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“Social, Political and Economic Evolution of Rwanda from 1962-1994”

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At the 1885 Berlin Conference which carved up Africa between the European empires, Rwanda was assigned to Germany. The first German explorer, Count von Gotzen, arrived in Rwanda in 1894, and from 1899 Germany administered the country from Berlin. After Germany's defeat in the First World War, Rwanda was transferred to Belgian control in 1919. Rwanda's population comprised three main social groupings: the Hutus, the Tutsis and Twa. All those social classes were enjoying the same language, culture but did not shared economy equally.

The first residents of Rwanda were the Twa, who were mainly hunters. Later, Hutu cultivators and Tutsi cattle-keepers arrived. Rwanda consisted of small chiefdoms with groups living side by side.
As the dominance of this Nyiginya Tutsi lineage expanded, the terms 'Tutsi' and 'Hutu' began to acquire a political significance. Those who achieved ruling class status became identified as Tutsi, while those who did not were assigned to the ranks of the Hutu. Some Twa managed to reach higher political status, but generally they were marginalized. Many Hutus chiefs were assimilated into the ruling class and were thereby given the status of Tutsi. Hutus and Tutsis belonged to all nineteen of the main clans in Rwanda. At the same time, there was much intermarriage between members of the newly forming classes. The population shared the same Rwandan language, culture and traditions, but people were differentiated according to their ability to acquire wealth and move from the less powerful Hutu to the ruling Tutsi class. Until the middle of the 19th century, people's clan identity was more important than whether they were categorized as Hutu, Tutsi or Twa. It was customary for the patron to give the client a cow in return for services performed, and so over a long period of time individuals from both the Hutu and Tutsi groups acquired cattle. In the absence of currency, cattle became the medium of trade, and the more cows a person had, the higher was their social status. In this period, the economy of Rwanda was based on the largely rain fed agricultural production of small, semi subsistence, and increasingly fragmented farms. It has few natural resources to exploit and a small, uncompetitive industrial sector. While the production of coffee and tea is well-suited to the small farms, steep slopes, and cool climates of Rwanda and has ensured access to foreign exchange over the years, farm size continues to decrease. Typically, it was the Tutsis, traditionally cattle-keepers by trade, who found themselves among the wealthy, while most Hutus, who were farmers, lacked the wealth associated with owning cows.

Both the Germans and the Belgians found it convenient to rule the country through the existing Tutsi elite. To justify their support of this section of the population, they put forward the idea that the Tutsis were more similar to Europeans. The reality was that some wealthy cattle-owners who did no work were well groomed and tended to look elegant, tall and clean, compared to clients who worked hard on farms and developed strong muscles. The difference between the two groups became more marked when clients started to work on European farms for long hours under harsh conditions set by the colonial masters and administered by the Tutsi ruling class. But it suited the Europeans to exaggerate the physical distinction between Hutu and Tutsi to support their argument of the latter's ethnic superiority. Before the arrival of the European however, Rwandans lived under a feudal system and identified themselves according to social class rather than ethnic affiliation.

In due course the Belgians introduced identity cards, classifying Rwandans according to their physical appearance, wealth and social status into Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. In return for their cooperation in imposing the writ of the European rulers, the Tutsi overlords were given extensive powers over the majority Hutus. European anthropologists, travelers and colonial agents furthered the idea that Rwandans were divided in terms of their origin, physical appearance and economic status, although they shared the same language, culture, religion and habitation. During the years of Belgian rule, indigenous social and political structures disintegrated. As the inevitability of independence loomed, the Belgian colonizers changed their policy. Realizing that if democracy came, power would pass to the majority Parme Hutu party, they abandoned their policy of indirect rule and shifted support from the minority Umwami party to the majority Parme Hutu party led by Grégoire Kayibanda.

Independence to 1994

It was Kayibanda who eventually led Rwanda to independence in 1962. The two parts of Ruanda-Urundi become independent in July 1962. There is pressure from the UN to federate as a single nation, but both opt to go their separate ways. Ruanda, in which ethnic violence has continued during 1960 and 1961, becomes a republic (automatically, since the young ruler has fled and has been formally deposed in his absence). The spelling of the name is changed to Rwanda.

In 1961 the victorious Hutu-led Parmehutu party, having been elected to power, proclaimed a republic and abolished the Tutsi monarchy. In the following year, 1962, Rwanda achieved independence. The first presidential election in Rwanda is won by Grégoire Kayibanda, the leader of the interim provisional government. The name of his party, the Parti du Mouvement de l'Emancipation du Peuple Hutu (Party for Hutu Emancipation), makes all too plain what is to be the central plank of government policy. Tutsis became the victims of official discrimination in virtually all public services and in political involvement. Following independence from Belgium in 1962, the Hutu majority seized power and reversed the roles, oppressing the Tutsis through systematic discrimination and acts of violence. Since 1960, small groups of refugees who were exiled mostly Tutsi called Inyenzi (cockroaches). As a result, over 200,000 Tutsis fled to neighboring countries and formed a rebel guerrilla army, the Rwandan Patriotic Front. Through those segregations, the national economy was severally affected and Rwanda's prudent financial policies, coupled with generous external aid and relatively favorable terms of trade, resulted in sustained growth in percapita income and low inflation rates. However, when world coffee prices fell sharply in the 1980s, growth became erratic.

Briefly Rwanda from its independence up to 1972 was characterized by fundamental economic dependence whereby economic rate was 43% according to RNB (Rwanda National Bank) report. After the independence of Rwanda, the economy of the country was based on the subsistence agriculture by peasants and the surplus-value can be extracted directly from the peasant mass. Mainly, coffee and tea were only exported, poor mining activities and creaming off foreign aid.
The economy of Rwanda with different level the reliance on foreign aid, small at first, had become significant by the late 1970s and enormous by the late 1980.

Between1970-1980, Rwanda was developed by reinforcement of foreign aid due to the socio-economical relationship with developed countries such as Belgium, German, Canada, Suisse, USA, and International Organizations. On order hand due to the free circulation of exported products and improvement of coffee in Rwanda.

For the second Republic, economy was characterized by the considerable declination due to the prices of coffee internationally was declined. The products of mining were reduced. The mining sector had experienced many difficulties from 1980. This situation had seriously affected the economy of Rwanda. From 1990-1994, this period was the critical situation. In the spirit of Kayibanda's movement, cockroaches become the favorite slang name for Tutsis. The killing of cockroaches is soon an all-too familiar feature of Rwandan life, in a frenzy whipped up by the government at any time of crisis particularly whenever Rwandan exiles, most of them Tutsi, attempt invasions from across the borders. In 1973 Kayibanda is removed from power by a group of army officers who replace him with a major general, Juvénal Habyarimana. He remains in power for twenty-one years, running a conventional self-serving military dictatorship (with enthusiastic support from several western countries, in particular France). Over the borders there are a vast number of mainly Tutsi refugees. As time passes they are increasingly unwelcome in their host countries. Efforts are made to send them home. But Rwanda rejects them. Habyarimana's Second Republic claimed to be sympathetic to Tutsis; but this was not borne out in fact. In the years that followed under the leadership of the one party system, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND), Tutsis continued to experienced violence, arrests, intimidation and abuse. Violence was never far from the surface in these times. Habyarimana's regime used ethnicity as a political strategy in order to hold on to power at any cost. Regional divisions increased, with northerners (the president's henchmen) taking over virtually all economic and political power. Meanwhile, Rwandans living in exile were pressing to return to their country of origin, but met no response from the government. Finally, in 1990 the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) launched an invasion from Uganda.

A series of agreements backed by the international community was signed between the RPF and the government of Rwanda to ensure a peaceful settlement of the Rwandan crisis. In April 1994, amid ever-increasing prospects of violence, Rwandan President Habyalimana and Burundi's new President, Cyprian Ntaryamira, held several peace meetings with Tutsi rebels. On April 6, while returning from a meeting in Tanzania, a small jet carrying the two presidents was shot down by ground-fired missiles as it approached Rwanda's airport at Kigali. Immediately after their deaths, Rwanda plunged into political violence as Hutu extremists began targeting prominent opposition figures who were on their death-lists, including moderate Hutu politicians and Tutsi leaders. The country became dark and the massacres began: in a period of three months over one million people were killed.

Rwanda of 1962 up to 1994 was under two Republics. And during this period the socio-economy development and political aspects were very affected due to the political regionalism, systematic discrimination, acts of violence and totalitarian system. The social classes were treated disproportionately in all country life aspects. From the date of taking power, RPF try to share all country styles of life similarly to citizens.


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