Rwanda speaks many different languages! Most native Rwandans speak the native tongue - or Kinyarwanda. However, English and French are also common in Rwanda. English became prominent after many refugees returned from Rwanda from abroad. The majority of these refugees learned English. Today, Rwanda named English as another official language. Also, French is a very popular language. Before 1994 French was the only official language until all of the English-speaking refugees returned home.

If you travel to Rwanda – and run into a native, use these useful Kinyarwandan phrases:

Hello: MooRahHoh (Muraho)

How are you?: AhMahKooRoo (Amakuru)

I am looking for/I want: NDahShahKah (Nda shaka)

Thank you: MooRahKohZay (Murakoze)

Have a good day: OoMoonSee MweeZah (Umunsi Mwiza)

And for last – a very important word in all languages:

Plastic bottle: AhgahCHOOPa (Agacupa)

Thanks for reading this blog!

Recently, Rwanda vowed to join the British Commonwealth – which many believe would provide Rwanda with many economical and diplomatic benefits. The acceptance into the commonwealth is to be decided by the end of this year; however, recently, a report (by the “New-Dehli based Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative) describes Rwanda as having poor human rights – which would prevent acceptance into the Commonwealth.

Although there is much dispute as to the validity of these claims, there is sufficient evidence that deny these claims and support Rwanda joining the commonwealth. To begin, even though the Commonwealth advocates human rights – many countries (that are members), such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India – suffered problems with human rights and were allowed to join the Commonwealth. Secondly, James Wizeye – the secretary at the Rwandan embassy in England – has kept records of Rwanda over the past 15 years (after genocide) – and none of these records prove  faulty human rights. Finally, Rwanda also has been known to maintain peace – and stayed out of wars. It seems that human rights is just a faulty claim by the commonwealth – as most evidence points to Rwanda having a clean record past the genocide.

Please note: This article is not advocating Rwanda joining the commonwealth, it does exemplify that the Commonwealth does not have sufficient evidence of  poor “human rights” in Rwanda, thus preventing them from joining the Commonwealth.

Please post your thoughts on this topic!

This is an example of a card that was mandated by the Belgians for all Rwandans. This specific individual belongs to the Tutsi tribe.

This is an example of a card that was mandated by the Belgians for all Rwandans. This specific individual belongs to the Tutsi tribe.

Believe it or not, one of the underlying causes of the 1994 genocide began in 1916. But before we venture to the events of 1916, we must learn about the general tribal makeup of Rwanda. To begin, Rwanda was made up of three tribes: the Tutsis (who pre-German colonization, ruled Rwanda via a monarchy), the Hutus, and the Twa (who, even though they were the native Rwandans, were outcasted by the other two tribes). Even though all three tribes spoke the same language, practiced the same religion, and pretty much had the same culture, the social division between the Tutsis and the Hutus seemed to be based on the individuals wealth. For example, according to the passage, Race and Ethnicity in Precolonial Rwanda:

“A rich Hutu who purchased a large herd of cattle could become a Tutsi, while a Tutsi who became poor, would drop to the Hutu caste. The Twa (called Pygmies) were looked down by both tribes and had no rights.”

Now that we have a basis for the different tribes and their social statuses, we shall progress to the year 1916. To begin, the Germans originally colonized Rwanda starting in the 1890′s, and conditions under it’s rule were fair. When the Germans colonized, they began to create a small division between the Hutus and the Tutsis (by favoring the Tutsis). However, in 1916, the social division grew tremendously. In 1916, the Belgians siezed Rwanda from the Germans, it was later fully given to them by the League of Nations in 1918 (Post World War – part of the Treaty of Versailles).

When the Belgians colonized in Rwanda, things changed drastically for Rwandans. First, the Belgians took control of the government, and even though the Tutsis still had some political rights,  the Hutus lost all of the [few] rights they had. In 1929 they eliminated all Hutu chiefs (the chiefs would have been dominant political figures of the Hutus). Secondly, the two tribes grew further and further apart when the Belgians educated Tutsis, preached Catholicism towards the Tutsis (which made the religion between the two tribes differ), and finally gave business rights (allowed them to get jobs) to the Tutsis. This not only divided the tribes, but it separated the cultures. For instance, the Tutsis could read, practiced Catholicism, and were able to get jobs (other than peasantry), where the Hutus soon became illiterate, practiced Protestantism, and basically only worked as slaves.

Finally, one of the biggest factors that divided the tribes was when the Belgians mandated “identity cards.” These cards identified which tribe each individual belonged to. When these cards were distributed, whatever tribe the individual belonged to at that point became his permanent tribe. Therefore, money no longer defined each tribe. This tribal division brought about conflicts and it soon became the underlying conflict which would eventually lead to the genocide in 78 years.

Keep checking back in this blog: the next post on the Genocide will talk about the Belgian decolonization and it’s impact on the genocide.

Sources:

Africa: Belgian Colonies – History of belgian colonization, The administration of congo by the belgians (1908–1960, History of belgium colonization of rwanda, Race and ethnicity in precolonial african belgian colonies, Race and ethnicity in precolonial rw

Elime, Emily. “Belgian Colonization.” <http://emileelime.tripod.com/id4.html>

These are the children my relatives met as they ventured in Rwanda to meet their sponsor child.

These are the children my relatives met as they ventured in Rwanda to meet their sponsor child.

Many people have asked me why I became interested in Rwanda. Upon pondering this question, I realized Rwanda first tugged my heart when my family began sponsoring a child in Rwanda about 7 years ago. We sponsor her through this organization called “Compassion International,” which not only sponsors children in Rwanda – but all over the world who struggle with poverty. In this program, you sponsor your child until they graduate high school (or the highest level of education provided in that country). This means, my family and I still continue to support our child as she continues to work to support her family and attend school.

One of the many cool things about Compassion International is you get to frequently write to your sponsor child.  Not only does this deeply connect you to your sponsor child, it allows you to learn the struggles and hardships that they undergo in everyday life. It also allows you to understand their take on life. An epiphanous moment occurs everytime I read these letters, as I realize how much I take for granted in my every day life.   When I see the life they undergo, and how grateful they are for the smallest things – such as an American t-shirt, it reminds me to be thankful for everything I have. Next, another great feature in sponsoring a child is sending them gifts (usually money) – whether celebrating  Christmas or their birthday. For instance, one time we sent our sponsor child a small sum of money for her birthday – expecting she’d buy some clothes or something; however, we were soon shocked and overcome with joy when we received a letter in the mail [from her] with a picture of her and a new goat. She decided to buy a goat for the milk for her family. Though many may think the goat was the highlight of the picture, our child’s wide, bright smile was what we truly focused on.  Finally, one of the most powerful and moving feature of Compassion is the option visiting your child. Although I have yet to visit my sponsor child (I hope to visit her before I go to college), two of my relatives who support a [different] Rwandan child, were able to fly to Rwanda and visit him. When they visited him, they were able to experience what impact this program had on their child. Not only did they get to experience firsthand what life in Rwanda was like, they made deep connections with the child and when they left, they longed to return. Not only did this experience effect them, all of the children that they met along their journey were overcome with joy and happiness.

All in all, Compassion International is a great program. I highly encourage you to talk to your families about sponsoring a child – not necessarily Rwanda, but maybe a country that interests you or grabs your heart. I can promise you this: once you sponsor a child, your life will be changed forever and you will know that you have made a difference in somebody’s life. The love you will have for your child and the love they return is something no amount of money can buy.

To visit Compassion International’s homepage, go to: http://www.compassion.com/

Click Here For the Compassion International: Rwandan Blog


Welcome to Rwanda

Rwanda. It is filled with a rich history – with both glamorous and horrific events. From the genocides in 1994, which killed over 800,000 people, to the causes of the genocides. From modern day issues, to personal interviews with actual Rwandan’s on daily life and their take on the genocides and modern day life. When an interview is coming up, you can send me questions and they might be used for the actual interview. This blog includes not only stunning pictures of Rwanda, but it will also provide a rich – possibly humorous – story to accompany it. This blog is non-linear. One week you may learn about the Belgium decolonizations in Rwanda and the next week will be on modern day issues. But each will be under one of the four subject names which will be “chapters:” Genocides, Modern Day Issues, Modern Day Life, Pictures/Videos. Every 1-2 weeks a different chapter will be posted but it will be a continuation of the last time that type of chapter was posted. By the end of the year, all readers will understand the rich history and the beautiful culture Rwanda possesses. Enjoy!

Rwandan mama gorilla giving her baby gorilla that "motherly" look.

Rwandan mama gorilla giving her baby gorilla that "motherly" look.