Colonial Times

Colonial Times

We did not choose to be colonised.The Germans arrived first (1895-1916). During World War One, the country was occupied by Belgian troops who, in 1923, were granted a mandate by the League of Nations to govern Rwanda - Urundi, which it ruled indirectly. They turned their mandate into a colonial occupation until our independence in 1962.

There were some benefits to their presence here. Christianity was integrated into society, schooling and medicine developed, as did the infrastructure. Useful export markets for our produce also opened up.

However,we did not share good times together. Initially, we did try to resist the influence of colonialism, fighting the first Germans in 1875. But the colonial powers were stronger and their influence greater.

The primary identity of all Rwandans was originally associated with eighteen different clans. The categories Hutu, Tutsi and Twa were socio-economic classifications within the clans, which could change with personal circumstances. Under colonial rule, the distinctions were made racial, particularly with the introduction of the identity card in 1932. In creating these distinctions, the colonial power identified anyone with ten cows in 1932 as Tutsi and anyone with less than ten cows as Hutu, and this also applied to his descendants.

We had lived in peace for many centuries, but now the divide between us had begun ...