Ten. Freedom for oppression. Nationalism or social justice
The formation of political parties and independence were in the air by the end of 1956. In Leopoldville a group of Catholic intellectuals led by Abbé Joseph Malula, Joseph Ngalula and Joseph Ileo had issued a manifesto in which the eventual independence of the Congo was discussed. A largely Catholic Democrat party, representing the interests of the ‘menu peuple’, had been formed in Buganda. The Catholic Church was being dragged info the political arena by its elite, and Rwanda could not avoid taking notice.
Rudahigwa met Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda on two occasions in the latter half of 1956, and shortly afterwards the Conseil Supérieur, always something of a Tutsi mouthpiece, suggested the creation of four Ministries entirely within Rwandan hands, Finance, Education, Public Works, and the Interior virtual self-government. In February 1957 the Conseil called for a speedy transfer of power and the promotion of a trained elite to staff new Ministries. For the counter-elite this surge of nationalist feeling seemed nothing but an expression of the Tutsi will to continue their oppressive rule. Their language was now strident: ‘To those who want to abandon this country we say: No! Three million times no!’ wrote an anonymous Abbé in Presse Africaine. ‘In the name of three million Bahutu delivered up to fear’
On 24 March 1957 Kayibanda, head of TRAFIPRO, Calliope Mulindahabi, Bishop Perraudin’s secretary, and Aloys Munyangaju., a clerk in a Belgian company, in consultation with other Hutu leaders and under the guidance of Ernotte and Dejemeppe, published the Bahutu manifesto from Kabgayi. At the same time the Bishops of Burundi and Rwanda published a joint pastoral pointing out once more the Church’s right to speak on matters of social justice and to call attention to abuses.
The manifesto contained little that was new, and the Hutu had to wait a year for its impact to be felt fully. It suggested that the malaise in the country was attributable to the evils of Indirect Rule, the
prevalence of ubuhake, and the Belgian destruction of equilibrating institutions without their replacement by modem ones ; if called for the establishment of a strong middle class and for syndicalisme. The writers wanted forced labour and the remaining ibikingi abolished, recognition of private property and the development of credit unions. To counter a letter to the Courrier d’Afrique by some Rwandan chiefs if asserted that ennoblement of Hutu had been a rare privilege in the past. Finally, there were vague calls for economic union with Belgium and for freedom of expression: a very Catholic package, with the bogey of communism in the background.
The one striking new element in the manifesto, sharpening its menace, was the accusation that to the political and social disadvantages of the Hutu is added the element of race which is becoming more and more accentuated and acrimonious. Going right to the heart of the Tutsi Church, the writers went on to say, ‘The monopolist interests’ brandishing of the sword of national custom [umuco w ‘igihugu] is not of a nature to favour the establishment of the necessary confidence, nor justice and peace, in the face of the people’s present aspirations!’ More important, the ‘racist monopoly’ was labelled ‘Hamite’. The Hutu counter-elite were moving towards a dichotomous analysis of Rwandan society on the basis of their experience of an ethnic ‘ceiling’ on advancement, and after ready acceptance by the ruling class of the ‘Hamitic hypothesis’ introduced by the Europeans. Their anti-colonialism had been guided by the social democrat missionaries on to the internal coloniser, the Tutsi class, now seen as a closed ethnic group. They rejected the powerful movement of cultural nationalisin as ‘Hamitisation’, a deliberate attempt to exclude them from administrative posts. Finally they insisted on the retention of ethnic designations in official documents, claiming that their proposed removal was Tutsi obfuscation.” The cultural nationalists were hoist with their own petard.
In contrast to the position in the early 1950s, when the évolués formed a common front against Europeans, the growing disillusionment of the counter-elite had driven them back amongst the Hutu masses and semi-skilled labour. The degree to which they became an élite manqué seems to have been the degree to which they experienced what Kayibanda called ‘une prise de conscience fondamentale’. They looked to the new missionaries for advice and support, and these in turn saw them as willing agents of Catholic social policy. The solidarity of the indigenous bourgeoisie was a hopeless chimera; Rwanda’s ethnic boundaries had become too rigid where they mattered most, in competition for the key roles and status in the colonial administration. Under the pressure of the Tutsi cultural renaissance the counter-elite slipped easily into a racial analysis of its woes.
Was this a subtle plot by the colonialist Church to divine and break a potentially powerful nationalist movement led by a Tutsi vanguard? Or was it an upwelling of Hutu political consciousness that for the first time saw through the mystification of Tutsi rule? These were to be the final battle cries, but the reality was far from clear-cut. The young missionaries at the elbow of the counter-elite were both in favour of drastic social reform and sympathetic towards independence movements, but conservative Tutsi ‘nationalism’ disqualified itself by its elitist contempt for the mass of the population. Few educated Tutsi contemplated sharing power with the Hutu and radical policies. As in the emirates of northern Nigeria, the ‘nationalism’ of the traditional rulers was not a movement for change but an entrenchment of ruling class privilege. The masses were called to worship at the shrine of the ‘natural leader’, and some of the old Fathers were happy to bless the liturgy.
Likewise in Nkole protest movements developed in the wake of enforced modernisation; a type of ethnic consciousness seems to have grown up among the Iru peasantry, and the ruling Hima came to be seen as ‘Hamitic invaders’. The difference was that the Iru were divided between Catholic and Protestant Churches, and were quickly assimilated into government after 1955. In Rwanda the Hutu counter-elite became Catholic protégés, and Hutu protest was ignored by Belgians and Tutsi alike. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of his accession Rudahigwa said not a word about the Bahutu manifesta, which had been given excellent coverage in Kinyamateka, and his silence astonished both priests and Hutu leaders. And it was precisely the failure of the 1956 elections to give the Hutu adequate representation in government that gave their movement momentum.
In September 1957 the White Fathers sent Aloys Munyangaju and Grégoire Kayibanda to Belgium for training as journalists. They left behind them the Mouvement Social Muhutu (MSM) born at the publication of the manifesto. During his year on the staff of La Croix Kayibanda was able to renew contacts with members of the Parti Social Chrétien (PSC) and its supporting trade unions, the Confédération des Syndicats Chrétiens (CSC). It seems likely the both the CSC and the Flemish Catholic Boerbond pledged financial support for the MSM at this time. Munyangaju wrote for another pro-Catholic paper, La Cité, and both Hutu leaders were able to popularise their cause during their stay. Their absence from Rwanda, on the other hand, weakened the MSM, which at the beginning was little more than a loosely knit group from Gitarama and Ruhengeri, with only Hutu origins and grievances in common.
In November 1957 the flamboyant Joseph Gitera, an ex-seminarian of the 1930s, who saw politics more as a Christian crusade than an organised syndicat, formed his own movernent with its base at Save mission, the Association pour la Promotion Sociale de la Masse (APROSOMA). He was a more passionate and perhaps compassionate man than many of the other ex-seminarians, with an unshakeable commitment to Christian radicalism. But the intensity of his feelings militated against calculated, consistent political action; he was often erratic and sometimes fanatical. When Gitera trumpeted he expected the walls of Jericho to fall; his first letter to the United Nations was sent in September 1957, and at each succeeding petition he appeared to be shocked to find the Tutsi class stil firmly in control.
Gitera stepped up his campaign for Hutu emancipation in Match 1958 by arranging an audience with the mwami and an article in Kinyamateka. The meeting was stormy; Gitera threatened to hold a demonstration in Nyanza, and the mwami at one point grabbed him by the throat. As a compromise Rudahigwa finally agreed to receive a Hutu delegation at court. Fifteen representatives, led by Gitera, arrived at Nyanza on 31 March, only to be studiously ignored by the mwami and the Conseil Supérieur. They were denied lodgings and told that the Conseil was not ready to sit. Chanoine Ernotte took the party in and they waited at Christ-Roi College for over a week before the mwami deigned to greet them. The petitioners were met with contempt, upbraided for being separatists and accused of being rebels, inyangarwanda, haters of Rwanda. It was alleged that Rwanda’s troubles were caused by European interference; if the delegation wished to have Hutu judges and chiefs in the future they should all work harder. When they arrived the party had been monarchist to a man, referring to the mwami as ‘our father’, and congratulating themselves on being ‘called to Nyanza’. To discover that Rudahigwa was an arrogant Tutsi came as a shock, so strongly had the myth of kingship been believed in, even by educated men.
After the public chastisement a number of minor concessions were made in private. Rudahigwa tried to buy off the ringleaders; Bicamumpaka was offered a sub-chieftancy, but initialiy refused. Gitera was coopted on to an enlarged meeting of the Conseil Supérieur, as were Makuza and Hakizimana later in the year; a ten-man commission with equal Tutsi-Hutu representation was formed to study and report back on Hutu grievances. But the Catholic voice at court remained largely Tutsi and clerical, with Abbés Kagiraneza and Mbandiwimfura from the Nyundo caucus and Abbé Musoni from Rwamagana on the Conseil Supérieur. When, with the king’s approval, large cuts were proposed in the primary education budget — the Hutu gained from these schools most it was noticeable that the only forceful rebuttal came from Gitera and Bishop Perraudin.
At this treatment of the Hutu delegation the scales fell from a number of moderates’ eyes, and a note of militancy appeared in both Kinyamateka and Temps Nouveaux d’Afrique, a more radical successor to L’Ami run by the White Fathers from Bujumbura. Despite his Tutsi origins Abbé Innocent Gasabwoya, the director of Kinyamateka during the critical period 1957-59, maintained the paper’s social bias, running a series of articles in debate form on ‘Rwanda and her native government’ (Rwanda n’ abategetsi kavukire). Of a horatory nature, they suggested reforms, calling for amajyambere, progress, and demokrasi.Yet two divergent strands could be detected: admonitions to work and progress together towards Independence, umujyanama, and calls for concrete changes in law, education and political structure. StilI present were letters from the évolués complaining of persecution by unlettered chiefs. The chiefs’replies bemoaned the impoliteness of the younger generation, who refused to take off their hats in greeting, ignored the mwami, and spoke badly of the whites, revealing the intricacy of the sub-themes that embroidered the fundamental conflict between elite and counter-elite. The Belgians had profoundly modified the nature of chieftancy; according to one White Father’s source, many children at school did not know who the mwami was. When the chiefs branded youth as abagome, rebels, it was easy to see from where a conservative faction at court would draw its strength.
Kinyamateka, otherwise scrupulously fair under Abbé Justin Kalibwami, with an open ‘Tribune libre’ column, became a powerful weapon in the armoury of the MSM and APROSOMA writers after April 1958. They made no bones about writing to drum up support for the Hutu cause among the people, ni ugutega amatwi, to open their ears, as they called it. Temps Nouveaux d’Afrique carried headlines like ‘A council representative of what?‘ and letters baldly attributing the plight of the Hutu to Tutsi racialism. Abbé Kalibwami would probably not have passed such letters, but he allowed a full airing of Hutu grievances in moderate language; the 1 May Kinyamateka gave a blow-by-blow account of the Hutu delegation’s experiences at Nyanza. It contained the first frontal assault on the king, refuting the idea that he was above race and politics; this was continued a fortnight later in language every villager could understand. The writer asked the readers why, if the mwami was the parent, umubyeyi, of Gatutsi, Gahutu and Gatwa, and had the power, ubushobozi, to sign documents and direct the country, the whites should take the blame when he favoured one of his children.
After such a savage prodding the court traditionalists, dinosaurs of Tutsi evolution, lumbered dangerously into action. On 15 May a letter signed bagaragu b’ibwami bakuru, elder servants of the mwami’s court, was sent to the commission studying the Hutu problem. It contained an old tradition of the Nyiginya conquest of Rwanda; Kigwa was said to have found the indigenous Hutu Zigaba clan under the leadership of Kabeja. Kigwa, his brother Mututsi and his sister Nyampundu then taught Kabeja the use of iron, and in return were
accepted as his lord, shebuja; thus the only bond between Tutsi and Hutu was feudal; no blood tie existed. It was demonstrably false, they asserted, that everyone was a son of Kanyarwanda; Ruganzu killed the Hutu abahinza, so how could they have been his brothers? In a second letter sent a day later to the Conseil Supérieur history as ideology gave way to day-to-day politics; a group of fourteen ‘Banyarwanda’ appealed to the mwami to apprehend the Hutu revolutionaries who were disturbing the established order and asked for permission to retain their ibikingi; adequate uncleared land remained for the Hutu to settle and cultivate, they claimed.
The traditionalist wing of the Tutsi, representing the thinking of many poor Tutsi, whom Gitera naively hoped to recruit for APROSOMA, was an Achilles heel to Rudahigwa. Childless and treated with contempt by the Astridiens, estranged to a great degree from the Catholic Church, yet in the past tied to it for legitimation of his rule, the mwami must have been tempted again by the feudal mythologies. But against the background of the new Hutu propaganda they were political poison. As early as 1956 Rudahigwa had told the Vice-Governor’s council: ‘it is very difficult to define the terms Tutsi and Hutu today, in view of the fact that it would be difficult to find any criterion to differentiate them’. Nothing was more likely to arouse the peasantry quickly than tying ethnic labels to the growing problems of land shortage. Both Tutsi and whites could be easily identified in a revolt; but which was to be the butt of the peasants’ fury?
The importance of the MSM and the Bahutu manifesto was not that they aroused the peasantry — they remained as quiescent as ever in the south and centre of the country — but that the counter-elite forced on Rudahigwa and the Tutsi elite a radical change in the mythology of power, a reformulation of ruling class ideology and history; dynastic history and Catholic theology were replaced by nationalism. Every step taken by the Hutu towards a racial analysis of Rwandan society drew from the mwami and his entourage a further emphasis on national unity. Every article in the Catholic Press on caste and social justice brought forth a surge of Tutsi anti-colonialism. D’Hertfelt sums up succinctly the change that took place:
L’intelligentsia traditionaliste a créé un Wunschbad mythique du passé, qui, dans la conjuncture politique presente, remplit une fonction analogue à celle qu’avaient les mythes traditionnels dans l’ancien régime stabilisé. Lorsque à la suite d’influences étrangéres, celui-ci et mis en cause par des politiciens égalitaires Hutu, les ‘mythes d’inégalité’ durent structurellement céder la place aux ‘mythes d’unité et d’harmonie’ qui s’opposaient tant à la volonté des rebelles pour l’émousser, qu’aux colonisateurs pour affirmer l’unité du peuple rwandais dans la lutte anti-colonialiste.
Observers noticed the rabidly anti-Belgian tone of a speech made by the mwami after he returned from the Brussels exhibition, and from this time onwards his contacts with the CMS became more frequent.
It is difficult to assess how far Rudahigwa was master in his own house. He had tended to bend before powerful men throughout his reign, coming successively under the influence of his mother, Monsignor Classe, Father Witlox, his chaplain, Abbé Kagame, Chief Kamuzinzi, Goosens, D’Arianoff and, from 1949 to 1952, the Nyanza Resident, Drijvers. After 1952, when he had offered to resign, he was increasingly influenced by the conservatives at court and the nationalist promptings of a coffee buyer, allegedly of communist sympathies, Monsieur Poelart. ‘He is superior when on the defensive,’ wrote Mosmans, ‘shrewd to the point of duplicity; and patient to the point of humility’. But,’ he added, ‘he is quickly lost when on the offensive; the femininity of his personality shows itself and the weakness of his general formation. He steps down before obstacles, hesitates between different solutions, instinctively seeking the support of a strong will. Evidence is too scanty and contradictory to determine whether his intermittent bouts of vacillation and intransigence from 1956 to 1959 may be attributed to his own personality or to the different pressure groups at court. Nevertheless his failure to respond in a moderate and consistent fashion to Hutu demands was an important element in turning the Europeans and counter-elite against him. Not believing in his own myth, he destroyed the faith of others in it.
The Tutsi elite had a powerful case and presented it subtly. They decried conflict between imiryango, lineages, as destructive of unity — a fact the northern Hutu were coming to acknowledge — but by imiryango they referred to ‘abatutsi, abahindiro, abega, abahutu’ with complete confusion of level, class and clan; the mwami was father of them all. To escape from the trap the Hutu tended to use the word ubwoko, clan or tribe, and spoke of Gatutsi, Gahutu and Gatwa to underline historic differenees of race and caste by reference to the eponymous ancestors.
The Conseil Supérieur met frorn 9 to 12 June 1958 to consider the cursory findings of the commission on the Hutu-Tutsi ‘problem’. It declared that no such problem existed and that henceforth ethnic designations should disappear from official documents. ‘The enemies of the country shall not succeed. Moreover the entire country has come together to seek out the bad tree that had produced the bad fruits of division, warned the king. ‘When it is found, it will be cut down, uprooted and burnt; it will be made to disappear and nothing will remain of it’.
The position of the institutional Church in the face of mounting racialism and nationalism was awkward. It was plain that Independence would leave the Church internally weakened by conflict between
Hutu and Tutsi clergy, and externally attacked by a triumphant court which wanted to dismiss the missionaries as colonialists. While sympathising with the aspirations of APROSOMA and MSM, and relatively happy in a discourse which dealt in social categories, most Church leaders were loath to get on to the dangerous ground of race. Gitera, who was capable of invoking the Trinity and threatening to castrate all Tutsi in the course of a single letter, frightened them. Monsignor Bigirumwami spoke out boldly in Match and July 1958 about the demands of justice. His pastorals decried those in authority who had ‘a baleful tendency to make use of if improperly to their own advantage’. ‘How much more does someone who allows an innocent man to be condemned deserve the anger of God,’ he wrote in reference to the widespread Tutsi abuse of the courts. But by September developments led him to write an article for Témoignage Chrétien placing his authority behind the national unity line of the Consei1. His argument was more tellingly couched in social terms and contained a measure of truth; in the past considerable inter-marriage had taken place between Hutu and Tutsi, he declared, so the difference could not be important. Secondary education was not the privilege of one racial group but of the new independent class, so why were the Hutu complaining? Was he not himself the member of a Hutu clan, the Gesera, but of royal blood? The facts were accurate but the social mobility he spoke of had ended with European rule when Hutu and Tutsi became closed castes.
The tempo of events in Belgian territories accelerated towards the end of 1958. Prince Louis Rwagasore, determined on immediate independence for Burundi, pushed UPRONA into a more nationalist stance. In the Congo Lumumba founded the Mouvement National Congolais, which broke away from the narrow Bakongo politics of ABAKO, moving towards a more radical nationalism. With a new PSC-Liberal coalition in Belgium, and Maurice van Hemeirijck as Colonial Minister, a man able to sympathise with the urgency and intensity of African nationalist sentiment, the question of decolonisation was no longer in doubt, only the timing.
Thanks to the Buisseret administration’s reduction of subsidies to Church schools, the close relationship between Church leaders and Belgian officials came to an end in the Congo. But in Rwanda the language division between Flemish and French-speaking Belgians had the unexpected result of cementing ties between local administrators and missionaries. Despite Rwanda’s early experiments in elections the territory was looked on as something of a rural back-water where the less able could serve out their time in tranquillity. Jean-Paul Harroy, who was responsible to the Governor General for Ruanda-Urundi, thought along lines that ran from his headquarters in Bujumbura through Katanga to Leopoldville. A French-speaking Freemason, he tended to relegate Flemish and Catholic administrators to Rwanda, keeping the ‘bright young men’ for service in Bujumbura.” So the Rwandan administration had much in common with the young missionaries, and took to their protégés, the Hutu leaders, more readily than to the Tutsi. The superciliousness of the Tutsi, even their height, easily evoked a class reaction in men who had experienced discrimination in their own country and who had a respect for the peasant virtues.
Pressure from the local Ruanda-Urundi administration, which seems to have heeded the Catholic chorus in Kinyamateka, convinced the Colonial Ministry by November 1958 ‘of the necessity for bold and profound reforms’. Mosmans wrote from Brussels, ‘They are now therefore distinctly partisans of a real and quite definite democratisation which they want brought about fast.’ This was a defeat for Rudahigwa, who spent his time at the Brussels exhibition trying to convince the Colonial Ministry that no Hutu-Tutsi problem existed. He had seen the Jesuit Bishop, Monsignor Guffens, who was in charge of the Congolese pavillon, and complained bitterly of the way some clergy were compromising the Catholic Church in Rwanda. The days of the mwami’s alliance with an anti-clerical Liberal Minister for the Colonies against a common enemy, the White Fathers, were over; he now faced the peril of Catholic administrators, reformist missionaries and educated Hutu.
Although the Belgians decided that Rudahigwa should ‘reign and not rule’, the decision was difficult to implement. Apart from the peasantry, he had the support of 40 per cent of the leading chiefs, mainly those who had passed through Nyanza in the early days. The Astridiens, tired of paying an annual tribute of cows to keep their pasture lands, wanted his power reduced, but rising Hutu militancy had driven several back into the ranks of the conservatives. The number of Africans in the lower administrative ranks rose sharply from 782 in 1955 to 1,221 in 1959; they were mostly Astridiens, and many were opposed to the Nyanza old guard, with its traditionalist rhetoric. The Tutsi progressive moderates were in Begian employment; the easy way out of the perils of court intrigue was to find European patronage.
The leaders of the Tutsi conservatives were predictably the insecure chiefs of the north-west, Rwangombwa and Kayihura, who had the most to lose from Hutu emancipation, and Mungalurire. They formed an Association des Eleveurs Ruandais (ASSERU) as a counter to MSM and called on the Tutsi Abbés at Nyundo to support them. By concentrating on an anti-colonialist platform they and the mwami were tapping a rich vein of support in the countryside. The interference of Belgian agricultural officers was irksome and humiliating to the peasants, and memories of the unreformed Belgians of 1943-45 were
still keen. Thousands of coffee plants were pulled up around Ruhengeri in November 1958 as a protest against lines imposed by the agricultural department for infringements of regulations. Two months later schoolteachers at Zaza came out on strike because their wages were paid late by the mission.
The Hutu propagandists worked hard in Kinyamateka and Temps Nouveaux d’Afrique to draw the fire towards the Tutsi landowners. The MSM statutes were published in November, and Hutu efforts were rewarded by the first official recognition of their movernent on 1 December. ‘My first affirmation will be that a problem exists,’ declared Harroy. Assuredly, as the mwami Mutara pointed out in his speech, it is simplistic and dangerous to entitle it, baldly, the Tutsi-Hutu conflict. But in this country of inequality of conditions a problern undeniably exists. Good sense and enlightened self-interest had prevailed in the Colonial Ministry; but the recognition was long overdue. By the end of 1958 Harroy’s statement that the division in Rwandan society was between ‘rich and poor, capitalists and labourers, governed and governors’ appeared simply trite. The counter-elite could name those who got the scholarships and those who sat in judgement on their poor relatives; they saw the cleavage as between Hamite and Bantu, and they were beginning to force the political pace, imposing their definition of the problems.
With the return of Kayibanda and Munyangaju to Rwanda in October 1958 the Hutu movement was given a tighter organisation and more calculating leadership. Communication in the mountainous terrain remained a difficulty; only Bicamumpaka owned a car, though many of the Tutsi chiefs had vehicles in varying states of dilapidation. Only Church organisations were available to the counter-elite, and they made use of the Press and lay associations in an unofficial manner for propaganda and recruitment. Kayibanda was able to extend his contacts through TRAFIPRO and the Association des Moniteurs; as head of the Legion of Mary, which had praesidia throughout Rwanda, he could discuss the MSM programme with Hutu members after the prayers and official business. Major Catholic events brought the counter-elite together, and the first memories of serious discussion amongst the Gitarama, Save and northern Hutu were from the celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Save mission. Members of Kayibanda’s class at seminary, Abbé Apollinaire and Deogratias Rugerenyange, with Anastase Makuza, formed a natural group of friends. The attractive, warm personality of Bicamumpaka and the age of Gitera assured them a place, and Kayibanda was a frequent visitor to Rwaza.
The Leopoldville riots of January 1959 and the subsequent government declaration that the Congo would be led ‘without precipitous haste’ to independence alerted the Church in Rwanda to the impending crisis. Monsignor Bigirumwami, who returned from Brussels that month, had the difficult task of putting a brake on the Nyundo Tutsi caucus and arresting the growing polarisation of his clergy into two hostile camps. But the middle ground had disappeared. The Bugoyi Tutsi took Bigirumwami’s 1957 statements about exactions and injustice to be pro-Hutu, and called on the CMS to send them a Protestant Bishop from Uganda. The mwami become a close friend of Dr Joe Church at Gahini; the threat of widespread Tutsi defection was real and worrying to those reared, like Bigirumwami, on the dictum ‘outside the Church there is no salvation’. Learned Tutsi Abbés, like Janvier Mulenzi, began broadcasting a moderate version of the conservatives’ case, and the Bishop of Nyundo no longer knew which way to turn.
Monsignor Perraudin was more decided and had the conviction to press his viewpoint home. A joint pastoral letter issued on 11 February 1959 bore the mark of conflicting and divergent opinions resolved by compromise in favour of Perraudin. There was an ardent appeal for reform: ‘Christian morality demands that the authorities should be at the service of all the community and not only one section, and that they should be attached with a particular devotion and by all possible means to the emancipation and cultural, social and economic development of the mass of the population. The idea of class warfare was rejected, but the legitimate interests of the different classes in society were accepted as worthy of promotion; at the same time a warning was given that ‘the diversity of social groups and above all of races risks degenerating into baleful divisions’. The admission that a racial element existed was offset by a moving call to forget ethnic differences in the higher unity of the Catholic Church.
However, from the Christian point of view, racial differences must dissolve into the higher unity of the Communion of Saints. Christians, to whatever race they belong, share more than brotherhood; they participate in the same life of Jesus Christ and have the same Father in Heaven. Whoever excludes from his affection a man of another race than his own when he says ‘Our Father’ is truly not calling on the Father that is in Heaven, and he will not be heard. There is no Church by race; there is only the Catholic Church.
The pastoral was easily seen as pro-Hutu in its call for reform and dangerously anti-Tutsi in its calculated undermining of the conservatives’ rhetoric. ‘In our Ruanda,’ Perraudin wrote, ‘social differences and inequalities are for the large part linked to racial differences, in the sense that, on the one hand riches, and, on the other, political and even judicial power, are in reality to– a considerable degree in the hands of people of the same race.’ The White Fathers had come out officially in favour of the MSM analysis, though in moderate and unexceptionable language.
Unfortunately the political evolution of Rwanda had reached a point where the language of theology and common sense was heard as the language of the coloniser, and the Church qua institution was unable to direct or moderate the course of events. The Bishop wrote to his clergy, appealing to them to refrain from partisan politics and emphasising that the social and economic organisation of society was the sole prerogative of the State. Headmasters of secondary schools were requested to give pupils in the top forms copies of the pastoral and to run sessions on Catholic social teaching before they went home on holiday. It was too late; social justice had become a Hutu rallying cry, whilst the conservatives successfully posed as fiery radical nationalists against the background of Lumumba in the Congo. Tracts produced by the nationalists, signed ‘Abatabazi‘ — the saviours of Rwanda who died on her soil — began to circulate denouncing APROSOMA. The Hutu in Ruhengeri were taking the law into their own hands and expropriating large tracts of Tutsi-controlled pasture land. Twa guards appeared at the side of Tutsi at Save on Christmas Day 1958 when rumours spread that the Hutu were about to attack. It was impossible for the Rwandan clergy not to take sides and most improbable that the White Fathers’ neutrality would be more than superficial.
The essential defect of the Church’s official position was woolly thinking about its institutional relationship to politics. The orthodox position was to assert that the Church as moral teacher had a right to comment on the social content of politics. And when it came to racism it could be argued that this right became a duty. Yet Pope Pius XI and the early articles in L’Ami insisted that the Church could coexist with any political structure. Older clergy solved the problem by agreeing that the Church had the right to comment on specific violations of the moral law within a political system, yet no right to criticise the system as a whole. Younger men who had watched the Nazis hypnotise the German Church were disturbed by this limitation. Father Adriaenssens had this to say about the Rwandan crisis: ‘It is not a matter of simply advocating some tampering with [society], or partial reforms that do not go to the root of the evil. The Church must aim at a veritable transformation of the social system.’
However much Adriaenssens might argue to himself that this was the logic of Catholic social teaching, it was nonetheless a radical departure from the traditional position of the Church. ‘Revolution‘ had once meant a total personal transformation in Christ. The benign patriarchs who formed the terminus ad quem of Pagès’, Kagame’s and indeed the CMS’s social morality were men who had undergone this metanoia, this Christian revolution. There was a difference between the view which saw structure and system as morally neutral, with the individual as the custodian of social ethics, and the new
‘social Catholicism’ of the Jocistes and recently arrived European priests. The mwami was right when he complained to Guffens that the Church, as he had been taught to see it, was being compromised.
Behind this social-individual distinction in thinking and the attempts to gloss over its import was the more profound equivocation which at one instant identified the Church with clergy and laity in communion with their Bishop and, the next, equated the Church with its hierarchy alone. When the laity formed political parties ‘in the light of their Catholic Faith, and through these furthered the interests of the institutional Church, it could be denied that ‘the Church’ was involved in politics. But when such parties or movements set Catholic against Catholic it was not thought incongruous to appeal that dissensions ‘in the Church’ come to an end. It was not only an inadequate theology of incarnation but sheer naivety to expect the clergy to refrain from committing themselves to a particular interpretation of events, and like all men seeking the political kingdom, even without formal membership of a political party.
Neither Bishop Bigirumwami nor Perrauclin could ultimately escape political issues to find sanctuary in the civitas dei. The days when Monsignor Classe could put the Church’s authority squarely behind the ruling class and enjoy the esteem of one ‘above politics’ were past. In times of political and social crisis, and especially in the holistic cultural environment of African societies, the Church, dogged by a mystifying Western philosophy, reaped the rewards of its inauthenticity. The Bishops were obliged to respond rather than lead and to suffer the taunts of the politically motivated who interpreted moderation as pusillanimity and positive social teaching as factionalism.
If it is true to say that the CMS came to support the conservative ‘nationalists’, then it was true to the same degree that the Catholic Church was pro-Hutu. The CMS, with its public school, Cambridge and army background leant naturally towards the Tutsi aristocracy, personality and culture.” As Father Adriaenssens admitted to the Superior General, ‘almost everyone is susceptible to the Tutsi physique and manners for a certain time’. The personal preferences of missionaries, based on class and social attitudes developed in Europe, determined reactions to Rwanda’s social problems as much as pastorals and directives. As late as 1959 the CMS could conceive of no other future for Rwanda than a Tutsi-dominated one: ‘They have an innate capacity to rule born of centuries of experience. Will it be selfish, domineering, cruel and corrupt as in the past, or will it be in the highest interests of all, enlightened and pure?’ Ruanda Notes wanted to know. Most of the Catholics had left this position behind in the late 1940s; the difference was that they were socially, and therefore politically, more heterogeneous than the CMS.
In the months before Rudahigwa’s death Monsignor Perraudin struggled to hold his vicariate together. The Belgian administration, stalled by foot-dragging in Leopoldville, found it difficult to put the Colonial Minister’s plans into practice.” Gitera petitioned both Van Hemelrijck and King Baudouin, and there was a general hardening in the position of the conservatives and the counter-elite. Munyangaju and Gitera, in a vernacular tract, Idjwi [ijwi:ndlr] rya rubanda rugufi (The voice of the small people), were now aiming at the heart of Tutsi supremacy, the potent symbol of Kalinga, the dynastic drum of the Nyiginya. The drum was believed to be festooned with the dried genitalia of defeated abahinza and to contain in mystical fashion the power of kingship; scarcely a more evocative target for Hutu resentment could be imagined. Moreove, by concentrating on historical symbols the Hutu were able to push the newspaper debate back into traditional categories more vulnerable than the populist language of Tutsi nationalism. Rudahigwa took the attack quite literally, and secretly sent the drum off to a hiding place from where it was finally smuggled out of the country some months later.
The mwami was drinking heavily by 1959 and seemed to be expecting deposition. Apart from his chaplain, he had little contact with the White Fathers, not seemed to want it. With Lumumba calling for the disappearance of ethnic differences and denouncing ‘saboteurs‘ of national independence in the Congo, the White Fathers’ mission in Rwanda appeared not only anti-Independence but anti-unity. When the Belgian Groupe de Travail, a parliamentary delegation investigating the political situation, toured the country from April to May 1959 a strong lobby of Tutsi complained to them that the Catholic mission Press was deliberately sowing discord. Whereas in the Congo the Church was simply one facet of a many-sided problem, in Rwanda, which lacked a settler voice of significance and the complexities of multi-tribal polities, the Church was omnipresent: on the hills, in the schools and training colleges, leading co-operatives and mutualités, influencing the évolués and the bakuru b’inama, nudging the administrators and chiefs and ready with advice in Bujumbura, LeopolcIville and Brussels. The Church had no legions, its members fought on different sides, but the Tutsi did not under-estimate its importance in 1959 as a factor in the political equation.
The official Church stolidly maintained its apolitical stance, but its members had long since toppled over into partisanship. Temps Nouveaux d’Afrique replied archly to Tutsi accusations: the Catholic Press ‘will always struggle for the truth and will never drag the poor in the mud to merit the graces of the rich’. Battle had been joined. When the mwami died of a cerebral haemorrhage in Bujumbura on 25 July 1959 it was rumoured that the White Fathers had plotted his murder with the connivance of the Belgians. Shortly after, a truck driven by a Brother carrying Kinyamateka from Kabgayi to Nyanza was stopped on the road and stoned, on the hills around the capital, medals were snatched from catechumens and Christians had their rosaries torn from them by monarchists.
The new mwami, twenty-four-year-old Jean-Baptiste Ndahindurwa, a son of Musinga who had studied at Astrida, was proclaimed in a tense scene at Rudahigwa’s grave without any reference to the Belgian authorities. Eye witnesses reported that the Belgians’ Congolese troops were each shadowed by Twa court agents, and any attempt to stop the proclamation would probably have resulted in bloodshed. This minor Tutsi coup heralded Rwanda’s descent into civil war. On 15 August 1959 the northern Tutsi chiefs joined with conservative nationalists at court and Muslim merchants in the few towns to form the Union Nationale Rwandaise (UNAR). A half-Congolese Hutu educated by the Josephites who had spent much time with Musinga during his exile, was selected as president; François Rukeba was something of a soldier of fortune, but it was a canny appointment to give the lie to Hutu propaganda.
At its firstpublic meeting in September UNAR demonstrated the degree to which the nationalists had become estranged from the Church.
Swahili traders toured Kigali in their cars and vans, calling on people to fight those dividing Rwanda, while trucks picked up people coming out of mass to take them to Nyamirarnbo market. Rukeba is reported to have said sarcastically amid much applause, ‘You have all come without being called by the Bapadri.’ Chef Kayihura attacked the missionary monopoly of education. will no longer be admissible, he is alleged to have said, ‘for Banyarwanda children to know the history of Napoleon and know nothing of the conquests of Rwabugiri.’ This was the full-blooded language of nationalism, of Lumumba and Fanon. There were cries of ‘À bas les blancs.’ À bas les missionaires!’ and Benebikira were mocked in the street. A week later UNAR members heckled the preacher at mass in Gitarama, and there were some scuffles. About three thousand people were present at the UNAR meeting, and it was apparent that the party, with its financial superiority, access to typewriters, cars and lorries, and its monopoly of nationalist rhetoric, would be able rapidly to broaden its base to form a mass organisation. However, its strength lay in the towns among those who, like the Swahili petty merchant capitalists, had become politicaliy aware under the economic restraints of Belgian rule, and its rump of old conservatives representing the vestiges of the feudal economy was a liability.
The mwami’s death heightened tension within the Church. Seminarians, politically active since the publication of the Bahutu manifesta had been leaving to join the struggle, some to Kayibanda’s ranks, others to the Jesuits. In a desperate attempt to paper over the cracks Monsignor Perraudin called a synod at Nyakibanda seminary. After stormy scenes he was able to persuade Bishop Bigirumwami, now pushed into the UNAR camp by his clergy, to sign a joint letter to Catholics in Rwanda; like communiqués after the breakdown of diplomatic talks, it was aimed at minimising conflict and avoided substantive issues. The two Bishops asserted their authority and appealed for unity in the Church; Christ had formed umuryango umwe (one lineage) and mankind came from inda imwe (one womb); men were truc brothers. In as much as the UNAR presented itself as Abashyirahamwe b’Urwanda — those putting Rwanda together — the letter might be interpreted as a minor victory for the Tutsi Abbés. Similarly, the Catholic view of the dynastic drum, Kalinga, presented in the pastoral was something of a rebuff to APROSOMA and Gitera’s campaign; considered as a flag, the drum itself was declared to be unobjectionable, though the human remains were offensive. The idea that Kalinga contained the power of kingship was criticised, but this was beside the point once it was acknowledged by the Church to be a symbol of the nation. The clergy was informed of the decision about Kalinga in a letter to which Perraudin appended his episcopal SOS call: ‘Communism is not a myth but a sad reality. Very serious enquiries have shown that it has already infiltrated into our regions.’ The reference was doubtless to Monsieur Poelart, who could be found clapping enthusiastically at UNAR meetings.
On 19 August a joint pastoral of the Bishops of the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, which had been in preparation for some time, was issued. Another attempt to rise above local disputes, it approved in general terms of Independence, quoting Pius XII’s Fidei Donum on the necessity of political liberty. The Belgians, of course, had already decided to grant independence. Positive leadership, rather than ratification of government policy, came in a small section which bore Monsignor Perraudin’s imprint. ‘The fate of the little ones, the poor, the still numerous disinherited masses, must be the first priority of the authorities…Social, political or economic evolution which favours a minority, or neglects the well-being of a large part of the people, would create an unjust and unacceptable situation’. Politics, it was declared again, did not escape from the realm of morality, and a final appeal was made for the development of a strong middle class. It was a shot across UNAR’s bows, and the influence of ‘social Catholicism’ was apparent.
One day after the first UNAR meeting, and with what Lemarchand called ‘almost indecent haste’, the Rassemblement Démocratique Ruandais (RADER) was formed. It was headed by Chief Bwanakweri and Lazare Ndazaro, a protégé of the Belgians who had spent some time in Brussels. Another familiar figure was Rwigemera, the modernist of the late 1930s. The party represented the progressive Astridiens and Belgian employees, a last bid by Father Dejemeppe and the Belgians to create an inter-racial party which would consolidate the ‘middle class’, the dependants of colonial administration and missions. RADER was several years too late and had no natural constituency beyond the elite.
The UNAR attack on Catholic schools, contained in its manifesto and presented at its meetings, was a serious error of judgenaent. While there was resentment at the Eurocentric and authoritarian teaching in mission schools, there was no revolt among pupils. It was educated Rwandans looking back on their barefoot days who put another interpretation on phrases like monkeys’ which once had seemed innocuous. Though some wished for the psychological liberation of rejecting all that was European-given, others did not need to deny the Church’s clumsy efforts towards their emancipation. The Church in Rwanda had ridden out the Buisseret administration, and the UNAR attack was one that tended to unite Tutsi, Hutu and White Father clerics against an affront to their authority in the State. The crowd might roar ‘Down with the Fathers’ in the heat of the moment, but, if they reflected, it was clear that the Church had been mediator of all
graces, especially the grace of salaried white-collar jobs.
UNAR’s anti-clericalism gave Monsignor Perraudin sufficient leverage to get the Bishop of Nyundo’s signature to an emotional joint letter condemning the party as anti-Catholic and under ‘influences communisantes et islanaisantes.’More revealing of the Bishop’s thinking were the following sentences:
The UNAR party seems to wish to monopolise patriotism on its behalf and to say that those who are not with them are against the country. This tendency strongly resembles the national socialism that other countries have known and which has done them so much harm.
It may be that Perraudin — like Bishop de Hemptinne, who once spoke of black Zionism — was looking round for any club to beat an Independence movement; it seems more likely in the light of his experiences that he was drawing on a European model in a serious fashion. To Father Boutry and other French priests the Rwandan monarchists seemed comparable to Action Française, the French Catholic fascist movement of the 1920s ultimately condemned by the Pope.
Despite the warning against UNAR, six of the Tutsi Josephites at Kabgayi joined the party, so strongly did they feel the White Fathers to be a colonial agency. Gitera, however, leapt on the statements as a sign of the Church’s biessing on APROSOMA. Addressing large crowds at Save, he called on the people to applaud the courageous gesture of the Vicars Apostolic in condemning Kalinga as idolatrous superstition. They had said nothing of the sort. With the realisation that the Church was now in the political arena, the two Bishops took the opportunity to reassert their neutrality by issuing a warning against the racism of APROSOMA and a protest against the way they had been used as an umbrella for Gitera’s fanaticism. Only a letter of apology from Gitera after the meeting restrained Perraudin from placing APROSOMA under a full-scale ban.
In October 1959 Kayibanda moved on from MSM to form the Parti du Mouvement de l’Emancipation Hutu (MDR-PARMEHUTU) with the blessing of Chanoine Ernotte and Father Endriatis and the support of most of the Hutu Abbés. The dialectical conflict between elite and counter-elite had flow reached the point where Kayibanda was talking of Independence, though under a constitutional monarchy; UNAR was including some land reforms and a call for higher education in its programme. Since Bishop Perraudin made Abbé Kalibwami editor of Kinyamateka, there were limits to what Kayibanda could get printed. But PARMEHUTU was showing the effects of Kayibanda’s organisational talents; the party worked on a cell basis reminiscent of the Legion of Mary, with a propagandist on most hills. The Association des Moniteurs provided him with a second
network among the Hutu teachers. Nonetheless, able neither to activate clientship ties, except in the north, nor use the emotive language of kingship and unity, the party had only patchy grassroots support, with its main centres around Gitarama and Ruhengeri, where land shortage or lineage aliegiance aided the Hutu.
The Belgians decided to remove the northern Tutsi chiefs, Kayihura, Rwangombwa and Mungalurire, on 17 October 1959, on the ground that they had abused their positions by inciting people to violence at UNAR meetings. The fact that the Tutsi politicians held traditional office enabled the Belgians to stifle them by claiming that as government agents they had no right to engage in political action. A group of two hundred men descended on the Kigali Residence to protest about the depositions, and were finally dispersed with tear gas, leaving one dead. Tension was high, with rumours circulating and new tracts appearing daily; Perraudin and the RADER leaders, Bwanakweri and Ndazaro, were singled out on one UNAR hand hill as enemies of the people ‘to be made to disappear by all possible means’. Anything Belgian or White Father was suspect; hosts were said to poison people and DDT to kill crops. An anti-tuberculosis team was rumoured to make people sterile; schoolchildren fled from Zaza school to escape them. Around the missions it was bruited that an all-Tutsi vicariate was to be formed by dividing Nyundo. The rejection of the European presence and the assertion of Tutsi Independence was soon translated from the symbolic world of rumour to the real world of violence in which the Hutu were the only acceptable victims. In the first few days of November Abbé Joseph Sibomana and Dominique Mbonyamutwa, both old MSM leaders, were attacked. Kayibanda went into hiding; it was generaliy thought that UNAR was going to crush PARMEHUTU by selective assassination of its leaders. It looked as if Rwanda was entering a period of nationalist struggle, with the PARMEHUTU and RADER parties acting as European quislings.
The peasant revolt against the Tutsi that began on 3 November 1959 broke with the spontaneity and intensity of a tropical thunder-storm. Beginning in Ndiza and Bumbogo, the centres of the worst Tutsi repression during the aftermath of the Ndungutse rising, it spread t Kisenyi and Ruhengeri, tracing in reverse the path of the old Nyabingi prophets into regions of ancient clan autonomy and recent land shortage. Anarchic in its conduct, the revolt was pre-dominantly monarchist in its ideology. Groups of ten men led by a ‘president’ with a whistle, blazed a trail of destruction across the hills until, either exhausted or drunk, they handed on, relay fashion, to another group, who continued the burning of Tutsi huts. In Ruhengeri not a single Tutsi habitation was spared. The Hutu raiders were recruited ‘on orders from the mwami’, and so firmly convinced were some of official sanction that they stopped at the Residence to ask for
petrol. The idea that the king had called for the destruction of the Tutsi, or was held prisoner by them, was widespread among the incendiarists. If PARMEHUTU propagandists did organise groups, this must have been a very minor part of a movernent that spread rapidly across the country, leaving several hundred dead, and thousands of Tutsi as refugees. In some areas Tutsi with their garagu and subjects put up resistance and fought off the attackers, but this was not widespread.
The raids which had been sparked off by the attacks on Hutu leaders took the Tutsi by suprise. At Nyanza spearmen formed a human wall around the mwami’s house, and the Twa are said to have been dispatched to seek out and kill prominent members of the counter-elite. As the Belgians were slowly restoring the country to a semblance of order on 7 and 8 November wall posters entitled Declaration of the authentic Rwandans’ appeared. Just as the court ritualists had directed State policies in the past, so it was imagined the power of PARMEHUTU could be traced back to its éminence grise, Monsignor Perraudin. The posters now declared the enemies of Rwanda to be Kayibanda and ‘his chief Monseigneur Perraude[sic]’.
Banyarwanda! These are the men who are betraying Rwanda today; these are the men who wish to keep us in the slavery introduced to the country by the Belgians; these are the men who under the presidency of Perraude have held councils at Kabgayi with a plan to kill His Majesty our Kigeli V Ndahindurwa in order to displace the monarchy in Rwanda and keep us in slavery.
The prime menace was again the White Fathers; the Tutsi, on the edge of the Church again, as in the 1920s, could see the Hutu as nothing but the priests’ passive clients.
The mission stations, both Catholic and Protestant, were turned into sanctuaries for escaping Tutsi, and a number of Fathers had to bring out their hunting rifles to frighten off Hutu mobs. Perraudin and Bigirumwami immediately issued a joint pastoral on 6 November appealing for calm and charity and denouncing all violence. Perraudin was shocked by the ferocity of the Jacquerie and by the campaign implicating him in it. He immediately went to see Ndahindurwa to seek his assurance that the king was not responsible for the posters; the mwami told him that the Swahili had written them. This was possible: the Muslim traders had suffered more titan most from the Catholic monopoly of education, and the Catholic Press had even run a successful campaign against Sunday commerce. The co-operative movement, sponsored by the Church, threatened their position as capitalist entrepreneurs, and their future in a Catholic Rwanda was uninviting.
On 8 November Bishop Perraudin wrote a letter to Rome which dernonstrates how little he fultilled the revolutionary role assigned him in Tutsi diatribes.
We are all of us deeply broken-hearted by this civil war — one must call it by its rightful name which has broken out…The atmosphere is heavy with hatred, panic and vengeance. .. I am very saddened by these attacks, above all because they paralyse my freedom of action. I don’t set much store by my personal safety, and I offer this up for our poor Rwanda, but the Christians are certainly suffering from it al1.
This was hardly the letter of a man pushing ruthlessIy for a Catholic Hutu republic. Two days later news that the Vatican had formaIly instituted the Catholic hierarchy in the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi came through. The Rwandan vicariates were no longer ruled by Vicars Apostolic but by Archbishop Perraudin and Bishop Bigirumwami as head of two dioceses of a local Church. Elite indigenous Church had come of age, and the missionary task was essentially finished, but in bloodshed and anarchy and with the Church racked by divisions.
APROSOMA, RADER and PARMEHUTU reacted to the UNAR attack on Perraudin by sending a letter to Pope John XXIII branding the ‘nationalist’ party as totalitarian and denouncing its ‘fascist intentions’. The letter coincided with a directive from Perraudin which identified the Church’s enernies as ‘communists’: ‘Communism is active. Satan is alive.’ The note of hysteria is explained by continuing personal attacks on the Archbishop from UNAR activists outside Rwanda. Protestants spoke of him as ‘l’impie éveque’, while others calumnied the Catholic Press as divisive, aimed at the removal of the mwami in favour of a minority goverment. In a petition to the United Nations in May 1960 Perraudin replied to the accusations; he was preceded by Abbé Jean-Baptiste Gahamanyi, a Tutsi, who wrote to refute the charges in a remarkable gesture of solidarity.
The Jacquerie of November 1959 nonetheless drove another wedge between Hutu and Tutsi clergy; more than twenty-one Tutsi chiefs and 332 sub-chiefs had left their positions by the time the trouble died clown.'” ‘If, at the beginning, there could be found a fairly wide range of opinion amongst the Tutsi clergy,’ wrote Adriaenssens, ‘as the Hutu movement gained ground a regrouping took place which will doubtless end by their being gathered, almost all of them, in a single group. Abbés Thomas and Alexandre Ruterandongozi fled from Rwanda to Tanzania to organise support for UNAR outside the country. Monsignor Bigirumwami, seeing in the revolt the outcome of the White Fathers’ social catholicism, swung over to the conservative nationalists, and the Governor had to reprimand him for his opposition to Belgian policy. When the UN trusteeship delegation visited Nyundo in March 1960 the roads were lined with PARMEHUTU supporters all the way to the mission grounds, where a large crowd of
several thousand, including a number of schoolchildren accompanied by European and African nuns, were voicing pro-UNAR sentiments demanding Independence, at the same time as other demonstrators were shouting anti-Tutsi slogans. Because of its large preponderance of Tutsi clergy and religious, Nyundo had become a UNAR island in a PARMEHUTU sea; the European Sisters were faithfully following their Bishop, but even in the missionaries ranks there were genuine UNAR supporters.
Monsignor Perraudin struggled to restore the Church’s neutrality and moral authority, narrowly missing death during one tour of his stations when his car broke down at Gahini and a Tutsi crowd recognised him. Tutsi Abbés were withdrawn from the Conseil Superieur and a more hard-line Tutsi, Abbé Ntezimana, put in charge of Kinyamateka. Deeply wounded by events, Perraudin was inclined to retreat from further commitment to the Hutu cause. But even had he been willing to press Catholic social policy more actively, matters were now out of his hands. The Jacquerie had imposed its own dynamic on the pace of political change.
Political developments following the revolt were dominated by three major factors: a resolute bias on behalf of the Hutu by the Special Resident of Rwanda, a Catholic Social democrat, Colonel Bem Logiest, the increasing sophistication of the PARMEHUTU propaganda, and the success of Kayibanda’s men on the hills at a time when hundreds of new sub-chieftancies were becoming available. In December 1959 the Flemish Residents in Ruhengeri simply took teachers from the Catholic schools and made them sub-chiefs. Logiest was convinced that the Tutsi regime was oppressive, and the presence of his para-troopers held counter-revolution in check. At last the phantom communists materialised; Michel Rwagasana, the UNAR delegate to the United Nations, was detained in Kampala by the British and found to be carrying communist literature. Even if UNAR had not yet turned to Lumumba’s MNC on the other side of Lake Kivu, it seemed only a matter of time before they would try. The Belgians’ worst fears were confirmed when it was discovered that the mwami had been trying to enlist Russian support.
PARMEHUTU propaganda on the hills focused on the issues of ibikingi and igisati, genuine peasant grievances against Tutsi land-owners. At the national level the Hutu took over the language of nationalism and anti-colonialism and turned it successfully against UNAR. The mwami became ‘the Tutsi sultan’ again, just as in the old mission documents when Musinga was behaving badly; the ruling class were ‘colonialists of the Ethiopian race‘ who were invited to return to ‘their fathers in Abyssinia’. What was once legitimation now was condemnation; the structural transformation was complete.
The fact of independence for the Hutu people vis-a-vis Tutsi colonialism will be definitely and solemnly consecrated by the total abolition of the triple myth of the Tutsi feudal colonialists, ‘Kalinga-Abiru-mwami’.
The Hutu had become a Bantu people in the face of an Hamitic invader. Gitera spoke wildly of ‘hitlerisme’ and ‘hamitisme’, spoiling his rhetoric by claiming to be the mwami of the Hutu and Kayibanda their Imana.
Despite the fact that PARMEHUTU was still only a loose congeries of local parties over which Kayibanda exerted little direct control, in an atmosphere of intimidation and violence MDR-PARMEHUTU scored a landslide victory in the July 1960 elections. The slow process of building up a national party was circumvented when, on 28 January 1961 the PARMEHUTU leadership seized power with the connivance of Logiest. Dominique Mbonyamutwa, a forty-year-old ex-teacher and Belgian company agent from Gitarama, a sub-chief since 1952 and a close friend of Kayibanda, with whom he shared the leadership of PARMEHUTU, was elected President of the new republic, with Grégoire Kayibanda as Prime Minister. Formal independence was granted by Belgium on 1 July 1961. The king, Kigeri, went into exile, PARMEHUTU having abandoned thoughts of a constitutional monarchy after their election successes. The Hutu had discovered themselves as an ethnic group in the 1950s; now they were a nation.
Whatever its intentions, the Church had presided over a dramatic transfer of power from the Tutsi noble lineages to the counter-elite of teachers and ex-seminarians. The struggle divided both indigenous and missionary Churches. At the level of doctrine it had pitted two Catholic deferices against communism, the individualist piety and institutional triumphalism of the nineteenth century, and the social Catholicisrn of the mid-twentieth. The change in Catholic social policy during the colonial period was essentially a change from one to the other — a change that threw Churchmen into a spectrum of views ranging from the patriarchate of Pagès, Classe and Kagame to the ‘total social transformation’ of Adriaenssens. It was as if the insights of Europe were delayed twenty years before making their impact on the missions. While the traditional model of atheistic communism remained the stock-in-trade of missionary fears about political movements, monarchist and fascist developments provided new reference points against which African and settler nationalism could be judged.
But perhaps the most persistent resonances were those between the late Middle Ages and colonial Rwanda, the glorious epoch of the Church, the ubiquity and inevitability of patronage, lulling the Churchmen into complacency. The churches were for ever full, with the Hutu before
the 1930s, with the added Tutsi after the Tornade, and again with Hutu after the Jacquerie had swept out the landowners. The Bishops were galvanised into action only by grave crises, the collapse at the Rwandan Church after the Second World War and the nationalism of the late 1950s.
The static organic society proved the most dangerous of myths for the Church in the post-war period; enforced modernisation had greatly modified the feudal economy of old Rwanda and given rise to a small, vociferous, anti-clerical class. After this new class had split along ethnic lines as a result of Belgian limitations on access to political office, the Hutu counter-elite alone seemed ready to move out finally from the feudal world with the aid of the social democrat clergy. Pro-Tutsi clergy were essentially trying to keep alive an anachronism. That the colonial process had not been completed, with a capitalist elite firmly in the neo-colonial net, is perhaps one reason why Belgium continued to support PARMEHUTU.
It would be easy to portray the divisions of the post-war years as a temporary aberration caused by an unfortunate conjunction of political circurnstances. But the cracks had appeared with the first squabbles between northern and central missions in 1905. Rwanda’s stratified society, the regional differences between kinship-based and feudal economies, and finally the country’s partial insertion into the colonial capitalist world, exposed the inherent contradictions in the Church’s structure and ideology which agnostic, secular Europe had been able to ignore. Social class, hardened into ethnicity, was the anvil on which the Rwandan Church was hammered. The apparently abrupt change of policies, Hutu Church to Tutsi Church, évolué to counter-elite, was not the opportunism of the Roman monolith but the result of divisions within Church and society, of conflicts an omnipresent corpus christianum could not avoid.
Rome and the Bishops made policies, but there was ultimately no decision that did not require the consent of the bush missionary for it to work, no directive that a wilful Father Superior in an isolated station could not ignore. In the 1958-61 crisis it was group loyalties, idiosyncratic preferences based on culture and history, rather than any ideal cathoficity that were the operational terms of the Church’s actions. ‘There are some who have taken to speaking badly of the mwami and who deprive him of the respect to winch he is due,’ wrote Bishop Bigirumwami in his 1960 Easter pastoral. ‘These people hate Rwanda. Those who do not respect their chiefs and refuse to obey them hate Rwanda and the Church.’ And as he wrote Hutu laymen and Abbés were comparing the ‘Tutsi sultan’ to Farouk: ‘Tell the Tutsi lords that the liberation of the Bantu people of Rwanda will soon be achieved and that Rwanda does not need the pharasaical interventions of the feudal imperialists for her Independence.’
Precisely because the Catholic Church was so successful in Rwanda, because it became Rwanda’s Church, it bore the impress of its society and its imperfections. The Word was made class-conscious, vacillating, ambitious flesh, unwilling and unable to opt out of history, however high the price. That the social catholicism of the post-war missionaries and Hutu laymen triumphed, that the egalitarian themes of basic Christianity overcame the powerful symbols of kingship and hierarchy, was ultimately thanks to Belgian paratroopers. So if was that a Rwandan republic born from the principles of social catholicism limped to Independence, taking with it the anachronism of a Tutsi-dominated and highly conservative indigenous Church.https://uk.amateka.net/ten-freedom-for-oppression-nationalism-or-social-justice/https://uk.amateka.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/file13-1-685x1024.jpeghttps://uk.amateka.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/file13-1-150x150.jpegChurch and RevolutionThe formation of political parties and independence were in the air by the end of 1956. In Leopoldville a group of Catholic intellectuals led by Abbé Joseph Malula, Joseph Ngalula and Joseph Ileo had issued a manifesto in which the eventual independence of the Congo was discussed. A largely...BarataBarata email@example.comAdministratorAMATEKA | HISTORY OF RWANDA