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Africa. The ties between language and ethnicity. Africa: Land of Diversity. Africa has nearly 2000 distinct ethnicities Africa has over 1500 distinct languages Africa’s political systems run the gamut from capitalist democracy to failed states.

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The ties between language and ethnicity

africa land of diversity
Africa: Land of Diversity
  • Africa has nearly 2000 distinct ethnicities
  • Africa has over 1500 distinct languages
  • Africa’s political systems run the gamut from capitalist democracy to failed states.
    • As a result of political instability, Africa has witnessed nearly continuous war since the 1950s, largely fought between ethnic groups, and largely divided along language lines.
case studies intersection of language and ethnicity
Case Studies: Intersection of Language and Ethnicity
  • Rwanda – 1994 genocide of Tutsi minorities
  • Kenya – 1952-63 Mau Mau rebellion
  • Algeria – 1954-1962 Franco-Algerian War.
anatomy of a genocide
Anatomy of a Genocide
  • Rwanda and Burundi were German colonies prior to WWI. Following their defeat, both became colonies of Belgium.
  • The two dominant ethnicities – Hutus and Tutsis – had formerly been very fluid: moving from one to the other was a regular occurrence.
early years
Early Years
  • Tutsis were pastoralists; Hutus were farmers.
    • If a Tutsi lost their cattle, they became a Hutu. If a Hutu bought cattle, he became a Tutsi.
    • Intermarriage was frequent, and the Tutsis adopted the Hutu language over 1000 years ago.
sowing chaos
Sowing Chaos
  • The Belgians decided to work through the Tutsis, and elevated them to royal status.
  • In 1924, the Belgians solidified ethnicity, making every Rwandan carry an ID card with their ethnicity on it.
    • Ethnicity was determined by the Father, which was hard to track.
  • Colonial abuses by the Belgians were blamed upon the Tutsi
the tutsis
The Tutsis
  • Following independence in 1960, the Hutus gained power and began systematic oppression of the Tutsis.
    • Many Tutsis fled to nearby Uganda and Burundi.
    • While in exile, many Tutsis became English speakers, and adhered English systems of governance.
    • Tutsis also relied on British aid and support.
  • Beginning in 1990, the Tutsis – with Ugandan support – invaded Rwanda
the hutus
The Hutus
  • The Hutus became clients of France following their elevation to power and Belgium’s withdrawal.
    • France had gained considerable diplomatic and economic clout in central Africa, and tried to spread their influence into former Belgian colonies.
    • The Hutus relied on France for financial aid, military goods, and military training.
the civil war
The Civil War
  • The Tutsi invasion in 1990 sparked violent reprisals against the Tutsis still living in Rwanda.
  • After three years of violence, the UN brokered a cease-fire.
    • Peacekeepers were deployed.
    • After the assassination of the President in April 1994, the violence began.
french intervention
French Intervention
  • After the murder of 11 Belgian peacekeepers, Belgium withdraws
  • France unilaterally deployed paratroopers to Rwanda.
    • These paratroopers provide training and weapons to Hutu paramilitary militias, and assist with the forced removal of Tutsis.
    • French soldiers turn a blind eye to the genocide happening all around them, while still providing support to the Hutus.
    • The French refuse to allow a more aggressive UN posture.
the cost
The Cost
  • In 100 days, Hutu militias and soldiers murdered over 800,000 Tutsis – one tenth of the Rwandan population.
    • This was greater efficiency than the Nazis had used to eradicate the Jews.
    • The killings were not conducted by gun, but instead machetes, axes and clubs.
    • French soldiers were in Rwanda and did nothing to stop it.
moving forward
Moving Forward
  • The Tutsi army was successful, and the militant Hutus fled to Congo.
    • The Hutus in Congo began a war there that, to date, has claimed over 5 million lives.
  • The new Tutsi-led government banished ethnicities and declared that all were simply Rwandans.
  • English became the official language, and Rwanda became a client of England.
  • Kenya was a British settler colony
    • Rather than exploit Kenya’s resources, British aristocrats and wealthy citizens flocked to Kenya to live on large plantations.
    • English citizens were given the best land, and the majority of the land.
    • Most Kenyans were forced to live on homesteads which were extremely overcrowded.
rebels and traitors
Rebels and Traitors
  • Many Kenyans were of the Kikuyu ethnic group
    • The Kikuyu were the most oppressed ethnic group in Kenya, and the one most opposed to British rule.
    • Other ethnic groups in Kenya collaborated with the British.
mau mau
Mau Mau
  • Many Kikuyu joined a rebel group known as the Mau Mau
    • Mau Mau meant land and freedom in the Gikuyu language of the Kikuyu.
    • Gikuyu was outlawed by the British.
    • The Mau Mau waged a violent war against English settlers, and Kenyan collaborators.
  • The Mau Mau Rebellion ultimately claimed the lives of over 8,000 Kikuyu.
  • Due to the costs of the war, the British left Kenya.
    • The Kenyan government, however, was made up of British loyalists who became clients of Britain.
    • Gikuyu was outlawed by the new government, and many Kikuyu were still imprisoned for speaking out against oppression.
franco algerian war
Franco-Algerian War
  • Algeria had been colonized by France in 1834.
    • Most French considered Algeria a part of France.
    • Many Algerians considered themselves French.
  • By 1954, a majority of Arabs were fomenting for independence.
    • A conflict broke out between the Arab Algerians and the French that would claim almost 1 million lives.
  • Both the Arabs and the French resorted to terrorist acts.
    • Arabs targeted French citizens, and any Algerians who spoke French.
    • The Kabyle – Berbers – were targeted by both sides, as they were the largest minority in the country.
      • Spoke primarily the Berber language, and French, but refused to speak Arabic.
  • Following the end of the war in 1963, Algeria gained independence from France.
    • Arabic was made the official language, and Islam was made the official religion.
    • The Kabyle were targeted relentlessly by Arab terrorists.
    • Anyone speaking French was murdered.
  • Three separate cases in Africa – a continent filled with multiple languages and ethnicities – illustrate ties between language, ethnicity, and violence.
  • Language is a key element of ethnicity, and oftentimes is the primary indicator.
  • These cases indicate the power that language has in politics and power.