The history of Burundi is very similar to that of neighboring Rawanda. The first known human population of what is now Burundi were the Twa, a Pygmy hunter-gather tribe. The Hutu, a more advabnced agricultural people, appeared in the area (7th century). They were a Bantu poplke, probably migrating for better land from the central Congo basin. They displaced Twa who retreated into remote jungle areas. The Hutu dominted the area (10th century). The Tutsi, a lanky pastoral people, began moving from Ethiopia into the area (15th century). They conquered the Hutus and established a kind of feudal rule over them. Native African kingdoms with a Tutsi aristocracy controlled the area in the period before the arrival of the Europeans. Arab slave traders caused considerable disruption. The German colonized the country (late-19th century). The native kings resisted and extensive military force was needed in contrast to the situastion in neigboring Rawanda. Germany did not interfere greatly in Burdian life even after seizing control. Burundi became patt of German East Africa. Belgium seized control of the colony during World War I (1916). It became the Belgian colony of Rawana-Urunsi and a League of Nations Mandate after the War and eventually a United Nations Trusteeship. The European influence on Burundi was limited because both the Germans and Belgians ruled through the Tutsi-dominated almost feudal social structure. This was a recpie for disaster after Burundi became independent. Belgium granted iundependence to the monarchy after a U.N.-sponsored referendum (1962). The Watusi king became the monarch. The new country was buffeted by political turmoil. A military junta deposed the king and Burundi became a republic (1966).
The first known human population of what is now Burundi were the Twa, a Pygmy hunter-gather tribe.
The Hutu, a more advabnced agricultural people, appeared in the area (7th century). They were a Bantu poplke, probably migrating for better land from the central Congo basin. They displaced Twa who retreated into remote jungle areas. The Hutu dominted the area (10th century).
The Tutsi, a lanky pastoral people, began moving from Ethiopia into the area (15th century). They conquered the Hutus, but did not drive them out. The Tutsi established a kind of feudal rule over them. Native African kingdoms with a Tutsi aristocracy controlled the area in the period before the arrival of the Europeans. The Hutu were the farmers. They traded their agriultural products with the Tutsi for cattle. Governance was in the hands of the Tutsi aristocracy. They tended their heards, but did not did not farm or engage in any other kind of manual labor which was considered beneath their dignity. The developing caste system was not entirely fixed or race based. A respected Hutu could achieve Tutsi status and marry into the Tutsi aristocracy. And an poor Tutsi without cattle could fall into the Hutu caste and be assimilared. The two tribes gradually became integrated into a political, economic, and social system. The Tutsi monrchy gradually obtained control over the land from the Hutu tribes.''
The first Tutsi king (mwami) was Ntare I Rushatsi (16th century). The Tutsi mwami was in many regrds an absolute king, but this depended on the individual. The Tutsi aristocracy tende to view the mwami as more of a primus inter pares among the Ganwa--Tutsi aristocrats of royal lineage. It was the mwami, however, who held court and and commanded the army. Thus a forceful mwami could exet enormous contril and was difficult to remove from power.
Arab slave traders from East Africacaused considerable disruption (mid-19th century).
The Europeans reached central Africa much later than the coastyal areas. The first European to reach what is now Burundi was John Hanning Speke. He traveled with Richard Burton from Zanzibar searching fior the source of the Nile. They reached Lake Tanganyika (1858). They paddled north reaching the northern shore. It was a harrowing expedition. The next Europeans were explorer/missionary David Stanley and reporter Henry Morton Stanley, Livingson landed at Bujumbura and explored the Ruzizi River area (1871). Subsequently, other European explorers entered the area, mostly German. The Berlin Conference help to coordinate the final stage of the Europan Scrable for Africa (1884–85). One result was that the German zone of colonization in East Africa was extended to include both Rwanda and Burundi on the borders of what was devrloping into the Bekgian Congo. German Count von Götzen discovered Lake Kivu (1894). The first Roman Catholic missionaries arrived (1898). The native kings resisted and extensive military force was needed in contrast to the situation in neigboring Rawanda. Burundi became patt of German East Africa. Germany did not interfere greatly in Burdian life even after seizing control. The Tutsi dominznce was left untouched and were in fact used to adminisdter the new colony. This of course reduced the cost of running the economy. The traditional laws and customs thus remained largely untouched. The situation was, however, more unsettled than that of neighboring Rawanda, including factional struggles and rivalry. Belgium seized control of the colony during World War I (1916). They found an unstable situation. There was internl dissension with attemps by court factiins to control the 3-year-old mwami, Mwambutsa IV. The Belgians merged Burundi with Rawanda, creating the colony of Rawana-Urunsi. Belgium was grnted a League of Nations Mandate (1923). The Belgians continued the German policy of indirect rule. As a result the Tutsi feudal social structured continued throughout the colonial era. Ruanda-Urundi after World War II became a UN Trust Territory under Belgian administration (1946).
After exiting the Congo, Belgian authorities were anxious to leave Burundi and Rawanda as soon as possible. The United Nations oversaw electiions for a new National Assembly in Urundi (September 18, 1961). UPRONA won a decisive victory. This was the party led by Prince Louis Rwagasore--the oldest son of Tutu mwami. Prince Rwagasore became premier. Days later he was shot and killed (October 13). Aothirities arested two leaders of the Christian Democratic Party. They were tried and convincted and then executed. The U.N. authorities overseeing the transition to indeopendence had hoped the Burundi and Rawanda would form aunited new nation. Both were quite small and they shared a common history and social structure, had an integrated economy, and the people had similar ethnicities. The ppulation, however, exhibited no interest in union. The UN General Assembly approve a resolution that supported the creation of two separate nations, Burundi and Rwanda (June 27, 1962).
Belgium granted independence To Burundi as a monarchy after a U.N.-sponsored referendum (July 1, 1962). The Tusi (Watusi ) king became the monarch--Mwami Mwambutsa IV. The new country was buffeted by politicalturmoil. Mwambutsa was soon deposed by his heir, Mwami Ntare V (Juky) who assumed the position of Mwami as Ntare V (September). A military coup led by Premier Michel Micombero deposed Ntare The military declared Burundi a republic with Micombero as president. Ethnic tensions soon emerged as a major problem. The military claimed that Hutus were planning
an insurection. The military arrested 30 prominent Hutus, including both businessmen and government officials (1969). There was another Hutu coup (April 1972). This one led to aisasterous civil war which generatecinto atriciies and mass killings omn both sides. Mostly Hutus fled to neighboiring countries fore safety.
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