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Colonisation is Violence – “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families” – Philip Gourevitch

May 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Colonialism, Ethnicity, Genocide, History, Rwanda, Sociology

Colonisation is violence, and there are many ways to carry out that violence. In addition to military and administrative chiefs and a veritable army of churchmen, the Belgians dispatched scientists to Rwanda. The scientists brought scales and measuring tapes and callipers, and they went about weighing Rwandans, measuring Rwandan cranial capacities, and conducting comparative analyses of the relative protuberance of Rwandan noses. Sure enough, the scientists found what they had believed all along. Tutsis had a ‘nobler’, more ‘naturally’ aristocratic dimensions than the ‘coarse’ and ‘bestial’ Hutus. On the ‘nasal index’ for instance, the median Tutsi nose was found to be about two and a half millimetres longer and nearly five millimetres narrower than the median Hutu nose.”
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“In 1933-34, the Belgians conducted a census in order to issue ‘ethnic’ identity cards, which labelled every Rwandan as either Hutu (85%) of Tutsi (14%) or Twa (1%). The identity cards made it virtually impossible for Hutus to become Tutsis, and permitted the Belgians to perfect the administration of an apartheid system rooted in the myth of Tutsi superiority… Whatever Hutu and Tutsi identity may have stood for in the pre-colonial state no longer mattered; the Belgians had made ‘ethnicity’ the defining feature of Rwandan existence.”

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