The Collapse of Rwanda

By: Abby Condon


Although Rwanda's collapse was strongly tied to the crash of the world coffee market, its history of imperialism, and the racism between Hutus and Tutsis were major factors.

Background Information

Rwanda is a country of over 7 million people in Northeast Africa. There were and still are two major tribes that settled in this country many centuries ago, the Hutus and the Tutsis. The Hutus settled after a small tribe (Twa) in the area as farmers, followed by the Tutsis who controlled wealth such as cattle. Both of these tribes had their own clan-based monarchies. People could marry into each other's tribes, but the Tutsis were considered more dominant as they were considered winners due to their light skin. The Hutus were dark skinned people.

The Collapse of the Coffee market

Rwanda largest and most important export was their coffee. In 1989, The coffee prices collapsed when the United States under pressure from the large trading companies withdrew by letting the market determine the coffee prices. This would force the coffee prices to their lowest level by 50 percent drop in export earnings. This drop would cause the widespread hunger among the small farmers as they no longer had money to purchase other food. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) devalued the Rwandan franc leaving the farmers and workers with even less causing starvation among these groups. Again, in 1992 the IMF imposed another devaluation of the Rwandan franc raising the prices of other foods which caused even more chaos and hunger. Desperate farmers and workers uprooted 300,000 coffee trees with the idea to grow other crops.


Germany took control of Rwanda after the Berlin Conference of 1884 and applied their racist ideals saying that tall, light skinned Tutsis were leaders and smarter compared to the Hutus. The Europeans took control after the Germans knowing that they can get their ideas of superiority due to their skin color and tell history that Tutsis were the tribe that created Rwanda. But actually this history was inaccurate because both tribes contributed to building Rwanda. Belgium then took over Rwanda and thought that Tutsis looked more like them so they gave them government jobs such as tax collecting and working in the justice system. The Hutus were given identification cards that noted their ethnic group making the two tribes become more distant from each other.


Rwanda was controlled by Germany and during these years the Germans had not changed the social structure but influenced some advisers into courts and local chiefs. After World War 1, Belgium took over control of Rwanda from Germany. The government of Belgium helped Rwandans to obtain better health, education, agriculture, public works, and even techniques to survive a famine. But at the same time, Belgium still thought that the Tutsis were more superior than the Hutus because their skin color was light like the Europeans. On July 1,1962, Rwanda gained their independence from Belgium. The ethnic rivalries between the two tribes increased by the interference of the Belgium and other countries like France, who started providing weapons and helped the Rwandan government grow their military because they wanted more influence in Africa. The genocide of the two tribes was purposely ignored by other Western countries including the U.S. because they all wanted Rwanda and its rich exports for themselves. "A least half a million people perished in the Rwandan genocide, (Global Issues, 1) notes. "Perhaps as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population. At the same time, thousands of Hutu were slain because they opposed the killing campaign and the forces directing it." Today, Rwandan victims are in the process of being compensated for their troubles with health care, food, and justice served by trying those in court who carried out the genocides.


Graph: Malnutrition rate

This graph shows us the death of people caused by malnutrition over the past years. It has increased a lot of these years due to not having any food or financial aid to fight malaria.

Hutu Tribe

Tutsi Tribe

The Difference between the Tutsi and Hutu


This video Is about the different tribes in Rwanda and the summary of the genocide.

Works cited

Diamond, Jared M. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking, 2005. Print.

Chossudovsky, Michel. The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order. Pincourt, Québec: Global Research, 2003. Print.

This source is very good because it describes the collapse of Rwanda. The was published recently and has very strong language to describe the collapse. The evidence is very clear and it supports my thesis statement. There is a author who is a professor in economics. There are no ads which makes it a reliable source.

Pierpaoli, Paul G. "Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda." Modern Genocide: Understanding Causes and Consequences. ABC-CLIO, 2012. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. <>.

This database is very good because a brief summary about the Rwanda genocide. It has an author who is MA degrees in school. This was recently published and the information is very clear and broad. This information helps me with my background information because it describes the two tribes. It has no ads so it will make the database more reliable.

"The Rwandan Genocide." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.This video tells us a brief information about the genocide in Rwanda. It also states information about racism and how the Tutsis were more superior. This source is reliable because it come from history channel and it has no ads.

Gouerevitch, Philip, Linda Melvern, and Martin Shaw. "Rwandan Genocide." Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society. ABC-CLIO, 2006. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. <>.

Shah, Anup. "Rwanda." Global Issues. Anup Shah, 08 June 2003. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

This source is very good because it has a lot of information about the Rwanda collapse. It is very good source because it has allot of detail about the collapse and is very recent. It is reliable because there are no ads.