The Conflict Arose At The End Of 1959
In the the following, we have set out to establish correlations between changes in the principles of social organisation in the traditional Rwanda social system, the impact of new opportunities and pressures and the conflict situation which arose at the end of 1959. This conflict situation involved widespread violence and resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy before the attainment of independence from colonial rule in 1962. The violent conflict which erupted in 1959 was the result of, and its events reflected, a highly complex situation. In order to understand this situation we should first summarise some of the most important points which have emerged in the data and analysis presented in
the previous chapters.
Important regional variations between Central Rwanda and the peripheral areas have been demonstrated. These were of a demographic, ecological, political, socio-economic, religious and historical nature. Following these variations we should distinguish at one level Rwanda society as a whole, united in the traditional system under the Mwami and subject to the same forces of political, economic and social change during the period of colonial rule. At another level weshould clearly distinguish the peripheral areas from CentralRwanda in that the peripheral areas at all stages of development resisted being brought under the control of the political system of Central Rwanda.
At the level of Rwanda society as a whole, a diachronic analysis has been made of the fundamental changes which took place in the traditional Rwanda social system as a result of the impact of the Western colonial presence. Principles of social organisation making for unity under and participation in the political system and also constituting mechanisms of control in the exercise of political power and providing alternative avenues for support and the seeking of justice were either drastically changed or taken out of the social system. These changes were clearly correlated not with any developmental processes in the traditional social system but with changes imposed by external agents – the Belgian administration and the Roman Catholic Church – as a matter of agreed policy. There was not only concensus between these two powers but also between them and the favoured Tutsi aristocracy of whose innate superior qualities they were convinced and found useful.
Corresponding to these two major spheres of variation and change, the conflict stuation in Rwanda as a whole must be seen as in fact containing two distinct conflict situations. One concerns the more general situation which, applies to the whole of Rwanda but which was most clearly evident in the centre, fhe second concerns the specific issues of the peripheral areas in resistance to infiltration and control by the Central Rwanda administration.
t is our contention that the conflict situation as a whole cannot be explained wholly in ethnic terms but can only be understood if seen in relation to the profound changes in the principles of social organisation and in relation to the distinct regional variations. Before describing and analysing the open conflict situation which erupted in 1 9 5 9 We propose first to analyse these two distinct latent conflict situations.
We can distinguish two principal effects of the impact of western administrative and Church influence on the traditional Rwanda social system.
Firstly a new and changed form of political power had heen created. In the traditional system the exercise of power depended on concensus and various hierarchies operated within the political system as a whole. Under the impact of colonial rule, however, administrative, judicial and executive powers were not separated but combined in the offices of the chiefs and subchiefs. Moreover these no longer depended for the execution of their orders on concensus and support but in a coercive powers at their command. Nor were these chiefs subject to pressures from councils as no measures had been taken as late as 1956to broaden the basis of political power through the establishment of popularly elected councils to the chief and the subchief.
Thus while the abolition of many of the old institutions had resulted in the concomitant disappearance of many channels of participation in the exercise of power, no new channels were created to allow for participation in the new system of government.
A second general effect of change introduced by the external powers concerns the western selective and protectionist policy towards the tutsi aristocracy. In 1959, 100 per cent of all chiefs and 98 per cent of all subchiefs were still tutsi. Moreover opportunities for advanced education were also the virtual monopoly of the tutsi aristocracy since both church and administration reserved nearly all available places for them. In order to understand the full implications of the way in which these changes in the political system operated in thedevelopment of the conflict situation, we have to describe and analyse,
- The rigidity and frustrations which developed in the political scene through the absence of democraticchannels or representation and thus the effective elimination of competition.
2 . The development of political parties with the formulation of goals which, demonstrated the underlying conflict situation.
Ever since 1946 different U.N. commissions visiting the Trusteeship complained about “the slow rate of political progress” and advised that democratic institutions should be introduced. The 1952 commission repeated the same criticisms and stressed the urgency of reforms particularly as the chiefs exercised judicial functions in addition to their administrative
It was in 1953 that councils for the different levels of administration were created and details given as to how members on the councils had to be elected. The council of the subchief comprised the subchief as chairman plus between five and nine members on the basis of one member for every five hundred inhabitants. The members were chosen by an electoral college, whose members were appointed by the subchief. The number of voters had to be at least double the number of members of the council to be elected.
The councillors were elected for a period of three years. At the next elections in 1956, members of the electoral college were elected by popular vote of all adult males instead of being chosen by the subchief as in the 1953 elections. As a result of these 1 9 5 6 elections, Tutsi representation on the electoral college fell by 20 per cent, but at the level of the different councils the proportion of Tutsi hardly changed.
- In 1953 the “election”was on a highly restricted basis since the original voters list was drawn up by the subchief. It should be remembered that the subchief was himself a Tutsi and appointed by the administration. The elections of 1956 on the basis of adult male suffrage shovesa marked decline in Tutsi representation. At the same time however a substantial number of Hutu voters must have elected Tutsi members, as Tutsi representation on the electoral college is twice as high as their percentage in the total population. Moreover in certain areas in the centre, such as Kibuye and Astrida, Tutsi I’epresentation rose by 12 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. In northern districts such as Ruhengeri and Kisenyi, Tutsi
representation fell by more than 50 per cent. In the northern districts therefore the results registered discontentment with the disproportionate presence of Tutsi on the council whereas the same cannot be said of the centre.
Although the ubuhake system had been abolished, the Hutu leaders attributed the failure of Hutu to vote for representatives of their own group to continuing attitudes of dependency which were carried over from the traditional system in general and the ubuhake in particular.
- A second and closely related point is that whatever popular wish had been expressed at the basis of the election, this was not carried through in the subsequent elections for the higher councils. Not only was the Hutu representationnot carried through but also the increase in Hutu representation
resulting from the 1956 election was in no way substantiated on the higher councils and there was- even a decrease in Hutu representation on the Supreme Council.
In 1954 there were twenty nine Tutsi and only one Hutu onthat council. Much of this frustrating discrepancy can he attributed to the particular system of electing the council members at the different levels, which was formulated in such a way that for the council of the chief upwards, the Tutsi were necessarily in the majority. All chiefs and practically all subchiefs were Tutsi and at least half of their councils were made up of chiefs and subchiefs, thus putting them automatically in the majority. However this does not explain the almost complete absence of Hutu on the higher councils. This can only explained by Hutu membersvoting for Tutsi.
Several important points can be made with regard to this analysis of the elections.
(a) The introduction of elections onthe basis of adult male suffrage applied in the political field the same egalitarian principles as had been already applied in the abolition of the ubuhake system. The new stress on individual achievement in the economic and educational fields had followed the same pattern.
(b) The actual outcome of the elections and ex officio nominations to the various councils showed that the elections did not in fact provide avenues for the expression and redress of grievances nor did they constitute a means through which public opinion could exert pressure. From the standpoint of the Hutu leaders the elections had twice proved that the mere provision of these democratic channels were an inadequate means for the redress of major grievances in the political and social system.
(c) The failure of the majority of the Hutu population in the centre to elect emerging Hutu leaders to positions of political power forced these leaders to attribute it to the limitations put on the Hutu voters by their social environment. Although the ubuhake system had been abolished, its effects on people’s attitudes had not disappeared. More time was needed to change these attitudes and therefore independence needed to be postponed in order to have the opportunity to arouse greater Hutu group awareness. Concomitantly they were forced to formulate political and social issues in ethnic terms and claim support on ethnic grounds.
It is against this background that we must see the manifesto which was published by some of the educated Hutu in the year after the election. In this document they demanded recognition of individual rights of land-ownership as a protection against the infringement on land, by the holders of political power. They further demanded the actual promotion of Hutu to political office, modification of the composition of the councils and the abandonment of the selection practised in access to educational facilities which, especially in further education, was reserved to Tutsi.
They indicated two sources of these grievances. Firstly they blamed the old political structure of Rwanda and especial the ubuhake system. Referring to the widespread Hutu attitudes in the centre, they stipulated that “the fear, the inferiority complex and the ‘atavistic”need for a guardian are but surviving relics of the system”. There is a clear correlation between this statement and the fact that, despite the abolition of the ubuhake system, many Hutu had voted for Tutsi. Secondly they blamed the wayin which indirect rule had been applied, pointing out that some of the old institutions bad disappeared without being replaced by “corresponding institutions on a western model”. The Hutu Manifesto is basically a document complaining about the political and educational monopoly granted by the administration and the church to the aristocracy among the Tutsi and therefore the manifesto was addressed to the
Belgian administration.It moreover indicated that independence was not desired before these grievances had been corrected.
On the other hand the king and the Tutsi aristocracy were pressing for independence. The publication of the manifesto enabled the aristocracy to express the broader issues of political and social reform in terms of the struggle for independence. They made their appeal to Banyarwanda at large on the basis of traditional loyalty to and unity under the king, who should be supported in his attempt to gain early independence from colonial rule. They condemned theHutu leaders for their co-operation with the Belgian authorities in opposing independence. They castigated those who did not co-operate with the aristocracy in promoting independence as enemies of the king and of Rwanda. However the formulation of their appeal by the Tutsi aristocracy made them lose the protection of the administration on whom their whole position of monopoly was based.
Although the manifesto was addressed to the Governor of Rwanda, his answer was given only twenty two months later. The governor recognised the social issues formulated in the manifesto but restated them in economic rather than political terms. On the other hand the king and his Supreme Council rejected the Hutu manifesto as an attempt to divide the country and delay independence. This rejection was interpreted and manipulated by the Hutu leaders in termsof identification of the King with the issue of rapid independence, his agreement with the monopoly situation of the Tutsi aristocracy and anti Belgian sentiment. Hence objection to that monopoly became identified with pro-Belgianand anti-king sentiments. It was in this climate of the breaking up of the concensus between the administration andthe monopoly-holding Tutsi aristocracy that political partieswere formed around 1 9 5 9.
The signatories of the manifesto started to organize the population in the north in the Social Hutu Movement, The initial location of this movement can be correlated with other specific factors elaborated in this text which differentiated these peripheral areas from central Rwanda. It is also related to the frustration of the Hutu leaders due to the increase in Hutu representation on the electoralcollege, elected in 1956, but which did no subsequent effect on the higher councils. The aims of the Social Hutu Movement were identical with those expressed in the manifesto but developed, through the identification of the independence issue as formulated by the Hutu leaders with opposition to the king and the aristocracy, into a republican party.
In October 1959 the movement declared itself a political party, Parmehutu (Parti du movement d’Emancipation Hutu).In the centre a Hutu leader, Gitera, had in the sameyear started a reform movement along the same lines to combatsocial injustice and to press for economic reforms. It was soon drawn into politics and in 1959 proclaimed itself a political party, Aprosoma (Association pour la Promotion sociale de la masse).
In July 1959, the king suddenly died. At the grave the Supreme Council proclaimed Baptiste Ndahindurwa king, who assumed the name Kigeri V. However his proclamation was more in the nature of a coup organized by the Supreme Council than following the traditional pattern
of succession. Since the members of the Supreme Council had rejected the Hutu manifesto, the king also became identified with those who had rejected it.
In September a number of important chiefs who were also members of the Supreme Council and some Hutu formed the political party, Unar (Union nationale Ruandaise). Its president was Rukeba who was by origin Congolese and its general secretary was the Hutu, Rwagasana. The aim of Unar, as stated in its manifesto, was “to mobilise all Rwandese, regardless of ethnic origin, for the execution of a program of reform under a constitutional monarchy” and for therapid achievement of independence. It explained that the fact of Tutsi monopoly was not only due to historical reasons but also to the policy of the administering authority. It put the problem in social rather than ethnic terms andproposed a solution by democratic development. A second monarchist party was formed by Tutsi leadersin September 1959 with the special aim of drawing attentionto the majority of Tutsi who did not share the privileges of the aristocracy and who insisted on the dangers of theformation of political parties on ethnic grounds. It wasa reform party on the same lines as Parmehutu and Aprosomabut demanding similar reforms under a constitutional monarchy.
They joined the other two parties however in opposing the person of Kigeri V. The party was called Rader (Rassemblement démocratique Ruandais). Unar and Parmehutu became the two principal political parties. It is evident that the policies formulated by thevarious political parties overlap to a considerable extentin that all expressed support for democratic reform of thepolitical system. The issues between the political parties were not sufficiently clear to define the basis for obtaining support from specific groups within the population. The analysis of the development of the political parties will show how the formulation of issues of democratic reform had to be expressed in terms which enabled them to rally this support.
This links up with the particular situation of the hutu leaders. The traditional elite was essentially a political elite based on restricted membership of power holding Tutsi lineages. The elite is thus distinguished from the masses who included not only Hutu but also the vast majority of the Tutsi who were not members of the Tutsi noble lineages.
By the 1950’scriteria for membership of the elite included also educational qualifications. However following the agreed policy between the Belgian administration and the church in providing avenues for education and political power only to members of the traditional Tutsi elite, the traditional and modern criteria for elite status coincided. However a minority of men of Hutu origin had succeeded in obtaining further education in Belgium and the Congo. These Hutu leaders found themselves barred from entry intothe political elite despite their educational qualifications, on the basis of not belonging to the noble lineages. The impossibility of realising their expectations of obtaining political power which had been built up through their educational careers, forced them to interpret this exclusion in terms of their status as Hutu.
The first formulation of their 1956 electoral disillusionment by the educated Hutu leaders was not so much expressed in the formation of political parties as in the starting of reformist movements. In the first, Gitera’s movement, the aim was the reform rather than the overthrow of the political system.
The second, Kayibanda’s movement, which developed into the Parmehutu party, was from the beginning much more articulated in the way it was organised and in its stated goals. The initial Social Hutu Movement clearly formulated its claims for participation by the ethnic groups in political and educational opportunities on the basis of their numerical proportions in the population. This would clearly reverse the monopoly of these opportunities granted by the government and the Church to the aristocracy among the Tutsi. The stating of these goals was an indictment of western policy in that it had granted that monopoly to a specific group of the population and that it had removed from the traditional social system channels for participation and pressures without replacing them.
They did not simply stress tin need for corrections or reforms in the system but demanded a complete reversal of the protectionist and selective policy. They realized moreover, as the 1956 elections had shown, that even if preferential treatment was withdrawn from the Tutsi nobles, the opening of democratic channels through elections, did not necessarily mean that, in central Rwanda, Hutu were going to achieve their aims through representation on an
ethnic basis. One of the aspects of continuing Hutu attitudes which the leaders deplored was the general identification of authority with Tutsi. If the Hutu leaders were to count on general support among the Hutu population, this attitude had not only to be reformed but to be reversed in favour of the Hutu leaders. Gitera’s movement demanded reforms from those who held authority with the aim of developing a democratic kingdom, Kayibanda’s movement was
revolutionary in that it envisaged a complete change of system to be attained by electoral process and emancipating the Hutu from their ‘atavistic’ need for paternalistic protection. To realise both objectives they needed a framework within which the numerical strength of the Hutu could be rallied. They had also to provide issues which were sufficiently strong to overcome the tendency of Hutu of the centre to defer to traditional Tutsi leaders. Their stated goals and framework of organisation had therefore to be expressed in reference to the largest group whose numerical support could be effectively manipulated.
Reference to the widest group of all those excluded from positions of power, including the majority of the Tutsi, was too wide to provide a distinct issue on which potential supporters of other reformist parties could be won over. Their issues had therefore to be framed in reference to the common loyalty of Hutu and set in opposition to another group that of the Tutsi, defined in ethnic terms. Thiscoincided with the Hutu leaders interpretation of the basis for their own frustration in obtaining political power.
The Hutu leaders did not however turn against the administering authority which had given preferential treatment to the Tutsi aristobracy. On the contrary they appealed to that authority for support in achieving their own aims. This support could be given to them through instituting structural political reforms aimed at establishing a constitutional monarchy, elections at all levels of participation in political authority on the basis of universal adult suffrage and allowing them time for emancipating the Hutu; and rallying their support within the framework of their political party. The latter point meant in practical terms, a not too rapid achievement of independence. This appeal to the administration fitted well in the wider framework of the Rwanda protectionist value system. It also coincided with their aim of promoting divisions which otherwise would have been neutralised by a common and national attempt to obtain independence from the Belgian authorities in Rwanda. They dissociated themselves from any nationalist movement making for unity in an attempt to reach independence and stressed divisionary issues expressed in ethnic terms.
One result of this attitude was that the issue of refom was identified with the postponement of independence. Onversely appeals to national unity to achieve independence could be and were identified by the Hutu leaders as antireformist.
The Hutu leaders claimed that the Tutsi aristocracy wanted rapid independence only in order to retain their monopoly of political power after independence.
They claimed that the Unar party’s appeal to national unity and their denial of current divisionary issues must be interpreted as means to this end. In this way both the issues of reform and of independence were translated into ethnic terms. By opposing claims for rapid independence, the Hutu leaders were in a better position to obtain the support of the administering authorities which were under attack and whose support of the aristocracy had for the moment been withdrawn.
Not only had the concensus between the Belgian authorities and the Tutsi nobles broken up, but so also had the concensus between the Church and the favoured aristocracy.
Since 1954 the king had demanded a greater control for the government in matters of education which were almost totally, and on the levels of secondary and more advanced education totally, in the hands of the Church. Moreover whereas initially the Tutsi had been the largest group among the converts to Christianity, since 1950 the proportion had been reversed and the Hutu had come into the Church in greater numbers and-now substantially outnumbered the Tutsi. The Roman Catholic Mission who monopolised the local press through “Temps Nouveaux” and “Kinyamateka” put this monopolyat the disposal of the Hutu leaders. In 1959 in his lentenpastoral letter the archbishop drew attention to the fact that there were different social groups,
“Il-y-a dans Rwanda divers groups sociaux. Il-y-a des cultivateurs, des commerçants et artisans; il-y-s des gouvernants et gouvernés. La distinction de ces groupes provient en grande partie de la race. Dans Rwanda les differences et les inégalitées sociales sont, pour une grande partie, liées aux differences de races. Des institutions, qui consacreraient un régime de privilèges, de favoritisme, de protectionisme, ne seraient pas conformes à la morale chretienne. »
For the leading aristocracy this meant a break with theecclesiastical authorities. The Tutsi leaders accused the church Of first granting them a monopoly position ineducational opportunities and then holding this situation against them when they were no longer useful by being instrumental in bringing Hutu into the Church. This break with the Church was inevitable since the pastoral letter stressed ethnic divisions, which coincided with the party aims of the Parmehutu and clashed with the Unar party goals.
In September 1959 the catholic hierarchy addressed a circular letter to all the priests working in Rwanda condemning the Unar party by name because of its national-socialistic, communistic and islamic tendencies (C.R.I.S.F. I96I p.139).
Following the appeal of the Hutu leaders to the allegiance of Hutu as an ethnic group, Unar had to formulate its appeal for support with reference to an even wider group. This had to be on the basis of a nation-wide appeal. One basis for this was the traditional unity of all Banyarwanda under the Mwami. Another was the rallying of all Banyarwanda against the colonial government in the struggle for independence. On these terms they stigmatised the Hutu appeal to one section of the population as betraying the Mwami and the national unity required for gaining independence.
Thus the two issues of reform and independence became formulated in terms which were mutually exclusive and expressed in ethnic terms. Since claims for national unity and independence were interpreted by Hutu leaders as an expression of the aristocracy’s refusal to realise the reforms demanded, they were therefore at the same time anti-Hutu. The formulation of an opposition against an ethnic group and not against a governing class resulted in greater group awareness among the Hutu, which was the basic aim of the Hutu leaders. The manifesto of the Unar, aimed at dispelling these fears by proposing a constitutional monarchy and reforms through democratic process. This was combined with an appeal to unity, in traditional terms, in order to obtain independence. The Unar manifesto was
explained by the Hutu leaders as a device to obtain independence first, after which nothing would be changed.
The Mwami had identified himself with the independence issue and was thus thought of as being pro-Unar. This image could be conveyed all the more easily as the leaders of Unar were also members of the Supreme Council. Thus the king became identified as both anti-reformist and therefore also anti-Hutu. Other factors also favoured this stigma attached to the king by the Hutu leaders. One was the fact that after the death of the former Mwami, Kigeri V had been proclaimed by the members of the SupremeCouncil. Another was that the Mwami-ship had, since theadvent of Belgian administration and Church influence, been emptied of its ritual unifying force. Thus the Hutu leaders were able to eliminate one of the bases for the appeal of Unar in reference to the nation at large that of traditionalloyalty to the Mwami.
The movement for reform, which had started as a social movement, turned into a political party, putting issues in ethnic terms and appealing to the Hutu ethnic group. In the process it became a revolutionary and anti-monarchist party, headed by Kayibanda. A situation load developed in which aspirations were expressed less in terms of competition than in eliminating opposition. This does not only refer to the issue which focussed on the removal of the Mwami and the proclamation of a republic, Hutu leaders claimed that, if their aim was not attained, the Hutu would be held in servitude forever. The whole political issue was proposed in terms of a once and for all opportunity to lose of to gain everything and was expressed in ethnic terms. For the Tutsi aristocracy it meant that, if their aim was not attained, they would be eliminated from the political scene. Since, if the Hutu leaders succeeded, not only would the king be expelled but also Tutsi would be virtually excluded from all participation in power as issues would be decided by Hutu on ethnic grounds. This accounted for the fact that not only the Tutsi aristocracy but also the majority of Tutsi, regardless of their political and economic status, aligned themselves with Unar and the Mwami.https://uk.amateka.net/the-conflict-arose-at-the-end-of-1959/https://uk.amateka.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/revolution.jpghttps://uk.amateka.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/revolution-150x150.jpgSocial & cultureIn the the following, we have set out to establish correlations between changes in the principles of social organisation in the traditional Rwanda social system, the impact of new opportunities and pressures and the conflict situation which arose at the end of 1959. This conflict situation involved widespread violence...BarataBarata firstname.lastname@example.orgAdministratorAMATEKA | HISTORY OF RWANDA