The word ‘genocide’ is used for describing violence against members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group or those with contrasting political opinions with the intention of destroying the entire group. In the Rwandan genocide, members of an ethnic group known as the Tutsi were killed because of their ethnicity. Their killers were extreme members of a similar ethnic group known as the Hutu, other than the Tutsi, the Hutu killers also killed other Hutus with less extreme or different political views.
The Rwandan genocide started in April of 1994 and lasted 100 days (7 April-15 July) in which 800,000 people were killed. An average of 8,000 people were killed per day, making the Rwandan genocide one of the fastest genocides in history. Initially, almost all Rwandans were Hutus (85%) and there were about 1.1 million Tutsis (although the Tutsis ruled the country). However, after the genocide 10% of the population had been killed (800,000 out of 7.9 million, 300,000 of which were children), 2 million (25%) ran away to other countries, another 2 million escaped to other parts of Rwanda and 95,000 children were orphaned. In the end, only 300,000 Tutsis were left in the country meaning that almost three out of four Tutsis were killed during the genocide.
Tutsis and Hutus actually have no significant racial difference. Anthropologists say that they are ethnically indistinguishable. They both share the same language, religion, culture and inhabit the same areas. However, Tutsis are taller than Hutus, have higher cheekbones and longer necks. They are also often thinner and have lighter skin when compared to Hutus making them seem more ‘European’.
In 1916 the Belgian colonists arrived and made identity cards for the Rwandans splitting them up into two groups depending on their ethnicity – the Hutus and the Tutsis. The Tutsis were treated more favorably as they were seen as better, higher-ranking and more sophisticated than the Hutus. Thus, for the next 20 years they had access to more privileges like better jobs, more opportunities and finer educations than their fellow mates, the Hutus.
Long before the genocide began there were conflicts between the Hutus and the Tutsis. However, almost 25 years ago, on April 6 1994, the Presidents of Rwanda (both Hutus) were fatally shot while travelling in airplane. The killer remains unknown, but the RPF believes that the Hutu fanatics wanted to use this as an excuse to start killing the Tutsis. A half an hour later, the Hutu militias blocked all the roads and started killing every Tutsi they found. That is how the Rwandan genocide began.
The Rwandan genocide has resulted in a lot of damage. Including the state of biodiversity, deforestation, farming and agricultural activities, housing and the construction of new facilities, fuel and energy sources, and the spread of malaria. Research has shown that malaria has now become common in places like Cyangugu where it was previously relatively rare. Leaders reported that after the genocide, malaria has become a major issue with crucial outcomes. PRB confirmed that the rate of malaria has increased from 3.5% (1982) to 48% (2003) because of the poor environmental management and poverty. This has lead to diseases resistance, population density and population movements which help with the breeding of mosquitoes.
Over 20 years later, Rwanda is starting to rebuild itself in various fields including justice, youth, women’s rights, the economy, and the government. Fortunately, Paul Kagame came in just when Rwanda needed a quality leader. He saw a vision for Rwanda and persuaded the people to believe him alongside with his team of advisors. He told Rwandans that they could make it through if they had each other’s back through thick and thin. As the years passed by, things gradually got better. Although Rwanda hasn’t really been able to attain its goals yet, it has greatly improved given what had happened in the past.