THE HUTU AND TUTSI PEOPLE

The Hutu and Tutsi are related peoples of Bantu origin who live in Burundi, Rwanda, eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. The Hutus are the majority ethnic group in both Burundi with 85% of the population is Hutu and 14% Tutsi, and Rwanda 84% and 15% respectively.

Almost every aspect of shared Hutu-Tutsi history is disputed and ethnic conflicts between the two groups were a recurring theme throughout much of the 20th century. The Belgian colonial authorities favored the Tutsi as the ruling elite. After independence, the battle for political power between the Hutu and Tutsi caused great instability in both Burundi and Rwanda. In 1993, an estimated 500,000 Burundians died in a little-reported genocide, followed a year later by the Rwanda genocide in which more than 800,000 people were killed.

Both Hutu and Tutsi speak the same Bantu language (Kinyarwanda in Rwanda and Kirundi in Burundi) and some scholars argue that the difference between the two groups is one of caste rather than any ethnic distinction. Intermarriage between the two groups was traditionally common. Both Hutu and Tutsi are predominantly Christian, although many maintain traditional beliefs in which the spirits of ancestors play an important role.

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