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    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    Iraq and the Melia, addendum

    Consul-at-arms made a good comment in my first post, prompting my reply and study.

    "The Belgians went into the colony and separated the people according to physical features that looked European vs. Non-european."

    Huh? Where'd you hear that? And if it were true, how is that several neighboring countries, where the Belgians weren't the colonial power, have the same two tribes?
    I replied,
    Well, I took your question and ran with it. First, I made the statement based on admittedly little knowledge on the subject, and what I had seen on Sometimes in April.

    So, after reading your comment, I wanted to see if I was wrong. Yes and no. The Belgians did separate people into the groups Hutu and Tutsi based on physical features. But I was wrong in the insinuation that they were exactly one people before this.

    The Hutu and Tutsi were one people for years. They lived in tribes, intermarried, etc. For most of this time, Hutu designated farmers and Tutsi designated rulers or people not doing rural work. Therefore, the indentifier could change as you changed class, work, etc.

    However, by the time the Europeans arrived the Hutu and Tutsi designations were starting to congeal in a Tutsi=non-farm-worker and Hutu=farm-worker identity, making most societal leaders Tutsi. Their work indoors and a different genetic origin for many of them, gave them lighter skin, and more European features generally.

    Hence, when the Belgians came, it was easy to see the Tutsi's as more European, already versed in ruling a society, and easy candidates to run the colony.

    Since this is becoming longer than expected, I am going to put quotes in another post.
    I want to add some to that.

    Wikipedia--not always the most reliable source, but good--says
    The Belgian government continued to rely on the Tutsi power structure for administering the country. It also consistently favoured the Tutsis where education was concerned, leading to a situation where many Tutsis were literate, while the majority of Hutus were not. Belgians educated the Tutsis in Catholic schools, which widened the ethnic rift between Hutu and Tutsi.

    ...Current academic thought is that the European emphasis on racial division led to many of the difficulties between Hutu and Tutsi in the latter part of the 20th century.
    from Wikipedia:History of Rwanda

    Here it talks about Hutu and Tutsi denominations, saying,
    The word "Tutsi," which apparently first described the status of an individual—a person rich in cattle—became the term that referred to the elite group as a whole and the word "Hutu"—meaning originally a subordinate or follower of a more powerful person—came to refer to the mass of the ordinary people.

    ...Because Europeans thought that the Tutsi looked more like themselves than did other Rwandans, they found it reasonable to suppose them closer to Europeans in the evolutionary hierarchy and hence closer to them in ability. Believing the Tutsi to be more capable, they found it logical for the Tutsi to rule Hutu and Twa just as it was reasonable for Europeans to rule Africans. Unaware of the "Hutu" contribution to building Rwanda, the Europeans saw only that the ruler of this impressive state and many of his immediate entourage were Tutsi, which led them to assume that the complex institutions had been created exclusively by Tutsi.

    Not surprisingly, Tutsi welcomed these ideas about their superiority...
    (found in Rwandan History)

    Although my reference towards the origin of the Hutu and Tutsi was not entirely clear, and generalizations are never entirely accurate, I still think the Hutu vs. Tutsi conflict has some bonafide similarities with the Shi'a/Sunni situation I wrote about in the first post, including the repercussions still today of Europeans arbitrarily outlining colonies.

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    Consul-At-Arms said...

    Thanks for the mention. I've linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2006/08/re-iraq-and-melia-addendum.html

    Consul-At-Arms said...

    Thanks for the mention. I've linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2006/08/re-iraq-and-melia-addendum.html