African Partisanship: Partisans Influenced by Imported Pseudo-Science

Abstract: This essay is a case study of the Rwandan Civil War. My purpose is to determine whether insurgency is a localized event or has a broader regional and international context.


The Rwandan Civil War was the retaliation of African partisans wanting to bring about a different political future for Central Africa. The Rwanda Civil War (1990–1994) was not a localized event formed in isolation but a part of a regional framework of an ethnic insurgency by the Tutsi people. The Tutsi world changed from social class to partisan to criminal. Not by their own doing, but by imported European pseudo-racial science and winner-take-all democratic institutions. The Rwandan Civil War was a part of a regional zeitgeist of Tutsi’s reclamation of post-colonial Africa. The post-colonial Hutu governments were defeated in a regional insurgency led by their former rulers in Zaire/ Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

Who are the Tutsi?

The Tutsi people descended from areas around the Ancient Egyptian empire. The Tutsi migrated from Northeastern Africa seeking new grazing and pastoral opportunities. The knowledge gained from living in North Africa made it permissible for Tutsi rulers to enact civic institutions over the Bantu speaking populations. In time, the Tutsi adopted Bantu as their language (Eltringham 2006). The Tutsi’s are also called Hima, hamitic, and Hemma people. The Tutsi are a part of a minority ethnic group who live in Zaire/Congo, Rwanda, Uganda. “Hamitic” race was the descriptor that the Europeans engineered to whitify favourable blacks. The reference is from the biblical story of Queen Sheba and her birth of a Sematic son. European colonizers used these descriptors to justify the dehumanization of Hutu people.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Tutsi-Hutu caste system had more dynamic roles. Prosperous peasants could become Tutsi, and a Tutsi who fell on hard economic times could become Hutu. What defined these roles was private ownership. Hutu would sign a social contract with a Tutsi called “ubihake” and pledge their service to a Tutsi for a loan of cattle and farmland (Galloway 2010).

‘[The Tutsi is] closer to the White man than the Negro … he is a European under a black skin’ (Francois Menard, Roman Catholic missionary, quoted in Gahama, 1983, p. 275)

‘The Batutsi were destined to reign … over the inferior races that surround them (Pierre Ryckmans, Belgian Governor General, quoted in Chre´tien, 1985, p. 138)

1902 ‘Their intelligent and delicate appearance, their love of money, their capacity to adapt to any situation seem to indicate a Semitic-origin’ (Monsignor Le Roy quoted in Prunier, 1995, p. 8)

European Impacts on Local Population

During the Belgium occupation of Rwanda, Belgians would use pseudo racial science to influence political and civic institutions. Belgium annexed a culturally defined caste system and transformed it into a politicized legal system. The Belgian issued race-identity cards and engaged the Tutsi people with job opportunities in the colonial protectorate (Skok N.D). Colonial Rwanda enforced gentrification and the restriction of the Hutu people. The economic differences that separated the tribes now became racial differences, and the racial differences became political parties when Central Africa developed representative democracies.

Central Africa’s insurgencies’ was the blowback of international interference in four ways:

1. Imported pseudo-science affected the psyche of the Tutsi and Hutu identity

2. The mass migration of populations that followed afterward displaced ethnic populations

3. The centralization of government institutions destabilized pre-existing chiefdoms

4. Foreign powers assassinating popular rivals and propping up ineffective leaders in the Cold War paved the road for a successful regional Tutsi insurgency

Regional Impacts


The Tutsi of Rwanda and the Hima of Uganda were part of a pre-colonial ethnic alliance of ethnically Sudanic people who migrated into Central Africa for pastoral opportunities. The Ugandan territory created by Europeans temporarily separated various ethnic groups from their pre-colonial alliances.

When Europe plundered Africa for cash crops, the result was a food shortage, overgrazing, and the mass migration of 200,000 Hutu people into Uganda in the 1920s and 1950s (Adelamn and Suhrke N.D).

Like many African nations after World War II, the Belgian government began receding its control to Africa’s new partisans. The reform affected the Tutsi oligarchy by providing political opportunities to the Hutu. The Parti Du Mouvement de L’Emanicpation Hutu in Rwanda won the first U.N supervised election. Political violence resulting from the Rwanda election created a refugee crisis in Uganda around the 1960s. “I am pleading for the case of people who are now being ruled by another race. … I want the door to be opened to these people to come to Uganda” (Obote) (Adelamn and Suhrke N.D).

Milton Obote formed the Uganda People’s Congress, an anti-Bantu political party, and recruited Tutsi refugees into the General Service Unit (GSU). The GSU went on to terrorize the indigenous population of Uganda and the Southern Bantu speaking corridors. When Amin defeated Obote by a coup in 1971, Amin recruited the GSU to become the State Research Bureau (SRB) who enacted systematic killing of potential rivals (Kintu 2005). In the Uganda Bush Wars (1979–1994), the Tutsi sided with rebel leaders and staged a coup in Uganda, bringing in Yoweri Museveni into power. Museveni enabled Tutsi Militias to launch raids from Uganda to retake Rwanda (PBS 1999).


The Kivu region of East Zaire shares its borders with Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. The Belgian, already in control of their client state in Rwanda, sought to expand its commercial territory and expropriate land from non-Bantu speaking indigenous populations. They migrated Hutu and Tutsi’s populations to East Zaire (Lothe and McKenna 2020).

After World War II, Belgium was too weak to control their annexed territory, but European and Western countries began the decade long conflict with Communism. During Pan-Africanism political parties that questioned the exploitation of Zaire’s natural resources, such as uranium mined in Zaire that fueled “Littleboy” used in Hiroshima, were quickly assassinated. Belgian historians have uncovered evidence that Zaire’s first president Patrice Lumumba’s assassination in 1961 was orchestrated by the CIA and the Belgium government (Steven 2017).

With the abortion of Democracy orchestrated by colonial powers for resource wealth, the political parties which followed took a hands-off approach to state control of resources. The United States supported the Popular Movement of the Revolution led by Mobutu Seso Seko. Mobuto failed to quell the Hutu insurgents who were crossing the Eastern Front into reinstated Tutsi Rwanda. Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi supported rebellions that toppled his administration in 1997. (PBS 1999)


When the Europeans annexed the Burundi-Rwanda territory, the Burundi royal system received the authority to eliminate Hutu heirs. With the monarch’s help, the Belgian military reduced the number of chiefs from 133 to 46 and consolidated political power in a Tutsi king. All Hutu political leaders were removed from power, and some Tutsi chiefs are displaced. When Burundi sued for independence, they became a constitutional monarch. Hutu politicians were elected in the revolutionary democracy but removed shortly after. Prime Minister Pierre Ngendandumwe was assassinated by a Tutsi refugee from Rwanda. His successor Prime Minister Joseph Bamina was removed from political power by the Burundi’s King. Eventually, the King himself was removed from power by a Tutsi led coup for being too moderate to the Hutu. Over the last 20th century, any Burundi who agreed to power-sharing between Bantu speaking tribes met their end by the monarch or Tutsi military junta (AP 1993).

The New Partisans of the Post-Colonial World

The Tutsis are united by their shared identity of superiority to other Africans. The idea became a political future with help from colonial powers. When representative democracies were unfolded out in Africa, Hutu partisanship threatened to upend Tutsi existence. Tutsi fleeing into neighboring regions spread this enmity across Central Africa. Uganda hired refugees to be part of their police state. Burundi worked to amend their governance system to contain Hutu populations. Zaire’s inability to control Hutu rebel groups resulted in their demise as Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda funded coups against Zaire. States were either complicate with rebel groups or too weak to threaten the rebel group.

Europe intentionally destabilized Africa with civil institutions and military aid to gain resource wealth from rubber trees, slaves, uranium, coffee, and other products. They unintentionally destabilized central Africa by spreading partisanship and centralized rule. The Rwanda Civil War was not an isolated event, but a part of a regional insurgency affected by the new partisans of a post-colonial world.

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