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History of Rwanda
EARLY HISTORY FROM 15th TO THE 20th CENTURY
SOURCE: U.S. Department of State
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According to folklore, Tutsi cattlebreeders began arriving in the area from the Horn of Africa in the 15th
century and gradually subjugated the Hutu inhabitants. The Tutsis established a monarchy headed by a mwami (king) and a feudal hierarchy of Tutsi nobles and gentry.
Through a contract known as ubuhake, the
Hutu farmers pledged their services and those of their descendants to a Tutsi lord in return for the loan of
cattle and use of pastures and arable land. Thus, the Tutsi reduced the Hutu to virtual serfdom. However,
boundaries of race and class became less distinct over the years as some Tutsi declined until they enjoyed
few advantages over the Hutu. The first European known to have visited Rwanda was German Count Von
Goetzen in 1894. He was followed by missionaries, notably the "White Fathers." In 1899, the mwami submitted to a German protectorate without resistance. Belgian troops
from Zaire chased the small number of Germans out of Rwanda in 1915 and took control of the country.
NOTE: The information regarding the Rwanda on this page is re-published from U.S. Department of State. No claims are made regarding the
accuracy of Rwanda History information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Rwandan History should be addressed to the U.S. Department of