Kingdom of Rwanda
|Kingdom of Rwanda
Ubwami bw'u Rwanda (Kinyarwanda)
Royaume du Rwanda (French)
|Trust Territory of Belgium|
|Historical era||Cold War|
|-||Autonomy from Belgium||July 25, 1959|
|-||Republic declared||July 1, 1962|
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Rwanda|
|Kingdom of Rwanda|
|Republic of Rwanda|
|Rwandan Civil War|
The Kingdom of Rwanda was founded in the 15th century by a pastoral group, the Tutsi. It occupied approximately the territory controlled by the modern state of Rwanda. The kingdom became gradually subdued by European colonial interests starting in 1890. It ceased to exist in 1962 when Rwanda became a republic following a coup d'état and the 1961 referendum.
In the 15th century, one chiefdom managed to incorporate several of its neighbors establishing the Kingdom of Rwanda, which ruled over most of what is now considered Rwanda. Although some Hutus were among the nobility and significant intermingling took place, the Hutu majority made up 82–85% of the population and were mostly poor peasants. In general, the kings, known as Mwamis, were Tutsi.
Before the 19th century, it was believed that the Tutsis held military power while the Hutus possessed supernatural power. In this capacity, the Mwami's council of advisors (abiiru) was exclusively Hutu and held significant sway. By the mid-18th century, however, the abiiru was increasingly marginalized.
As the kings centralized their power and authority, they distributed land among individuals rather than allowing it to be passed down through lineage groups, of which many hereditary chiefs had been Hutu. Most of the chiefs appointed by the Mwamis were Tutsi. The redistribution of land, enacted between 1860 and 1895 by Mwami Rwabugiri, resulted in an imposed patronage system, under which appointed Tutsi chiefs demanded manual labor in return for the right of Hutus to occupy their land. This system left Hutus in a serf-like status with Tutsi chiefs as their feudal masters.
Under Mwami Rwabugiri, Rwanda became an expansionist state. Rwabugiri did not bother to assess the ethnic identities of conquered peoples and simply labeled all of them “Hutu”. The title “Hutu”, therefore, came to be a trans-ethnic identity associated with subjugation. While further disenfranchising Hutus socially and politically, this helped to solidify the idea that “Hutu” and “Tutsi” were socioeconomic, not ethnic, distinctions. In fact, one could kwihutura, or “shed Hutuness”, by accumulating wealth and rising through the social hierarchy.
See also 
- Mamdani 2001, 62. Mandani recounts a historical narrative indicating the importance of a Hutu diviner in the formation of the Rwandan state.
- Manus I. Midlarsky, "The Killing Trap" (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p.162.
- citation could be pg. 12, 13, 14 of Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century, by Johan Pottier. published by Cambridge University in 2002