An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview

26. Ruanda-Urundi

Nearly 5 million people inhabit this small mountainous region just south of the Equator. The population density averages 200 per square mile, in some areas rising to 380. Although remote and land- locked, Ruanda and Urundi have developed a thriving export trade in coffee, which is grown on the high slopes by the Africans themselves (in 1959 there were only 6,500 Europeans and 2,500 Asians there).

Formerly German territory (30), Ruanda-Urundi passed to Belgium under League of Nations mandate in 1919; after 1945 the mandate became a trusteeship under the United Nations. Belgium linked it with the Congo, but treated it separately for many purposes. As Germany had done, Belgium recognized the authority of the traditional ruler ( Mwami) of each of these two interlacustrine (25) states. The (Banya-)Ruanda had a tighter central organization than the (Ba-)Rundi, whose Mwami was and is more of a titular ruler surrounded by powerful local chiefs.

Even more than other interlacustrine monarchies, Ruanda and Urundi were marked by a clear distinction between a dominant minority -- about one-sixth of the population -- here known as (Wa-)Tutsi and conspicuous for the height that reveals their Nilotic origins, and the Bantu majority (known as (Ba-, Wa-)Hutu). The Tutsi, a cattle-owning aristocracy, did not let their pastoral tradition stop them from getting the lion's share of the coffee profits, though the Hutu did the work. In 1959 the Hutu of Ruanda rose against their masters, and about a quarter of the Tutsi fled into Kivu, Uganda and Tanganyika, or took refuge in less disturbed parts of their own country. Urundi remained quiet, and there seem prospects of Tutsi and Hutu working together there for political progress. But in Ruanda there was still tension in 1961 between the main Hutu party, Parmehutu, and the unreconciled Tutsi factions, with which the exiled Mwami aligned himself. While both called for independence from Belgian rule, the Tutsi demanded it at once, hoping that they could then restore their domination, while the Hutu radicals wanted time to organize first. Parmehutu won elections held under UN supervision in 1961. Meanwhile the situation had been complicated by the collapse of order in the ex-Belgian Congo (23), the arrival of Belgian refugees from Kivu, and the involvement of Belgians in Ruanda-Urundi in the Congolese factions' struggle for control of Bukavu, just across the border.

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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