Three. Clientship In The South, Revolt In The North
The military might of the Kaiser in Rwanda amounted to two German officers and twenty-five askari in 1902. The telegraph from Dar- es- Salaam stretched only as far as Tabora, ten days’ march to Bujumbura. This token force denied Rwanda to the Belgians; the string of camps along Lake Kivu pointed as much westwards into King Leopold’s Congo as eastwards into the Tutsi-ruled highlands of Burundi and Rwanda.
Governor Von Götzen’s formulation of policy towards the chiefs -sustain their authority…in such a fashion that they become convinced that their salvation depends on their attachment to the German cause- might be vague but its spirit was clearly ignorecl by Captain Von Beringe’s attack on the Rundi mwami in 1903. The removal of Von Beringe, whose exploits around Zaza had damaged the mission’s popularity, did not in itself improve Catholic prospects, for now there could be no doubt that the first duty of a German officer was to uphold the authority of the two kings at all costs. On the other hand the mwami, at this time the least determined of the mission’s opponents, had the support of German troops to counter-balance the ambitions and anti-Christian Ega. German hopes for Ruanda-Urundi were summed up in the imperialist cliché ‘expansion of trade and civilisation‘: expansion of a trade the court did not want because it could not control it, and of a civilisation which brought with it meddlesome clerics. Musinga and the Fathers now had to struggle to extend their influence in Rwanda under the growing shadow of German rule.
Kabare was in a commanding position at court and determined as ever to bring the missionaries to heel. Aware that the Germans would protect the European personnel of the stations, his tactics were to avoid a direct confrontation while gnawing away at the Fathers’ supports; first by disrupting the missionaries’ communications and attacking the Ganda, whom he saw as their mercenaries, and secondly by involving them with the Belgians, thus discrediting them in German eyes. It was the type of subtle, indirect strategy that had brought the Queen Mother’s brother to power at court. By 1904 there was enough general resistance to the missionaries to put it into practice with good effect.
Mission expansion had merely magnified the impact of the Catholics on Rwanda. There were 1,500 registered postulants waiting to enter the catechumenate at Save and 226 baptised Christians working as
instructors, teaching prayers and catechism to the catechumens. The Ganda were now ‘confined to barracks’, but as the numbers within the Catholic not increased so did disputes between mission protégée and pagans. Each Father Superior was drawn increasingly to intervene, either directly or indirectly, in complex litigation. Mission reeruits were virtuatly all poor Hutu, with a handful of impoverished Tutsi, so in central Rwanda the basic friction was between a Hutu Church and a Tutsi-dominated society.
Worse still, there were five times as many White Fathers as Germans in the country. To find Rwandans going to the mission rather than the few isolated German camps to settle cases annoyed the administration. Even with the best intentions the missionaries gave offense.
On some occasions Natives neither belonging to the mission, nor working there, have first addressed themselves to the missionaries, who have quite properly sent thern on to the fort at Ischangi. Now among these it has happened that some were given a written statement setting down their Shauri [court case] As a result the opinion has grown up among a section of the population the judging Shauris is within the competence of the mission, the station at Ischangi being merely the executive arm of its judgements.
Privately Von Grawert made the point to the Governor more openly; he felt that were Monsignor Hirth given a free hand ‘the Government would go to hell and he would establish an African Church State’.
With the Germans thoroughly irritated by the mission’s theocratic tendencies, Kabare was ready to put his plans into action; orders were sent out from Nyanza that all foreign traders in Rwanda were to be killed. Von Grawert himself, oblivious of the fate in store for the Ganda and lndians, had two skin traders chained and deported as a gesture to the court.” Scores of traders died. Von Grawert’s apparent acquieseence in the repression was widely read as a triumph for Kabare. The Save Fathers learned from their spies at Nyanza that people openly proclaimed him ‘master of the land’. The court diviners set about sacrificing cows to find out whether, at last, times were propitious for an attack on the mission stations. The spirits, it was said, indicated that they wanted the White Fathers driven out of the country. The spirits, as all the missionaries knew, spoke the mind of the court.
Such was the opposition to the missions that other spontaneous risings took place at the same time as the more orchestrated resistance in central Rwanda. The dry season of 1904 proved a cruel judgement on the missionaries’ accumulated errors. Nyamparas sent out on 13 July from Rwaza to collect wood were attacked. From every quarter the Fathers got wind of impending revolt. Within the week a Father was attacked and one of his catechists killed; the mission replied with a raid by their Sukuma militia. The Hutu allowed the Catholic forces to expend their cartridges in loose firing, then sent them fleeing with a hail of arrows.
Popular feeling about events was diffracted and spread by countless rumours, some emanating from Nyanza, many arising from the peasants’ own beliefs, which were also influenced by court traditions. The stories articulated a widespread sense of the fragility of the European order, and contained the same message: the real, and therefore spiritual, power of the Europeans could be reduced to nothing, their technology and powerful leaders could be neutralised. It was said that ‘the whites’ guns will firee only water or goats droppings’. A saviour from the south-west was supposed to have slain Von Grawert. In another version the conquering mwami Ruganzu Ndori had returned and smitten him: to save his life the European had agreed to become a garagu of Musinga. The rumours spread fast and could soon be heard from Save to Rwaza. Disconnected events at opposite ends of the country, distorted in the telling, added to a common store of stories which shaped the direction of further events. Rumour bath expressed an ideology of resistance and was its first practical realisation.
Rwanza was under siege from 24 to 30 July. Opposing clans united against the common enemy after spearmen had taken up a threatening position around the mission. The night calm was interrupted by sporadic gunfire and alerts until reinforcements arrived from Nyundo. Pots of honey taken to be a peace offering from the Hutu attackers turned out to be poisoned. On 5 August the Hutu clans united in a full-scale assault on the station, which was defended by sustained fire from over twenty guards, with the priests using their hunting rifles. The final raid seems to have been triggered by the arrival of Tutsi who had come up from the plain to help the missionaries. On seeing the huge force of Hutu they quickly changed sides.
The deterioration in the situation at Nyanza was first marked by the permanent withdrawal at the mwami’s request, of the Catholic catechist. At Save the arm of a new-born child was thrown on to the mission steps as an evil charm, but the expected attack never materialised. At Zaza catechists were unable to get catechumens to come in and mails were repeatedly pillaged. In both stations careful watch was kept at night.
Kabare had succeeded by September in cutting all the main tracks across Rwanda and in intercepting mission mails from Karagwe. The Save Fathers heard reports that in a single day over sixty traders were
killed in Nduga. An agent was sent from the capital to Rwaza to encourage the Hutu to press their attacks home, telling them how few Europeans there were in the country. The Ega were on the point of moving from indirect opposition to straightforward military action.
They were restrained by the arrival of Von Grawert and his troops. Tutsi nobles knew how to handle rifles and boasted that they were no longer frightened of the Europeans, but Tikitiki’s muvuba, Von Grawert’s Maxim guns, were recognised as irresistible. The traders were less lucky than the missionaries. Some wounded Ganda managed to stagger into mission stations but most were slaughtered. Rwanda had struck a devastating blow against foreign invaders.
The other aspect of Kabare’s policy was no less successful; suspicion had been thoroughly sown amongst the Europeans. Von Grawert commented peevishly on Father Zuembiehl: ‘For him the main principle is to have two irons in the fire and never to forget that the Belgians may become masters of the presently disputed territory and therefore to pay them frequent visits. Indeed, the suspicious Father Brard saw the Belgian issue behind Von Grawerrs reluctance to take reprisals for the traders’ death. ‘That would be simply to add more disorder, he wrote, ‘and let the Belgians in the Congo see that there have been disturbances in the country; that is what he most fears.’
Von Grawert could not, however, let the pillaging of mail caravans go unanswered. The inevitable punitive raid was as indiscriminate as it was brutal. The impression at Rwaza was so severe that the Fathers, albeit combat-hardened, ended by pleading for their assailants’ lives. Punishment and policy statement went together. ‘What was done to the Europeans was as good as done to the mwami, and vice versa,’ the assembled farmers were told, a point they had not overlooked. The Tutsi were their legitimate chiefs, Von Grawert informed them, ‘a point which they could hardly understand’, as Father Classe remarked.
The country-wide resistance to the White Fathers and their agents that erupted in 1904 was largely spontaneous and far from an integrated rising. All sections of Rwandan society, the autonomous provinces as much as the court, were reacting against the power exercised by the missions. The journeymen and landless could see possibilities of emancipation in mission patronage, the northern Hutu might also hope to use the local mission stations as a bulwark against Nyanza, but official White Father policy dictated that such aims were unacceptable. The Mission Society did not want to be a political instrument wielded against central authority, nor was it happy with the usual first converts of African States, the slaves, serfs or destitute. In what it had done, and what it had failed to do, the mission had earned the armed resistance of the majority of Rwandans.
After the crisis Kabare was still in control and wanted the Germans to execute his Ega rival and co-conspirator Ruhinankiko. Father Brard now talked of shutting clown the northern stations and failed to send on mails. Musinga as ever vacillated on mission questions in the face of the Ega nobility. The Save missionaries sent their leading
catechist from Bukumbi to press for a new station in the Tutsi stronghold of Marangara, but their presents were returned. Musinga replied that Europeans came to pay court only in order to eat up the land. Yet a month later the mwami was asking his catechist to return to Nyanza to continue his Swahili lessons. The threat of nationwide armed resistance was past; the northern missionaries had learnt a political lesson they were to find difficult to forget.
After Christmas Monsignor Hirth went to court to gauge feeling and again request the concession of a new mission in Nduga. A dutiful Brother cranked up and played a gramophone while the mwami’s leading ministers looked sternly down on the proceedings. Musinga was flanked by Kabare and the rising lights Rwidegembya and Ntulo. The Vicar Apostolic spoke directly with the king in Swahili. The charged atmosphere was weli evoked by the diarist.
‘Yet our good sovereign, who is not, after all, master in his own house, dared not take upon himself the responsibility for giving an affirmative answer. He turned towards his uncle. Rwidegembya, to ask him what he ought to reply; the latter retorted at once with some animation, ‘We have given you Issavi, Nsasa, Nyundo, Rwasa, Mibirisi, yet you still ask for Nduga.’
The Ega also cannily pointed out that to alienate land required German permission. Not to be outwitted, Monsignor Hirth set about getting it.
The Nduga mission proved something of a test case. The court was adamantly opposed to a station within an hour’s march of the royal tombs and out of Nyanza’s direct control. Rwidegembya’s reply to the Vicar Apostolic, ‘Nidukomeza kuguh’ciy’ushatse cyose, tuzasigaran’iki?’ (`If we add what you ask what will be left?), is still remembered, indicating the emotional as well as political significance of allowing whites into the Tutsi heartland.
If Von Grawert forced Kabgayi mission on the court it was because he felt the nobles could be, and should be, made to submit, whilst the Fathers were marginally less trouble than they were worth. The power of Nyanza and the fragility of European control of Rwanda had been amply demonstrated in 1904; the co-operation of the missionaries was clearly essential if a handful of officers were to ‘govern’ the country. Not the least consideration was that the mission stations provided excellent intelligence centres; the tight little German camps were isolated islands, while the Catholic catechists ranged far and wide. Only Dr Kandt, after over a year in the bush, spoke a little Kinyarwanda, all official correspondence being in German or Swahili. Most of the missionaries could preach an intelligible sermon and were now able to cross-check the information they received. It was brought home to the king that any refractory behaviour and refusal to co-operate over Kabgayi would result in two detained white cattle rustlers being
unleashed on the north. But it was to be the last concession to the Fathers for some time.
After the 1904 crisis there was an unwritten entente between the court, the White Fathers and the Germans. Each party recognised that any lasting alliance between the other two could render it impotent. Each was restrained by prudence, fear or formulated policy from too overt a verbal or military attack on the other; the court understood well that the battle against the Christian colonisation of Rwanda had henceforth to be a rearguard action.
Catholic teaching on the separate spheres of Church and State should have reduced conflict between missionaries, Germans and Tutsi to a minimum. Yet, by leaving nineteenth century Europe, where the distinction existed in practice, imposed on a reluctant Church by secular States, the Fathers were able to see the past century of European history as an aberration; the astringent memories of Kulturkampf and Garibaldi must have easily faded before the enticing spectacle Of Rwanda’s feudal rnonarchy. The spiritual gold rush in which they staked the first claims had as its dreams the Golden Age of Church history, and as its pioneers rough-hewn men like Brard. In the dream Musinga appeared in the role of Charlemagne, and Dante’s comforting Thomism depicted the Church’s earthly fulfilment.
Let Caesar therefore observe that reverence to Peter which a firstborn son ought to observe to a father, so that, illuminated by the light of paternal grace, he may with greater power irradiate the world over which he is set by Him who is the ruler of all things.
But Popes no longer vied with kings. Reality was a gangling young Tutsi with protruding teeth and the portly, buttoned-down, moustached figure of Von Grawert, both equally immune to the ‘paternal Grace’ of the mission.
If the peasants accused the priests of being `kings’ and the Germans suspected them of wanting to create a Church State, the Fathers would have been quick to deny the charges. They did not consciously and deliberately plan to become rulers wielding secular power, but, defined by their Rwandan context, they were as truly `kings’ as the Nyabingi prophetesses were ‘queens of Mpororo’. There was no clear-cut ‘temporal sphere’ or ‘purely religious’ office in the society in which they worked. The philosophy of Church State relations which, faute de mieux, emphasised these distinctions was inapplicable, so they abandoned it in practice whilst proclaiming it insistently in theory.
Rwandans judged the Fathers by what they did; for the first two years they could barely understand what they said. The priests laid down the law with chiefs unless Rwandan resistance, or the Germans, forced on them honeyed words and compromise. And even when conflict arose and the Fathers tried to explain their peculiar view of the world, it was no less subversive:
Mungu commands all the other Bamis, su much so that if they order wicked things, you are not obliged to obey them but to obey Mungu alone; he commands thern all, even Musinga.
It went without saying that the officials of Mungu were also able to command abami on his behalf; a garagu spoke with the authority of his lord. The Hutu understood the missionaries even if they rarely understood themselves.
The question was not whether the Fathers would become politically involved but how they would become involved. Most of their early work drew them inexorably into the network of feudal relationships which dominated Rwandan life. At all stations the first five years were ones of intensive building activity. When the residential side of the mission was completed the Fathers turned to erecting huge churches. They needed labourers, bricklayers, porters and a permanent staff for cooking, gardening and cattle-herding. Huge teams of men were required to cut and transport logs, sometimes from distant forests; forty to fifty carriers were needed for a nine-metre tree, ten thousand men fetched the beams and supports for Zaza church. Musinga and the court were stunned by such an unprecedented mobilisation of manpower.
The exhilaration of commanding a peasant army working for the glory of God seems to have blinded the missionaries to the impact they were making on the king; chiefs too took offence at requisitions which depleted their own work force; for the peasants this heavy labour was simply another form of ubuletwa commanded by the new white chiefs. Although the workers were usually given some form of payment the Brothers who supervised them were not always endowed with the most delicate sensibitities and demanded the maximum effort; Von Grawert described even Father Barthélemy as ‘peasant-like and cloddish’. In regions like Rwaza where ubuletwa was unknown, forced labour was a source of grievance and helped precipitate the 1904 rising, whilst the thoughtless plundering of sacred groves growing on old residences of the abami infuriated the court. The levying of labour, a right claimed by Tutsi nobles, identifiecl the priests in the peasants’ eyes as powerful men belonging to the ruling class, and by the same token it made local chiefs their convinced opponents.
The impression that the Fathers came as a new white nobility was enhanced by their extensive land holdings. Save mission grounds spread over 220 hectares, Zozo over 164 hectares, Mibirisi 130 and Kabgayi 125 hectares. The Fathers believed that all the land in Rwanda was owned by the mwami, and the initial arrangement seems to have been akin to that between the king and a Tutsi lord; they held
the land ‘on his pleasure’ and paid him tribute. With greater security they began pressing for a Western style of title and showed little concern for their earlier agreements. For Zaza 250 roupies bad been decided, but they paid only 200. Apart from the ineffectual blandishments of Monsignor Hirth the missionaries had a free reign till 1904, when the Germans demanded precise boundary surveys and properly agreed contracts. These documents did little to ease the situation at stations surrounded by a large population with several sub-chiefs and overlapping jurisdictions, where a perpetual tug-of-war went on for the Hutu’s allegience.
After purchase, the occupants of mission land were considered to be tenants of the White Fathers while remaining subjects of Musinga. Father Zuembiehl told the people of Mibirisi that ‘from now on they would have to submit to the authority of the Superior of the mission; it would be for him to Kukazera and Kutaka‘. The local hill chiefs lost not only their land but their jurisdiction over people.
The hill chief reproached us with having stolen it [the land] from him. It had to be explained to him what had happened — that if we left the people free to take him wood, pombe, etc, it was from the kindness of our hearts. The people could not be held for corvées [by him]. He then wanted to know if we hated him. Far from that, we are ready to accord you the greatest good.
It was debatable in what sense the king ‘owned’ the land even in central Rwanda. In Rwaza, where the priests meely grabbed a large tract of land, his lack of real power made payments purely ritual. There the missionaries became the effective rulers and each umuryango brought them beer and bananas just as they would have done for ibirongozi.
The Tutsi’s interest in cattle was also shared by the Fathers. At Nyundo the sale and purchase of cows dominated the animal budget. Punitive German raids with their booty of livestock supplied the stations with cheap cattle and, with intelligent buying from the Tutsi the Fathers not only had a liberal supply of meat but were able to finance their building by trading. The mission herds were sometimes tended by Christians but more often put out to graze with rich Tutsi who owned pasture land. These cattle were sometimes handed on to garagu and formed, like any other cows, the currency of a multitude of exchange relationships. Certain Fathers even had personal herds which moved with them when they changed station. The defective concept of ‘mission property‘ was unable to deal with multivalent bonds created by a cow in Rwanda and caused endless difficulties.
The habit of granting cattle to neophytes and catechurnens compounded the difficulties. The Tutsi frequently withdrew cattle from garagu who went to the mission for instruction, considering that relationship with the Fathers precluded ubuhake with a Tutsi patron; they would have agreed wholeheartedly that the Hutu could not serve two masters as the more ultramontane of the priests declared. To recompense their Christians the Fathers gave dispossessed catechumens a cow or two from their herds for usufruct. These cattle could then be withdrawn for backsliding and moral lapses of a serious kind. Soon peasants were flocking to the missions in the sole hope of being granted a cow. Zaza mission, which looked after more than two hundred cows confiscated from a rustler, became embroiled in such a tangle of half-understood feudal relations that the missionaries breathed a sigh of relief when Von Grawert recalled the cattle.
So it was that their need for land, labour and cattle drew the White Fathers into clientship relationships. Without a disembodied radical brand of Christianity — an impossibility for a Church which saw itself as Christ’ s continued incarnation in the world — no missionary could have stayed outside the feudal nexus yet lived and preached in Rwanda. Free association of individuals was rare; journeys for commerce, gutunda, or to buy food, guhaha, were the few occasions on which individuals banded together in a type of voluntary cooperative. A chain of clientship marked the social structure of central Rwanda.
The greatest obstacle to evangelisation is the way the country is administered. The king has all the important chiefs as his clients; they in their turn have all the minor Tutsi, and these, the influential Hutu; it all forms a compact mass that is difficult to attack. They all agree that to frequent the whites is to become their clients and to set up as a rebel against the king; you cannot serve two masters, they think, God and the king.
Such a view of society was not totally alien to the White Fathers. Despite the Christian assertion of the fundamental equality of all men in the eyes of God, Catholics believed that the Church mediated this radical possibility: the Church for them was a visible hierarchical institution united in the Pope. Ultimately it was the visibility of an internally differentiated community and not the faith of individuals that counted. Sacramentality, the way God was in the world with men, could not be divorced from the essential hierarchy of the Church, the subordination of its different orders. The conscious goal of the missionaries, therefore, remained the planting of a precise social institution through which Grace could trickle and then pour clown on their African converts. They were, of course, profoundly influenced by Protestant individualism and pietism, but not to the point of forgetting the cardinal Catholic insight that the Church was a sacramental hierarchical institution.
There was little in the Catholic ecclesiology, as understood by the Fathers, to give the missions immunity to the clientship around them. Pioneering priests were born patrons. The Fathers were powerful men,
and there was only one relationship in the experience of the Hutu which was appropriate to dealings with the powerful, that of clientship. To become a catechurnen for the peasants represented, among other things, a formal submission to the white invaders.
The young Church bore the impress of the society around it, and the mission log books show the Fathers with earthly cares if heavenly thoughts. These cares increased with the number of Hutu catechists and the attendant proliferation of patron client relationships. The catechists settled on the hills and soon used their contact with the mission to obtain a banana grove, pats or often cattle. By threats of denunciation to the Fathers for making sacrifices, or by overloading recalcitrant peasants with labour at the mission, with or without the collusion of the hill chief, the catechist could use his position as mission agent to wield power. One group merely posing as catechists travelled around collecting hoes from all who worked on Sunday. During the famine of 1905-06, when the cry of slave dealers, ‘All those with baja bring them, could be heard over the hills, and when soft-hearted priests like Father Pouget were buying scores of women and girls on the way to Kivumu markets’ Monsignor Hirth inadvertently enhanced the gains to be made by mission adherents; he forbade the opening of an orphanage. The ex-slaves who could not be housed at the missions were then given for adoption to Christian households. To gifts of cattle were added garagu. The catechumenate, defined increasingly by the Hutu as allegiance to the Fathers, became a particularly rewarding form of clientship, bestowing both wealth and protection.
As the Hutu Christians extended the base of the social pyramid developing around each station the Tutsi were left in no doubt that the Fathers, as they had expected, were going to act like powerful abanyabutaka. When the Queen Mother wanted to dispossess a Christian living on Mata hill of his banana grove she politely informed the mission, as he was ‘their man’. Just as the Tutsi’s garagu repaired their enclosures and kept night watch, so the whites’ garagu were expected to labour at the mission and learn strange phrases by heart.
By weathering the storms of 1904 the Fathers had demonstrated that they were as strong as the court. And by becoming garagu of the whites the Hutu could share in this power and remove themselves from the more oppressive exactions of the Tutsi. It was in vain that the missionaries began preaching Monsignor Hirth’s directives on obedience to lawfully constituted authority. Baptised Christians at Rwaza went out on full-scale razzias and elsewhere others drifted away to the patronage of German troops when allegiance to the mission became insufficiently rewarding.
The feudal nuclei that had grown up around Tutsi households in the nineteenth century had seeded the young Church, and no amount of weeding by Vicars Apostolic was going to remove the overgrowth. Its very luxuriance in these early years showed how quickly the Hutu could convert the mission. On reflection the Fathers realised that their entanglements had brought them into a deeper and more serious opposition to the Tutsi than they had ever intended. In relation to the court they were rebellions nobles. The Father Superior at Save stated that far and wide the catechumens were being proclaimed inyangarwanda, haters of Rwanda, and abagome, rebels. Sub-chiefs were said to have been instructed to send anyone frequenting the mission to court.The Zaza Christians so aroused the usually friendly Banyagisaka chiefs by their repeated insults that complaints were lodged at Nyanza. According to the missionaries, the slogan ‘Death to the Christians’ could be heard from Save to Nyanza. The mwami and his Ega councillors seem to have realised, though too late, the implications of their policy of throwing the Hutu to the ‘wild animals’ from Europe. Yet in contrast to the missionaries’ national policy towards Tutsi rulers there was no Tutsi national policy towards the missions, rather a series of local ad hoc adjustments.
Rwaza might have been in a different country and the northern Fathers saw themselves almost in a separate mission. The Tutsi were absent except on the Mulera plain. Chiefs plied the missionaries with gifts and sent their garagu to pay court. The year 1905 marked the onset of an invasion of Tutsi from central Rwanda who came to build and stay. Chiefs who had not visited since Rwabugiri’s days appeared at Rwaza and shamlessly expressed their thanks to the missionaries for enabling them to collect crop dues. The Mulera Tutsi, poor familles who had been eking out a living around Ruhengeri, were as outraged as the Hutu and sent groups of abapfumu to curse the Fathers. The Banyanduga wanted, in Monsignor Hirth’s words, ‘to profit from the presence of the missionaries to settle and saddle the people with the most arbitrary of taxes’
The price of the mission’s acquiescence in the imposition of rulers from central Rwanda was a permanent force of twenty armed auxiliaries and a nightwatch of two to three men on the alert for attacks. Despite these precautions a workshop was burnt to the ground during a Hutu raid. Tension was heightened by the arrival of the Anglo-Belgian delimitation commission in the north. A fortnight later a major assault looked likely. The Hutu had been aroused and were waging a regular campaign against the newly arrived Tutsi and their clerical patrons.
The variation in the court’s approach to the different stations depended not only on the local political context but also on the changing role of the mwami. While Musinga was overshadowed by Kabare and the Queen Mother, the missions offered him an uncom-
fortable way of increasing his stature. A catechist returned to Nyanza in December 1904; a few months later the Fathers were reporting that the mwami was speaking tolerable Swahili. By August 1905 there was a second teacher at court, a Hutu called Wilhelmi, giving reading and writing lessons to the king and fifty ntore. The king could now manage without interpreters and thus had an advantage over his uncles in dealings with the Europeans.
Musinga’s use of mission teachers did not indicate any change of heart; he remained undecided in the face of conflicting pressures. In July 1905 he summonded a neophyte to Nyanza to quiz him. Had two recently disgraced nobles visited the mission in recent months? Did the Fathers believe that Musinga was the legitimate king? Did they intend to leave the country one day? He later confided in Wilhelmi that he had nothing personally against Christians. `Their salvation does not please, he merely remarked, perhaps comparing unfavourably the Lamb of God with Lyangombe’s sheep, and the plucking of harps with the alcoholic revels on Muhavura. It was his entourage who hated Christians, he alleged, adding, however, that mission men did not clap their hands respectfully before him in the style to which he was accustomed.
The Fathers did their best to please him, sending off to Mombassa for the special beads and rough cloth that he liked. But against a background of squabbles connected with building and woodcutting it was not easy to gain or to keep the mwami’s good will. The priests’ lack of tact was sometimes prodigious. Since the mission had neither men, materials nor population to warrant building at Kabgayi, an impoverished Tutsi was sent in as a kind of caretaker. On the very spot which Musinga had been so reluctant to concede to the Catholics their agent, with their tacit approval, pillaged a keeper of a royal tomb. Such blunders and obstinacy drove Musinga towards the Ega policy of overt resistance to mission penetration.
Monsignor Hirth did attempt to bring about another wave of reforms during his 1905 visits; after a further two hundred Easter baptisms were performed at Zaza he asked for `fewer and better’ neophytes: ‘Le difficile partout, c’est d’obtenir un vrai catechumenat, et non pas seulement quatre années pour la forme et pour satisfaire à la lettre.’ Problems over land were slightly eased by old internat student marrying and settling around the stations. The Vicar Apostolic banned the building of a big church at Rwaza, to avoid trouble; he told the Zaza missionaries not to ‘disturb the people’ and to supervise catechumens personally. He was still unhappy at the amount of force being used, and the failure of his directives in the face of recidivist missionaries.
At the end of September 1906 the Fathers first noted that Musinga was dealing with European affairs alone; Kabare and Rwidegembya were not present at audiences. His ntore classmates had been dismissed, and he was having lessons with only three others. Contemporary with this unifying of State authority in the person of the king came the creation of a permanent Residence for Ruanda-Urundi under Von Grawert at Bujumbura. Rwanda was served by his able and experienced plenipotentiary, Dr Richard Kandt, whose expertise in Rwandan affairs made him more than a match for the missionaries. Kandt, both diplomat and administrator, soon began to turn the entente between court, Germans and White Fathers into the more orthodox colonial structure of Indirect Rule, mediating much as possible between Musinga and the missionaries. He made it plain that curtailment of mission excesses was to be a priority: ‘It was not the moment,’ he said, to multiply the grievances of the native authorites’. More important, there was to be a temporary ban on mission expansion.
The Maji-Maji war had broken out in Tanganyika at the end of July 1905. That Christmas Von Grawert issued instructions to all the missionaries that in the event of attacks defensive laagers should be formed at Shangi and Save. The Germans were fighting for their lives, and the 1904 ‘bullets to water’ stories were very close to the ideology of Kinjikitile which was sustaining the rebellion and helping its spread. At Rwaza, reminding the Fathers of the Zaza levy of ten thousand men, Kandt told them: ‘Never would the government at the coast countenance that sort of thing.’ And if the Catholics persisted in ignoring the chiefs, he added, the Lutherans” would get tirent all.” This was no idle threat; he was already making moves to get the German Protestant mission societies to conte to Rwanda. On the other hand he was shrewd enough to recognise the value of Christianity as a bulwark against risings legitimated by primal religions; at least, he gave the priests that impression.
In short, the good doctor seems ready to favour us; he knows well enough that our Christians will be the people on whom he can count in case of attack. He would like to see as many as possible . . . He told us, Above all, do not cross the king right from the beginning . or there will be no end of trouble.
In February. 1906 Von Grawert showed the flag at Rwaza, and two months later the missionaries were able to dispense with their guards. Local politics resumed their normal pattern, with a bloody dispute between clans; the Tutsi -agents struggled against each other, and whenever a nyampara made a nuisance of himself collecting wood the show of Hutu spears was met with mission guns. The Germans offered the northern Fathers a period of relative peace, but they, in their turn, were expected to further the expansion of the court’s influence, the mainstay of German policy in Rwanda.
Late in 1906 Terebura, the greatest single obstacle to easy relations
between Kandt, Musinga and the Vicar Apostolic, was removed to Italy, where he entered a Carthusian monastery. At Save his place was taken by Father Léon Classe, a pious apparatchiki who within months became in all but name the bishop’s official representative.” Marked out early for distinction in the White Fathers’ Society, Classe served at Nyundo and Rwaza before coming south, where he was totally amazed to note that the king had great authority and was not the dog friends of Nyundo and Rwaza Mission called him. He became, therefore, something of a renegade northerner to his old compatriots. The Church’s teaching on authority seemed to Save’s new Superior the sine qua non of both Catholicism and civilised society. ‘The absence of respect due to authority,’ he wrote in the annual report of 1906, ‘can moreover be harmful to us; for this critical attitude to authority will be carried over into their relations with missionaries. God preserve us from Christians of the sort. For Classe the Tutsi were a caste like the Brahmins in India whose conversion would guarantee the success of the Rwanda mission. That the Germans saw them as the lynchpin of their colonial policy made the argument all the more cogent
W e must force ourselves by all means in our power not to leave the Batussi on one sicle. Our dear mission . . . can look forward to some dark days if we take no interest in the apostolate to the ruling class, if, by our acts, we give ground for the opinion that the Catholic faith is that of the poor.
Whatever the theological self-image of the Roman Catholic Church at the turn of the century, it did not in reality transcend the profound class divisions of Europe. Cardinal Lavigerie and members of the White Fathers’ Conseil Général had moved in the company of aristocrats, officers and government ministers; the next generation lived in an anti-clerical State but lost nothing of their predilection for the ruling class. The missionary in the bush, like Barthélemy and Brard, often came from small towns, went to seminary in the provinces, left for North Africa and disappeared from Europe without having frequented a single salon. The Brothers were hewers of wood and drawers of water, highly valued in theory, shabbily treated in practice. Promotions to positions of leadership went to those like Classe who combined experience with a willing subordination to authority. The latter ability was as much a product of class behaviour as of spiritual formation, and those whose duty it became to deal with bourgeois colonial officials and their aristocratic superiors generally came from their class, or at least shared their view of government.
In the colonies the hierarchy of Vicar Apostolic, Fathers Superior and missionaries was therefore paralleled by that of Governor, Residents and Africans. The world of the Vicar Apostolic and Vicar General in Rwanda was made up of incessant communication with the lower orders in their own Society, but also of frequent ‘horizontal’ communication with colonial authorities. Hirth and Classe remained rnissionaries yet became honorary members of the colonial ruling group. Similarly, the missionaries who spent much of their day with Africans, the Pougets and Brards, came to identify with their interests and sometimes to see the world through their eyes; but they were also local representatives of the Vicar Apostolic, concerned with the maintainence of the visible structures of the Church. As a result there was a gap between the theological niceties of Papal directives and encyclicals and mission practice in the bush. The gap was to be located not in the geographical distance from Europe to Africa but in the hiatus between Vicar Apostolic and common missionary, created often by their structural position in relation to colonial, and European, society. After 1906, and the setting up of a German civilian administration, the waywardness of the individual missionary became increasingly unacceptable as Hirth and Classe assumed positions in relation to the colonial administration. The early years of German rule with the Schutztruppen had seen their sh are of conflict with the bush missionary; the threat of an African ‘Church State’ had already cost the White Fathers a ban on expansion and the sumtnoning of Protestants. Cardinal Lavigerie’s missiology, Classes’s facility in dealing with nobility, both Tutsi and German, and his memories of Rwaza under arms, now conspired to make future mission policy a foregone conclusion. Once amongst the Tutsi ‘he was… the leader, doubly se because a gentleman and “mututsi”. Although friction was by no means at an end, and Classe had the difficult task of gaining the cooperation of his fellow missionaries, it was now clear that the Mission Church, despite its clientship and largely Hutu membership, was going to play its part in creating a Rwanda fit for its German and Tutsi rulers.https://uk.amateka.net/three-clientship-in-the-south-revolt-in-the-north/https://uk.amateka.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/church6.jpghttps://uk.amateka.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/church6-150x150.jpgChurch and Revolution The military might of the Kaiser in Rwanda amounted to two German officers and twenty-five askari in 1902. The telegraph from Dar- es- Salaam stretched only as far as Tabora, ten days' march to Bujumbura. This token force denied Rwanda to the Belgians; the string of camps along Lake...BarataBarata email@example.comAdministratorAMATEKA | HISTORY OF RWANDA