Derived from: Schutten, S.M., (2012), Rural-Urban Migration, Rwanda 2012, Masters Dissertation International Development Studies, University of Utrecht.
Historical overview of Rwanda Colonization (1890-1962) Before its colonization the great-lake region of Central Africa was ruled by several independent kingdoms. One of them was named the Kingdom of Rwanda and had evolved into a powerful expanding reign with its power base in the country we now know as Rwanda. The expanding drift of the former kingdoms is one of the reasons why the historic cultural territory of Rwandese stretches beyond the contemporary borders of the modern Republic. Due to its favourable climate and fertility, the region has for a long time been an attractive area for human settlement and development. In 1890 Rwanda was colonized by the German Empire and it became part of German East Africa together with Burundi and Tanzania. The German colonization lasted until the First World War. After the war, in 1923, Belgium accepted to govern the former German territory along with its existing colony of Congo to west of Rwanda. In comparison with the Germans, the Belgians paid much more attention to the colony to make it more profitable. They introduced large scale projects in health and education and also brought new crops to the land like cassava, maize and Irish potatoes. Eventually, coffee was also introduced as export commodity. However, forced adjustment to the food production and labour division did not much good to the regional economy. Severe famines followed as a consequence. In 1928-29 30.000 people died and 100.000 people (at that time 7% of the total population) were pushed to migrate to English governed Uganda in the north and the Belgian Congo in the west. Another severe famine took place in 1943 and also caused many Rwandans to move into Congo. (Pottier, 2002). Additionally, an unidentified number of Rwandans had left to work in cotton plantation in East Africa and the Congolese mines between 1918 and 1959 (UNFPA, 2005). In order to ensure their grip of power and control in the colony during times of unrest and starvation the Belgians continued to artificially emphasise the hierarchical power organization, also used by the Germans, this divided people into Tutsi and Hutu. In general Tutsi were assigned as the elite governing class of the colony because of their supposed difference in ethnicity or the Hamitic myth as Shyaka (2005) calls it. This systemic division of Tutsi and Hutu became a source of political conflict, especially in the period of destabilization after the Second World War. After the Second World war Rwanda stayed under Belgian administrative authority as an UN mandate until the 1961 referendum which decided if the country should become a kingdom or a republic. Meanwhile Belgian reformist tried to stimulate democratic political elections. However, the social stratification of Rwandaâ€™s population resulted in a violent sequence of events marking the first few decades of independence. The last two years towards the date of the referendum saw the first waves of refugees leaving Rwanda. This marked the beginning of a period of unrest, war and insurgency (UNFPA, 2005).
Independence and Genocide (1962-1994) The Republic of Rwanda officially gained independence in 1962. The first decades were marked by cycles of violent conflict between several political factions. As a result as much as 600.000 refugees left the country in the period between 1959 and 1973 (UNFPA, 2005). Many people of the suppressed groups â€“ in some cases Hutu and in other Tutsi â€“ became refugees in Congo, Uganda and Tanzania. Eventually Rwanda fell into the hands of military leaders after a military coup in 1973. However, from the Rwandese refugees the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) became organized in Uganda. And in 1990 the RPF invaded northern-Rwanda initiating violent conflict (GĂŠrard, 1995). Because both sides of the conflict could not get the overhand a cease-fire had been signed in 1994. Nevertheless, in the same year the shot down of the plane of the President gave the catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide within a few hours. In a course of 100 days between 500.000 and 1.000.000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were slaughtered. International powers failed dramatically to intervene (Henley, 2007). When the RPF regained control, the former regime with approximately 1.7 million Rwandans fled to Tanzania and the Democratic Republic Congo in fear of repercussions. As order in the country was slowly being re-established it became clear that the entire Rwandese society had been affected. Almost every household lost members and many people were displaced or became refugees through a history of violent conflict that climaxed in 1994. In 1997 and 1998 it was estimated that 80% of the population was internally displaced (Uwimbabazi & Lawrence, 2011). Needless to say Rwanda had to be rebuilt in order to make sure that no Rwandese should ever go through the dreadful days of the 1994 genocide again.
Reconciliation and reforms (1995-present date) There are still remnants of rebel groups left in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (BBC, 2011) but Rwanda has managed to enter into a period of reconciliation and reforms. In 2003 a national referendum accepted the current reformed constitution. In the same year Paul Kagame, member the RPF, became president by popular vote and has been re-elected for a second term in 2010. In 2001, the Rwandese government made a start with the Rwanda Global Diaspora Network. The network intended to promote productive investments and savings by establishing a Diaspora Investment Bank (UNFPA, 2005). Further, the network aims to attract knowledge and skills of Rwandese living abroad. However, the majority of displaced people preferred not to return to their original home areas, instead urbanized areas like Kigali became the major destination for immigration accompanied with economic development (Uwimbabazi & Lawrence, 2011). Looking at the present government focus on return-migration to stimulate the development of Rwanda, urban areas (in particular Kigali) are likely to continue to be at the centre of the development process (Musahara, 2001).
References: BBC, (2011), Rwanda: How the genocide happened, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13431486 [cited at: 24-01-2012].
Henley, J., (2007), â€œScar tissueâ€?, The Guardian (London), (October, 2010), Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/oct/31/rwanda.theatre [cited on: 16-02-2012]. Musahara, H., (2001), Land and Poverty in Rwanda, Seminar on Land in Rwanda, Landnet: Rwanda Chapter, Kigali, Rwanda, pp.1-38. Pottier, J., (2002), Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Twentieth Century, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of England, Cambridge (March, 2002), pp. 1-248. Shyaka, A., (2005), The Rwandan Conflict, Origin, Development, Exit Strategies, Retrieved from: www.grandslacs.net/doc/3833.pdf [cited at: 26-01-2012]. UNFPA, (2005), Population growth in Rwanda, http://www.undp.org.rw/NHDRReleased-PRFinal.pdf [cited at: 01-02-2012].
Uwimbabazi P. & R. Lawrence, (2011), Compelling Factors of Urbanization and Rural-Urban Migration in Rwanda, Rwanda Journal Volume 22, Series B, (2011): Social Sciences, pp. 9-26.