By Jan Vansina
To appreciate the genocide and different dramatic occasions of Rwanda’s contemporary previous, one needs to comprehend the background of the sooner realm. Jan Vansina presents a critique of the background recorded by way of early missionaries and courtroom historians and offers a bottom-up view, drawing on thousands of grassroots narratives. He describes the genesis of the Hutu and Tutsi identities, their turning out to be social and political changes, their sour feuds, revolts, and massacres, and the relevance of this dramatic historical past to the post-genocide Rwanda of today.2001 French version, Katharla Publishers
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Extra resources for Antecedents to Modern Rwanda: The Nyiginya Kingdom (Africa and the Diaspora)
Three or four herders or more were needed to pasture a herd and protect it against the attacks of the great carnivores or cattle rustlers,68 while additional men and women were required for the tasks at the cattle pen. The herders formed a team composed of the young men of the family unit, who managed the herd; this team joined forces with neighbors for the transhumance during the long dry season. 70 The division of labor by gender was sharp, although the most menial female work was sometimes assigned to male servants.
Men sowed cereals and women planted, men burned the ﬁelds and took care of the banana groves, and women weeded, winnowed, stored the produce in granaries, prepared food, and brewed. 61 But, on the other hand, they could not hold claim over any land and their personal status was mostly determined by the fact that they were always dependent on a man, whether as daughters, spouses, or mothers. 62 Several of these herds might constitute a larger whole called umutwe (“head”) but each herd of that whole was managed separately.
But it did not appear in a total void. It was built on the economic, social, and cultural practices that its founder encountered there. Hence any history of the kingdom must begin with the situation in the country on the eve of its creation, which is what we attempt to do in this chapter. We will therefore successively sketch the physical nature of the country, its settlement, its economic occupations, its social habits, and its political entities at the time. We cannot trust oral traditions in undertaking this sketch as they are too much tainted by anachronisms, nor can we rely on ethnographic descriptions since they are only valid for the end of the nineteenth century.
Antecedents to Modern Rwanda: The Nyiginya Kingdom (Africa and the Diaspora) by Jan Vansina