minutes.
The latter also stated that UNHCR was determined to have completed the census of Rwandan refugees in Uganda
on 30 November 1990. The following meeting of the Joint Committee was to be held in Kampala in January
1991. 142 The participants in the meeting, therefore, including the UNHCR, were well aware that there would be
no just and durable outcome for the Rwandan refugees in Uganda and elsewhere.
Reacting to the decisions of the second meeting of the Rwanda-Uganda Joint Commission on the Rwandan
refugees in Uganda held in Kampala in November 1989, Isangano Association ‘that regroups Rwandan Refugees
in Belgium’ issued on 15 March 1990 an open letter titled: ‘Les Réfugiés Rwandais en Uganda: un recensement
inopportun’ (Rwandan refugees in Uganda: an untimely census). Isangano Association observed that ‘Uganda is
not the only country hosting Rwandan refugees’ and asked the following questions: ‘How were they able to
initiate negotiations in the absence of the other host countries? Do the international organizations which have
supported the refugees during the thirty years of hardship endorse such a procedure?’ 143
Isangano stated that the decisions of the second Rwanda-Uganda joint Commission on Rwandan refugees in
Uganda ‘worry the Rwandan refugees’ and reminded that Habyarimana's statement that ‘Rwanda is small’ and
that ‘refugees should stay abroad’ had not changed. The association therefore found it ‘surprising to see suddenly

Briefing note on Rwanda, p.1. Annex (1) to Mission report of UNHCR officials in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania,
Burundi, Zaire from 20 October – 03 November 1990, 0.10 RWA [D] External relations -Relations with Governments- Rwanda,
AF05/601, UNHCR Archives.
Letter of UNHCR Representative in Kampala to the Minister of Internal Affairs, 31 May 1990, 100.UGA.RWA [A] Refugee
situations – Ugandan refugees in Rwanda, UNHCR Archives.
Agreed minutes of the third meeting of the joint Uganda/Rwanda ministerial committee on the problem of Rwandese refugees living
in Uganda held in Kigali from 27th to 30th July 1990, p.7, 100.UGA.RWA [A] Refugee situations – Ugandan refugees in Rwanda,
UNHCR Archives.
‘Les réfugiés rwandais en Ouganda : un recensement inopportun’. Memorandum attached to a note from UNHCR Representative in
Brussels to the Regional Office for Africa, Geneva, 29 March 1990, 100.UGA.RWA [A] Refugee situations – Ugandan refugees in
Rwanda, UNHCR Archives.

the Rwandan government agree to return "some" refugees living in Uganda’ and emphasized that ‘the issue of
Rwandan refugees is serious; it cannot be treated lightly’. 144 The association concluded on the following remarks:
To arrive at a final solution, it will be necessary that all the protagonists examine it with good will, a concern for justice,
without cunning or lie. Wanting to solve only the issue of refugees living in Uganda and neglecting or pretending to forget
those living in other countries is a trick. It is also an error of method and of judgment. 145

It is clear that the Rwandan government's strategy to hold bilateral talks on the refugee issue with host countries
was aimed at misleading. This example of the joint committee with Uganda emphasizes that Rwanda's policy on
refugees had never changed. Another UNHCR internal document notes that
Since the major exodus in 1963, successive Rwandese governments have pursued a policy of systematic discrimination
based on ethnic affiliation as a result of which the vast majority of refugees (TUTSI) have been unable to repatriate
voluntarily to their country of origin. Their mass repatriation is perceived in some sections of the present establishment as
a threat to the gains won after 1962 by the HUTU majority. 146

The analysis of this UNHCR document is true; where it is wrong is that the mass repatriation of Tutsi refugees
would not have undermined the interests of the Bahutu. It could certainly have disturbed the tranquillity and
selfishness of a clique of extremists who identify with all Bahutu!
The right of Rwandan refugees to mass repatriation would wait for the RPF's liberation war to be recognized,
through the 1993 protocol of agreement on refugees that later became part of the Arusha Peace Accords. 147
The regimes resulting from the 'Rwandan revolution’ also set up policies and practices aimed at depriving
Batutsi of education and employment at the time when Belgian colonization was still in place and after
independence. On 28 January 1961, after the Coup d'état of Gitarama appointed Mbonyumutwa as President and
Kayibanda as Prime Minister, one of the eight principles announced on that day and that would guide the new
government prevented the Batutsi from accessing education. It stated: ‘schools that do not respect racial
predominance in the number of their students may be closed or the government may seize them’. 148
While the 1961 and 1962 constitutions gave the Catholic Church the dominance in education, the 1962
Education Act and the General Education Regulations in Rwanda of 1967 restored the state's school
administration from the hands of the Church, for reasons of discrimination. PARMEHUTU officials had found
that many priests and among them school administrators were Batutsi! 149
In 1966-1967, there was a wave of expulsions of Tutsi students from schools. A UNHCR staffer who had visited
their office in Goma, Congo, photographed a card of one of the students who had been expelled and fled through
Congo. The card was signed by a religious white man who ran the Institut Notre-Dame de l'Etoile in Musanze, a
school where the child used to study and which was managed by the Frères des écoles chrétiennes. The director
of the school had written the following in French:
I, the undersigned, Keust J., Director of College Notre-Dame de l’Etoile, in Musanze, attest that Barikungeri Antoine from
Kayove has shown exemplary morality and behaviour during his stay at the College. He has been excluded by ministerial
decision for racial motive. Done at Musanze, on 18 February 1967. 150

A UNHCR Officer in Geneva discussed the issue with the High School Programs Officer at the Ministry of
Education in Rwanda at the time, Mr. Ignace Karuhije who was in Switzerland at a meeting. Karuhije admitted
that the students were indeed expelled for racial reasons, but lied that the victims were punished as a result of the
Briefing note on Rwanda, p.1. Annex (1) to Mission report of UNHCR officials in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania,
Burundi, Zaire from 20 October – 03 November 1990, 0.10 RWA [D] External relations -Relations with Governments- Rwanda,
AF05/601, UNHCR Archives.
Protocole d’Accord entre le Gouvernement de la République Rwandaise et le Front Patriotique Rwandais sur le rapatriement des
réfugiés rwandais et la réinstallation des personnes déplacées, signé à Arusha le 9 juin 1993.
Alexis Kagame, Un abrégé de l’histoire du Rwanda de 1853 à 1972. (Tome II) (Editions universitaires, Butare, 1975), p. 310.
CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 442-443.
F.P. Hordijk (visiting the Goma office) to the High Commissioner, Memorandum: Arrival of new refugees from Rwanda, 24 February
1967, Annex to the memorandum; 100. GEN.RWA Refugees from Rwanda – General (1966 - 1967) [Vol. 2]; series 2; box 30; Fonds

riots they had caused between Hutu and Tutsi students. He added that the expulsion was aimed at Hutu students
as well, which was another lie:
Mr. Karuhige (sic) has admitted that Rwandan students have been expelled from secondary schools for racial reasons
because they had caused, it seems, riots between Hutu and Tutsi students. Mr. Karuhige (sic) assured me that this measure
was applicable to both Hutu and Tutsi children, but that in fact, until now, the great majority of the expelled students were
of Tutsi origin. 151

In 1973, the slogan 'myopie sociale' [social myopia] was popularized by the infamous 'comités de salut public'
[committee for public safety]. Social myopia meant that the Bahutu were asleep because the Batutsi were once
again numerous in the schools, and that if the Bahutu did not expel the Batutsi, the latter would regain the upper
hand. 152 In February and March that year, these committees of public safety made up of pupils and students
expelled their Batutsi colleagues from secondary schools, catholic seminaries and higher education; and chased
the Batutsi out of the public service and private enterprises. The movement spread to the ordinary population and
caused massacres of Batutsi, burning of their houses and looting of their property. 153
A report by Sylvestre Nsanzimana, then rector of the National University of Rwanda (UNR) reveals that on 14
February 1973 at Groupe Scolaire de Butare, ‘the Bahutu students of this establishment had chased away their
Batutsi colleagues at night and even all those whose “identity” did not satisfy them’. The following day at UNR
this time, ‘a list of 14 students had been posted on the poster boards of the students' hostels, ordering them to
leave the University within 24 hours’. 154 The situation would quickly deteriorate during the night of 15 to 16
February. To the rector who tried to reason with them, the Hutu students replied:
We want to expel all Tutsi students from the National University of Rwanda, Tutsi staff and all their white accomplices.
...They despise us, they insult us, they want to kill us, they intrigue all the time with the teachers to make us give Fs (in
the letter grading system, F = 0). ...No, they are not our comrades, you don't know them, they are very mean. They live
off the contributions of our parents, they continue to insult us, to betray the country, to go into exile in Burundi after
obtaining their diplomas. No, it's unbearable. We will apply the Manifesto Program. Besides, you, the authorities, would
not dare to do what we are doing. You will see, we will resolve the situation. No more Tutsi will be admitted to study here.
The same must also be true of the Tutsi staff and teachers who favour them. We no longer want anything that is Tutsi; we
are fed up. etc 155

In total, ‘190 Tutsi students or students considered as such were expelled from the National University of
Rwanda and the Higher School of Nursing’ that night. Towards the end of the afternoon of 16 February, around
50 others were chased away from Institut Pédagogique National. According to rector Nsanzimana, those expelled
included ‘a certain number of authentically Bahutu students [who] were chased away under the accusation of
being pro-Batutsi’. But what shocked the rector was not this violent hunt for the Batutsi and the racism ivolved.
He was more concerned about ‘The tendency to radicalize positions [that] risks throwing into the same bag any
element deemed somewhat moderate with all the procession of consequences that can result from it’. 156 Indeed,
it appears that even President Kayibanda's own daughter, then a student in Rwamagana, was beaten on one side
of her body, -the Tutsi side-, by her Hutu extremist colleagues. 157 Kayibanda had married a Tutsi woman!
While the Tutsi students were fleeing, their colleagues shouted: 'We Hutu, we have won, no Tutsi will return to
our University…’. 158 To the rector who pointed out to them that their attitude could lead to the closure of the
university, they replied that

Monsieur le Chargé de Mission du HCR, Goma. Jacques Cuénod, Renvoi d’étudiants rwandais, 26 juillet 1967 ; 1.ZRE.RWA.
Refugee situation - Refugees from Rwanda in Zaïre ; series 1 ; box 43 ; Fonds UNHCR 11.
Dr Damascène Bizimana, talk to the personnel of the Ministry of Health, 10 May 2018 (link).
Jean-Pierre Chrétien, ‘ethnicité et politique : les crises du Rwanda et du Burundi depuis l'indépendance’, Guerres mondiales et
conflits contemporains, 181 (janvier 1996), pp. 111-124 ; Josias Semujanga, Origins of Rwandan genocide (Humanity Books, New
York, 2003), p. 189-192.
Université Nationale du Rwanda, ‘Rapport sur les événements qui se sont produits à l’UNR à partir de la nuit du 15 au 16 février
1973’ (Rapport établi par Nsanzimana Sylvestre, Recteur, du 16 au 19 février 1973). Available at
Interview, Kalyabwite Pierre Claver, Kigali, 31 January 2023.
Université Nationale du Rwanda, ‘Rapport sur les événements qui se sont produits à l’UNR’.

this had no sort of importance, that even if they were prevented from continuing their studies following the departure of
professors or when the University closes, that in any case, their little brothers or their children or grandchildren will study
there but that never, never again will any Tutsi study there as long as they are there. 159

It is disturbing to note that the analysis of the situation made by the rector, a man usually considered in Rwanda
as a respected professional, administrator and politician -he later became prime minister under the Habyarimana
regime-, always falls into the logic of discrimination and suspicion against the Batutsi. Faced with the dilemma
of Hutu students 'fiercely opposed to reintegration within the National University of Rwanda of those they
expelled' on the one hand, and on the other hand, certain foreign lecturers declaring 'that they will never agree to
serve "a racist regime"; that if they wanted to, they would go to South Africa', the rector suggested the idea of
relocating the Tutsi students expelled from the UNR to other universities outside the country not to solve their
problem, but as a lesser evil compared to the security threat they would represent if they remained in their villages.
Moreover, he continued to share the official vision according to which the visible presence of the Batutsi in
secondary schools and the university was an injustice, and to remedy the situation, he proposed to 'rwandize...
wisely... school management'.
The solution, if there is a solution, would be to seek reclassification among other Universities.... Let us recognize, however,
for the sake of objectivity, that if leaving it lying around on the hills of hundreds of discontented intellectuals is not
reassuring for peace and security in the country, sending them to continue their studies outside is perhaps not more so.
But, they say, of two evils, we must prefer the lesser. ...the ethnic imbalance in education, especially secondary education
and therefore in higher education, dates from the colonial era. This injustice was denounced in the Bahutu Manifesto of
1957. To correct it, a principle was issued: proportionality. But circumstances have always contributed to complicating its
practical application. …Even more difficult to control are the hazards of the journey, an infinity of unsuspected obstacles,
not to mention all the manoeuvres that underlie the complication of the problem and the least of which are, for example,
changes of identity. ...All of this, today's student youth does not seem willing to understand, let alone tolerate. ...In the
meantime, Rwandanize as quickly as possible and above all wisely, all the educational establishments that can be, starting
with their management positions. 160

The 'comités de salut public' at the origin of the violent expulsion of the Batutsi from education and public
service in 1973 was initiated by a Belgian catholic priest, Abbot Léon Naveau, according to several sources.
Other European priests denounced the same so-called 'social myopia' even in schools attended by Tutsi and Hutu
students in North Kivu in Zaïre (current Democratic Republic of Congo) at the same period, to emphasize what
they believed to be the predominance of the Batutsi. 161At the instigation of the influential White Father
Archbishop of Rwanda, Monsignor André Perraudin, around thirty Hutu priests from his diocese (Kabgayi) and
that of Ruhengeri had written a petition a few months earlier to the bishops of Rwanda. Known as ‘Document de
Rwesero’ (Rwesero document), named after the place where they met in the then Ruhengeri diocese, the
document asked the bishops to 'systematically promote the vocations of Hutu children' and to 'reduce the Tutsi
predominance in the Church of Rwanda', with the threat that if such a balance was not achieved in the Church
and in society, 'the people [i.e. the Bahutu] risk making a second revolution'. 162
In a document titled ‘La mort des séminaires au Rwanda’ (The death of seminaries in Rwanda) signed in exile
in Burundi after their expulsion from Rwanda by the violence of 1973, ten Rwandan Catholic priests give their
observations on Rwandan seminaries in general and on this 'Rwesero document', the bishops, the role of Mgr
Perraudin and his anti-Tutsi racism. 163 They first observe that 'the Rwandan government authorities decided to
use Bahutu students to brutally expel their Batutsi comrades from schools'. At the start of the events, these priests
and other observers believed that ‘the program was only aimed at state schools, and now the seminaries
themselves were not spared'. They then say they are 'saddened... to see Bishops consent to Church institutions,
such as seminaries, intended to train priests for all men without distinction, being distorted to the point of
becoming the centre of racism'. They paint a striking portrait of the five bishops of Rwanda at the time, positive
Testimony of Kanamugire Callixte, July 2023.
‘Document de Rwesero’, Signed by a group of priests from the dioceses of Kabgayi and Ruhengeri on 3 April 1972. Quoted in Privat
Rutazibwa, Rwanda: Contre l'ethnisme (Editions du CRID, Kigali, 2017), p. 120-123.
‘La mort des séminaires au Rwanda’. A document signed by 10 Rwandan priests who took refuge in Burundi in 1973. Available at

for Monsignor Aloys Bigirumwami (Tutsi) and Monsignor Joseph Sibomana (Hutu), and extremely negative for
Bishops André Perraudin (Swissman), Alexis Gahamanyi (Tutsi) and Phocas Nikwigize (Hutu). For the authors
of the document, ‘the majority of the Bishops of Rwanda, Perraudin, Gahamanyi and Nikwigize, never oppose
the desires of the government, - when they do not anticipate it-, even when the Gospel and the most elementary
justice are betrayed and flouted’. 164 Regarding Perraudin in particular, they note:
Indeed, several years before the Rwandan government thought about racial segregation in schools, Mgr Perraudin already
practiced it in his seminary, in the sense that at home, the recruitment of seminarians was done on an ethnic basis. … At
his place therefore, the famous expression 'socio-ethnic balance' currently in vogue in Rwanda, until finding its place in
the Bishops' letter of 23 March 1973, was a conviction. … This choice of almost exclusively Bahutu seminarians was one
of the means used by the Archbishop of Kabgayi to attract the sympathy of those in power and divide the indigenous
clergy. The most spectacular result of this campaign was the manifesto of some Bahutu priests from the dioceses of
Kabgayi and Ruhengeri which appeared at the beginning of April 1972. To tell the truth, it is now, a year later, that we
realize that the events we are experiencing are clearly defined in the said manifesto. Mgr Perraudin thus succeeded in
instilling in some priests of his diocese and Ruhengeri the idea that the Batutsi are not Rwandans in their own right, .... 165

The Rwandan priests in exile then explain how recruitment was done in the other seminaries:
Normally, in other dioceses, Nyundo, Butare and Kibungo, candidates for the seminary were handpicked. The main criteria
that guided the choice of seminarians were the following: a recommendable morality both on the side of the child and that
of the parents; sufficient intelligence sanctioned by a competitive examination; an age not too high for facilitate the boy's
education, and finally good physical and mental health. Candidate files were therefore examined without taking ethnicity
into account at all. Despite everything, we found that no ethnic group predominated throughout the duration of training,
and when this happened after a few years, due to dismissals or voluntary departures to other schools, no one considered
this phenomenon a disaster. In Kansi, for example, Bahutu constituted two thirds of the seminarians, in Butare and Nyundo,
they were half of one ethnic group and half of the other, and no one had ever worried about ethnic 'proportions'. It is
therefore, without doubt, his visceral hatred of the Batutsi which blinded Mgr Perraudin to the point to forget, if there is
any forgetting, that God does not choose his servants according to their ethnic affiliation. 166

It is therefore not surprising that this racism maintained by senior European ecclesiastical officials in
collaboration with people in power could have produced unprecedented violence by certain seminarians against
their educators, against priests and even a Tutsi bishop. At the minor seminary of Nyundo, in the stronghold of
those who would soon rule the country under Habyarimana and who had already controlled the security organs
for a long time, 'the Bahutu seminarians took it upon themselves to exclude from the seminary, not only their
Batutsi comrades, but also to chase away their priest teachers before going to break the windows at the bishopric
and insulting their bishop'. 167 Mgr Aloys Bigirumwami, Bishop of Nyundo and first black bishop of Belgian
Africa who had given a lot to this diocese, to Rwanda and to the Catholic Church, could not bear this affront. He
immediately resigned without waiting for the canonical retirement age as Monsignor Médard Kayitakibga
explained to me. 168 The Vatican replaced him with Vincent Nsengiyumva, future archbishop of Kigali who
distinguished himself by very close collaboration with the Habyarimana regime.
Mgr (then Abbot) Médard Kayitakibwa fled the minor seminary of Nyundo where he taught on 27 February
1973 in the company of other Tutsi priests and seminarians after the attack of Hutu seminarians the day before.
He is one of the ten priests who signed the document ‘La mort des séminaires au Rwanda’. After his brief exile
in Burundi, he was recalled to Rome where he had already worked in the dicastery of Propaganda Fide before the
Rwandan security services took away his passport in 1969, forcing him to stay in Rwanda where he had returned
for the holidays. He worked in different dicasteries in Rome until 2001, the year he returned to Rwanda for his
retirement at the age of 70. The other seminaries where a lot of violence was recorded were those of Kabgayi at
Mgr Perraudin, and Butare at Mgr Alexis Gahamanyi. At the minor seminary of Zaza (diocese of Kibungo), 'Mgr
Sibomana did everything to obtain maximum security before recalling all his seminarians Bahutu and Batutsi'.
There was also no violence at Mgr Nikwigize in 'the seminary of Rwesero (diocese of Ruhengeri) where the

Interview, Mgr Médard Kayitakibga, Gisenyi (Rubavu), 04 February 2023.

number of Tutsi seminarians is insignificant, because the Batutsi on this side of the country have been for a long
time, either killed, or expelled'. 169
At the start of the violence in February 1973, most bishops had 'granted seminarians of both ethnic groups early
leave, in waiting for the situation in the country to return to normal'. But immediately a group of ecclesiastics put
pressure for the seminaries to reopen their doors either for Hutu seminarians only who were not threatened, or
for all seminarians even if the security of the Batutsi was threatened. This group aimed to 'please the government'
and spare it a 'politically embarrassing situation' because, 'in the eyes of foreigners, the fact that some schools
were not functioning was an unequivocal sign of persistent disorder in the country'. Mgr Perraudin hastily recalled
his Hutu and Tutsi seminarians of Kabgayi from vacation while 'the civil and military authorities had clearly
spoken out: they did not guarantee in no way the security of Batutsi seminarians'. As a consequence, ‘Tension
between the Hutu seminarians indoctrinated during the 'forced vacations' and the Batutsi, was at its pick in the
space of a few days; the latter were forced to leave the seminary’. 170
As for Mgr Gahamanyi, 'he requested for 26 March the presence of Hutu seminarians exclusively for the two
cycles of Butare and Kansi…. By summoning the Hutu seminarians only, the Bishop of Butare did not even
exclude the band of indoctrinated Hutu seminarians who had stood up to him after the February invasion'. Indeed,
even if at the start of the violence in February 1973 the minor seminary of Butare had been attacked by a
commando from outside, ‘it was found that inside the seminary there already existed a nucleus of carefully studied
and administered, and politically influential, racism. There were maybe ten of them out of around 180’. 171
Analyzing the attitude of Bishop Gahamanyi, the Rwandan priests in exile found that
his weak side is his fear of the government. It is this fear that explains his weakness in the face of the insolent attitude of
the famous nucleus of Bahutu seminarians in Butare. In addition to a few sons of deputies, the racist core was led by two
boys, one the son of Makuza, Minister of Industry and Commerce, the other son of Mbarubukeye, Executive Secretary of
the Parmehutu party (racist party in its conception). Although these boys have displayed their racism since the beginning
of the events, the Bishop kept them at the Seminary where they mistreated the teachers. Mr. Xavier de Belloy (French)
had to take refuge in Gihindamuyaga (Benedictines Fathers convent) to escape the stones thrown at him by the
"seminarians”. Their teacher of English, Miss Wood (British), was also threatened. … As soon as the Bahutu seminarians
from Butare and Kansi had returned to the seminary, the first action they took was to draw up among them a list of certain
“doubtful” Bahutu ...[who] should return home and come back with identity documents of before 1959, in order to justify
the “purity” of their race! 172

In setting up the ‘comités de salut public’, Father Naveau allegedly acted in collusion with the Belgian secret
services who wanted to destabilize the Kayibanda regime 173, and numerous testimonies attest that the violence of
1973 was secretly orchestrated by officers led by Juvénal Habyarimana - then minister of the national guard and
the police- who in July of the same year would take power in a coup d'état. The hypothesis according to which
'Kayibanda would be responsible for triggering the persecutions, in order to relegitimize, in the name of the
"majority people", a contested power' 174 does not contradict the previous thesis; it completes it. Juvénal
Habyarimana, Alexis Kanyarengwe and the other future putschists could not ignore the manoeuvres of
Kayibanda, his friend Naveau and the others, because they were the ones who controlled the security organs and
intelligence. They therefore let them do it and even supported in a certain way the violence of 1973, while
integrating it into their own bigger plan to overthrow Kayibanda and take power.
‘They say that Abakiga soldiers [originating from the North] are the ones who organized the riots (kicking
Batutsi out of work, schools, and burning people's houses)’, said Rucagu Boniface, then sous-préfet of
Ruhengeri. 175 According to Kalyabwite Pierre Claver, former technical director and head of supplies at the
Mulindi tea factory, then director of the Pfunda tea factory in 1970 before being chased away and going into exile
in 1973 like other Batutsi, Bakiga politicians and officers often discussed plans to overthrow Kayibanda in his
presence. 'The petty Muhutu must be removed and replaced by a real Muhutu', one of them could declare. 176 This
feeling of superiority of the Bakiga (from the North) as 'true Bahutu' and their contempt towards Kayibanda
‘La mort des séminaires au Rwanda’.
Ngabonziza J.C, ‘Rwanda: l’Eglise en flagrant délit de complicité’, Golias Magazine, no 155-156, (avril 2014), pp.65-78, p. 66.
Jean-Pierre Chrétien, ‘ethnicité et politique’, p. 120-121.
Interview, Rucagu Boniface, Kigali, 7 December 2022.
Interview, Kalyabwite Pierre-Claver, Kigali, 31 January 2023. ‘Agahutu kagomba kuvaho hakajyaho Umuhutu’. Statement by a
politician during a conversation at Libanje's place, a friend of Kalyabwite.

(Muhutu from the Center) explains why the latter's daughter could be beaten - on one side of her body assimilated
to the Batutsi - by her colleagues at school while he was president of the republic.
At first, the Batutsi did not seem to be targeted by the future putschists, which is why the latter could freely
discuss their plans in the presence of Kalyabwite. This is how Callixte Habamenshi, former minister of Kayibanda
who fell into disgrace, could ask Colonel Alexis Kanyarengwe, head of national security: 'How far is the removal
of Masudi [nickname of Kayibanda]? How will we treat these brothers-in-law of ours? [referring to Kalyabwite
as a Mututsi; Habamenshi had married a Mututsikazi (Tutsi woman)]'. Kanyarengwe then retorted: 'Aren't you
together?' 177 According to Kalyabwite's analysis, it was at the last minute, while preparing the coup, that they
realized that if Kayibanda allied himself with the Batutsi, it could make the situation difficult for them. It was
then that they decided to kill the Batutsi. Their plan was to drive out the Batutsi first, starting with the university,
then secondary schools, and public enterprises. 178
The Habyarimana regime further strengthened discrimination and exclusion of the Batutsi from education and
employment through a quota policy known as ' iringaniza ry’amoko' [ethnic balance] generally coupled with a
regional balance in favour of the Bakiga of the North against the Banyenduga of the South. This policy was
applied not only in public institutions, but also in the private sector and even within international organizations
operating in Rwanda. 179 Habyarimana's minister in charge of labour 'asked private sector employers never to
recruit a candidate before having received authorization from the Ministry of Civil Service and Employment'. 180
Statistics established by the ministry of education under Habyarimana show that under Kayibanda, the policy
of exclusion of the Batutsi adopted in 1961 had not been applied to the letter because 'the Batutsi had been
admitted to secondary school in proportions ranging from 36% to 11% from 1963 to 1971'. 181 Kayibanda had to
remind in 1971 'the Minister of Education 182 to respect "balance"' and in 1972, demand 'to respect, at admission
in secondary and university schools, the proportions of 85% Bahutu, 14% Batutsi and 1% Batwa’. 183 During the
hunt for Batutsi from secondary schools in 1973, these statistics show that at the final secondary school level
during the school year 1972/1973, Hutu students represented 82.6% while Bahutu constituted 87.8% of the total
population of Rwanda. Tutsi students numbered 17%, while the Batutsi constituted 11.4% of the total population.
According to Nkaka, the 'racial' interpretation of these figures 'comprises what they called the "exceeding" or
"missing" percentage'. The Bahutu thus experienced 'a “missing” of 5.2% and the Batutsi, an “exceeding” by
5.6%. It is this “exceeding” that the defenders of the Batutsi hunt designated by the “predominance of Batutsi”
in education’. 184
President Habyarimana reactivated the policy of ethnic balance in his inaugural speech on 1 August 1973, just
a few weeks after taking power. This policy 'was applied from the start of the 1973-1974 school year to begin
with the month of September 1973'. During a meeting on 29 August 1973, the new Minister of Education named
by Habyarimana informed the directors of secondary schools that 'respect for "ethnic" proportions and regional
considerations constitute the most important criteria for admission to secondary school. By “ethnic” proportions,
admitted students must be 90% Bahutu and 10% Batutsi'. The 'ethnic' proportions established by Kayibanda a
year before on the basis of the 1956 population census were reduced to the disadvantage of the Batutsi, while the
Batwa were quite simply eliminated from access to education ‘under the pretext that they are not used to attending
school’. 185
The ruling party, the MRND, would later officially define the policy of “ethnic balance” as follows:

Ibid. Habamenshi to Kanyarengwe: ‘Ibyo gukuraho Masudi bigeze he? Aba baramu bacu bo se tuzabagenza gute ?’ Kanyarengwe
to Habamenshi : ‘Ntimuri kumwe se ?’ The conversation took place at Gisenyi beach where, passing through, Kanyarengwe met
Habamenshi and Kalyabwite on a picnic with their wives.
CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 454-456 ; Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 287-299 ; Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique
raciale, p. 284.
Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique raciale, p. 284.
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 288, 290-291 ; Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique raciale, p. 279.
Instructions no 01/38/7102 du 28 février 1971. See Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 288.
Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique raciale, p. 279-281.
Kinyamateka, ‘Habaye inama ya ba Diregiteri b’amashuri makuru’, no 23, 18 September 1973, p.3. As quoted by Nkaka, L’emprise
d’une logique raciale, p. 279.

The ethnic balance must be such that the proportion of the student population reflects that of the total population of the
country. This principle must be respected at the level of each sector. Concretely, each ethnic group will have a quota
depending on its numerical importance in the population. 186

The Batutsi's access to education continued to decline from year to year under the Habyarimana regime because
during the 1973-1974 school year, they experienced a 'missing percentage' of 3.5% and the following year, 19741975, a 'missing percentage' of 5.2%. 187
What is more surprising is that the Kayibanda and Habyarimana regimes severely targeted refugees abroad to
hamper their activities related to Rwandan culture. In June 1965, 26 Intore dancers among the Rwandan refugees
in Congo were prevented by the Congolese government from boarding a plane in Léopoldville (Kinshasa) that
would fly them to the United States of America. ‘Rwanda [had] threatened to break its diplomatic relations with
Congo if it did not prevent the departure of the refugees’, a cable from a UNHCR representative in Goma
informed his headquarters. 188 These Intore dancers had been hired by a Belgian who lived in the United States,
to perform Rwandan dances at the African pavilion of the New York Fair. The Kayibanda government called the
dancers ‘political agitators who, under the cover of artistic commitment, were going to the United States to carry
out propaganda against Rwanda’. 189
Under Habyarimana regime, the Rwandan Embassy in Burundi wrote to the French Embassy on 19 June 1979
requesting a ban on a Rwandan refugee concert that had been scheduled for several days at the French Cultural
Centre in Bujumbura. It also informed that the concerts that were traditionally performed by Rwandan refugees
in Bujumbura would be replaced by those done by a fictitious ‘Rwandan Cultural Centre’ to be inaugurated in
Burundi. But ironically, the letter of the Rwandan ambassador to the French counterpart suggested that granting
space to refugees in Bujumbura to showcase Rwandan culture was tantamount to sowing division among
Rwandans in Burundi! Here is the content of the letter [translated from French]:
…all the cultural activities previously carried out by the Rwandan refugees were taken over by the Rwandan cultural
centre, the inauguration of which will take place on 30 June 1979 at 3 pm. The Rwandan embassy requests the embassy
of France to cancel the cultural events that some Rwandans propose to exhibit next weekend at the French cultural centre.
The Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Burundi thanks the Embassy of France for its kind contribution to avoid
anything that may be cause of division of Rwandans in Burundi .... 190

Genocidal regimes
In the context of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, the anti-Tutsi hate speech which developed systematically
in the late 1950s and has since spread throughout the region and even beyond, should itself be considered an act
of genocide. This hate speech was used as a tool of mobilization and incitement to genocidal violence during
what was called 'the Rwandan revolution' from 1959 to 1962. It served to arouse and sustain fear, suspicion,
hatred and violence against the Batutsi during other violent episodes in Rwandan history until the 1994 genocide.
It has also played a decisive role in the crises that have shaken neighbouring countries on different occasions,
such as the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today. 191 A researcher demanded 'concrete figures' to
qualify as 'extreme violence' the massacres of Batutsi perpetrated by the Habyarimana regime from the start of
the civil war in 1990. 192 Another considered that the massacre of some Tutsi civilians, killed for what they are in

MRND, ‘Politique de l’éducation, de la culture et de la recherche scientifique et technique’ (Présidence du MRND, Kigali, 1984),
p.132. As quoted by Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique raciale, p. 280.
Nkaka, L’emprise d’une logique raciale, p. 281.
R. Bosshard, UNHCR Goma à M. Le Haut-Commissaire, ‘Incident créé par le départ de réfugiés pour les Etats-Unis’, 10 août 1965 ;
100.GEN-RWA. Refugees from Rwanda (1965-1966), vol.1 ; series 2 ; box 30 ; Fonds UNHCR 11.
Rukeba François (Le Président national et Fondateur) et Gafandi Raphaël (Le Secrétaire général) pour le Comité Central de l’UNAR,
à Monsieur le Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies à New York, 30 juillet 1979 ; From 100.GEN-RWA. Refugees from Rwanda –
General (1976 -1984) [vol. 4] to 100.GEN.SAF Refugees from Southern Africa – General (1971 – 1977); series 2; box 31; Fonds
For a detailed account of the role of anti-tutsi ideology in the crises in DRC, see Privat Rutazibwa, ‘Discussing the causes and context
of wars and conflict involving the Banyarwanda from the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’, 25 June 2023, AfricArXiv,
Desrosiers, ‘Le rapport Duclert’, p.14.

Bukavu in 2004 and around Goma in 2006, -and other places in DRC- did not justify the resumption of hostilities
by a Congolese rebel movement which considered these killings as acts of genocide. 193
The attitude of these researchers is shocking and evil. Hate propaganda permanently targeting the same human
group is already an attack aimed at its extermination. Even if other factors, motivations and objectives may have
had a certain influence on the action of the perpetrators of the genocide against the Tutsi 194, it is undeniable that
the anti-Tutsi ideology of hatred remains the general favourable climate, the conducting wire and the determining
framework which guides the whole genocidal enterprise. This understanding will guide our assessment of the
genocidal character of post-independence regimes considering not only the massive killings of Batutsi, but also
other massacres and persecutions of members of this group, policies and discourses reflecting anti-Tutsi ideology.
The ‘Rwandan revolution’ plays the role of starting point here. We have seen earlier Belgian colonial officials
revealing their strategy that 'Bahutu’s political education will ... be helped actively'. This meant the mobilization
of the Bahutu on ethnic grounds by so called 'Hutu leaders', mainly Gitera and Kayibanda, telling them to 'Awake,
unite, and elect your Hutu rulers and ‘not vote for them [Tutsi]’; and even ‘the Hutu who associates with them'. 195
It was necessary to appeal to Hamitic hypothesis to project into the distant past situations of injustice and
oppression of the Batutsi on the Bahutu that had never existed. It was even necessary to invent new legends such
as the famous relating to Queen Kanjogera who, to get up, had to lean on swords planted in the bodies of
children. 196 The objective was to incite the Bahutu to hatred and violence against the Batutsi. The Belgian colonial
administration had to implement a program called ‘plan Troubles Géneralisés’ (generalized disorders plan) 197,
aimed at destroying the nationalists who demanded independence and at supporting, -sometimes openly- those
who attacked the Batutsi, killing some, destroying their property and sending others into exile, before setting up
institutions dominated by 'Hutu leaders'.
It is this result that will be described as 'the great achievements of the Rwandan revolution'. An excerpt of a
pamphlet published in 1991 by the foreign affairs ministry under Habyarimana regime sums up this historical
misunderstanding: ‘The majority of the Rwandan population oppressed by a Tutsi minority which held the power,
has expressed itself the 25th of September 1961, by way of polls, against the feudal – monarchic regime, under
which the masses had suffered, four centuries long, of every kind of injustices’. 198 The ideology of anti-Tutsi
hatred remained uninterruptedly the fundamental policy of the Rwandan regimes until the 1994 genocide. The
First Republic led by president Grégoire Kayibanda showed great fierceness for racist hatred and persecution.
After the brutal massacre of Batutsi in 1963-1964 under the pretext of Inyenzi attacks, Kayibanda told the
following to the Tutsi refugees scattered outside the country: ‘Suppose - by impossible - that you came to take
Kigali by storm...: that would be the total and hasty end of the Tutsi race’. 199 The Kayibanda regime was marked
by numerous massacres and persecutions, hate speech and discriminatory policies against the Batutsi which I will
not dwell on here. This will be the case with the short-lived genocidal regime of Sindikubwabo. Because the
genocidal character of the two regimes does not need to be demonstrated and has been widely documented. I will
expand further on the Habyarimana regime, whose proven racist and genocidal anti-Tutsi ideology is still denied
today by researchers who find that it was made up of 'not necessarily infamous authorities'. 200
Under Habyarimana's regime, a directive issued on 25 October 1973 confirmed President Kayibanda's 1966
Decree, in particular Article 3, and specified that ‘The claim of the returning refugee or one of his family members
must be rejected, in all cases, when the real estate is occupied or has been the subject of any allocation by the

Jason K. Stearns, ‘Laurent Nkunda and the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP)’, in L’Afrique des Grands Lacs.
Annuaire 2007-2008 (Anvers, 2015), pp. 259-260, p. 247, 263.
See Lee Ann Fujii, Killing Neighbors. Webs of Violence in Rwanda (Cornell University Press, Ithaca/Londres, 2009); Charles
Mironko, ‘Igitero: Means and Motive in the Rwandan Genocide’, Journal of Genocide Research 6, 1 (2004), pp. 47-60; Omar
Shahabudin McDoom, The Path to Genocide in Rwanda. Security, Opportunity, and Authority in an Ethnocratic State (Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge, 2021).
Aprosoma – Parti social hutu- ishyaka rya Abahutu, ‘Uko Abahutu bagomba kwica ku ngoyi ya Abatutsi’, Ijwi rya Rubanda rugufi,
Théoneste Lizinde Mugabushaka (Major), La découverte de Kalinga ou la fin d’un mythe. Contribution à l’histoire du Rwanda
(Kigali, 1979), p. 51-52.
Patrick Lefèvre & Jean Noël Lefèvre, Les militaires belges et le Rwanda (1916-2006) (Racines, Bruxelles, 2006), p.42-43.
République Rwandaise, ‘Livre blanc sur l’agression armée dont le Rwanda a été victime à partir du 1er octobre 1990’ (Ministère des
Affaires étrangères et de la Coopération Internationale, Kigali, 1991).
‘Message du Président Grégoire Kayibanda aux réfugiés rwandais’, 11 mars 1964 (Tel que publié dans : Rwanda
Carrefour d’Afrique, no 31), ˂ ˃.
Desrosiers, ‘Le rapport Duclert’, p. 25.

public authorities. …This revokes any pending litigation in the various jurisdictions of the country’. 201 The
directive also clearly stated that no compensation would be claimed in the courts or before local authorities for
people killed or property damaged. Concerning ‘the liability of persons and property missing or damaged
any request seeking to claim any person or property or any related compensation will be declared inadmissible by the
courts. The same applies to complaints of this type addressed to administrative authorities. … By abandoning their
movable or immovable property, the owners have created a lack of property based on fear or a real threat; their flight
constitutes a personal decision. The consequences of this decision cannot under any circumstances be borne by the
authorities currently in place. 202

Shortly after president Habyarimana took office, a joint Rwanda-Uganda ministerial commission convened in
July 1974 in Kampala to discuss the issue of Rwandan refugees in Uganda at the request of president Idi Amin
Dada as mentioned earlier. The memorandum of the Rwandan delegation presents all Tutsi refugees as ‘supports’
of the monarchy and Inyenzi fighters who should not be ‘imposed once again’ on ‘the Rwandan people’ who
‘have rejected them from their midst’. It states that the ‘Rwandan authorities cannot guarantee the security of
refugees’ accused of ‘contempt, arrogance, …’ and who chose exile as ‘the path that suited them the best’:
The Rwandan people, now pacified and reconciled with themselves, cannot allow any unwelcome event to distract them
and cause them to deviate from the path they have traced for their social and political emancipation. This people
condemned and banished for ever the monarchy and all its supports. It serves against the will of this people to impose on
them, once again, the weight of those whom they have rejected from their midst. The latter, during the course of the years
which followed the self-determination of the Rwandan people and their independence, continued to oppose them from the
outside with armed hordes to destroy them and take away their painfully won freedom.
The Ugandan authorities will certainly understand, we are convinced, that while they have succeeded in ensuring peace,
unity and national harmony within the country, the Rwandan authorities cannot in any way guarantee the security of
refugees who, in many respects, would still have some scores to settle with the populations who retain deep in their souls
the bitterness of the unpunished crimes of the “INYEZI” terrorists.
We do not want to see any more bloodshed in our country. What the Second Republic always wanted to avoid was seeing
the rebirth of hatred and division between Rwandans of different ethnic groups. Those who, from the start, sought to
oppose force to reason, contempt to wisdom, haughty arrogance to prudence, xenophobia to ethnic symbiosis have, at their
own risk, chosen the path that suited them the best. If, from memory, they had had the feeling of regretting their attitude
as well as their serious misdeeds against the security of the State, our Embassies accredited to brother and friendly
countries would have already collected their acts of grievance which would have been submitted to the commiseration of
the Rwandan people. 203

It is clear that the Habyarimana regime still harboured towards Tutsi refugees, hatred and resentment which were
not different from those of Kayibanda’s. The two regimes shared a common globalizing perception, so that all
refugees and Batutsi in general were placed in the same basket as the Inyenzi and the monarchy!
When Habyarimana came to power in 1973, a semblance of peace was noticed because of his good words that
his government had brought ‘peace, unity and development.’ Few refugees believed in those promises and
returned to Rwanda, but they had to report first to security organs to be interrogated. Some were imprisoned,
others were deported, and a few were relocated to their places of origin. A group of Habyarimana's close
advisers 204, Kanyarengwe Alexis, Nsekalije Aloys and Buregeya Bonaventure convened a meeting in 1975 and
reported that, just after the Habyarimana coup d'état,
the Mututsi immediately raised his head, thinking that it was time for him to take revenge on Gahutu, .... His kin who were
abroad returned to Rwanda, claiming the property they had left behind. That fact of Tutsi claiming their property angered
the Hutu and brought many problems in the prefectures. Some Tutsi have again started to show pride and to become rich
in a way visible to all. 205
‘Circulaire n°2420/A.09 relative à l’arrêté Présidentiel n° 25/01 du 26 février 1966 portant mesures pour réintégration des réfugiés
et réclamations diverses’ (République rwandaise, ‘Règlements et instructions relatives à la réinstallation des réfugiés’), pp. 13-19, p.
Ibid., p. 18.
Mémorandum de la délégation rwandaise sur les réfugiés rwandais en République ougandaise, p. 6.
Respectively Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary General in President’s Office.
‘Compte-rendu de la réunion du Groupe de réflexion politique pour la Paix et l’Unité Nationale en date du 26/05/1975’. As quoted
by Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 105.

It is around the same period that one of the three advisors, Kanyarengwe Alexis, then Minister of Internal Affairs
and Public Service issued the ministerial instruction seen above, setting the end of July 1975 as deadline for the
allocation of all property left behind by refugees. 206 According to Mugesera, this instruction definitively depriving
the refugees of their property 'was aimed at making the refugees once and for all lose all motivation to return to
Rwanda, because they believed that it was the property of the refugees left in Rwanda that encouraged them to
return to Rwanda’. 207
On 22 June 1976, President Habyarimana issued an instruction on refugees intended for three of his ministers,
namely those in charge of Internal Affairs; Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; and Defence. The directive called
for ‘the commencement from now on, of a systematic but discrete census of refugees, especially those living in
neighbouring countries, as well as those working for international organizations’. The President also reminded
his ministers that ‘the policy of peace and harmony among the citizens must go hand in hand with defending and
safeguarding the security of our country’. Habyarimana's instruction continued: ‘It is important to seriously
monitor the return of refugees, and encourage the return only when those concerned are people who can benefit
the country’. 208
As President Habyarimana was usually known for his hypocrisy and double talk, his instruction included words
that you thought were good! ‘Parallel to this action carried out abroad, a change of mindset must be made within
the country to ensure that the people of Rwanda are fully aware of the reasons for this peace and harmony’, the
directive stated. ‘The requirements for entering Rwanda must be flexible to allow relaxation of minds.’, it added.
However, Habyarimana’s true nature prevails when his instruction states:
Entry must exclude undesirables, vagrants and those without known employment. To do this, a control must be established
with the help of the High Commissioner for Refugees, between the Rwandan Embassies, the Central Intelligence Service
and the administrative services to make it possible to identify and rule on each case. The procedure must be rapid and
efficient so as not to discourage applicants and cast doubt on our good faith. 209

In 1976, during a public talk to the population while visiting the prefectures, President Habyarimana responded
to one resident stating:
With regard to that question of Hutu and Tutsi, we find it in other prefectures as well. When we explore the history of
Rwanda, we find that Tutsi call themselves Ibimanuka (coming from Heaven) …. Those Tutsi who provoke Hutu seem to
ignore that if violence comes back, they will be the ones to bear the cost. Once again, the Hutu are the majority, the power
belongs to them. 210

While celebrating the 16th anniversary of independence in 1978, President Habyarimana said: ‘the greatest
moment of the History of this country which touches and will never cease to touch the hearts of the daughters
and sons of Rwanda is the 1959 Revolution’. 211 The Habyarimana government also re-printed and published in
1984, the ‘Manifeste des Bahutu’ and four manifestos of the PARMEHUTU, the party that Habyarimana had
already replaced by his own MRND. 212 This proves that President Habyarimana was as well strongly committed
to the same racist anti-Tutsi ideology contained in those documents of PARMEHUTU party and other ‘Hutu
leaders’ involved in the ‘Rwandan revolution’. Philip Verwimp rightly observed that ‘Habyarimana had to
dissolve the power base of his predecessor, President Kayibanda, but at the same time remain faithful to the Hutu
ideology’. 213

‘Lettre n° 497/04.09.01/14 du 22/05/1975 à Monsieur le Préfet de Préfecture (tous), du Ministre de l’Intérieur et de la Fonction
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 106.
Instruction présidentielle n° 839/01.10 du 22 juin 1976 relative aux réfugiés.
Présidence de la République, ‘Ikiganiro Prezida wa Repubulika, Prezida- fondateri wa MRND yagiranye na ba Militantes na ba
Militants bo muri za Prefegitura z’u Rwanda, 16 mata- 6 gicurasi 1976’ (Service du Conseil du Gouvernement, Kigali, 1976), p.73.
Présidence de la République, ‘Discours du Président Habyarimana: Discours et entretiens’ (Kigali, 1982).
Repubulika y’u Rwanda. Ministeri y’Ubutegetsi bw’Igihugu n’Amajyambere ya Komini, ‘Manifeste y’Abahutu yo kuwa 24/3/1957
na manifeste programme 4 za Parmehutu’ (Ibiro by’Ubuyobozi bukuru mu ibireba politiki n’ubutegetsi, 1ère Edition, 1984) ; See
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 16, 402.
Philip Verwimp, ‘Development Ideology, the Peasantry and genocide: Rwanda Represented in Habyarimana’s speeches’ (Yale
Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University Genocide studies Program, working paper GS 13, 1999), p. 15.

Speaking before the MRND Central Committee on 3 December 1990 to announce the decision to remove
ethnicity from the national identity card following pressure from the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), President
Habyarimana said:
This decision in no way calls into question our achievements. It cannot eliminate ethnic groups as such, which would be
difficult to imagine.
This decision eliminates neither the guarantees of respect for minorities, nor obviously the prerogatives of the majority.
Democracy requires acceptance of the decisions of the majority. There is neither innate superiority of anyone, nor natural
submission of anyone - this was the meaning and scope of the Social Revolution of 1959. 214

In his speech on 28 April 1991 to his party congress, President Habyarimana reiterated that Kayibanda's 1966
presidential decree depriving refugees of the right to their lands had never been revoked. He said: ‘Concerning
the repatriation of refugees, this problem should not give rise to any ambiguity because no Rwandan will be
dislodged from their property for the benefit of the returning refugees. The presidential decree of 1966 provides
for the return of refugees in order and tranquillity; it has never been repealed.’ 215
In the same speech, President Habyarimana shows appalling cynicism when he presents the Tutsi refugees who
fled the genocidal violence of 1959 and other episodes that followed as having rather 'fled democracy' or been
'accomplices' of Inyenzi fighters of the 1960s, whom Habyarimana and his regime's propaganda continued to
equate with the RPF, whose armed struggle only began in 1990.
These INYENZI who attacked us and who continue to do so are mainly made up of refugees who fled democracy during
the struggle between the political groups of past times, as well as their accomplices who fled the country every time it
was the object of an attack during the first Republic. 216

President Habyarimana also invited his fellow Bahutu, whom he describes as the ‘popular majority’, to imitate
the unity of the Batutsi and to avoid regionalism so as not to risk ‘falling back into slavery’ of the Batutsi.
Harmony between the three ethnic groups will only be evident if the people truly feel united. As we admire the fact that
the Tutsi do not identify themselves by belonging to this or that region of the country, it is also absolutely necessary that
the popular majority itself feels completely united, nationally, in order to avoid a backtracking to enslavement. 217

In his book on the living conditions of the Batutsi from 1959 to 1990, Mugesera points out on different pages,
documents full of hatred, cruelty and violence against the Batutsi that Habyarimana signed as Minister of National
Guard and Police (Ministre de la Garde Nationale et de la Police) under Kayibanda regime. In 1968, Juvénal
Habyarimana, then lieutenant-colonel and Minister of National Guard and Police, signed a letter recommending
not to grant a passport to a catholic priest, Abbot Kayiranga Prudence, because ‘if he managed to go abroad,
educated Tutsi would have more power to fight against Rwanda’. 218
In July 1969, Abbot Médard Kayitakibga of the diocese of Nyundo, then an employee of the Roman curia at the
Propaganda Fide Dicastery, returned to Rwanda for vacation. Three weeks later, he received a letter from the
National security asking him to surrender his passport which was never given back to him, preventing him from
returning to his work in Rome despite the interventions of the ecclesiastical authorities. National security
depended on the Ministry of National Guard and Police, a ministry headed by Juvénal Habyarimana. 219
After graduating from foreign universities in 1972, a number of students returned to Rwanda and the surrounding
countries to sick for jobs. Juvénal Habyarimana, who was Minister of National Guard and Police, instructed ‘to
keep an eye on them’, saying that ‘they were determined to return to Rwanda to restore the dignity of the Tutsi’,

‘Déclaration du Président de la République, le Général-Major Juvénal Habyarimana, devant le Comité Central’, ARP [Agence
Rwandaise de Presse] 03848 du 02-03 décembre 1990.
‘Discours du Général-Major Habyarimana Juvénal, Président-Fondateur du Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le
Développement à l'occasion de l'ouverture du Congrès extraordinaire du MRND. Le 28 avril 1991’, p. 25 (traduction succincte), 0.10
RWA [E] External relations -Relations with Governments- Rwanda [Part II], UNHCR Archives.
Ibid., p. 9.
Ibid., p. 11.
Ministère de la Garde Nationale et de la Police, Lettre n° 146/1.1.4/ 1.2.3 du 23 mars 1968. As quoted by Mugesera, Imibereho
y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 108.
Interview, Mgr Médard Kayitakibga, Gisenyi (Rubavu), 04 February 2023.

or ‘return from exile by arms’ for those who were afraid to come to Rwanda and stayed in the surrounding
countries. 220
Habyarimana was known for his soft words and hypocrisy 221, but he firmly adhered to and even reinforced the
anti-Tutsi ideology of racist discrimination and genocidal violence inherited from the Belgian colonial rule
through PARMEHUTU, until the end of his reign.
Belgian colonization and influential European Catholic priests succeeded in defeating the nationalists and
providing Rwanda with neo-colonial rulers who reproached their compatriots who demanded independence for
wanting 'to drive out the Whites and God so that we rule ourselves', while praising Belgium and the Catholic
church for having 'joined forces to liberate the Bahutu from the slavery of the Batutsi.' Building their ideology of
power on the fantasies of the Hamitic hypothesis, these post-independence leaders who wanted to be openly
ethnic without the slightest ambition of a national vision considered the Bahutu as 'the true owners' of Rwanda
for having 'cleared' the forest, and 'the real people' of Rwanda for being majority of the population.
Various researchers have pointed out how Rwanda under the Kayibanda regime has been slow in its
development despite receiving significant foreign funding. 222 They also showed how low economic and social
development rates were in 1990 before the RPF struggle began, and how the famines, eradicated from Rwanda
in the previous 50 years had returned and killed many people during the Habyarimana regime. 223 These were the
consequences mainly of the two governments' development policy centred on rural agriculture performed by
‘peasants’ exclusively identified with the Bahutu, while the authorities were busy with their own interests and
discrimination policies, instead of promoting national vision and viable development approaches.
Authorities of the two post-independence regimes felt that cultivation was the only way to develop. That is why
in 1966, the Kayibanda government demanded that Rwandans in the Congo be granted local citizenship and
remain there to access bigger land for farming. 224 A statement from Habyarimana's envoys to Uganda in 1974 on
the issue of Rwandan refugees also reveals the same obsession of the regime to export its own population in order
to access cultivation land. ‘The policy of the most populous countries like ours should start trying to make
agreements with the big neighbouring countries, for them to make it easier to enter their territory every year, for
an agreed upon number of our people who want to migrate’. 225
Verwimp recalls that this 'so-called peasant friendly rhetoric was actually translated into anti-peasant policies'
detrimental to the Bahutu themselves. 226 Grounded in the 'Hutu revolution', this 'combination of peasant ideology
and racism' would reveal to be even more harmful to the Batutsi not only depriving some of them the right to
homeland and property, but also condemning those inside the national boundaries to extermination.
‘Habyarimana wanted Rwanda to be an agricultural society. He glorified the peasantry and pictured himself as
a peasant. In his ideology of rural romanticism, only the Hutu were the real peasants of Rwanda; the Tutsi were
the feudal class …’. And the author concludes: ‘When … leaders espouse a mono-ethnic peasant ideology to
legitimize their power and want to hold on power at all costs, genocide becomes their ultimate strategy’. 227 And
this is what was going to happen in Rwanda.
This lack of vision of the post-independence regimes heirs of the 'Hutu revolution', added to their racist and
genocidal ideology of discrimination and hatred against a part of the citizens, constituted a major governance
problem which required radical change.
Conclusion: God save Rwanda from a certain Western scholarship
In another presentation elsewhere in December 2022, I highlighted the contribution of Western scholars Edith
Sanders and Jean Pierre Chrétien in the critique of Hamitic ideology, a critique that I consider to be 'the greatest
Ministère de la Garde Nationale et de la Police, Lettre n° 0485/1.2.3 du 20 octobre 1972. As quoted by Mugesera, Imibereho
y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p.103.
Mugesera, Imibereho y’Abatutsi mu Rwanda, p. 288.
CNUR, Histoire du Rwanda, p. 430-438.
Verwimp, ‘Development Ideology’, p. 13 ; Jean-Paul Kimonyo, Rwanda, Demain ! Une longue Marche vers la transformation
(Karthala, Paris, 2017), p. 86-87.
Rwanda, Carrefour d’Afrique, Mars-Avril 1966, p. 3 ; 100. GEN.RWA Refugees from Rwanda – General (1966 - 1967) [Vol. 2];
series 2; box 30; Fonds UNHCR 11.
‘Mémorandum de la délégation rwandaise sur les réfugiés rwandais en République ugandaise’.
Verwimp, ‘Development Ideology’, p. 5.
Ibid., p. 3, 4.

milestone and one of the best advances in the historiography on Rwanda' 228and the Great Lakes region more
broadly. The work of these researchers and certain others - unfortunately few in number - confirms the fact that
decolonial thinking 'does not necessarily imply the absence of Europe’ and North America and their ‘thinkers in
the narrative’ 229, just as it does not prevent ‘subjects that are socially located in the oppressed side of the colonial
difference, to think epistemically like the ones on the dominant positions’ 230, if I may paraphrase two decolonial
scholars, a Belgian-Rwandan and a Latin American.
A large number of Western researchers on Rwanda and the region, however, still remain attached to colonial
thought and refuse to recognize the determining role of anti-Tutsi racism in the genocide in Rwanda and the
instability in the Great Lakes region. They seem resolutely determined to fight the efforts of reconstruction and
national refoundation in Rwanda and instead, propose a strictly ethnic horizon to the populations of this country
and the region.
A recent article on the conflict in eastern DRC noted that these academics 'offer scholarly and moral vindication
to the racist instigators of violence and their bigoted rhetoric'. It demonstrated that 'There is a surprising and
troubling ideological convergence between the writings of these scholars and the propaganda material of
extremist anti-Tutsi circles in Congo and the region'. 231
The populations of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region need to escape ethnic patterns and the spiral of violence,
and responsible research should help them do so. Scholars who do the opposite do them serious harm and yet
research should be ethical or simply not exist.
February 2024

Rutazibwa, ‘The genocide against the Tutsi’.
Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa, ‘Studying Agaciro. Moving beyond Wilsonian interventionist knowledge production on Rwanda’,
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 8, 4 (2014).
Ramon Grosfoguel, ‘Decolonizing post-colonial studies and paradigms of political-economy: Transmodernity, decolonial
thinking, and global coloniality’, TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 1, 1
Rutazibwa, ‘Discussing the causes and context’.


fgtquery v.1.9, February 9, 2024