Batutsi (from now on used generically to mean Batutsi, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge) must adjust their centuries-old attitude towards others especially Bantu (Bahutu and Bairu) in the Great Lakes region (which refers to southwest Uganda – former Ankole and Kigezi districts and now being extended to the rest of Uganda under Museveni government), Burundi, Rwanda and Eastern DRC.
As a first step in the adjustment process, Batutsi must drop the idea that they are white people, superior, more intelligent and born to rule. Up to today, Batutsi are still falsely claiming that one Mututsi (singular for Batutsi) is equivalent to say 1000 Bairu or Bahutu people (sometimes they use a weighing scale where you have a small metal [Mutusi] weighed against say thousands of beans [Bahutu or Bairu]). Educated or not a Mututsi still considers himself more intelligent and superior to a well educated Muhutu or a Mwiru. Kagame and Museveni have very low education yet they pose as though they are on top of the intellectual pyramid in the Great Lakes region. Because of this false superiority they think marrying non-Batutsi women would devalue them. Consequently Batutsi men marrying non-Batutsi women is taboo and very much beneath their dignity; even eating/drinking or socializing unless artificially done for political convenience. Batutsi still vow that it is below their dignity to buy a beer for a Muhutu or Mwiru because that is the responsibility of the latter. Batutsi will only buy a few beers for Bahutu/Bairu only if they want something big from them like sending them to parliament to represent Bahutu or Bairu.
A former colleague who worked in Rwanda some years ago expressed to me how shocked she was when she invited Batutsi and Bahutu workmates at her home for a get together to relax after they had completed a project successfully. When the Tutsi arrived and found Hutu in the house, they just turned back and left because as the host was later told Batutsi and Bahutu don’t socialize together because Bahutu are below Batutsi dignity. While in a restaurant in Europe a Hutu woman teased a Tutsi woman for marrying a white man. The Tutsi woman angrily replied that “she would a thousand times rather marry a white than a Hutu because all Hutu [repeat all Hutu] were assassins”(M. B. Umutesi 2000). And all this is happening when Rwanda officials and their western supporters are boasting that ethnic differences have gone forever.
The mayhem they have caused including potential for political explosion is enough evidence that Batutsi as a group (there could be some individuals) don’t automatically qualify to rule others. Shooting people, imprisoning people, poisoning people, torturing people, exiling people, starving people, dispossessing people is the worst form of governing. That is the method Batutsi have used against Bantu since the 15th century. Outlawing reference to one’s tribe as has been done in Uganda through anti-sectarian and in Rwanda through anti-division laws does not mean that ethnic rivalries are over – far from it. If anything they have got worse.
We are also asking western commentators – diplomats, journalists and researchers – to drop the idea that Museveni and Kagame are the only people with a vision and leadership qualities to govern which they don’t have and to stop covering up atrocities Batutsi have meted out to Bahutu. Since the tragic 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Bahutu have been painted as uncivilized people and the equivalent of beasts thirsty and hungry for Batutsi blood and flesh. So, the few who have tried to dig into the historical relations between Bahutu and Bairu on the one hand and Batutsi on the other have not been listened to. The majority have dismissed Bahutu and their counterpart Bairu in Uganda as people worth paying attention to.
When the genocide of Bahutu was carried out by Batutsi at Kibeho camp in which some 8000 women, men and children perished in April 1995 (EIR October 23, 1998), not a single international finger was raised in protest. Information about millions of Bahutu that have perished in Eastern DRC at the hands of Batutsi is only beginning to surface and to gain recognition as the third genocide in the region. In 1972 Batutsi carried out genocide against Bahutu in Burundi and the world kept silent. Since 1995 Batutsi have systematically carried out genocide inside Rwanda and especially in Eastern DRC. So why does the world continue to condemn Bahutu as bad guys and treat Batutsi as victims?
A few weeks before he became president, Museveni was interviewed by John Nagenda and the idea of Batutsi white race was thrown into the conversation indirectly in the form of a question but what they meant to convey is that Museveni is a white man with superior intelligence and unequalled vision. Studies have demonstrated time and again that Batutsi are black and darker than Bantu people but they have refused to accept the truth. They have been told time and again that Bachwezi were a Bantu aristocracy (B. A. Ogot 1999) and that the earthen works in central Uganda belong to Bantu but Batutsi can’t accept the truth. They have been told time and again that some Bantu specialized in herding: “Many Bantu settlers switched to animal husbandry as the primary source of food, herding cattle, sheep and goats” (E. J. Murphy 1974) but Batutsi have insisted Bahutu and Bairu were and are cultivators, a profession below Batutsi dignity (J. Pottier 2002). Batutsi have been told time and again that they are Nilotic and their Nilotic Luo-speaking ancestors entered the Great Lakes region from Bahr el Ghazal in South Sudan but have insisted they are white from Ethiopia.
It is important to register that many Bantu in the Great Lakes region have acquired good education and experience, have travelled widely and established networks and now know their inalienable rights and freedoms. They won’t allow to be enslaved again. They won’t allow torture without crying or yelling as before. They won’t be dispossessed and keep quiet as before. They won’t grow food to feed Batutsi while their families go to bed hungry as before. They won’t allow their girls to be sexually used by Batutsi boys while Batutsi girls stay virgin until they marry like before. Bantu will not allow Batutsi to spit in their mouth like before (this is reported to have happened in Bunyoro recently). They won’t allow Batutsi to graze their cattle in Bantu gardens like before. They won’t allow Batutsi to pay them for their services with barren cows or bull calves or calves about to die or meat when a Mututsi cow dies.
We need to understand this history in the Great Lakes region which has adversely impacted the present in order to take informed decisions and make correct recommendations. We can no longer keep this troubling history under the rug/carpet which Batutsi are trying to repeat it. So this is not sectarianism as those who want to maintain the status quo are bound to reason.
UDU is advocating resolving differences by peaceful means so that all Ugandans can live together in peace, security and happiness. For this to happen, Batutsi under the leadership of Museveni must adjust and drop racial ideas of superiority and natural rulers. Batutsi must learn to share, not to grab everything – see what is happening to peasant land which Britain left in the hands of indigenous people.
To level the playing field, UDU has suggested the formation of a transitional government in which all stakeholders must participate in order to prepare for free and fair multi-party elections. To be fair to candidates in the presidential and parliamentary elections, those who participate in the transitional government should not contest the next elections so they don’t use their incumbency to disadvantage others. Batutsi need a De Clerk who together with like-minded Boers advised their conservative Boer fellows to adapt or die. They adapted and they are still alive in South Africa. The Portuguese in Africa who refused to adapt were swept out and Mozambique joined the Commonwealth.
UDU has already prepared a National Recovery Plan which should serve as a background document for the transitional government. The ball is in NRM’s court. So, let us strike while the iron is still hot.
By Eric Kashambuzi.