Honorary Tutsis

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From Jared Diamond's Collapse:
Especially puzzling, if one believes that there was nothing more to the genocide than Hutu-versus-Tutsi ethnic hatred fanned by politicians, are events in northwestern Rwanda. There, in a community where virtually everybody was Hutu and there was only a single Tutsi, mass killing still took place--of Hutu by other Hutu. While the proprtional death toll there, estimated as "at least 5% of the population" may have been somewhat lower than that overall in Rwanda (11%), it still takes some explaining why a Hutu community would kill at least 5% of its members in the absence of ethnic motives. Elsewhere in Rwanda, as the 1994 genocide proceeded and as the number of Tutsi declined, Hutu turned to attacking each other.


All but one of the known victims at Kanama fell into one of six categories. First, the single Tutsi at Kanama, a widowed woman, was killed. Whether that had much to do with her being Tutsi is unclear, because she furnished so many other motives for killing; she had inherited much land, the had been involved in many land disputes, she was the widow of a polygnous husband (hence viewed as a competitor of his other wives and their families), and her deceased husband had alread been forced off his land by his half-brothers.

Two more categories of victims consisted of Hutu who were large landowners. The majority of them were men over the age of 50, hence at a prime age for father/son disputes over land. The minority were younger people who had aroused jealousy by being able to earn much off-farm income and using it to buy land.

A next category of victims consisted of "troublemakers" known for being involved in all sorts of land disputes and other conflicts.

Still another category was young men and children, particularly ones from impoverished background, who were driven by desperation to enlist in the warring militias and proceeded to kill each other. This category is epecially likely to have been underestimated, because it was dangerous for Andre to ask too many questions about who had belonged to what militia.

Finally, the largest number of victims were especially malnourished people, or especially poor people with no or very little land and without off-farm income. They evidently died because of starvation, being too weak, or not having money to buy food or to pay the bribes required to buy their survival at roadblocks.

Thus, as Andre and Platteau note, "The 1994 events provided a unique opportunity to settle scores, or to reshuffle land properties, even among Hutu villagers.... It is not rare, even today, to hear Rwandans argues that a war is necessary to wipe out an excess of population and to bring numbers into line with available resources."

For some reason, I can't find any mention of this incident in Gourevitch's We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, Powers's or A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, or Dallaire's Shake Hands with the Devil : The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.


Isn't it a kind of common occurrence that during some period of chaos, along with whatever other nastiness is going on, people take the opportunity to settle old scores?

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