Rwandan ethnoscape more than 400 years later: The failure of de-ethnicization policy?

  • Evariste Erwin SEBAHUTU Ballsbridge University
Keywords: ethnic group, ethnicization, ethnicity, sosioeconoic group, feudalism, oppression


Rwanda is inhabited by three groups of people called Tutsi Twa and Hutu. Regardless of how their social and political uses shaped the history of the country, they are still disputed semantics. They are differently approached and given different appellations such as caste, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic groups, etc.; despite the prohibition of the use of these social groups in public after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, they are still prevalent in the contemporary Rwandan sociopolitical space and used equally by ordinary people and political elites. The question of whether Tutsi Twa and Hutu are socio-economic groups or distinct ethnic identities was solved using a comparative literature review approach in anthropology and theories of ethnic groups and ethnicity. It is now more than 400 years later that, contrary to the socio-economic status school widely accepted; due to marginalization, discrimination, instrumentalization, and politicization, the former socio-economic groups Hutu Twa and Tutsi evolved to be distinct ethnic identities. I argue also that besides ethnic denial and amnesia, like the previous ones, the current Rwandan socio-political arena is still built on ethnocentrism. Contrary to the widely accepted narrative that the ethnicization or racialization of Tutsi Twa and Hutu is the work of white colonizers, they only strengthened the already existing social divide and ethnicization. Since current theoretical approaches to ethnicity do not suit the current Rwandan ethnoscape, a modified version of the integrated theory of Philip Q Yang, the integrated-blame game theory was proposed. The aim of this paper is to debunk the current ethnic denial and amnesia and de-ethnicization policies currently practiced as instruments used to cover the continued ethnicity-based socio-economic marginalization process and that blaming all evils on colonizers mislead the search for everlasting solutions to Rwandan socio-political problems.

How to Cite
SEBAHUTU, E. E. (2022). Rwandan ethnoscape more than 400 years later: The failure of de-ethnicization policy?. International Journal of Global Community, 5(3-November), 251 - 272. Retrieved from