Who Was Who In Ancient Rwanda ?
In the introduction I have spoken of Tutsi and Hutu who, with the Twa, are the inhabitants of Rwanda and have indicated that we are principally concerned with the former two. We are concerned with their place in traditional Rwanda. Further we want to analyse how they were affected by new opportunities pressures and values, or in other words what changes occurred in their traditional society and how these led to the conflict situation which arose between the two groups of people. It is therefore essential to examine more closely who are the Tutsi and Hutu especially in traditional society as it is from there that our study starts. Moreover we have to examine whether we can establish certain patterns of Tutsi-Hutu distribution against the background of other ecological variables.
Speaking about the population of Rwanda, every writer, be he historian, ethnographer, physical or social anthropologist refers to the Tutsi, Hutu and Twa as the inhabitants of Rwanda. Everybody agrees as well that the Hutu by far out-number the Tutsi and the Twa, and that there are more Tutsi than Twa. Another point of general agreement is that, speaking about government in Central Rwanda, the Tutsi play a dominant role with all this we can fully agree But any further specification of them as “patrons” or “clients”, “agriculturalists” or “pastoralists”, “tall” or “smail”, needs further definition and precision.
In the official reports of the Belgian information service we read: “En Rwanda il-y-a trois groupes ethniques” Frankenberg in his unpublished thesis refers to them as “classes” and so does Gravel. Others again such as d’Hertefelt writes: « La population du Rwanda se compose de trois castes”, but writes in the same article: “Le type physique des» Hutu été influencé par les Tutsi; l’invers est également vrai.” —(d’Hertefelt 1962 p.16 and 17). ..Arnoux writes: “Rien qui corresponde aux castes fermées”, and “Les Tutsi et Hutu contractent des marriages qui durent” Arnoux 1947 p.19) and Van Oversehelde» writes in the same term.
We read further that the Tutsi form about fifteen per cent of the population, but that ‘real’ Tutsi form only five per cent (cf. Iacquer and Bourgeois) or even only three per cent (Arnaux). Bourgeois mentions as well that the Baswera “sont des Tutsi bahutuisés, and “Le terme Muhutu désigne avant tout un état social”, or “Le vocable Mututsi indique plus une situation social qu’un caractère racial.” (Bourgeois 1957 p.58) Kagame, a Rwandan himself, says, “Du moment le Muhutu accède à la richesse bovine il est politiquement Tutsi”. (Kagame 1954 p.26) The Rapports annuels of 1907 from Gisaka mentions :
« Habitants du pays: Distinguons entre chefs et sujets. Parmi les premiers il-y-a des chefs
Tutsi, riches en bêtes de cornes. Il y a ensuite des chefs Bahutu aisés sans êtres si riches comme les premiers. Voyons la masse, Batutsi appauvris ou déchus par marriages à des femmes Hutu puis les Bahutu ou paysans.”
or from Shangugu in 1908:
“la population qui nous entoure est, comme partout dans le Rwanda, composé de Batutsi et de Bahutu, qui s’adonnent à la culture des champs. Ces derniers sont le plus grand nombre; parmi eux il y a beaucoup de Batutsi.”
or a report from Marangara in Central Rwanda in 1907:
“Posséder des vaches voila l’idéal du Mututsi, mais parmi eux il y a beaucoup qui sont forcés de prendre la pioche.”
Examples of this kind could be multiplied many times, but the illustrations given indicate sufficiently the lack of clarity in ethnical, political or occupational terms as to whom one is referring. I believe that unless with greater clarity, we describe whom we refer to we are open te misleading and confused statements and to incomplete or even false conclusions. The remarks quoted above justify the query as to whether the ethnographer, the historian the physical anthropologist, the administrator or the social anthropologist really refer to the same people? It is evident from the examples that the writers use different criteria as bases for their differentiation. , As a recuit the boundaries of the groups referred to may overlap or the same word may refer to different categories of people. Although it may be possible to arrive at certain definite differentiations between those people collectively referred to as Tutsi, Hutu and Twa it is essential to be clear about the exact criteria, in kind and in range, for differentiationsince otherwise the same word may be used to refer to different characteristics of these people.
The examples demonstrate that the criteria for differentiation overlap; each writer thus interprets the terms according to his own special interest. Equally, and maybe of greater importance, the reader, without being given sufficient explanation as to the basic for differentiation, may not be aware of the difference in criteria which may be used by different authors and interprets the words according to his own criteria of special interest. It may be not without interest to demonstrate how infringements against elementary rules of logic have led to confusion and indeed false conclusions. By using the words Tutsi, Hutu and Twa indiscriminately, authors and readers, by not basing their conclusions on criteria but on words, establish an a priori identification of ethnic and social differentiation. This would, it seems, be not without importance in relation to the different assumptions that Tutsi, Hutu and Twa are castes, classes or ethnic groups. It is essential to raise this point as to whether they are really referring to the same groups of people because these are the realities with which we are concerned.
The practical application ofAristotle’s dictum “quo maior comprehensio eo minor extensio, quo minor comprehensio eo maior extension – i.e. the broader the definition the more people it refers to and the narrower the definition the fewer people it refers to – is all too often overlooked. Infringements againt this rule are at the basis of much misunderstanding and futile argument and misleading conclusions.
If it is true that unie es we have the saine range of criteria we are net referring in reality te the saine people in Britain, this must also be true when referring to Tutsi, Hutu and Twa in Rwanda. In the examples quoted they are variously referred to as castes, classes or ethnic groups.
D’Hertefelt defines caste as follows: “Le terme caste définit un groupe hèréditaire qui s’adonne à des occupations spécifiques, Qui est endogame et qui s’insère dans un système hierarchisè.” The basis of recruitment is here ‘ascribed’. This subject is dealt with in connection with the study of the political structure, but we can note here that on the basic of his stated criteria, d’Hertefelt cannot be referring to the same people as other writers who say that there has been considerable intermarriage or that there are many Tutsi who are cultivators, who, are poor or that there are Hutu who are Tutsi-ised through wealth or marriage.
Those who refer to Tutsi, Hutu and Twa as social classes imply the existence of social mobility. They refer to Hutu being enobled and to a certain amaunt of intermarriage in a hierarchically ranked semi-open system, in which recruitment to a class is based only partly on birth and partly on achievement. I am not discussing here whether Tutsi, Hutu and Twa are either castes, or classes, I am only saying that the quotations show that authors have used widely different criteria both in kind and in range and that therefore they cannotbe referring ta the saine group of people and that the disregard of Aristotle’s rule must remit in loss of clarity and precision. The same must be said of descriptions such as those used by Maquet that Tutsi are pastoralists and Hutu agriculturalists. (Maquet 1961 p.,10) First of all this is not a definition because it infringes the rule:
“Definitio nil convertibilis cum definito“. There are as we know from his own and other sources many agriculturists who are not Hutu and there are pastoralists who are not Tutsi. Moreover unless everyone clearly agrees on the nature and range of attributes which define a pastoralist or an agriculturalist descriptions of this kind only make for confusion. What has been said here can also be appIied to descriptions such as that Tutsi are nobles and Hutu are commoners. (Maquet 1961 p.10)
I would like, however, to take this point one step further. The population of Rwanda has been divided into three categories. A category is an analytical tool or a model of which Leach has said that it is “too good to be true”. (Leach 1964 p.22) It is a concept or a way of classifying a certain number of phenomena which the observer perceives as existing. Only when it coincides with a social reality is it useful in social anthropology if one wants to classify a population into different categories. The categories should neither overlap nor exclude anyone. For this it is necessary. That the criteria are mutually exclusive and this will only be if the criteria are both exclusive and adequate. By exclusive I mean that the criteria referred to are true only of the group which one wants to indicate. If not there will be overlapping. By adequate I mean that all memlers of the group referred to can be described by these criteria, otherwise some of the group areleft out and the category is no longer useful for classification. That the classification itself (division)isadequate. By this I mean that all the members of the
totalgroup in this case the inhabitants of Rwanda should be covered by the criteria used. If not some of the inhabitants will be left out and we cannot speak of adequate classification. e.g. “rulers” and “ruled”. From the examples quoted it is clear that any such distinction on the basis of political status held only for Central Rwanda and not for other areas of the country.
If these remarks are not without value in the wider context of anthropological discussions, they seem to be essential in the specific context of Rwanda. The importance of adhering to these rules will be more fully appreciated in the analysis of the political structure, the cattle and the land complex, but in this chapter I would like to go a little further into the division made on ethnic grounds.
It is said that the inhabitants of Rwanda can be classified as Tutsi-Ethiopoid; Hutu-Bantu; and Twa-Negroid. However in reality this classification fails to describe them exclusively and adequately, and scientists do not use the same set of descriptive criteria. These points may be illustrated as follows:
(I) -By uming the word Ethiopoid, one under-writes an as yetunproven theory cf. Johnston (1902) Baumann (1948) and Seligman (1930) that there is a link between certain people in Rwanda and Ethiopia. Moreover Vansina, de Heusch, Olliver and many others agree with Seligman when he writes of the Rwanda, Rundi, Sukuma, Raya and Nyamwezi that:
“It seems that all these tribes have a Hamitic (presumably Galla) element brought in by the Huma, far more recent than those incoming waves of Hamitic blood which, mixing with the Negro, originally gave rise to the Bantu.” (Seligman 1966 p. 137)
But the various writers have used different criteria, including myth, legend, institutions connected with divine kingship, linguistics and agricultural methods to establish ethnic links between the Tutsi and their origin from the horn of Africa, without sufficiently defining who are the Tutsi.
Myth and legend, often indiscriminately used for historical examination, have been interpreted in so many different ways by e.g. Vansina, Kagame, d’Hertefelt and de Hensch that it would seem to be very difficult to reach any definite conclusion.The institutions of divine kingship have been described as occurring widely in Bantu societies as much as being characteristic of hamitic culture, and any theory, based on diffusion of this institution, that Bantu culture, has been influenced by hamitic immigration and integration rests so far on conjecture.
Since everyone in Rwanda speaks the same or nearly the same Bantu language it is difficult, if not impossible, to use language as a basis for differentiating ethnic group. However, there are certain physical characteristics which are considered to be typical of each group and similarity of physical characteristics of the Tutsi with other peoples sometimes referred to as Hamitic have given riseto a presumption of Ethippoid origin. According to the accepted stereotypese a Tutsi is tall with en average of 69.5 inches and slender, while the Hutu is smaller with an average of 65.9.inches and stocky and the Twa is small with an average of 61.1 inches. However, one can quite easily find people who are called Tutsi who are smaller than their neighbours who are called Hutu. Prof. Hiernauxhas donemuch through the publication of his objective measurements toundermine whatmight be called the Hamitic Myth, which has definite undertones of establishing “favourable”comparison with certain European features. Although in general the Tutsi may have straighter or narrower noses than Hutu, the Tutsi have by far the thickest lips while there is no difference in the kind of hair or the colour of the skin or eyes, contrary to general subjective opinion. Moreover blood-sampling on a very wide scale proved that Tutsi predominate in the O group. Both this and the classification on the R H. system showsthat it is impossible to differentiate between Tutsi and Hutu and Twa.
Posnansky therefore, rightfully suggested that on the one hand we need much more evidence, especially of an archaeological nature, to arrive at any definite conclusion about the movement of people from the Horn of Africa, and on the other hand he offers the suggestion that certain characteristics of the Tutsi might well be due to nutritional and social factors. (Posnansky 1966). If it is possible to trace definite physical differences as regards height and weight between the Hutu of the north and the centre of Rwanda or between the Tutsi of Urundi and Rwanda, as Hiernaux has done, and to relate these differences to climats and occupation, it is not excluded that a high protein diet and socially preferred marriages are at the basis of the natural and social forces which have operated to produce the differences so apparent te the firstEuropean observers. Recent statistics from the United States show an average growth of one inch in one generation due to a high protein diet.
Suggestions of this kind justify the conclusion that much more evidence is needed to substantiate the Hamitic Myth voiced since Speke in 1863, when he wrote in The Journal of the discovery of the sources of the Nile that:
”The unusually complex political organization of the inter-lacustrine Bantu is explicable only in terms of the influence of superior immigrant people.” (Wrigley 1958 p.11)
This myth has survived for a long time we read in the official report of the Belgian Colonial Government in 1938
“Qu’il doit s’enfforcer de maintenir et de consolider le cadre traditionel de la classe dirigeante des Batutsi à cause de son indéniable supériorité intellectuelle.”
Even in the 1966 reprint of Seligman’s Races of Africa, we read:
“No doubt it is at least in part due to this ‘European’ influence that we find the curious mixture of primitive and advanced elements in the social institutions of the interlacustrine communities.” (Seligman 1966 p.138)
To bring this discussion back to our original argument, it is clear from the remarks made above: That the term Ethiopoid does not refer to the same set of phenomena, either in kind or range, acceptable to everyone and therefore not everyone is referring to the same number of people. There is however a second reason for objecting to this classification while ‘Ethiopoid’ refers to territorial origin, “Bantu” refers to language. As Seligman remarks, and so far no one has disagreed with him,
“The Bantu are a congeries of peoples, named from and defined by the peculiar type of language that they speak.” (1966 p.117)
It is evident that on the basic of lack of exclusiveness of criteria, this classification has to be disregarded. There is considerable overlapping, not only because those who are
called Tutsi speak a Bantu language and can thus be called Bantu, but also because, as we have seen, some theories hold that the peoples who are called Bantu were already of a mixed Ethiopoid-Negroid origin before the arrival of Tutsi. On the basis of this theory we might say that both Hutu and Tutsi are Bantu but that Tutsi are purer Ethiopoid than Hutu. Moreover we come across one more difficulty on the basic of lack of adequate classification. The Tutsi, even within the context of the Ethiopoid theory, are not adequately described by it. By limiting the criteria to country of origin only, we not only include the people called Tutsi but also the Hima, who are semi-nomadic pastoralists much like the Masai, but who do not in any way take part in government. If one in Rwanda calls a Tutsi a Hima, he will understand, by analogy, what is meant, that is to say that they have one thing in common a special interest in cattle. However the Hima cannot be and is not called a Tutsi because he is neither sedentary non interested in government. The Tutsi is interested in cattle as an instrument of power, the Hima is interested in having cattle. Nevertheless Tutsi in the sense of the Ethiopoid theory must include Hima.
From this rather negative exercice we have to take the subject one step further. Who are Tutsi, Hutu and Twa? As far as the Twa goes there seems to be little argument. Kagame gives the etymology of the words Tutsi and Hutu as the former meaning immigrant and the latter cultivator. Bourgeois draws attention to the fact that in Kivu a Hutu means patron, because they have Twa as serfs. Gorju has noted that Tutsi means having migrated from the place Ntusi in Ankole, which is not far from the Bigo archaeological site.
Although these opinions as such do little to contribute to the understanding of the terms Tutsi, Hutu and Twa, they clearly indicate a search for two different solutions to what are in fact two different questions. Gorju talks here in terms of an ethnic group basing recruitment on place or origin whereas Kagame and Bourgeois speak in terms of categories. Indeed Tutsi and Hutu can be talked of either as groups of people or as categories, that is as elements of the system of social organization.
When we speakhere of groups we do not mean it in the sense of “corporate” group which Radcliffe Brown defined as existing:
“if its members, or a considerable proportion of them, come together occasionally to carry out some collective action, e.g. if it possesses or controls property which is collective or performs certain rites.” (1950 P.41).
Whereas it is not hard to identify the corporate characteristics of a group it is much more difficult to define the boundaries of ethnic groups. The Irish or Italians who migrated to the United States do not constitute corporate groups but few if any would object to calling them ethnic groups because the people referred to have a common link, in different degrees, to a common country of origin, a common cultural heritage and are moreover at times conscious of it. When speaking about Tutsi and Hutu we do not refer to them as ethnic groups because as we have seen the criteria of establishing the bases for recruitment into these groups of people are open to different interpretations and do not give sufficiently clear grounds for differentiation and therefore identification of the members of a group.
The term reference group according to M. Kuhn:
“denotes a social group with which an individual feels identified and to which he aspires to relate his identity. A person derives from his reference group his norms, attitudes and values and the social object these create.” (1964 p.41) It is in this sense that I would refer to Tutsi and Hutu as groups of people.
Setting aside the disputed question of origin, Tutsi are all those who think of themselves on the basic of kinship or affinity as related to the two clans which provide the king and the queen mother. These links are expressed and justified, through myths and legends, in terms of ethnic origin. Moreover these links are externalised through certain prototype physical characteristics, certain patterns of behaviour and ideals, standards of moral conduct and the observance of certain taboos. In this way Tutsi are ideally linked with the royal family. This privileged minority group needed to protect itself by drawing into the group by means of hypergamy those who, through power and wealth, became a threat. On the other hand, less successful Tutsi were forced away from the group through marriage to Hutu. If their descendants remained less successful, they would become in the full sense Hutu, even if they retained some Tutsi physical characteristics and were related in some degree to the Tutsi group just as descendants of the hypergamous unions might retain the physical characteristics of their Hutu origin. The people involved in this two-way mobility constituted the fringe cases of the reference groups Tutsi and Hutu. Rwanda recognise this process of social mobility since they have special names to indicate the persons involved. Umwihuture means someone who has moved up into the group of superior social status, while umworomeans someone who has dropped into the group of inferior social status (Lacquer 1939 p.53).
Those Tutsi who are ideally linked to the royal family, expressed in terms of ethnic relationship, but who do not themselves,participate in the political power structure, and are semi–nomadic herdsmen, are the Tutsi-Hima, often called Hima. They belong to the same reference group because of this ideal link and the fact that their women marry the Tutsi of the administration.
The bais of membership of the Tutsi group is therefore social recognition of ideal ties expressed in the idiom of etnic origin and supported and justified in myth and legend. It is in this sens that we must understand the figures published by I.R.S.A.C when speaking about Tutsi-Hutu population, Tutsi constituting sixteen per cent and Hutu eighty five per cent of the pomulation. Moreover they gave in 1956 the following pattern of population distribution:
|Province||% of Tutsi in population|
The overall average of Tutsi in the population is sixteen per cent. We find an average percentage of Tutsi in eastern Rwanda, a low percentage in the north and north- west, a higher than average in central Rwanda and the highest percentage in western Rwanda.
On a different level, when talking about categories, Tutsi and Hutu are referred to as elements of the system of social organisation. Here the basis of differentiation and classification is the element of actual or potential participation in the government of Rwanda, through the channels established by the king. Here the criteria for Tutsi differentiation are extended to all those who actually or potentially participate or have access to all levels of the system of power as exercised by the king, and is therefore limited to those areas where the king had de facto established authority.
We therefore must, with Prof. Vansina, speak of Tutsi as a category within the context of the political structure of kingly power. It is in this context that the remark of Prof. Vansina becomes clear:
“In Noord en West Rwanda bestonden berstonden er van 1900 geen kasten, daar or geen Tutsi waren.” (In the north and west of Rwanda we cannot speak of castes, because there were no Tutsi.)
It remains unfortunate and a source of confusion that we have only one verbal expression for both the reference group and the category. Such an identical expression is only justified on the basis of reality if the categories used in the classification coincide with actual membership of the reference group. Writers saying that Tutsi form sixteen per cent of the population but real Tutsi form only five per cent are speaking about Tutsi as a reference group in the former and as a category in the latter instance. Writers dealing with-Tutsi as caste or class, that is in terms of categories, arenot talking about Tutsi or Hutu as groups of people who constitute the actual population of Rwanda. In terms of categories we can speak of Tutsi or Hutu only in Central Rwanda, where the king had established channels of administration and military power. In the other areas we can only speak about Tutsi and Hutu as groups of people.https://uk.amateka.net/who-was-who-in-ancient-rwanda/https://uk.amateka.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/art.jpghttps://uk.amateka.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/art-150x150.jpgSocial & cultureIn the introduction I have spoken of Tutsi and Hutu who, with the Twa, are the inhabitants of Rwanda and have indicated that we are principally concerned with the former two. We are concerned with their place in traditional Rwanda. Further we want to analyse how they were affected...BarataBarata firstname.lastname@example.orgAdministratorAMATEKA | HISTORY OF RWANDA