Hutu is the name given to one of the three ethnic groups occupying Burundi and Rwanda. The Hutu people are the largest group by far. 85% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians are Hutu. Culturally, it is something of an artificial division, based more on class than ethnicity, since there are no significant language or cultural differences between the Hutu and the other ethnic groups in the area, notably the Tutsi. Historically, however, there were physical differences, principally in average height. Hutu and Tutsi share the same religion and language. Some scholars also point out the important role the Belgian colonisers have in creating the idea of a Hutu and Tutsi race.
The Hutu arrived in the Great Lakes region around the 1st century, displacing the Twa. The Hutu dominated the area with a series of small kingdoms until the 15th century. At that time, it is believed that the Tutsi came into the area from Ethiopia and conquered the Hutu. The Tutsi monarchy survived until the end of the colonial era in the 1950s, the Belgian rulers using and codifying the ethnic division to support their rule. The Tutsi monarchy soon fell and the area was divided into Rwanda and Burundi in 1962. The Tutsi nonetheless remained dominant in Burundi, while the Hutu gained a degree of dominance in Rwanda.
Last updated: 05-15-2005 13:39:41