African history



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The small country of Rwanda was controlled by Germany in the 1800s, but lost control to Belgium in the 1950s. During this time, two main groups or tribes of people lived in Rwanda. The Hutu was the largest group which made up about 75% of the population. The Tutsi, the second largest group, made up about 24% of the population. The two ethnic groups had many differences and disagreements, which were often worsened because of European influence—it caused hatred to spread among the two tribes. Germany and Belgium controlled Rwanda by telling their kings what to do.

The kings were usually part of the Tutsi tribe, and often the Tutsi received better treatment than the Hutu. They even used their power to enslave Hutus. The Hutu were not happy that the Tutsi had favor with the king and in 1959, Belgium helped the Hutus overthrow the Tutsi king and many Tutsi fled the country. Conflict among the two tribes continued until 1973 when Juvenal Habyarimana became president. He had hope for peace and unity in Rwanda. However, the conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi remained.

The Rwandan Civil War

When two groups of people living in the same country have a disagreement, sometimes they can talk and work out their differences. Every now and then, this doesn't happen and a civil war occurs. The Rwandan Civil War was a large-scale civil war in Rwanda which was fought between the Rwandan Armed Forces, representing the country's government, and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) from 1 October 1990 to 18 July 1994. On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundi’s president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down over the capital city of Kigali, leaving no survivors. (It has never been conclusively determined who the culprits were. Some have blamed Hutu extremists, while others blamed leaders of the RPF.)

Within an hour of the plane crash, the Presidential Guard, together with members of the Rwandan armed forces (FAR) and Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe (“Those Who Attack Together”) and Impuzamugambi (“Those Who Have the Same Goal”), set up roadblocks and barricades and began slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus with impunity.

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