• Barry Turner
Part of the The Statesman’s Yearbook book series (SYBK)


The Twa—hunter-gatherer pygmies—were the first people to inhabit Rwanda. They now comprise 1% of the population. The Hutu were the next group to settle in Rwanda. They arrived at some point between AD 500 and 1100. They were small-scale agriculturalists, led by a king who ruled over clan groups. The final group to migrate to Rwanda was the Tutsi around 1400. Their ownership of cattle and their combat skills allowed them to gain economic and political control of the country. A feudalistic system developed where the Tutsi lent cows to the Hutu in return for labour and military service. At the apex was the Tutsi king, the mwami (pl., abami), who was believed to be of divine origin. The abami consolidated their power by centralizing the monarchy and reducing the power of neighbouring chiefs. Mwami Kigeri IV (reigned 1853–95) established the borders of Rwanda in the 19th century.


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Further Reading

  1. Barnett, Michael, Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda. 2003Google Scholar
  2. Dallaire, Romeo, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. 2005Google Scholar
  3. Dorsey, L., Historical Dictionary of Rwanda. 1995Google Scholar
  4. Melson, Robert, Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa: Conflict Roots, Mass Violence and Regional War. 2001Google Scholar
  5. Melvern, Linda, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide. 2000Google Scholar
  6. Prunier, G., The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide. 1995Google Scholar
  7. Waugh, Colin M., Paul Kagame and Rwanda: Power, Genocide and the Rwandan Patriotic Front. 2004Google Scholar
  8. National Statistical Office: National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, B. P. 46, Kigali.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Turner

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