The civil war and the genocide that occurred in Rwanda is considered to be a manifestation of class divisions and stratifications of the society that are deeply rooted. These were later expressed and manipulated through the constructed identities of the Tutsi and the Hutu people. Among the factors that resulted in the outbreak of the conflict are socio economic class divisions, high levels of poverty, population, the scarcity of viable arable land, and the existence of a central government. On 1994, there was widespread violence throughout the country that fueled what to date is the worst case of genocide ever since the Second World War. An estimated 500,000-1,000,000 innocent civilian Tutsis and a moderate number of Hutus were murdered in the first wave of violence (Carney, 2017). The cause of the genocide is traced back to the year 1990 when President Juvenal Habyarimana who was a Hutu began using anti Tutsi rhetoric so that he could consolidate his power among the Hutu people (Carney, 2017). Already in the 1990, there were already waves of attacks against the Tutsis. The two ethnic groups were very similar and they had a shared culture and language but the government required registration based upon ethnicities. The government and army had thus begun to prepare for the elimination of the Tutsis by arming the Hutus with guns and machetes. April 6, 1994 saw the plane of President Habyarimana shot down (Carney, 2017). Whether it was by a Tutsi military organization or by Hutu extremists, it instigated the widespread massacre of the Tutsi people hours following the clash.
The two main actors in the conflict are:
1. The majority group of Hutus.
2. The minority group of Tutsis.
The split that occurred between the Hutus and the Tutsis was mostly founded upon economic reasons. The Hutus were farmers while the Tutsis were herdsmen. A majority of the people in the country however were Hutus and the economic designation of each people gradually came to stand out as divisions of class and as ethnic designations. Cattle were considered by the colonizers to be far more valuable than crops thus the Tutsis were considered by the colonizers first the Germans then the Belgians to be elite (Carney, 2017). The Belgians took over Rwanda in 1917 and by then Tutsi elite had been a ruling monarchy for a considerable length of time. The rule of the colonizers made the lines between the Hutus and the Tutsis to be even more distinct as they required all the local chieftain posts to be held by Tutsis (Carney, 2017). The minority Tutsi were thus turned into a symbol of colonial power.
Following the independence of Rwanda, the resentment that the Hutu had bred against the Tutsis turned into violence. The Hutus were a majority in the country thus they easily won the election and formed the government of Independent Rwanda. However, there were frequent cases of outbreak of violence between the two groups. The Rwandan genocide was thus a directed and pre-meditated attempt to eliminate an entire minority people for perceived errors in the colonial era (Carney, 2017).