Rwanda was originally inhabited by the pygmies who were predominantly hunters and food gatherers; ancestral to present day Batwa people who comprise of only 0.25% of the national population presently.
The next inhabitants were the agricultural and pastoral immigrants from the west. It is alleged that before the 15th century a ruler called Gihanga forged a centralized Rwanda state with similar roots to the Bunyoro and Buganda empires in the neighboring country of Uganda.
The precursors of the modern-day Tutsi and Hutu were a cattle owning nobility and agriculturalists respectively. The well established and powerful state was able to protest earlier attempts at the advent of European imperialism.
However, after the 1885, Berlin conference, Rwanda became a German colony.
Rwanda was later mandated to Belgium in the 1918 resulting into the implementation of indirect rule that actually triggered off to the acute divisions between the Tutsi and Hutu; a practice that has persisted up to date.
Pre-colonial Rwanda was a highly centralized Kingdom presided over by Tutsi kings who hailed from one ruling clan. The king ruled through three categories of chiefs: cattle chiefs; land chiefs; and military chiefs. The chiefs were predominantly, but not exclusively, Batutsi, especially the cattle and military chiefs. While the relationship between the king and the rest of the population was unequal, the relationship between the ordinary Bahutu, Batutsi and Batwa was one of mutual benefit.
In 1899 Rwanda became a German colony. After the defeat of the Germans during WW1, subsequently in 1919 Rwanda became a mandate territory of the League of Nations under the administration of Belgium. The Germans and the Belgians administered Rwanda through a system of indirect rule. During this colonial era, a cash crop economy was introduced in Rwanda, and this was administered through harsh methods that further alienated the King and his chiefs from the rest of the population.
From 1959 onwards, the population of Batutsi was targeted, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, and a refugee population of almost two million Rwandese people in the Diaspora that was to last almost four decades.
The First Republic, under President Gregoire Kayibanda, institutionalised discrimination against Batutsi and periodically used massacres against this targeted population as a means of maintaining the status quo.
THE RWANDESE PATRIOTIC FRONT (RPF)
Against a backdrop of entrenched divisive and genocide ideology, repeated massacres, the persistent problems of refugees in the Diaspora, and the lack of avenues for peaceful political change, the Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU) was formed in 1979 by some Rwandese in the Diaspora with the objective of mobilising Rwandese people to resolve these problems. Almost a decade later, in 1987, RANU became the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF).
The first massacres in Rwanda took place in 1959. Thereafter, almost in a regular manner, killings of the Batutsi became a common practice. In the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s massacres of Batutsi were common. Between April and July 1994, over 1 million Rwandese people, mainly Batutsi and some Bahutu opposition were killed by the genocidal regime. Many people were involved in the killings. Those who planned and organised the genocide include the late President, Major General Juvenal.
THE FALL OF THE GENOCIDAL REGIME
On 4th July 1994, the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali, fell to the forces of the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed wing of the RPF. The members of the so-called Provisional Government, the armed groups, and many people who were involved in genocide, fled mainly to the DRC and Tanzania. Over three million refugees fled to Tanzania and the DRC.
On 19th July, 1994, the RPF established the Government of National Unity.