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RACIST THEORY BEHIND GENOCIDE IN AFRICA
24 Nov 2006
RACIST THEORY BEHIND GENOCIDE IN AFRICA
An African version of the infamous Aryan invasion theory propagated by missionaries and colonial rulers triggered the Hutu-Tutsi massacres
(Edited with comments by N.S. Rajaram)
Editor’s introduction: Most Indians are familiar with the Aryan invasion theory and its political misuse. Some are familiar also with its demolition by science, especially genetics, and the recent British admission that it was a political ploy used by them in their policy of divide and rule. While the theory has been fully discredited, some Western academics and their Indian followers are clinging to it out of concern for their academic survival. This was what was really behind the recent controversy over the California school curriculum. What most Indians, however, don’t know is that the Aryan-Dravidian racial divide was only one instance of the colonial-missionary tactic of divide and rule combined with divide and convert.
A similar artificial division created in Africa was to have horrific consequences. The recent Hutu-Tutsi conflicts in which millions of lives were lost was a direct result of such a tactic applied by academics, colonial bureaucrats and missionaries as Pankaj Saksena’s following account describes. (N.S.R.)
The concept of the Aryan invasion theory being the handiwork of British colonialists for the sake of proving the superiority of the European Caucasian races is not an isolated case. There exist similar theories in other parts of the world involving other nations and other (imaginary) ethnic groups as the following shows. One has to wonder why it has received so little attention from scholars. (Perhaps they are worried that their dubious record would be further damaged by the exposure of more such skeletons in their already rotten closet.)
When we look at the map of middle Africa, we see two little countries named Rwanda and Burundi , bordering on Zaire (or the Democratic Republic of Congo). The name Rwanda brings to mind in a flash the image of ethnic violence, civil war, military juntas and genocide on a horrific scale. Few Indians know the recent history of these unfortunate countries or the cause of their tragic history. As reported in the Western media, these countries are inhabited by two supposedly different ethnic groups, the so-called Hutus and Tutsis. The ethnic composition of these two countries is as follows.
Rwanda : Hutu 84%, Tutsi 15%, Twa (Pygmies) 1%
Burundi : Hutu 85%, Tutsi 14%, Twa 1%
In other words, their compositions hardly differ at all. But according to Western anthropologists, mainly colonial bureaucrats and missionaries, the Tutsies are supposed to be a Hamitic people, a race that was often intermixed with the whiter races of the North, notably from Ethiopia and Egypt , which in their turn were intermixed with some West Asiatic people, mainly the Hittites, by repeated invasions from the North. These people, the Tutsis, are supposed to have arrived from the North and not native to Rwanda .
(The analogy to the invading Aryans is immediate and striking, but it doesn’t stop here. Read on. N.S.R.)
The majority of Hutus are said to be Bantu, of original African race, which spilled out from the middle of the West African coast of Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivorie (Ivory Coast) and the inland countries of Burkina Faso and its neighbors.
In this scenario, which incidentally is contradicted by genetic analysis, Tutsis are foreign invaders or migrants (like the Aryans) in the Rwanda-Burundi region. The Hutus, like the Indian Dravidians, are said to be much older people, but not the original inhabitants. The original inhabitants are supposed to be the Pygmies (or Twa), who constitute barely 1 percent of the people. The really interesting part of the theory is the role of the Tutsi minority. They are made into a superior race of invaders, just like the Aryan invaders, and supposedly constitute the aristocratic elite and the oppressors of the Hutu majority.
According to this theory, the minority Tutsi have subjugated the indigenous, but not too indigenous (compared to the Pygmies) Hutus for centuries and forced them into inferior position of agriculture. Now the key notion: Hutus and Tutsis are really two completely separate races, with the ‘black’ Hutus forming the oppressed majority, and their relatively fairer invaders, the Tutsi, forming the oppressors.
This in essence is the Tutsi invasion theory, the African version of the Aryan invasion theory. The similarities are startling, even to the extent of the Dravidians in India being preceded by earlier inhabitants, the aborigines (so-called adi-vasis), who have their African counterpart in the Pygmies. So we have the African Pygmy-Hutu-Tutsi sequence corresponding to the Indian aborigines-Dravidia n-Aryan scheme.
It is highly illustrative to look at the political evolution of this grotesque theory and its monstrous consequences. Until the coming of the Europeans, the Tutsis and the Hutus never saw themselves as different and were not engaged in any racial wars. With the European scramble for Africa, Rwanda-Burundi became part of the short-lived German East Africa . After Germany ’s defeat in the First World War, it became part of the Belgian colonies in Africa . This notion of the Tutsi-Hutu racial difference began to be drilled into the natives by colonial administrators, some academics (Witzel-types) and missionaries known as the Pere Blancs (White Fathers). They invented the Tutsi invasion theory and labeled the Hutus as the victims of Tutsi invasion and oppression.
It is worth noting that this period, between the two world wars, was the heyday of race theories in Europe . It seems the notion of superiority due to skin color—real or imagined as in this case—is so deeply ingrained in the European psyche that they cannot get out of it. Its politics has collapsed, not due to any dawn of enlightenment on its proponents but the defeat of Nazi Germany. It has continued however in Western academia as Indo-European Studies and other guises.
As with the Aryan theories and their various offshoots, this Tutsi-Hutu division has no factual basis. They speak the same language, have a long history of intermarriage and have many cultural characteristics in common. Most differences are regional rather than racial, which they were not aware of until the Europeans made it part of their politics and propaganda.
The division if any was occupational. Agriculturists were called Hutu while the cattle owning elite were referred to as Tutsi. The Tutsi, like the Indian Aryans, were supposed to be tall, thin and fair, while the Hutu were described as short, black and squat— just as the Indian Dravidians are said to be. Since the Tutsi today don’t fit this description, scholars claimed that their invading ancestors did. They offered no proof but, being based on no evidence, cannot be disproved either. In fact, it is impossible today to tell the two people apart. They are separate because government records carried over from the colonial days say so. (More of this below.)
This imaginary racial difference was emphasized by colonial officials during Belgian rule. The Belgian Government forced everyone to carry an identity card showing tribal ethnicity as Hutu or Tutsi. This was used in administration, in providing lands, positions, and otherwise for playing power politics based on race. This divisive politics combined with the racial hatred sowed by the invasion theory turned Rwanda-Burundi into a powder keg ready to explode.
The explosion occurred, following independence form colonial rule. Repeated violence after independence fueled this hatred based on this supposed ethnic difference and the concocted history of the Tutsi invasion and oppression. Some 2.5 million people were massacred in this fratricidal horror of wars and genocides. Unscrupulous African leaders, like the so-called Dravidian leaders of India , have exploited this divisive colonial legacy to gain power at the cost of the people. Hutu leaders described the Tutsis as cockroaches, telecasting their tirades against the Tutsis on the radio during the 1994 genocide of the Tutsis. This led ordinary Hutus to massacre the Tutsis en masse in a bid to annihilate them completely.
So a peaceful, placid nation with a common populace, with a common language, culture and history was destroyed by colonialist, racist concoction called the Tutsi Invasion Theory— entirely the handiwork of colonial bureaucrats, missionaries and Witzel-like pseudo-scholars.
It is of course no coincidence that ideas that led to the Holocaust in Europe should have led to genocide in Africa . The disgrace is that they have found a home in Western academia in various guises, ready to come out of the closet at an opportune moment, as for instance during the recent California school curriculum controversy.
Why should we learn all this? Because the Tutsi Invasion Theory has ominous parallels to the Aryan Invasion Theory which Witzelite pseudo-scholars are trying desperately to save in the name of linguistics, Indo-European Studies or some such fig-leaf. Also, ethnic tension and violence, thankfully not on the same horrific scale, was incited between North- and South Indians by self-styled Dravidian parties like the DMK, AIDMK and their many offshoots and incarnations. These are the poisonous legacy of the colonial-missionary racist offspring.
Why did India not go the way of Rwanda-Burundi? Not for lack of trying but because the cultural legacy of Hinduism proved too strong. It defeated the designs of politicians and propagandists masquerading as scholars. It is no coincidence that Rwanda and Burundi had been converted to Christianity, carrying with it the message of intolerance. But there is no room for complacency. The anti-Hindu politicians of India and the Marxist-missionary academia have come together to defend the Aryan-Dravidian divide. They have been joined by the Witzelites, concerned for their academic survival.
Their failure in Hindu India is also what is behind the visceral anti-Hinduism of the Witzelites. This is enhanced by the fact that Hindu scholars have been at the forefront of exposing their designs and scholarly pretensions.
The Witzelite brand of pseudo-scholarship cannot survive once the Aryan theories end up in the dustbin where they belong. They have found useful stooges in Indian politics and academia. They no longer engage in debate but in name calling. Any opposition to the Aryan invasion is denounced as emotional, chauvinistic, and the handiwork of Hindu nationalists and fundamentalists. Like the artificial Aryan-Dravidian divide, the Tutsi-Hutu divide is also denied by respectable—non- Witzelite— scholarship, including Western scholarship. Are we to denounce these—and a million Tutsi victims of the genocides—as the handiwork of these nationalistic chauvinistic Tutsis who deserved their fate?
The answer lies in the correct reading of the indigenous history through the various new tools available today, from science, genetics and archaeology. It calls for the deconstruction of the colonial edifice that has promoted this racist, hate filled theories to appeal to the vanity of a few and help the careers of some pseudo-scholars. Above all, it calls for exposing the charlatans who fatten on the misery of victims of colonial horrors carrying pompous names like anthropology, Indo-European Studies and the like. These are the parasites of colonialism.
ALSO READ BELOW ARTICLES
At this crucial point, the issue of race entered the picture. Obsessed by their theories of racial classification, 19th- and early-20th-century Europeans rewrote the history of central Africa. Imposing their own racist projection of superiority on Tutsi "Hamito-Semites" and a corresponding inferiority on Hutu "Bantu Negroes," missionary and colonial historians began to attribute the rise of the Great Lakes kingdoms to the arrival of a superior race of "black Europeans" from the north.
Mr. Chrétien quotes many examples of this toxic "scientific ethnicism," which the Belgians purveyed to their central African colonies until just before independence. A typical example from a colonial school newspaper in Burundi in 1948 states that "the preponderance of the Caucasian type is
deeply marked" among the Tutsi, making them "worthy of the title that the explorers gave them: aristocratic Negroes."
NY Times, August 30, 2003
BOOKS OF THE TIMES | 'THE GREAT LAKES OF AFRICA'
A Deep Crisis, Shallow Roots
By JOHN SHATTUCK
In central Africa, a genocidal war has raged for nearly a decade, costing
more than four million lives in Rwanda, Burundi and Congo and precipitating
the worst humanitarian crisis in more than half a century. Central Africa
shares this gruesome recent past with southeastern Europe, where in the
1990's the Balkans were swept by a wave of killing and "ethnic cleansing."
In both cases, genocide was widely misunderstood to be the inevitable
product of "ancient hatreds."
Jean-Pierre Chrétien, a French historian with vast experience in the Great
Lakes region of Africa, has undertaken the formidable task of tracing the
roots of the region's violence and exposing the ideological myths on which
the ancient-hatreds theory rests. In a monumental study that marches
through two millenniums before approaching central Africa's contemporary
agony, Mr. Chrétien punctures the sense of inevitability that permeates our
thinking about the Rwandan genocide.
Along the way, he illuminates the responsibility of a wide range of actors
from the colonial period through the present. As warlords continue today to
compete for power in a thoroughly ravaged Congo, Mr. Chrétien helps us
understand how this all came about and why it matters that we know.
The story begins with the geography of the central African highlands.
Despite its equatorial location, Mr. Chrétien says, "the region is blessed
with good climate, is rich with diverse soils and plants, and has prospered
thanks to some strong basic techniques: the association of cattle keeping
and agriculture; the diffusion of the banana a millennium ago; and the
mastery of iron metallurgy two millennia ago." In this healthy environment,
complex social structures evolved in which the idea of kingship and strong
central authority took hold and flourished for more than 300 years before
the arrival of colonial powers in the mid-19th century.
The fertile lands around the Great Lakes were settled by indigenous Hutu
cultivators, while the more mountainous areas were used for the raising of
cattle by Tutsi pastoralists. In the early kingdoms of the region,
agricultural and pastoral systems were integrated because they controlled
complementary ecological zones and served mutually beneficial economic
interests. As Mr. Chrétien argues convincingly, nowhere at this time could
the "social dialectic be reduced" to a Hutu-Tutsi cleavage.
That began to change in the 19th century. As social structures became more
complex, the success of the central African kingdoms depended increasingly
on territorial expansion through raiding, colonizing and annexing of
neighboring lands. At the same time, Tutsi cattle raisers in search of more
land began to emerge as a new elite and a driving force behind expansion.
The kingdoms of Rwanda and Uganda were particularly expansionist, but were
soon thwarted by the arrival of colonial powers. The immediate effect of
colonialism was to reorient the stratified and dynamic societies of the
Great Lakes around competing poles of collaboration with, and resistance
to, the new foreign occupiers.
Since these remote societies had been untouched by the slave trade that
ravaged Africa's coastal regions, they presented the Europeans with a range
of robust aristocracies and royal courts to win over.
At this crucial point, the issue of race entered the picture. Obsessed by
their theories of racial classification, 19th- and early-20th-century
Europeans rewrote the history of central Africa. Imposing their own racist
projection of superiority on Tutsi "Hamito-Semites" and a corresponding
inferiority on Hutu "Bantu Negroes," missionary and colonial historians
began to attribute the rise of the Great Lakes kingdoms to the arrival of a
superior race of "black Europeans" from the north.
Mr. Chrétien quotes many examples of this toxic "scientific ethnicism,"
which the Belgians purveyed to their central African colonies until just
before independence. A typical example from a colonial school newspaper in
Burundi in 1948 states that "the preponderance of the Caucasian type is
deeply marked" among the Tutsi, making them "worthy of the title that the
explorers gave them: aristocratic Negroes."
Genocide of the Tutsis – the Role of the Roman Catholic Church
BRITISH CHURCH NEWSPAPER 16 APRIL 2004
Analysis – by a correspondent
Events and media coverage of the 10th anniversary of the Hutu massacres of 800,000 Tutsis in the spring of 1994 have strangely omitted the role of the institution largely responsible for the genocide – the Roman Catholic Church. Its role may be compared to its role in supporting the Nazis in the 1930s.
When German colonialists arrived in numbers in Rwanda-Burundi in the 1870s, they found, for Africa, a remarkably well-ordered society. The Tutsis, not an ethnic group as such but based on the Nyiginya tribe, were dominant. They were mostly cattle owners, holding power in the all important ‘central court’ and its satellite institutions, while the Hutu were mostly peasant farmers. But Hutu farmers could move into the Tutsi elite on merit, with Hutu chiefs playing a significant role in society.
From the 1880s onwards, Belgian Roman Catholic missionaries from the Vatican’s ‘White Fathers Order’ increased their influence in the area, and in the 1919 Versailles settlement after World War I, Rwanda became a League of Nations ‘Trust Territory’ under Belgain control.
Darwinian evolutionary theory
The ‘White Fathers’ consolidated their influence. Darwinian evolutionary and racial theories were then in full flow. The ‘Fathers’ developed a bizarre racist theory to explain the relatively well-ordered African society they were dealing with, the so-called ‘Hamitic hypothesis’. This proclaimed that ‘civilised’ African societies emanated from an invasion of ‘Ham-ites’ who originally settled in Ethiopia.
Rwandan history was effectively rewritten by RC academics and Belgian colonial administrators. The Tutsi were Hamites, descended from Ham, whilst the Hutus were of inferior stock and destined to be treated like Bantu serfs, whilst a small group of hunter-gatherers and potters, the Twa, were regarded as ‘aboriginal pygmoids’ – supposedly remnants of an earlier stage of human evolution.
The result was that only Tutsi were now given places of responsibility in Rwanda; their existing powers and privileges increased greatly. Understandably, Hutu resentment grew.
Young papal missionaries
After World War II, the influence of the White Fathers Order diminished as a new wave of young Papal missionaries came over from Belgian seminaries. They brought with them ‘social justice’ theories that were now being developed by the Vatican to promote RC influence in third world counties. These mostly Flemish priests identified with the by-now oppressed Hutu majority, took up their cause, and gradually forced the Tutsis to relinquish their grip on the country. One result was a Hutu uprising in 1959 which led to 10,000 Tutsis being killed and over 100,00 being driven abroad.
Three years later, Gregoire Kayibanda, Secretary to Monsignor Vincent Nsengiyuma, Rwanda’s Archbishop, became first President of an independent Rwanda, having earlier founded the racial supremacist ‘Parme Hutu’ party. Now the Tutsi were seen by RC thinkers as ‘invaders’ from Ethiopia and the RC Church orchestrated calls for the Tutsi to be ‘sent back home’.
A notable event was the disgraceful letter sent in 1972 to the Archbishop by a group of eleven Hutu RC priests and religious leaders, referring to the Tutsi as ‘inyensi’ (@#%$-roaches) – a word used frequently by Hutu killers in 1994. Referring to the 1959 massacres, the letter read: “After the defeat of the counter-revolutionaries, the inyenzi, one would have thought that reasonable people, consecrated to God’s service, would bow down before the irreversible victory of the people. The Hutu seem to have fallen asleep on the laurels of victory while the Tutsis are working very hard in order to again become masters of events. How long can we allow our Tutsi brothers to make fools of us?” One of the letter’s authors, Andre Havugimana, later rose to high office in the Rwandan RC Church.
The year following that letter, the RC Church publicly endorsed the purge of Tutsis from schools, colleges and the civil service. Abuses and occasional massacres of Tutsis were the inevitable result of this persecution. In 1992, Hassan Ngeze, a journalist working for the extremist Hutu party, published a Hutu manifesto, titled ‘The Hutu Ten Commandments’. Commandment No. 8 was “Stop having mercy on the Tutsis”.
Rome, the USA and the genocide
The events leading up to the genocide in April 1994 were, according to many experts, planned and co-ordinated by RC church leaders and politicians in conjunction with Hutu racial supremacists and United States Ambassador David Rawson. Rawson’s previous post had been in Somalia, where he had spent millions of dollars providing US military weapons to the discredited Barre regime. That was followed by an ignominious US exit from Somalia as that country descended into chaos.
A key US role in the Rwandan massacres was to deny that genocide was taking place, since under international law that would have ‘obliged’ the UN and the international community to intervene. Instead, they claimed there were merely ‘individual acts of genocide’. They also actively frustrated UN attempts to send troops to Rwanda.
In a 1999 Guardian article, Chris McGreal wrote of the failure of the RC church to prevent the bloodshed: “It failed because it claims four out of five Rwandans as adherents, yet it made little effort to influence the killers. That failure continues today through denial and evasion over its responsibility for the genocide”.
Rome, the ecumenists and the massacre
A number of RC priests actively participated in the genocide of the Tutsi, including Augustin Misago, charged in 1999 with dispatching children to serve in the Hutu militia. In one incident, dozens of unarmed Tutsis were slaughtered in a RC church. Misago said: “They brought it on themselves by hiding guns”. Two years later, a human rights group, who investigated RC participation in the massacres, wrote to the Pope saying: “One is stuck by the persistent wish to exonerate the RC hierarchy and the institution at any price”. It is sad to record that some compromising, ecumenical, once Protestant religious institutions also ‘turned a blind eye to the massacres.
Last week, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that he would urgently bring forward legislation to introduce identity cards. Just as the identification of the Jews on local authority registers in Holland in the 1930s enable Hitler’s men to rapidly identify and round up Jews there in 1940, it is salutary to note that the Catholic inspired racial ideology of the 1920s and 1930s required all Rwandans to carry papers identifying them as either Hutu, Tutsi or Twa. This made the job of the Hutu mass-murders, whose efforts at one time led to 40,000 Tutsi bodies floating down to Lake Victoria, all the easier.
World ponders Rwanda genocide 10 years later
On 7 April Rwanda remembered the 1994 genocide in which hundreds of thousands of people were massacred.
The genocide began on 7 April 1994, a day after a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali. Over the next 100 days, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered.
Militia members, the armed forces and civilians carried out appalling atrocities, mainly against the Tutsi ethnic minority, but also against those from the Hutu majority who refused to join in the slaughter or belonged to opposition parties.
The killers were mostly civilians armed with machetes, garden hoes and spiked clubs, spurred on by hate propaganda. They did their work five times faster than the gas chambers used by the Nazis during the Second World War, according to some academics.
An estimated 400,000 of the victims of the mass killing were children, and 95,000 children were left orphaned.
"It is difficult to forget," Chantal Umurungi, 24, the sole survivor of the genocide in a family of 10, told the IRIN news service (www.irinnews.org). "I keep remembering how Hutu militants were cutting off people's heads, and this normally comes in the form of nightmares."
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "We must all acknowledge our responsibility for not having done more to present or stop the genocide. We cannot afford to wait until the worst has happened … or end up with little more than futile hand-wringing or callous indifference."
65 per cent of Rwandans are Roman Catholic and 9 per cent are Protestant. (Ecumenical News International)
Hamitic theory in Rwanda
In Rwanda, the Hamitic hypothesis was a racialist hypothesis created by John Hanning Speke (Gourevitch 1999) which stated that the "Hamitic" Tutsi people were superior to the "Bantu" Hutus because they were more Caucasian in appearance, and thus destined to rule over the Hutus.
In the movie Hotel Rwanda, a native Rwandan explains to caucasian reporters that people were determined by the Belgians to be either Hutu or Tutsi in a very subjective way, such as the width of the nose or other physical characteristics. One of the reporters asks two girls if they are Hutu or Tutsi, and they respond that one is Hutu and the other is Tutsi. The reporter notes that they look so much alike that they could be twins.
Although the actual origin of the Tutsis is disputed, if they had once been a ruling-class of invaders, they had long since lost that social position.
This hypothesis was a significant factor in the Rwandan genocide. Because of the wide-spread racism in the area, and the belief among Tutsis that they were superior to the Hutus, the Hutus began to see the Tutsis as an outside invader to their land. One Hutu political activist suggested that the Tutsis be floated down the river to Ethiopia, which Speke claimed was the ancestral home of the Tutsis.
Although this hypothesis is often compared to the ideology of Nazi Germany, it should be noted that in Rwanda, the genocide was conducted against those the hypothesis described as superior, whereas the victims of the Holocaust were seen as the inferiors by the Nazis.
Hamitic theory today
In this way Europeans again justified their own exploitation of the African continent. These ideas were still in wide circulation until the mid 20th century. The Hamitic hypothesis is widely rejected today on a multitude of grounds. Most "scientific" observations of the time were heavily culturally biased and generally returned results that suited European prejudices. Many observations of the time have been corrected since then to reveal a much more complex picture of ethnic groups than was initially thought. Nonetheless, the term Hamitic is still used in some anthropological nomenclature.
The term's linguistic use was effectively terminated by Joseph Greenberg (The Languages of Africa) in the 1950s, who introduced the use of geographical rather than racial terms for Africa's language families.
Gourevitch, Philip (September 1999). We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Letters From Rwanda, 1, New York: Picador, 368. 0312243359.
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