Genocide in Rwanda

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

“Genocide in Rwanda”

The reason Joseph Sebarenzi, wrote the book “God Sleeps In Rwanda”, is because he lived it and he thought it should be told. The violence murder of 800,000 Tutsi, it happened in just ninety days during 1994. After that happened to him, he returns to be elected speaker of the Rwandan parliament. He was once again exile from him home. The writer is trying to show us the horrific atrocity that happened in his country and no one would help. Also that it could happen in other parts of the world. If you read this book you will feel inspired by his faith in God and the fact that he does not hate the people that did this. The way the story is written grabs your attention and pulls you in, to a walk through hell. This is the first book he has written. I think that he has shown us that it is possible to forgive our transgressors.

There are many articles on the subject of the genocide that happened in Rwanda.

I will examine the cause of the genocide, what happened to the people, why no one helped the people of Rwanda.

Sometime things just happen for no reason. In the case of Rwanda, I believe that there was no good reason for the murder of their neighbor and friends. They say it was because of statue, the Tutsi were superior to the Hutu and the Hutu were jealous.

It started long ago before 1860, in the highlands of Ruanda and Burundi, a part of Africa that the Europeans came to investigate. Before that time local tradition tells of many centuries during which the Tutsi, a tall cattle-rearing people, infiltrate the area and took dominance over the Hutu, already living in Ruanda. One thing that is interesting is that the Tutsi even thought they were superior would allow a Hutu to marry within their group. This allowed them to be a Tutsi by marriage.

In around 1925, the Hutu were forced into labor and the Tutsi were their boss. The people were issued racial identity card, defining them as Hutu, or Tutsi. This Belgian attitude, setting in stone the distinction between the two groups and favoring one of them, prepares the ground for future violence. The predictable occasion for its outbreak is the rush towards independence in the late 1950s.

In 1959, the Bahutu Manifesto, published by a Hutu leaders, preparing their supporters for a future political conflict to be conducted entirely on ethnic lines. In 1959 the first outbreak of violence is sparked off when a group of Tutsi political activists in Gitirama beat up a Hutu rival, Dominique Mbonyumutwa.

In elections in 1960 Hutu politicians score an overwhelming victory. The Tutsi monarchy proves at first more resilient, both in holding on to the reins of power and in attempting a resolution of the Tutsi-Hutu conflict. The UN puts pressure on the Ruanda-Urundi to federate as a single nation, but both opt to go their separate ways. Ruanda, in which ethnic violence has continued during 1960 and 1961, becomes a republic. The spelling of the name is changed to Rwanda.

“In the months leading up to April 1994, there were warnings about a possibility for violent uprising. One of them included a fax sent on January 11, 1994 by General Dallaire, Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, to Major General Maurice Baril of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Kofi Annan, head of Peacekeeping Operations. This fax discussed an informant with inside information: The informant who essentially laid out for the United Nations force commander what was being planned in Rwanda, that an extermination was being planned of the Tutrsis, was a man who had first been a member of President Habyarimana's security staff and had now been hired through the president's political party to run an Interahamwe militia training program for the city of Kigali, training Hutu combatants to kill Tutsi. And he tells his information very clearly, that he thinks that his men could kill 1,000 Tutsis in 20 minutes.” This was reported in Frontline/WGBH.

On April 6, 1994 the president of Rwanda plane crashed into the presidential palace. The president supporters blamed it on Tutsis. Immediate action was taken the presidential guards, the Rwanda armed forces, and extremist set up roadblocks and began the organized slaughter. It was started by Hutu militia to be exact. Then it spread to ordinary Hutu participated, murdering Tutsi neighbors and family member involved with the Tutsi.

This was the start of the genocide in Rwanda. Men, women, and children were shot, speared, clubbed or hacked to pieces in church compounds and courtyards. Joseph talks about, “There were piles of bodies, burned out cars, rivers choked with corpses. It was too barbaric to be possible. I thought about the country's future. How could Hutu and Tutsi ever live together again?”

This violent was brewing for many years beginning with the colonization. The people never knew what hit them. One big ugly mess but I am convinced of the truth about this uprising was due to the changes that the civilized world brought with them starting with the Germans. The Germans are the original group that colonized the people of Rwanda.

The research of Richard Robbins, professor of anthropology at the State University of New York also agrees, saying “If we examine cases of purported ethnic conflict we generally find that it involve more than ancient hatred; even the ‘hatreds' we find are relatively recent, and constructed by those ethnic entrepreneurs taking advantage of situations rooted deep in colonial domination and fed by neocolonial exploitation. Perhaps there is no better case than Rwanda of state killing in which colonial history and global economic integration combined to produce genocide. It is also a case where the causes of the killing were carefully obscured by Western governmental and journalistic sources, blamed instead on the victims and ancient tribal hatreds.”
We only need to examine the people to find the reasons for this genocide. They were push and pull this way and that by the government, rulers and such. According to Scott Straus, a social scientist and former journalist in East Africa for several years, “many of the widely held beliefs about the causes and course of genocide in Rwanda are incomplete. They focus largely on the actions of the ruling elite or the inaction of the international community. Considerably less is known about how and why elite decisions became widespread exterminatory violence.

Challenging the prevailing wisdom, Straus provides substantial new evidence about local patterns of violence, using original research—including the most comprehensive surveys yet undertaken among convicted perpetrators—to assess competing theories about the causes and dynamics of the genocide. Current interpretations stress three main causes for the genocide: ethnic identity, ideology, and mass-media indoctrination (in particular the influence of hate radio). Straus's research does not deny the importance of ethnicity, but he finds that it operated more as a background condition. Instead, Straus emphasizes fear and intra-ethnic intimidation as the primary drivers of the violence. A defensive civil war and the assassination of a president created a feeling of acute insecurity. Rwanda's unusually effective state was also central, as was the country's geography and population density, which limited the number of exit options for both, Straus steps back from the particulars of the Rwandan genocide to offer a new, dynamic model for understanding other instances of genocide in recent history—the Holocaust, Armenia, Cambodia, the Balkans—and assessing the future likelihood of such events.”

Paul Magnarella examines the cause of the 1994 genocide, the editors and some of the contributors blame the European colonialists and the post-independence Hutu governments for their intentional radicalization of the Hutu-Tutsi distinction. In this respect, their proffered etiology is similar to that offered by Mamdani. The editors write that, “for the leaders of the First and Second Republics in Rwanda, as for the leaders of the Third Reich in Germany, the incitement of racial hatred was a deliberate political technique used to rally their supporters and distract attention from the real domestic problems of the country. Unfortunately, neither the editors nor the other contributors deal adequately with “the real domestic problems of the country.” Contributor Bucagu, Director of the National Office of Population, considers, but quickly rejects, demographic pressure as a potential cause. His monocausal critique, however, is inadequate.

All of the research into the genocide provides valid evident that Joseph Sebarenzi is right. Of course, his is a firsthand experience of the event. He says the people were not happy with the ways things were. First the Tutsi were in charge then the Hutu were in charge. He never speaks of the fact that they did not have food. He does not talk about how poor they were. He does not say that was the cause of the genocide.

Michelle writes an article about, “False History, Real Genocide: The Use and Abuse of Identity in Rwanda.” In the article she says the Hutu's also were abused. The Hutu chiefs were stripped of their power, the Hutu children were not allowed an education pass sixth grade, the Hutu people could not work in administrative jobs, and they were denied political representation and economic opportunities. They were given identification cards. The measure of wealth is weather you have land, cattle or a plantation. She tells of the history to lead up to the genocide.

The Germans who colonized Rwanda in 1897 believed the Tutsi domination was natural so they put them in charge. It wasn't until much later that the Hutu's were back in charge after a uprising in 1959. The Tutsi's were exiled over ten thousand. She shows a good picture of how the genocide happened.

The people were self supportive and happy people. They lived in harmony with each other. Joseph talks about his fondest childhood memories. Of swimming in Lake Kivu, walking to market to sell their goods they had grown. He does talk about the overcrowded land. “The land was like gold.” Their neighbors were their friends even if they were Hutu. He did not know the difference.

During the genocide you did not know if your neighbors were going to kill you on not. Within three months 800,000 Tutsi were murdered. Even the 10,000 Hutus that refused to kill were murdered. Children as well as adults were murdered. Babies were taken right out of the womb and killed.

Rosamond Halsey Carr wrote a book called, “Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda.” It is of her adventures in Africa. She was the manager of a flower plantation in Rwanda. She tells of her life in Rwanda, the death of her friend Dian Fossey, the fall of colonialism, the problems between the Hutus and the Tutsis, and the horrific horror of the genocide. She was running an orphanage for victims' children after the genocide in 1994. Carr's humble and bold strength is taken in to account regarding the history, cultural, and personal account of her life in Rwanda. She lived 50 years of life in Africa. The book is a beautiful portrait of Rwanda. She learned their traditions. She sailed up the Congo to camps in the villages, encounters dangerous animals, mingled with the aristocrats, fell in love and out, and lived through the genocide. Her passion in this true life story is both tragic and hopeful.

There are many accounts from the people who lived through the genocide but I choose Joseph Sebarenzi story because it seems most honest. It seems like he told it like it was. He told about music and dance plays an important role in the traditions of all Rwanda's peoples .The Rwandan people have a variety of music and dance which range from acts that demonstrate epics commemorating excellence and bravery, humorous lyrics to hunting root. Traditional songs are often accompanied by a solitary lulunga, a harp-like instrument with eight strings. More
celebratory dances are backed by a drum orchestra, which typically comprises seven to nine members, and collectively produce a hypnotic and exciting explosion set of intertwining rhythms.

Semujanga talks about the Hutu power of President Juvenal Habyarimana and his plan to exterminate the Tutsi. He can't believe that the plan was being brewed for two years and no one knew. The international community did not have the belief that President Habyarimana would never commit political suicide by unleashing a killing spree. Josias Semujanga is associate professor of literature at the University of Montreal, visiting professor at the National University of Rwanda, and the author or editor of ten books and numerous scholarly articles. He was born in Rwanda.

Michael Barnett has written many books on the subject of problems in the world. He worked for the U. S. Mission to the United Nation during much of the genocide in Rwanda. He wrote a book in titled, “Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda.” Based on his first-hand experiences, and interviews, he tells the history of the UN's involvement in Rwanda. The UN was aware that Rwanda was a site of crimes against humanity. They did nothing to stop it. Barnett talks about a possibility that the UN was not only violating their moral responsibilities, but also that people in New York thought they were right. Barnett did not excuse the UN he thought they were at fault.

As reported by Rory Carroll in the Guardian newspaper, “President Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, according to classified documents made available for the first time. Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene. Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned final solution to eliminate all Tutsis before the slaughter reached its peak.”

Even before the deadly blowup in Somalia the United States had resisted deploying a UN mission to Rwanda. "Anytime you mentioned peacekeeping in Africa," one U.S. official remembers, "the crucifixes and garlic would come up on every door." Having lost much of its early enthusiasm for peacekeeping and for the United Nations itself, Washington was nervous that the Rwanda mission would sour like so many others. But President Habyarimana had traveled to Washington in 1993 to offer assurances that his government was committed to carrying out the terms of the Arusha Accords. In the end, after strenuous lobbying by France (Rwanda's chief diplomatic and military patron), U.S. officials accepted the proposition that UNAMIR could be the rare "UN winner." On October 5, 1993, two days after the Somalia firefight, the United States reluctantly voted in the Security Council to authorize Dallaire's mission. Even so, U.S. officials made it clear that Washington would give no consideration to sending U.S. troops to Rwanda. Somalia and another recent embarrassment in Haiti indicated that multilateral initiatives for humanitarian purposes would likely bring the United States all loss and no gain.

As reported by Samantha Power, “During the entire three months of the genocide Clinton never assembled his top policy advisers to discuss the killings. Anthony Lake likewise never gathered the "principals"—the Cabinet-level members of the foreign-policy team. Rwanda was never thought to warrant its own top-level meeting. When the subject came up, it did so along with, and subordinate to, discussions of Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia. Whereas these crises involved U.S. personnel and stirred some public interest, Rwanda generated no sense of urgency and could safely be avoided by Clinton at no political cost.” The major American newspapers reported that it was not in the U.S. best interest to intervene.

All in all the U.S. would not intervene and the genocide continued until 800,000 + people were dead - senseless death. Now came the chore of burying the dead. After that the people started life again. Some people with the faith and hope of Jobe. Faith is believing in things you cannot explain. Some people believed it was God's plan. God does not plan genocides. Life is what we plan, things happen for a reason, Joseph started believing the reason was God's plan.

Joseph went on to become speaker of the Rwandan parliament. He talks about forgiveness and revenge. He says he has forgiven the people that murdered the Tutsi people. There is nothing he can do now to bring his loved one back, he has to move on.

The cause of the genocide is in the eyes of the beholder. Some says it was jealousies, some say it was overcrowding, some say it was just going to happen - just a matter of time. I have developed my own theory about the cause of the genocide. I believe it happened because when people are raised up and put back down they want to be free to have what they want. It like, if you give a child a favor toy and take it away a few times they will be to a point of anger that is not controllable. Add the ingredients of hungry and poverty, what do you get? They were like animals that was what happened angry, hungry, frenzy of people fighting for a unseen cause.


Sebarenzi, Joseph. “God Sleeps In Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation.” New York, NY. ATRIA. 2009. Print.

Barnett, Michael N. “Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda.” Ithaca. Cornell University Press. 2002. Print.

Semujanga, Josias. “Origins of Rwandan Genocide.” Amherst, N.Y. Humanity Books. 2003. Print.

Michelle. “False History, Real Genocide: The Use and Abuse of Identity in Rwanda.” April 6, 2009.

Des Forges, Alison Liebhafshy. “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda.” Human Rights Watch. 1999. Print.

Carr, Rosamond Halsey, Halsey, Ann Howard. “Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda.” Viking Penguin Books. New York, NY. 1999. Print.

Straus, Scott. “The Order of Genocide: Race Power and War.” Sage House. New York. 2008. Print.

Magnarella, Paul. “Explaining Rwanda 1994 Genocide.” 2-1.pdf

Carroll, Rory. “US Chose to Ignore Rwandan Genocide.” The Guardian. March 31, 2004. Powers, Samantha. “Bystanders to Genocide.” The Atlantic Journal online. Sept. 2001.