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The Interplay of Human Capital, Scarce Resources and Social Cohesion in Conflict Generation

– A Case Study of Rwandan Conflict in 1994.

by Major Abdul Latif Mohamed for Economic Class





            On 19 February 2003, a church leader and his son, a medical doctor, were found guilty of aiding and instigating genocide in Rwanda. The verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania, was unanimous. The pastor, then president of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in western Rwanda, and his son, working at the hospital adjacent to the church, was accused of luring Tutsi who sought refuge into the church complex before personally leading in Hutu militias to massacre them.[1]

            The father and son are not the only one guilty of the massacres.  The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has been set up to try those suspected of being the mastermind, who initiated and planned the 1994 genocide. The rest of the perpetrators, that is, those accused of killings, being accomplices to genocide or looting will be tried in the Rwandan traditional court, known as Gacaca. There are more than 100,000 suspects being held in overcrowded and unsanitary jails in Rwanda.[2]

The genocide perpetrators come from all levels of society. Ministers, vice-rector of university, professors, teachers, businessmen, farmers, soldiers, doctors, church workers, and so on. It is difficult to arrive at an accurate figure of the proportion of Rwanda’s Hutu who participated in the genocide. Perhaps as many people killed as were killed. This is like a war of all against all. Why did those hundred thousands Hutu citizens joined with their government to kill their Tutsi neighbors, their Tutsi wives, their Tutsi students, their Tutsi patients and fellow Hutu thought to be Tutsi collaborators?

            The Rwandan genocide started on the night of April 6, 1994 and ended on July 19, 1994 defies logical sense and imaginations. The speed and brutality of the killings, considering that most of the weapons used were primitive, that is, machetes, swords, spears and the traditional masu, a large club studded with nails surpassed the brutality of the Nazis in the execution of Holocaust or the Khmer Rouge in their Killing Fields.[3] In about one hundred days, around eight hundred and fifty thousands individuals were murdered, a rate of murder of 333.3 deaths per hour or 5.5 deaths per minute[4]. Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed in their own homes, in the church complex, in the hospitals, in the schools, in the stadium, on the road, in the farm, in the jungle and basically everywhere within Rwanda. While the general motive of the Nazi was anti-Semitic and the Khmer Rouge motive was to eliminate the bourgeoisie class, the motive behind the genocide[5] in Rwanda is hard to decipher.

We believe that the conflict in Rwanda is unique and demands further analysis to prevent future conflict. The conflict’s uniqueness stems from several factors. Firstly, the conflict did not fully attract international interest until it grew into a genocidal conflict. It challenged the applicability of United Nation as a world governing body to prevent genocide post-World War II. The “never again” statement that was signed by many countries was seen as only a rhetoric. United Nations was accused and deplored of double standards on its intervention decisions and performing at its lowest ebb in stopping the genocide.  It brings into realization that United Nation is an institution that will not function without the active support of its member states[6].

Secondly, the conflict displayed how, the improper policy on generating human capital that traces back to colonial period served as a basis for fragmentation of the Rwandan society. Through the indirect rule, the German then followed by the Belgium favored one group of the population, that is, the Tutsi over the Hutu and Twa. These were manifested through the education system, administrative jobs and economic opportunities. The Tutsi were invested with power and privilege, educated, trained, and subcontracted to do the dirty work on behalf of the colonial power. The Tutsi chiefs had been in the forefront oppressing and extracting forced labor from the majority Hutu in order to satisfy their colonial master. These caused the resentment towards the Tutsi grew within the Hutu population. The situation exacerbated when the missionaries who previously championed the education for the Tutsi, initiating a reversal and started to educate the Hutu, while at the same time pointing to them that the Tutsi were behind all the injustices. In any count, Rwanda was a classic example of the destructive legacies of the indirect rule.

Thirdly, Rwandan genocide displays the grave implication of the scarce resources within a conflict-prone society. Rwanda had been the most densely populated country in the African continent. With a demographic growth rate of 3.2%, each square kilometer of arable land had to support an average of over two hundred and seventy people in 1991.[7] Since the majority of local people live in rural area, land pressure and landlessness were severe problems. This problem was exacerbated by the incursion of large numbers of Hutu refugees from Burundi, shrinking the size of the slices to divide. In 1986, Rwanda’s economy collapsed because the price of its two main commodity exports, coffee and tin, bottomed out on the world market. With the worsening situation, the Rwandan government had to accept International Monetary Fund assistance, which implied adherence to Structural Adjustment Programme. This involved privatization cuts in public spending and currency devaluation[8]. The impact of the fall of coffee price coupled with currency devaluation caused peasants lost a large portion of their income. On the other hand, privatization means they lost access to health care, free schooling and other services that had been subsidized by the government. With the advent of RPF invasion form the North in 1990, this had the impact of rapidly falling food production and the vast majority of people were displaced and descending into poverty.

Finally, the execution of the genocide was efficient due to a strong social cohesiveness that emerged within Hutu extremism. Vertical social cohesiveness can be seen by the response of the Hutu masses towards the call from the government to participate in the genocide.  The success was coupled by the ability of the state to provide excellent information networks, and instilled a sense of solidarity, obligation and civic duty in the midst of Hutu’s fear towards Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invasion. Their fears were justified since thousands had died and hundreds of thousands of people had lost their land, houses and possessions in their flight from RPF[9]. The assassination of a democratically elected Hutu president in neighboring Burundi by the Tutsi-controlled army officers and the subsequent massacres also aggravated the fear inside the minds of the Hutu[10]. Thousands other Hutu had the same experiences in neighboring Burundi. Every Hutu who subscribed to the state’s propaganda would have been aware that they have a potential struggle for survival. Horizontally, there was a strong bond of social cohesivess within the Hutu in fighting their perceived common enemy.

We believe that there are certainly many other contributing variables to the conflict in Rwanda apart from what were mentioned above. In this thesis we would like to investigate the dynamics of interaction between the main variables i.e. human capital, scarce resources and social cohesion in generating the conflict. Consequently we will arrange the paper according to the following. First, we will review the impact of improper and exploitative planning of human capital, which we argue, formed the basis of conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi. Second, we will present the findings regarding the potential relationship between resource scarcity and conflict generation in Rwanda. Third, we will discuss the possible contribution of social cohesion in furthering the conflict and transforming it into genocide. The last subsection sums up and reviews the policy implication for rebuilding a post conflict society.




            The Rwandan genocide had been planned and organized by the educated within Rwanda. In fact when the “genocide progress” seems to be bogged down due to RPF’s advancement, the Rwanda Interim Prime Minister Jean Kambanda[11] came to the university to seek new ideas and support from the professors. The meeting was organized by the vice-rector of the university, Jean-Berchmans Nshimyumuremyi who was known as the hard-liner against the Tutsi.[12] Even though the intellectual community was split between those who supported the genocide and those who abstained from it, the presence of the educated in the planning and execution of the genocide demands an analysis on the possible contribution of education system in Rwandan crisis.

            Education is an important component of human capital but the effect of human capital towards development in any society is so diffused; in general, it end up positively. This is due to the fact that human capital has been generally understood as the skills and abilities, which enhance economic growth, reducing inequality and increases the individual well-being.[13] Even though other factors also contribute towards generating human capital, for example, public health policy, education attainment is at the forefront that affects the accumulation.

            On the other hand, if we jump from the notion that education is a factor in development to form a conclusion that it is always affecting a good outcome, then we are making a dangerous error since the appropriateness in the content of the education is an important factor.[14] For example, will it be appropriate to incorporate a syllabus that promotes differences across ethnic groups? Will it be more appropriate to design the education syllabus in such a way that it will spur technical innovation and generates new method in cultivation techniques, which in turn will increase output in an agrarian society? Sadly, in the case of Rwanda, a country whose history revolved around ethnic discrimination, during the pre-genocide period, education had been used to distort information and encouraged violence not only within the classroom, but also through informal means such as through the mass media. Education had not been optimized as a problem solver in a densely populated agricultural population.

The second problem that affiliated with the education attainment revolves around provoking the latent conflict that had been hidden for sometimes. This is due to the fact that the attainment in education normally will increase political awareness. With the growth of literacy, concurrent with widespread access to mass media which in itself a by-product of development people can be taught about something that they had not known before. While education policy delivered by good governance may promote unity and purposive political action, the reverse is true if it is in the hand of an authoritarian state.

We believe that Lederach understands the relationship between education and conflict in a way that a conflict is initially latent or hidden when people are devoid of the knowledge regarding the injustices that govern their life.[15] In order to resolve the conflict he suggests that the issue has to be brought to the surface by erasing the ignorance and raising the awareness regarding the inequality and injustices so that it can affect a mechanism to solve or address the issue. We believe that this strategy is very delicate and can be problematic.  If not properly tackled, it can be the real spark that starts the fire of conflict.

Ledarach’s strategy proved lethal in the long run for Rwanda. This was because the latent conflict that was brought to the surface was deliberately manipulated by the educator to suit their agenda.  Prunier finds that, there is no trace of organized violence between the Tutsi and the Hutu during their long period of coexistence in the pre-colonial history.[16] Kupperman finds that, even though the Tutsi king ruled over most Rwanda, many administrators had been Hutu and the patron-client relationship “ubuhake” within each group “were flexible and mutually beneficial”.[17]

2.1 The Historical Precedence.

The pre-colonial education in Rwanda was largely informal. Children were educated both through the teaching by their parents and relatives regarding Rwandan cultures and values throughout their childhood and also through a community-based education system (itorero). This method emphasized practical work skills apart from the usual story telling and dancing. Boys and girls were trained separately according to their future responsibilities. Boys were expected to follow their father’s footsteps and become the head of the household, whereas girls were trained in the duties of housekeeping and child rearing[18].

The situation was drastically changed when the Belgian colonized Rwanda.[19] Roman Catholic Church missionaries introduced the first formal education with the blessing of the Belgian administration. As a strategy to enhance its control over the future elite of the country, the church gave the priority of education to the Tutsi whom were favored by the Belgian[20]. Tutsi children were sent to special schools to be educated there and participate in the colonial administration. Invariably, as local administrators, Tutsi were forced on the forefront of the colonization process to impose the will of the Belgian. Accordingly, the Belgian colonialist reserved the public service and higher education to the Tutsi to accomplish their agenda of indirect rule.

 A sample taken on the college enrollment of students in the province of Butare[21] (previously Astrida) that showed a skewed proportion between Tutsi and Hutu students manifested the agenda that was carried out by the Catholic Church and the Belgian colonizer. This is as shown in figure 1 below:


Tutsi pupils

Hutu pupils









19 (including 13 from Burundi)




Figure 1: proportion between Tutsi and Hutu students in the province of Butare.[22]

 The majority Hutu population was left with no choice in pursuing the education except to become theology students at the seminaries. Consequently, they were faced with difficulties in finding employment once graduated and this led to frustration and embitterment in the long run.[23]

Once the Belgian had decided to limit the opportunity for higher education and selection for the administration post to the Tutsi, they were faced with the challenged to distinguish between the three groups. Eventually they came up with a procedure of registering everyone according to their affiliated group. The information obtained was recorded at the offices of the local government while each Rwandan was issued with an identity card that indicated his or her ethnicity.[24]

The segregation between the Tutsi, Hutu and Twa were firmly implanted with the introduction of this ethnic identity card in 1933. This identity card resembled a solid fence between the three groups that could no longer be crossed or reversed. Sadowski finds that the issuance of this identity card to all Rwandans eliminated the “fluid movement between castes and permanently fixing the identity of each individual, and his or her children, as either Hutu or Tutsi”.[25] The long-term effect of this policy is more damaging, since it was maintained and manipulated to the best interest of the ruling party. Clapham finds that the government of post-independence Rwanda further exploited this mechanism by anchoring the Rwandan to a certain place of residence. Ethnicity and place of residence were inscribed inside the identity card and the beholder cannot move to a new address without government’s permission. [26] Destexhe arrives at the conclusion that the identity cards had been used effectively by the militias to selectively choose their Tutsi victim among the population[27]. Consequently the segregation policy that was introduced by the Belgium with the sole purpose of favoring Tutsi and exploiting them for indirect rule firmly sowed the seed of hatred of Hutu towards Tutsi. If before the segregation “the oppressors” were the administrators, now the oppressed Hutu regarded all Tutsi regardless of their position in the society as the enemy. Ironically, “Tutsi” identity cards that were supposed to carry privileges, later on became literally death warrants in the cyclical massacres that plagued the nation for the next thirty years.

In the mid 1950s, the educated Tutsi began to embrace ideas of decolonization that were spread across Africa and demanding independence for their country. This certainly angered the Belgian who understood that their interests will no longer being served by the Tutsi. In retribution, the Belgian began to switch its preference towards the majority Hutu.[28] Coincidently, the international community through the United Nation had been criticizing Belgium for their discriminatory colonial activities. By giving the political field to the Hutu, the Belgian managed to address both problems simultaneously. The Catholic Church, who always had the vision to have an influence within the Rwandan government, started to sponsor many of the Hutu schooling in order to generate educated Hutu. Through education, the missionaries radicalized the latent conflict that had been caused by the colonial administration. Unfortunately the Tutsi were made the scapegoat for all the injustices committed against the Hutu. Without clearly explained the nature of indirect rule the Catholic Church paved the way for the newly educated Hutu to form political party fighting against the “Tutsi tyranny”.  Van Hoyweghen contends that the clergy felt they “had the moral duty to speak out on social injustice…[Consequently] with the help of the church and state the Hutu had discovered themselves as an ethnic group and their leaders discovered the mobilizing potential of ethnicity”[29]. Adelman and Suhrke[30] also find the same implication regarding the church’s involvement in sowing the seeds of hatred in Rwanda.

Hence according to these historical records, we believe that there are two prominent implications that can be derived. First, the Rwandan had been taught informally to believe on the segregation of ethnicity through the introduction of identity card. In fact, this was a powerful form of education that was translated practically and persisted through out their turbulent history. Secondly, the Catholic Church furthered the effectiveness of this mechanism by radicalizing the resentment of Hutu towards the Tutsi by advocating an erroneous history in their schools. By any account this was the most glaring outcome of education during the colonial period. It created a polarized society that can be exploited by the ruling elite.

In 1959, a few Hutu that had been educated at these Catholic schools organized their movement and eventually overthrew the Tutsi oligarchy in a coup that was known as the “Hutu revolution”.[31] During this revolution, which lasted to 1963, thousands of Tutsi were killed and more than 100,000 fled the country[32]. Even though the Belgian did intervened to retain order when the first violent conflict occurred in 1959, Rwanda fell into the conflict trap.[33] Grievances faced by the Tutsi translated into protracted violent conflict, which increases over the time. The Tutsi refugees, who always retained their powerful sense of Rwandan identity, eventually form a political and military organization called the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to further their cause, and demand their right to return.[34]

2.2 Education in the post-independence era.

On the pretext of advancing democracy, the United Nation sponsored a Rwandan election in 1961.[35] Uvin finds that the “independence created a profoundly new and ambiguous situation in Rwanda. The political system became inverted, with small Hutu elite dominating the political structure.”[36] Consequently, we believe that this dominant ethnic group fostered the policy of segregation in order to maintain their power base and extend its dominance into every level of the state institution and economic sphere. Post-independence Rwanda saw the legacy of colonial period applied in reverse. The minority Tutsi was systematically discriminated, “especially in arenas that allowed for upward mobility, namely modern education, state jobs, and politics. A quota system was installed that limited Tutsi access to higher education and state jobs…”[37] Rutayisire finds that the segregation at school level occurred in various ways. Students were assigned with identification files that required them to know and internalized their ethnicity as Hutu, Tutsi or Twa.[38]  This file also was used to identify groups of students for victimization in the examination. Within the education syllabus, the teaching of Rwandan history and civics emphasized ethnicity, which reinforced social division. Consequently the education policy led to conflicts in and out of classrooms and deteriorated the relation between students, teachers and the community since it encouraged hatred[39]. We believe that this discrimination policy and the deliberate inclusion of Tutsi myth[40] inside the syllabus had an insidious effect on the organizational structure of educational institutions, the training of the teachers and the content of textbooks and syllabi.  Human capital that was generated through the education process was at the same time indoctrinated with the ideology that strengthened the based of the ruling power and victimized the minority.

Utterwulghe finds that the Hutu elites were successful in their propaganda since the real life were validating the history that they were trying to convey. Within Rwanda, and despite the discrimination, the Tutsi lived fairly well socially and economically. Proportionally, they still retained a larger portion of the economic and governmental pie with respect to their demographic share. Years of colonial rule that favored the Tutsi minority had produced hundreds of thousands of Tutsi who were wealthy and well educated when Rwanda achieved its independence. This is clearly shown in figure 1. Even though the Belgian reversed the education policy in the late 1950s the disparity between educated Tutsi and Hutu remain starkly evident. Coupled with frequent Tutsi guerilla raids launched from Uganda, the majority Hutu easily subscribe to the government propaganda regarding perceived domination of Tutsi.[41]

Despite the propaganda created by ruling elites, Rwanda was basically calm and has been a good economic performer until the mid 1980s. Juvenal Habyarimana who took over the presidency from Kayibanda during a coup in 1973, continued with his predecessor strategy in persecuting the Tutsi. They were allowed only ten percent of the position in schools, the civil service, and the private establishments. Prunier found that even though the Tutsi were discriminated institutionally, everyday lives for them were quite tolerable as long as they did not “mess around with politics”.[42] Tutsi businessmen made good fortune within Rwanda and in good terms with the government.[43]

Unfortunately an economic crisis struck Rwanda in 1986 with the collapse of the price of coffee and tin, two primary commodity exports for Rwanda. This situation had been assessed by most authors as a key factor in promoting the rapid spread of genocidal ideology. Almost all level of Rwandan society were suffered and the quality of life decreasing badly[44]. Since the government had to cut the subsidy for the education and other sector in order to implement the structural adjustment program, many young men were left without education and had no hope of securing even a low paid job in the midst of scarcity of arable land.

In 1988, the RPF that was formed by the Rwandan diasporas and refugees demanded their right to return to Rwanda, but Habyarimana had enough internal problems without letting the troublesome refugees returned home.[45] Consequently the RPF initiated a civil war against the Habyarimana government, which brought further disruption to the economy. This enhances the Hutu hatred of ‘the other’ and provided an avenue to pull together the young people who suffered badly due to the chronic unemployment and frustrated aspirations into a radical organization[46]. Uvin recognized that this situation create an “ideal recruiting conditions for urban gangs and extremist militia forces.”[47]  Consequently, this enhances our argument that the appropriateness in the content of education syllabus within a certain societies has an impact in modifying the level of conflict. Furthermore, an education system that generates excessive human capital in certain areas of specialty, for example, administrative jobs, without delving into other avenue of knowledge such as technological innovation that can spur development process can also be problematic in a country that are dependent on primary commodities export.

Reflecting on the economic crisis, we believe that, Rwanda pre-genocide period was not prepared towards a diversified economy, which in turn will create a diversified employment. The education system and policy in Rwanda failed to assist the country in facing the economic crisis. In one extreme, the narrow portion of the population who had the privilege to complete formal education were more prepared towards governmental jobs, which were scarce, and at the other side there were the larger segment of the population that receive a very minimal education.[48]  Figure 2 verify the attainment of education level within the population before 1994:

Educational Data:

Literacy (%)


Average education (at age of more than 25 years)

1.1 year

School enrolment in 1990 (between 6 to 25 years)


Population depending for their living on:







Population below poverty line


Figure 2: Some educational indicators before 1994.[49]

With a skewed proportion of the educated and the non-educated, the majority non-educated will be easily manipulated to serve the interest of the elite. Certainly the elite came from the slice of the educated Rwandan. It brings to our thinking that the education failed to delivers the “goodness” to Rwandan society. In fact, the founder of the Hutu extremist party, Coalition pour la Defense de la Republique (CDR), Jean Shyirambere Barahinyura was “a well-educated man who had studied first in the Soviet Union and then in West Germany.”[50] CDR was instrumental in the planning and organizing the genocide and notoriously associated with the extremism against Tutsi. Furthermore the journalists of the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLMC) that played as “DJ” to incite the Hutu to kill the Tutsi were mostly recruited from this party[51].

Prunier observes that “In the hysteria of Rwanda in April 1994, almost anybody might turn into a killer. But the responsibility lies with the educated people – with those in positions of authority, however small, who did not have the strength (or maybe even the wish) to question the poisonous effluents carried by their cultural stream.”[52]

2.3. The Role of the Intellectuals.

            We had established that not many Rwandan had an access to formal education. Average education attainment for the adult at the age of more than 25 years was only 1.1 year. Henceforth ordinary Rwandan had the great respect to their intellectuals and information that came form this community was treated accordingly.

 Within the totalitarian government of Habyarimana people who profited more from his rule understandably will be his crony and supporters. Consequently the large numbers of faculty members or professors at the national university were from Habyarimana’s home region since they were the one who got the privilege to access to university education and study abroad.[53] Others who taught at the university or at the government-sponsored schools as well as the staff of research institutes, understood firmly that the advancement in their career and perhaps to get continued employment depend largely on their “report” on backing the government position.[54] Des Forges notes this succinctly in her report, “Both those within Rwanda and those studying abroad wrote letters and made public statements that reported facts wrongly or misinterpreted data to support the official line.”[55]

There were two prominent Rwandan academicians who were actively and notoriously involved in administering and enforcing the hate propaganda against the Tutsi and the calls for their extermination.  Dr. Fredinand Nahimana, one of Rwanda’s most distinguished historians who had done his university study in Paris administered the radio station that broadcast the hate propaganda through his office.[56] He was made the director of the Rwandese Information Office (ORINFOR) after he left his teaching position. The first incidence that marked his notoriety was when Radio Rwanda broadcast all day long false news report that charged Tutsi-based Liberal Party of “advocating the terrorist killing of twenty-two leading Hutu, politicians, army officers, civil servants, priests, businessmen, and lawyers,” on March 3, 1992.[57] The repercussion for this news was brutal. The very next day, Interahamwe militia began to kill Tutsi and burnt their huts in the Southern region of Rwanda. Approximately 300 peoples were killed during the six days massacres.[58]

In response to this incidence, Western ambassador lodged a stiff protest with President Habyarimana, which led to Nahimana’s dismissal from the ORIFOR director post, but unfortunately he was made as a counselor to Rwanda’s ambassador in Bonn. As the event turn out, he was rejected by the Germany government and returned to his university post.[59]

In the university, he developed a theory that “Radio Rwanda had been infiltrated by agents of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, back by evil foreign diplomats determined to undermine Hutu self-defence”.[60] Consequently it helped with the discharged of over 400 persons that were involved in the massacres mentioned above. Later on, Nahimana was appointed to direct the RTLMC which was the most effective propaganda medium in Rwanda and notoriously being used as an instrument of genocide.

Another professor who involved directly with the propaganda mechanism was Dr. Leon Mugesera. He did his advanced university studies in Canada [61]. After he left his teaching position at the National University of Rwanda, he took up a post with the Ministry of Information and became the vice-president of Gisenyi MRND party.[62] Being a good orator, he used his skill to influence the Hutu masses through his speeches to take up a hard and brutal stand towards the Tutsi. His “success” was manifested in the violence that occurred instantly through out the areas that he had preached.[63] One notable example of his speech addressed to militant members MRND party on November 22, 1992 was as follows and proved to be prophetic:[64]

“The opposition parties have plotted with the enemy to make Byumba prefecture fall to the Inyenzi.[65][…] They have plotted to undermine our armed forces. […] The law is quite clear on this point: ‘Any person who is guilty of acts aiming at sapping the morale of the armed forces will be condemned to death.’ What are we waiting for? […] And what about those accomplices (ibyitso) here who are sending their children to the RPF? Why are we waiting to get rid of these families? […] We have to take responsibility into our hands and wipe out these hoodlums. […] The fatal mistake we made in 1959 was to let them [the Tutsi] get out. […] They belong to Ethiopia and we are going to find them a short cut to get there by throwing them into the Nyabarongo River [which flows northwards]. I must insist on this point. We have to act. Wipe them all out![66]

During the genocide, around 40,000 bodies were thrown into the Nyabarongo River that ultimately flowed into Lake Victoria via the Akagera River.[67] It seriously polluted Lake Victoria to the extent that the country bordering the area had to declare a state of emergency.[68] Eventually, international aid was required to help with the removal and burial of the bodies.[69] Ironically, Mugesera was only temporarily arrested in Canada where he was employed as a university professor after the Genocide. Scherrer, who branded Mugesera as Rwanda’s Goebbels states, “Mugesera was defended by one of the most well-known and expensive lawyers in a court case in Quebec”[70].

At the lower academic level, the teachers also were involved in abetting the genocide. Prunier found that the “Hutu teachers commonly denounced their Tutsi pupils to the militia or even directly killed them themselves.”[71] Scherrer states that many teachers were actively took part in the genocide “as rabble-rousers and agitators”.[72] For example thirty-two out of forty-nine ringleaders of the genocide in the community of Nyakizu were teachers.[73]

The extensive involvement of academician in the genocide pointed out that the education system failed the Rwandan nation in1994, and even before that. Henceforth the accumulation of human capital in Rwanda did not achieve the normally desired outcome of propelling the country into prosperity. Instead it was used blatantly by the actors to further the cause of extremism with disastrous consequences.

2.4 The Informal Education.

            Educations can also being transmitted to the society through an informal means. In fact within an agrarian community, this method is more effective in shaping up the perception of the peoples. Due to the difficult access to formal education, mass media in the form of newspaper and radio waves were efficient tools to deliver the government’s propaganda.

            Des Forges reported that the newspaper Kangura began spewing voice of hate against the Tutsi after the RPF attacks in 1990. Other newspapers and journals soon followed it. Even though the media was published and sold in the Kigali capital, she noted that the urban workers usually carried copies of the newspaper to the hills when they went home for the weekends[74]. Since around 52 percent of Rwandans were literate, those who knew how to read will read the papers for others, which effectively disseminate the propaganda throughout the community.[75]

            In comparison to the newspaper, the radio was more effective in delivering the message of hate and shaping the public perspectives. But due to the low-income level, only 29 percent of all households had a radio in 1991.[76] But this did not prohibit the Hutu hardliners from using the radio station to broadcast their agenda. Due to its attractiveness’ in formulating the broadcast, the extremist radio station, that is, the RTLMC was fast to gain popularity. Peoples who had no radio will listen to the broadcast at the local bar or obtained the information from their neighbors.[77]

            Thus far we have presented extensively the role of human capital formation in generating the conflict. Invariably we believed that the education system in Rwanda, which was inherited from the colonial period, actively perpetrated the insidious effect of segregation policy. With due respect to those who were not involved, we also believed that, there were significant contribution from the intellectuals community who represented a small portion of the population in furthering the genocide agenda.  They consciously pursued this idea and using their intellectual capacity to influence the masses. At the lower level, participation of the teachers in the genocide is more direct.

            On the other note, informal education in the form of mass media also influenced the cause of genocide. The Rwandans were also taught indirectly through the implementation of ethnic identity card, which firmly implanted in their mind the ethic segregation between the Hutu and the Tutsi that served as the basis for the conflict.

            Within an agrarian community like Rwanda, the conflict will not turned brutal if there were no other factors that catapult it into that situation. But unfortunately in a densely populated country like Rwanda, there were many contributing factors and the most starkly noticeable was the problem of scarcity in terms of arable land and employment opportunity.



            Rwanda means, “Land of thousand hills” in Kinyarwandan language. It is among the smallest country (26,388 km2) within sub-Saharan Africa and situated one degree to the south of equator. The country is landlocked and ranged nearly 700 miles from the Indian Ocean. Its neighbors are Uganda to the north, Congo to the west, Burundi on the south and Tanzania to the east. Except for the western and eastern border areas, most of the land is at least 3000 feet above sea level.

3.1 The Agrarian System.

The scarcity issues in terms of arable land and employment opportunity had plagued Rwanda since independence. In fact, the Belgian colonial authorities regarded the country as over populated. The World Bank classed Rwanda as one of the poorest countries in the world and played only a subordinate role in the world economy. Its main manufactures are sugar, lemonade, beer, cigarettes, blankets, plastic shoes, matches and soap. Ninety-nine percent of its exports are of primary commodities, which are coffee, tea and tin cassaterite, wolfframite, and pyrethrum, with coffee makes up around 50 percent to 80 percent of the total export.[78]

 Van Hoyweghen observes that the Rwandan agricultural production system were ‘consumption-driven’.[79] This implies that the farmers grow a mixture of seeds to satisfy the requirement of their particular environment. The capacity to have sufficient food at


Figure 3: Geographical position of Rwanda with respect to African continent.

household level was a symbol of pride; consequently if forced to buy food due to insufficient home production caused the farmer to lose his dignity and is considered as a sign of poverty.[80] 

This agrarian system in Rwanda had become endangered with time. A high demographic factor of 3.2 percent a year, coupled with the majority of local people live in rural areas, cause a high demand pressure on land resources. On average, each square kilometer of arable land had to support over four hundred people[81]. Gasana, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment in Rwanda (1990-92) gave an even higher figure, that is, eight hundred and forty three inhabitants for each square kilometer.[82]

On most of the farm, the pressure on land had pushed the farmers to the limits of productivity.[83] Since family plot being fragmented and decreasing in size with time due to generational transfer, farmers had to push their land further to the limits in order to gain the same amount of harvest.[84] Consequently, with more farmers and smaller plots of land, the productivity increases at the expense of soil degradation and erosion[85]. When this happened, farmers were unable to produce sufficient crop at household level and forced to buy food through the market, which was considered shameful in their tradition.[86] Therefore we believed that in this context of scarcity, the resulting competition for land had significant social consequences in generating the conflict.

3.2 The Malthusian debate.

 The relationship between this ecological resource scarcity and conflicts revolves around Thomas Malthus’s argument in “The Principle of Population”, where he asserts that there is a point in time in which the population growth will hit the limit of subsistence, where it will be held back by epidemics, infanticide, famine and war[87]. Since then, there are many authors who either agree or disagree with his theory. As a brief overview, the various positions in the debate can be camped into three proponents, that is, the anti-Malthusian, hard-Malthusian, and the soft-Malthusian.[88]

            The first school of thought completely rejected Malthusian argument and argues that there is no relationship between conflicts and ecological resource scarcity. They understand that population growth will stimulates progress and economic growth since with more people there will be an increase in knowledge and technological innovation, which will lead to better economic activity and organization. [89] Simon asserts that new invention will actually spur population growth since with this invention, there will be a diffusion of new methods which in turn, will lead to an increase in the output for a given amount of labor and land. Consequently this will make additional population growth possible.[90] On the other hand, population growth will push the adoption of more productive method in agricultural work. This in turn will require more labor per worker[91]. Hence both cases are complementary to each other in dealing with positive attribute of population growth and disproved the Malthusian theory. Boserup also discarded Malthusian theory in her work.  She asserts that population growth is an independent variable which will determine the agricultural developments, that is, with more people, agricultural sector will be affected with better cultivation technique which will increase the output and consequently leading to a better social structures of agrarian communities[92].

            The problem with this camp is that it cannot explain the genocide in Rwanda. If we are going to apply this theory into Rwanda in the pre-1994 genocide all the arguments will break down. Habyarimana had repeatedly refused to accept the return of refugees based on his reason that Rwanda had been overpopulated, and the famine that ravaging the country in 1988 caused him to lose legitimacy of his government. If anti-Malthusian is correct then supposedly more population in Rwanda means more output from arable land since population growth will push for the adoption of productive agricultural work. Unfortunately this did not happen because it was not the way that was adopted rigorously by Habyarimana government. But this is the point that the anti-Malthusian are going to make. For them, if Habyarimana government pursued seriously the used of technology in terms of agricultural work or diversifying the economy, for example, establishing more industry that can generate products for exports, then there will be no shortage of food since output from agricultural sector will multiplied with the used of the technology or the income from the exports will be adequate to buy more food. For them, environmental resource scarcity in Rwanda is only a social construct, that is, the outcome of government policy. But that explanation in itself affirmed the notion that the conflict was partly generated due to the land scarcity pressure which was a byproduct of government policy.

            The second school of thought, which is known as “hard” Malthusian sees a direct relationship between overpopulation and ecological resource scarcity with famine and conflict since population increases exponentially when unconstrained while the subsistence or food increases linearly.[93] Arithmetically, there will be a point in time where the population growth will exceed the level of subsistence available. When the country is overpopulated, with food production push to the wall, invariably people will be hard pressed to find subsistence. Competition for the scarce resources will generate a conflict or otherwise a ravaging famine will neutralize the effect. 

R. Ehrlich and H.Ehrlich contend that “population explosion” has already resulted in environmental devastation, poverty, hunger and violent conflict.[94] They see a direct connection between population growth and reduction of subsistence. For them, in order to arrest the impending disaster, an action to end the “population explosion” should be made in the public mind, that is, by supporting the birth control program. They play around the logic that if human birth rate can be lowered slightly below the human death rate, then there will be a gradual decline in population growth. Otherwise the growing population will rapidly debilitate nonrenewable resources or transforming renewable resources into nonrenewable ones with the overall effect of reducing the capacity of the environment to support the growing population.[95]

            Another proponent of hard-Malthusian is Garrett Hardin. She uses the metaphor of a lifeboat to illustrate the effect of overpopulation. For her, there will be a point in time when the lifeboat could no longer taking extra passenger without causing it to sink. It is the same with the nation’s land. If the population continues growing, it will exceed the carrying capacity of the land.[96] Furthermore with the population growth rate in the poor countries doubling than in the rich countries with the world resources decreasing, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Consequently the pressure to compete for the limited land or resources will increase.

In her idea “The tragedy of the commons” she stresses that because the environment is open to all, it is subjected to abuse if there is no proper control. It only takes one person to start abusing the environment, which will then creates a chain of reactions from the others. Consequently, the user of common environment or resource will eventually destroy the very resource upon which they depend. In clear term, Hardin contends that continue population growth will increase the conversion of natural resources into pollutants.[97]

            We believe that these hard-Malthusian views are also flawed. In order to infer the causal relationship between population growth and subsistence, that is, increases or decreases in one causing the inverse in the other, firstly, they must hold that other elements within the population constants, that is, the ceteris paribus assumption. Secondly, the hard-Malthusian argument work on the law of diminishing return, that is, with a fixed size of a farm, the production per labor reduces with the addition of each new labor. But in the real world, both of these assumptions do not hold since all the variables within the population equation keep changing and not constant. For example, expanding human mind and creativity will lead to technological advancements that positively push agricultural development with a consequence of increase in food production.[98] Others like, changing in societal organization or government policies will effectively avoid the situation where the population growth is greater than the capacity to sustain them. Even the unpredictability of the nature itself or sheer luck will mitigate the relationship between the population growth and subsistence[99].

            The hard-Malthusian attempts to attribute the genocide in Rwanda directly to the issue of overpopulation and scarcity of arable land is also not plausible since many other places, for example, Tanzania, Nepal, Indonesia and others who have higher population density per square kilometers of arable land and basically as poor as Rwanda do not experience a violent conflict as in Rwanda.[100] This led us to the third school of thought, whom we call the soft-Malthusian that stands between the two extremes, that is, the optimist anti-Malthusian and the pessimist hard-Malthusian.

            The proponents of the soft-Malthusian argue that social conflict is not an unavoidable outcome of ecological resource scarcity. There are intervening variables that may vary the outcome of ecological resource scarcity. These intervening variables which can be in the form of accountability and legitimacy of the state, political processes, economic activities, patterns of innovation, social cooperation and various other activities can modify the resultant outcome of ecological resource scarcity whether it will or will not causes a conflict. 

Prunier states that the pressure generated by the effect of overpopulation in some way contributed to the genocide. The willingness of ordinary peasants to take part in the massacres when instructed by the politicians displayed their line of thinking that with the elimination of the Tutsis, there will be a lot of space available for the surviving Hutus.[101] In his argument Prunier sees that the overpopulation problem by itself did not cause the genocide; in fact, the genocide was orchestrated by the ruling elites in order to salvage their loosening power over the control of the rural population. Accustomed to rule Rwanda in a totalitarian way, Habyarimana regime was not happy when it was forced by the Western aid donors to establish a multiparty government in order to qualified for the economic aid which will address the recession in Rwanda. This is clearly described by Prunier in illustrating the intention of Habyarimana in signing the Arusha Peace accord. “President Habyarimana had consented to sign the Arusha Peace agreement not as a genuine gesture marking the turning over of a new political leaf and the beginning of democratization in Rwanda, but as a tactical move calculated to buy time, shore up the contradiction of the various segments of the opposition and look good in the eyes of the foreign donors.”[102]

After the signing of the peace accord, the political circles around Habyarimana organized a plan to exterminate the Tutsi population and Hutu dissidents in order to remain powerful in Rwanda.[103] The lust for power drove them to commit to this agenda.

The fact that Rwanda had been densely populated largely favored their agenda since the population had been under enormous pressure to sustain agrarian life with the small space available. Coupled with other variable, such as the “issue of Tutsi threat” which had been deliberately brainwashed on the Hutu population by the state, resulted in the easiness of the ruling elites to mobilize the Hutu masses in executing the genocide.[104] We believe that this line of argument is more convincing since the cumulating events that happened within Rwanda pre-Genocide was taken into consideration in forming up a causal explanation for the genocide. Invariably it was found that the issue of ecological scarcity due to overpopulation contributed to the cause of genocide via political process.

Another author who adapts a soft-Malthusian approach in explaining the genocide in Rwanda is Peter Uvin. Uvin uses an analogy of transmission belt in explaining the linkage between the genocide and ecological resource scarcity. Uvin understands that in real lives, people are dealing with a “web of interactions”. Consequently any issue cannot be seen in isolation[105]. For him, in order to arrive at the explanation of genocide with respect to the ecological resource scarcities, there were three important factors that transmitted the pressure of ecological resource scarcities into the execution of the genocide. The first factor was the legacy of the conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi that traced back to the social revolution in 1959.[106] The conflict that ends in 1963 displaced thousands of Tutsi as refugees. Consequently the Hutu farmers occupied the lands that they left. The successive attempt by the RPF to invade Rwanda in late 1980s and early 1990s raised the fears of the majority Hutu, that the land they were cultivating will be reclaimed back by the returning Tutsi refugees if the RPF won the war. The Hutu extremist also deliberately fueled this fear in order to satisfy their agenda. The government persistence to block the return of the refugees on the basis that Rwanda had already been overpopulated also set the alarm in the Hutu’s mind.

The second transmission belt that was identified by Uvin was the economic crisis faced by Rwandan for a decade since 1984. A decreased food production coupled with the crash of the prices for coffee and reduction in jobs caused severe hardships for many families. Since the crisis spanned for a long time, a lot of young people who were unemployed saw no hope in improving their lives. This sense of hopelessness drove them to participate in the ensuing genocide orchestrated by the government since they saw a lot to gain from it.

The third transmission belt is the attempted invasion by RPF in the early 1990s displaced around one million Rwandan from the northern region to the refugee camps around Kigali. Consequently the capital’s population rose dramatically and littered with thousands of young people who were unemployed and dissatisfied. This situation presents perfect breeding grounds for extremism and radicalism against the minority Tutsi. Apart form that, the increase in government expenditures on the military to fight the war, resulted in the reduced budget for social and development programs which in turn, had a direct effect on increasing the hardship faced by the common people.

Hence we believe that even though the ecological resource scarcity in Rwanda which is the issue of land ownership does not automatically generate a lethal conflicts, it stand as a biggest causal factor based on several aspects. Firstly, the peasants were pressured to maintain their livelihood on a shrinking plot of land. Secondly, there was a constant fear that they will loose the land to the Tutsi if the RPF took over the country. Thirdly, the youths who were not prepared to seek livelihood other than being farmer were disillusioned with the “situation” that caused them unemployed and without any plot of land to farm. This “situation” was generated partly due to government policy, partly due to the rapid population growth that induce the ecological resource scarcity and partly due to the war with RPF.

3.3 A Rwandan Perspective.

             James Gasana published his analysis on the effect of natural resource scarcity towards violence in Rwanda in a 2001 IUCN book on environment and conflict[107]. Gasana identified three factors that deflected the social effect of natural resource scarcity into violence.[108] Firstly, there was a high dissatisfaction towards the state among the large population who were badly affected by the scarcity issue and the ensuing famine in 1988-1989. The peasants who lived in the badly affected areas in the south saw that the government, who paid more attention to the northern region where Habyarimana and his political elites originated, was marginalizing them[109]. Secondly, the government failed to address this dissatisfaction seriously and did not take into consideration the suggestion from the grass root level.[110]  Thirdly, lack of opened channel for national debate led the southern elites to organize the dissatisfied peasants to support opposition movements against the government based upon ethnic mistrust. [111]  Up to this stage, we believe that Gasana tried to point out that the effect of environmental scarcity was transformed into violent conflict based on ethnicity.

            Another three set of events linked these factors into genocide. Firstly, the RPF’s leaders assessed the decline of Habyarimana regime’s legitimacy due to the above factor as an opportunity to renew their rebellion.[112] Secondly, the ensuing war displaced up to 1 million inhabitants from the north, disrupted agricultural production, increasing scarcity, and sharpened the ethnicity divide and hatred (since RPF was associated with Tutsi).[113]

Finally, the extremist manipulated this boiling situation by turning it into genocide in an attempt to salvage their remaining power structures.[114]  

            Based on this analysis, we believe that Gasana acknowledges a significant role of environmental scarcities in the Rwandan conflict. His soft-Malthusian approach[115] in explaining the genocide does not differ much with the attempt set by Prunier and Uvin. By far we believe that these explanations are more plausible in debunking the role of environmental scarcity towards generating the genocide in Rwanda.                

On the same line, Van Hoyweghen argues that the economic gains especially in the form of land seizures have always been the motivation for many participants of the genocidal campaign.[116] Tracing on this observation, we believe that land scarcity bothers the mind of the Rwandans, considering Rwanda “has one of the highest population densities in sub-Saharan Africa”.[117] In an economy where access to non-agrarian sources of income is very limited, land has invariably become the scarce production factor.[118]

 Consequently, we believe that this resource scarcity generates pressure on the population that depends on a single source of income. But that pressure alone will not be a sufficient factor to initiate a violent conflict. According to Collier, “the willingness of young men to join rebellion might be influenced by their income-earning opportunities. If young men face only the option of poverty they might be inclined to join a rebellion than if they have better opportunities.”[119] Insidious education policy coupled with dependency on limited source of income opportunities created a hostile situation within the population. It only need an evil and determined organization that can manipulate the situation to plan and execute the genocide using all the available “effects” that had culminated from the legacy of indirect rule championed by the colonizer and totalitarian rule of Kayibanda and later on, Habyarimana regimes.[120]


            Stanley defines social cohesion as “the willingness of members of a society to cooperate with each other in order to survive and prosper”[121].  In the Rwanda tragedy, the perversion of social cohesion emerged within the perpetrators of the genocide. To the extent that we are repeating again the impact of education in Rwanda, there was a strong contradiction between the genocide in Cambodia and the one in Rwanda. In the first case, most of the victims were the educated. In the latter case, the educated are among the perpetrators of the crime.  This can be read through the statement released by the pressure group for African Rights, that “The genocide in Rwanda was conceived, planned and executed by educated people, not least by members of the medical profession”. The report provides the details on how Rwandan doctors joined forces with militiamen to hunt down Tutsis, and deliberately turning hospitals into slaughterhouses.[122] The strong degree of cooperation between the professionals and ordinary peasants, let alone the uneducated youths which formed the militia, in carrying out the “call by the government to do the work, which is, killing the Tutsi” demand an investigation on the cohesiveness’ of Rwandan society.

            Colletta and Cullen assert that social cohesion can be measured “by the density and nature of organization and networks (both vertical and horizontal) and by members’ sense of commitment and responsibility to these groups.”[123] Since cohesiveness of a society was founded on the basis of trust, which leads to the ability for cooperation and mutual exchange for material, labor and information, then it is necessary to investigate how vertical and horizontal cohesiveness of Rwandan society were developed in the pre-Genocide period.

4.1 The Vertical Social Cohesion.

            Habyarimana who took over the power from Kayibanda in 1973, had succeeded in extending his control to the lowest level of the Rwandan society. In 1978, he institutionalized a single party system in order to strengthen his power base. This party, known as Mouvement Revolutionnaire National pour le Developpement (MRND) was a totalitarian party where every Rwandan including babies and old people had to be a member.[124] Administrators, down to the village level were selected from among the party cadres. This effectively established a strong vertical cohesiveness between the masses and the administrators.

 In furthering his agenda to keep away the Rwandan from actively involved in politics (hence strengthened his power), MRND was portrayed as an administrative apparatus and not a political party. In an agrarian community like Rwanda it was easier for Habyarimana to urge and encourage the populace to devote entirely to the business of agriculture and leave the issue of politics on his shoulder[125].  Consequently, a culture of obedience to the state by the masses was fostered throughout his regime’s period. As long as the economy of the country prospered, there was no concern among the population to scrutinize his policy.

The economic crisis that we had discussed in the previous section and the ensuing ravaging famine in 1988-1989, weakened the legitimacy of Habyarimana regime since he was not able to address the problem effectively. The level of dissatisfaction among the peasants grew since there was a lack of free debate on appropriate response that should be taken. This prompted the RPF to take opportunity created by the dissatisfaction of the peasantry to renew a war against the government. This war as had been discussed before displaced around 1 million inhabitants that cause grievances and strong anti-rebellion sentiment among the Rwandan. In turn, Habyarimana seized this tense situation to recreates the propaganda on the perceived “Tutsi threat” as a moved to salvage his remaining power.[126] Brown is correct when he states that hostilities can be escalated due to the existence of “antagonistic group histories and mounting economic problems.”[127]

In order to understand the effectiveness of this propaganda, we believe that this “myth making” regarding “Tutsi threat of domination over the Hutu” had long being played by the government as had been discussed in the human capital section. It had been designed into the education syllabi and formulated through mass media, to inspire a powerful impact in generating a hostile imagery of the Tutsi. Stein asserts that the Rwandan militant leaders “were able to mobilize support for genocidal action because they expertly played on long-standing ethnic fears”.[128] It only needs a confirmation in the form of the sufferings endured by the displaced population due to the attack by the Tutsi guerilla movement (RPF). Attempts by the RPF to portray the movement as nationalistic did not succeed well since the majority of the members came from the Tutsi who previously served in the Ugandan army.

The assassination of Burundian president, Melchior Ndadaye who was a moderate Hutu by the Tutsi army of Burundi also sent a strong ripple effect into Rwanda. Apart from reinforcing the fear of “Tutsi threat” among the Rwandan Hutu, the consequence of this event also caused some 300,000 Burundian Hutu to flee across the borders especially into Rwanda.[129] At this stage, apart from the Rwandan Hutu population that had been brain-washed on the “Tutsi threat”, now there were additional large numbers of Burundian Hutu refugees at the Southern border whose animosities towards the Tutsi were extremely high.

4.2 The Horizontal Cohesion.

To foster the cohesiveness of the Hutu extremists, Habyarimana  established  two youth wings to his MRND party, the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi. In Kinyarwanda Interahamwe means “those who attached together” and Impuzamugambi means “those who have the same goal” or “single-minded ones”.[130] These movements bonded together the unemployed, uneducated Hutu youth to pursue a single objective that is the preservation of “Hutu power”. Colleta and Cullen noted this in their research by their statement, “Of the nearly 60 percent of the Rwandan population under age 20, few had hopes of obtaining land and jobs. This bleak reality facilitated the recruitment of Hutu and their acceptance of Tutsi hate propaganda.”[131] At this stage, the situation was already ripe for the Hutu extremists within the government to set the plan to exterminate all Tutsi or dealt with the “Tutsi threat” once and for all.

When the call for “Let us do the work” began, the “Genocidaires were united by the collective action of killing, which helped create feelings of collective consiousness, commonality, shared goals, and solidarity…[Hence it is strongly observed that], The manipulation of fear and hatred against Tutsi created solidarity among Hutu.”[132] The calls to inspire all the Hutu to participate in the genocide were passed down to the lowest rank of the Hutu population via the administrative network that had been established by Habyarimana and through the notorious RTLMC (Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines) radio that continuously broadcast the anti-Tutsi feelings.

Prunier contends that the efficiency of the genocide was attributed to the quality and responsibility of Rwandan local administrator, which was a manifestation of historical strength of the central government.[133] This was enforced by the civilians’ sense of civic duty to carry out orders delivered to them. Consequently, vertical social cohesiveness which was manifested as an absolute state power penetrated the Rwandan society so deeply that it took precedence over horizontal relations and loyalties. Colleta and Cullen also noted this in their research, “Officials from the police, local administrators, and military forces went door to door requisitioning men to partake in their ‘national duty’ of eliminating Tutsi, and Hutu voluntarily or begrudgingly followed these orders. Killing Tutsi was portrayed as a Hutu civic duty; such phrases as ‘do you work’ or ‘it is your duty to help clear the field’ – eradicate the inyenzi (cockroaches, meaning Tutsi) – were current.”[134]

Up to this stage, we had illustrated the role of vertical and horizontal cohesiveness of the Hutu in carrying out the massacres against their Tutsi country men and women. But the element of social cohesion actually played a double edge sword in this tragedy.

4.3 The Dilemma of Social Cohesion.

            Apart from uniting the extremist Hutu together to carry out “the duty”, the social cohesion that had been fostered during the pre-genocide period makes the execution of the genocide easier. The Tutsi cannot escape the deadly trap of living in Rwanda since the Hutu knows them very well. This is evident by the pre-genocide situation as depicted by Prunier (1995). “In countryside, where people knew each other well, identifying the Tutsi was easy and they had absolutely no chance of escaping. Since Hutu and Tutsi are not tribes but social groups within the same culture, there was no separate dwelling pattern. They lived side by side in similar huts, and given the demographic ratio, each Tutsi household was usually surrounded by several Hutu families, making concealment almost impossible…The “small Tutsi” from the Hills were in no way different from their Hutu neighbors, except perhaps in their physical appearance. But it did not matter because the Tutsi or Hutu identities of villagers were public knowledge.”[135]

            This brings to our thinking that the ability for a community to live together does not necessarily offers a sign of a stable society. Despite their calmness and innocent looking, the underlying fear that plays inside the mind of each community members which in this case was built on the foundation of hatred towards the others and being re-imposed successively placed the society in a flimsy situation of being demolished at any instant when the ‘fear’ were translated into violence.


5.         CONCLUSION.

            Painstakingly we had established that the interplay between human capital, scarce resources and social cohesion cannot be discounted when analyzing an internal conflict. A systematic bias in education and employment coupled with stereotyping the disadvantage group understandably can be a source of fuel for any conflict. It only needs a spark in the form of scarce resources to push the population into a violent end. The scarcity of arable land, which denied the opportunity of many peasants in Rwanda to maintain self-sufficiency, creates a tension and consequently a competition. The perverted social capital that had been manipulated by the extremist government became a catalyst in driving the conflict into genocide.

            Consequently, we believe that it is imperative for a post-conflict society to address the three variables at the earnest to break the chain that can cycles them back into another conflict. This can be implemented through a reform in education policy, creating interdependencies among the actors in access to the scarce resources, generating diversified income resources and fostering associations across groups through community projects and intermixing of groups in schools, businesses and friends.








[1] Reported by The Financial Times Limited (London) on February 20,2003.

[2] Reported by The Economist (U.S. Edition) on May 17, 2003.

[3] Alan J. Kupperman, “The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention”, ‘Mechanics of Genocide’, The Brookings Institution, 2001, p. 15

[4] Michael Barnett, “Eyewitness to Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda”, ‘Introduction: Depraved Indifference’, Cornell University Press, 2002, p.1

[5] It is not the intention of this paper to discuss the relevancy of the genocide terminology in Rwandan massacre considering that many Hutu and Twa were also among the victim. Genocide terminology is used in this paper considering the huge number of victims and the biggest proportion came from the Tutsi group.

[6] In fact, in recommending the changes on the peacekeeping doctrine and strategy, the Brahimi report, that is, the report of the  Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, has explicitly mention Genocide in Rwanda as a failure of international community to oppose the evil. Independent report on Rwandan genocide which was made public on 15December 1999 found that United Nation had failed the Rwandan people at all level. The inquiry concluded that the most glaring failure in international community’s response was the lack of resources and political will, as well as errors of judgment to the nature of the events in Rwanda.

[7] Saskia Van Hoyweghen, “African Affairs, Volume 8, Issue 392”, ‘The urgency of land and agrarian reform in Rwanda’, London, Jul 1999, p.354.

[8] Steve Utterwulghe, “OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution – Issue 2.3”, ‘Rwanda’s Protracted Social Conflict: Considering the Subjective Perspective in Conflict resolution Strategies”, August 1999, accessed electronically on 07 May 2003, <>

[9] John Pender, “Africa Direct Conference”, ‘The Genocide Framework’, 1997.

[10]Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘Genocide and renewed war (6 April – 14 June 1994), Columbia University Press, 1995, p.199.

[11] He was found guilty for crimes of genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment by the International criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha on 2 September 1998. (IRIN News September 1998).

[12] Allison des Forges, “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda”, Human rights Watch, New York, 1999.

[13] Nuala P. Kenny, “Some Ethical Reflection on Human Capital”, Department of bioethics, Dalhouisie University, 2001.

[14] Adam Curle, “Educational Problems of Developing Societies With Case Studies of Ghana, Pakistan, and Nigeria”, ‘Introduction’, Praeger Publishers, 1973, p.4.

[15] John Paul Lederach, “Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation In Divided Societies”, ‘Progress: The Dynamics And Progression of Conflict’, United States Institute of Peace Press, Washington D.C., 1997, p.64.


[16] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘Rwandan Society and Colonial Impact’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.5.

[17] Alan J.Kupperman, “The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda”, ‘Roots of the Rwandan Tragedy’, Brookings Institution Press, Washington D.C., 2001, p.6.


[19] German colonization fared better.

[20] Alain Destexhe, “Foreign Policy, Issue 97, Winter 1994”, ‘The Third Genocide’, pp. 4-5

[21] The only place where secondary education was offered until the mid-1950s as described by a group of researchers on Rwanda: Richard F. Nyrop, Lyle E. Brenneman, Roy V. Hibbs, Charlene A. James, Susan MacKnight, Gordon C. McDonald, “Rwanda – a country study”, ‘Chapter 7: Public Information, Education, and Artistic and Intellectual Expression’, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. , 1985, p. 96.

[22][22] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘Rwandan Society and Colonial Impact’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.33, with original source from Rene Lemarchand, “Rwanda and Burundi”, ‘Chapter 4’, Praeger Publishing, New York, 1970.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Allison Des Forges, “Leave None To Tell The Story: Genocide In Rwanda”, ‘The Transformation of “Hutu” and “Tutsi”’, Human Right Watch, New York, 1999.

[25] Yahya Sadowski, “Foreign Policy; Washington; Summer 1998”, ‘Ethnic Conflict’, p.13 According to Scherrer, only the Twa remained outside the process and consequently “they became economically marginalized and socially largely excluded”. - Christian P. Scherrer, “Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa, Conflict Roots, Mass Violence and Regional War”, ‘On the Historical background to Preannounced Genocide’, Praeger Publisher, CT, 2002, p.27

[26] Christopher Clapham, “Journal of Peace Research, Volume 35, Issue 2 (Mar 1998), pp.197-198.

[27] Alain Destexhe, “Foreign Policy, Issue 97, Winter 1994”, ‘The Third Genocide’, pp. 4-5.

[28] Christian P. Scherrer, “Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa, Conflict Roots, Mass Violence and Regional War”, ‘On the Historical Background to Preannounced Genocide’, Praeger Publisher, CT, 2002, p.28

[29] Saskia Van Hoyweghen, “African Affairs, Volume 95, Issue 380 (Jul., 1996), ‘The Disintegration of the Catholic Church of Rwanda: Study of the Fragmentation of Political and Religious Authority’, p.381.

[30] Howard Adelman & Astir Suhrke, “The Path of a Genocide: The Rwanda Crisis from Uganda to Zaire”, ‘The Development and Consolidation of Extremist Forces in Rwanda: The Church’, Transaction Publisher, 1999, New Jersey, pp. 85-87.

[31]Christian P. Scherrer, “Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa, Conflict Roots, Mass Violence and Regional War”, ‘On the Historical background to Preannounced Genocide’, Praeger Publisher, CT, 2002, p.28.

[32] Peter Uvin, “Environment; Washington, Volume 38, Apr 1996”, ‘Tragedy in Rwanda: The political ecology of conflict’, p.7.

[33]In fact, this revolution were sponsored and supported by the Belgian and the Catholic Church in order to affect the overthrow of Tutsi Monarchy, which was seen as too hostile against the Belgian and did not serve the Catholic Church’s interest. Accessed electronically on 23 May 2003,

[34] The threat of RPF invasion was central in the cause of genocide in 1994.            

[35] Christopher C.Taylor “Sacrifice As Terror”, ‘Rwanda’, Berg, 1999, p.44.

[36] Peter Uvin, “Environment; Washington, Volume 38, Apr 1996”, ‘Tragedy in Rwanda: The political ecology of conflict’, p.7.

[37] Ibid, p.8.

[38] John Rutayisire, John Kabano and Jolly Rubagiza, “Curriculum Change and Social Cohesion in Conflict-affected Societies (July 2002 - June2003), ‘Rwanda-synopsis of the Case Study’, accessed electronically on 20 May 2003, <>

[39] Ibid.

[40] Fictitiously, the Tutsi were charged as being the culprit behind all Rwanda’s trouble, the oppressor of the Hutu and had the intention to revive their domination.

[41] Steve Utterwulghe, “OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution – Issue 2.3”,

[42] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘The Hutu Republic (1959-1990)’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.76

[43] Ibid.

[44] Peter Uvin, “Environment; Washington, Volume 38, Apr 1996”, ‘Tragedy in Rwanda: The political ecology of conflict’, p.7.

[45]Allison Des Forges, “Leave None To Tell The Story: Genocide In Rwanda”, ‘The RPF Attack’, Human Right Watch, New York, 1999

[46] Habyarimana formed the youth wing of his political party, which mainly consists of unemployed youth, that is, the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi. Their members carried the most notorious acts during the geocide.

[47] Ibid, p.12.

[48] De Forges reported that “The imbalance in wealth and power was a question not just of the usual urban-rural disparities but also of increasingly evident discrimination against Tutsi and against Hutu from areas other than the ‘blessed region,’ that is, the northwest. Habyarimana had established a system of quotas, supposedly to assure equitable distribution of resources and opportunities to all Rwandans. In fact, officials used the system to restrict the access of Tutsi to employment and higher education, and increasingly to discriminate against Hutu from regions other than the north. By the mid-1980s, Habyarimana’s home prefecture of Gisenyi, one of ten in the country at the time, had provided the office holders for one-third of the most important jobs in government as well as virtually all the leaders of the army and security service.’ Quoted from Allison Des Forges, “Leave None To Tell The Story: Genocide In Rwanda”, ‘Prosperity, Short-Lived and Superficial’, Human Right Watch, New York, 1999

[49] James K. Gasana, “Natural Resources Scarcity and Violence in Rwanda”, IUCN , 2002, p. 211.

[50] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘Slouching towards democracy’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.128

[51] Ibid., p.129

[52] Ibid., ‘Genocide and renewed war’,  p.248

[53] Allison Des Forges, “Leave None To Tell The Story: Genocide In Rwanda”, ‘Validating the Message’, Human Right Watch, New York, 1999

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid..

[56] Ibid.

[57] Frank Chalk, Howard Adelman & Astri Suhrke, “The Path of a Genocide, The Rwanda Crisis from Uganda to Zaire”, ‘Hate Radio in Rwanda’, Transaction publishers, New Jersey, 1999, p.95.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Allison Des Forges, “Leave None To Tell The Story : Genocide In Rwanda”, ‘Validating the Message’, Human Right Watch, New York, 1999.

[62] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘The Arusha Peace Marathon’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.171

[63] Ibid. p.172.

[64] Christopher C. Taylor, “Sacrifice As Terror, The Rwandan Genocide of 1994”, ‘The Hamatic Hypothesis in Rwanda and Burundi’, Berg, New York, 1999, p.81.

[65] Inyenzi means cockroaches, a name that was given to Tutsi guerilla that fight against the government. Later on all Tutsi were branded by this name.

[66] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘The Arusha Peace Marathon’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.172.

[67] Christopher C. Taylor, “Sacrifice As Terror, The Rwandan Genocide of 1994”, ‘The Hamatic Hypothesis in Rwanda and Burundi’, Berg, New York, 1999, p.81.

[68] Christian P. Scherrer, “Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa, Conflict Roots, Mass Violence and Regional War”, ‘Preparations for the Genocide’, Praeger Publisher, CT, 2002, p.70

[69] Christopher C. Taylor, “Sacrifice As Terror, The Rwandan Genocide of 1994”, ‘The Hamatic Hypothesis in Rwanda and Burundi’, Berg, New York, 1999, p.81.

[70] Christian P. Scherrer, “Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa, Conflict Roots, Mass Violence and Regional War”, ‘Preparations for the Genocide’, Praeger Publisher, CT, 2002, p.83.

[71] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘Genocide and renewed war’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.254

[72] Christian P. Scherrer, “Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa, Conflict Roots, Mass Violence and Regional War”, ‘The State-Organized Genocide in Rwanda’, Praeger Publisher, CT, 2002, p.114.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Allison Des Forges, “Leave None To Tell The Story: Genocide In Rwanda”, ‘The Media’, Human Right Watch, New York, 1999.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Rwanda Economy, access on 19 June 2003, < Studies/NEH/rw-econ.html>

[79] Saskia Van Hoyweghen, “African Affairs, Volume 8, Issue 392”, ‘The urgency of land and agrarian reform in Rwanda’, London, Jul 1999, pp.353-372

[80] Ibid.

[81] Steve Utterwulghe, “OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution – Issue 2.3 August 1999”, accessed electronically on 07 May 2003, .  Van Hoyweghen gives the figure as 270 inhabitants per square of kilometer in 1991 as we pointed out on page 4.

[82] James K. Gasana, “Natural Resources Scarcity and Violence in Rwanda”, IUCN , 2002, p. 211.

[83] Saskia Van Hoyweghen, “African Affairs, Volume 8, Issue 392”, ‘The urgency of land and agrarian reform in Rwanda’, London, Jul 1999, pp.353-372

[84] When the head of the family died, the farm will be divided among his sons. Consequently, the size of the farm shrinks with subsequent generational transfer.

[85] Many farmers means more production, but on a reduced size of farm. This led to intensive farming, which caused soil erosion due to shortened fallow period.

[86] Ibid.

[87] Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Environment, Scarcity, and Violence”, ‘Two Centuries of Debate’, Princeton University Press, 1999, pp. 28-46.

[88] Dixon simplified the debate by categorizing three main positions that is the neo-Malthusians, the Economic optimists, and the distributionist. Other author, for example, Frank Furedi, in his writing, [“Population and Development: A Crictical Introduction, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1997”] categorizing eight proponents in the debate, that is, the developmentalist perspective, the redistributionist perspective, the limited resources perspective, the socio-biological perspective, the people-as-a-Source-of-Instability perspective, the women and human rights perspective, the people-as-problem-solver perspective and the religious pro-natalist perspective. Lief Ohlsson, in his dissertation, [“Environment, Scarcity, and Conflict – A Study of Malthusian Concerns”, ‘Chapter 4: How environment scarcity paved the way for genocide in Rwanda’, Dept. of Peace and Development Research, University of Goteborg, 1999, pp 99-112,] identified seven positions that were adapted by the social scientist when applying Malthusian theory in Rwanda case studies. These positions can be seen as either avoidance, rejection on principled grounds, intuitive acceptance, determining the role of scarcities, determining the role of the developmental model, empirical corroboration and empirical refutation.

[89] Peter Uvin, “Avoiding Violence – The Development Enterprise In Rwanda”, ‘The Role of Ecological Resource Scarcity’, Kumarian Press, 1998, p.183.

[90] Julian L. Simon, “Research in Population Economics”, ‘An Integration of the Invention-Pull and Population-Push Theories’, Jai Press, Connecticut, 1978, pp. 165-186.

[91] Ibid.

[92] Ester Boserup, “The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change under Population Pressure”, ‘Introduction’, Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago, 1965, pp.11-14.

[93] Exponentially means in the order of 1,2,4,8,16,32,… and linearly means 1,2,3,4,5,6..

[94] Paul R. Ehrlich & Anne H. Ehrlich, “The Population Explosion”, ‘Why Isn’t Everyone As Scared As We Are?’, Simon And Schuster, New York, 1990, p. 23.

[95] Paul R. Ehrlich & Anne H. Ehrlich, “The Population Explosion”, ‘The One-Time Bonanza’, Simon And Schuster, New York, 1990, p. 39.

[96]Garrett Hardin, “Psychology Today”, ‘Life Boat Ethics: The Case Against Helping The Poor’, September 1974, pp.38-43.

[97] Garrett Hardin, “Psychology Today”, ‘Life Boat Ethics: The tragedy of the commons’, September 1974, pp.38-43, 124-126.

[98]This is an anti-Malthusian argument that we presented before.

[99] Ann F. Wolfgram & Maria Sophia Aguirre, “Population, Resources & Environment: A Survey of the Debate”, The Catholic University of America, assessed electronically on 04 June 2003,

[100] Peter Uvin, “Avoiding Violence – The Development Enterprise In Rwanda”, ‘The Role of Ecological Resource Scarcity’, Kumarian Press, 1998, pp. 182-183.

[101] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘Rwandan Society and Colonial Impact’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.4.

[102] Ibid, ‘Chronicle of massacre foretold’, pp.194-195

[103] This political circle known widely as ‘akazu’ (the small house), actually centered around the President’s wife. Akazu members were identified in the ICTR as the planners of the genocide.

[104] Ibid., ‘Rwandan Society and Colonial Impact’ p. 3 & ‘Towards a provisional conclusion’, pp. 353-354.

[105] Peter Uvin, “Environment – Volume 38”, ‘Tragedy in Rwanda: The political ecology of conflict’, Washington, 1996, p.15.

[106] Discussed on pp. 12 - 13 of this paper.

[107] Gasana held the post of Minister of Agriculture (1990-92), and Minister of Defense (1992-93) in the Rwandan government headed by Hayarimana. He was involved in negotiating with the RPF delegation during the Arusha Agreement process. Knowing that the extremist led by Colonel Bagosora was watching him, he fled to Switzerland shortly before the signing of the accord in fear for his life. His colleague, Foreign Minister Ngulinzira, who stayed behind was among the first to be killed in April 1994 genocide - Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘The Arusha Peace Marathon’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.163.

[108] James K. Gasana, “Natural Resources Scarcity and Violence in Rwanda”, IUCN , 2002, pp. 229-230.

[109] Ibid., p.218.

[110] Ibid., p.229

[111] Ibid. Most southern peasants were Tutsi and moderate Hutu. They opposed  Habyarimana since he was seen as favoring his northern region.

[112] Ibid., pp. 218-219.

[113] Ibid., p.223.

[114] Ibid., pp. 226-228

[115] In reading his conclusion regarding population growth in Rwanda, an impression can be formed up that Gasana is a true hard-Malthusian since he advocates religiously the birth control program. But his inability to link directly the genocide with the population growth and environmental scarcity lead us to conclude that somewhat rather he is in between soft-Malthusian and hard-Malthusian with more leaning towards the latter.

[116] Saskia Van Hoyweghen, “African Affairs Volume 98”, ‘The urgency of land and agrarian reform in Rwanda’, London, July 1999, pp. 353-372.

[117] Ibid.

[118] Ibid.

[119] Paul Collier, “The World Bank”, ‘Doing Well out of War’, London, 1999, p.3

[120] Interestingly, Ohlsson introduce the concept of evil intent in order to recover the value of Malthusian factors with respect to the genocide. The causal role of evil intent was to increase the option for the players in the position of power to deliberately planned and carried out the genocide. This evil had been nurtured in many ways. Among them were the culture of impunity, that is, the murderers of previous massacres was let loose and not taken actions against and the lacked of response from international community in dealing with the regime that was known to be suppressing their populace – Lief  Ohlsson, “Environment, Scarcity, and Conflict – A Study of Malthusian Concerns”, ‘Chapter 4: How environment scarcity paved the way for genocide in Rwanda’, Dept. of Peace and Development Research, University of Goteborg, 1999, pp 141-144

[121] Dick Stanley, “Canadian Journal of Sociology, Volume 28, January 2003”, ‘What do we know about social cohesion: the research perspective of the Federal Government’s Social Cohesion Research Network’, p.1.

[122] Marie-Clare Harris, “The Lancet, Volume 347, Issue 9002, Mar 9,1996”, ‘Doctors implicated in Tutsi genocide’, p.684.

[123] Nat.J. Colleta and Michelle.L. Cullen, “Social Capital Initiative Working Paper No.23”, ‘The Nexus Between Violent Conflict, Social Capital And Social Cohesion: Case Studies From Cambodia and Rwanda’, The World Bank, 2000, p.15.

[124] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘The Hutu Republic (1959-1990)’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p.76.

[125] Ibid., p.77

[126] Ibid., ‘Settling down into a war culture’, p.108.

[127] Michael E. Brown, “Turbulence Peace”, ‘Ethnic And Internal Conflicts’, United States Institute of Peace, Washington D.C. 2001, p. 222.

[128] Janice Gross Stein, “Turbulent Peace”, ‘Image, Identity, and the Resolution of Violent Conflict’, United States Institute of Peace, Washington D.C., 2001, p.194.

[129] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘Chronicle of a massacre foretold’, Columbia University Press, 1995, pp.198-199.

[130]Nat.J. Colleta and Michelle.L. Cullen, “Social Capital Initiative Working Paper No.23”, ‘The Nexus Between Violent Conflict, Social Capital And Social Cohesion: Case Studies From Cambodia and Rwanda’, The World Bank, 2000, p.19.

[131] Ibid., p.18

[132] Ibid., p.19

[133] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘The Genocide’, Columbia University Press, 1995, p. 245.


[134] Nat.J. Colleta and Michelle.L. Cullen, “Social Capital Initiative Working Paper No.23”, ‘The Nexus Between Violent Conflict, Social Capital And Social Cohesion: Case Studies From Cambodia and Rwanda’, The World Bank, 2000, p.19.


[135] Gerard Prunier, “The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide”, ‘Genocide and renewed war (6 April – 14 June 1994), Columbia University Press, 1995, p.249.

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