The Tutsi Hegemony

After the the Recent Unpleasantness involving militias in Goma, Congo, the War Nerd tilts at conventional wisdom to hail the Tutsi as heroic and castigate the UN as foolish do-gooders.

The Tutsi are the one group in Central Africa that has the organization, the intelligence, the military spirit. If it hadn’t been for the parasite peacekeepers, all of Central Africa would now be The Tutsi Empire, and everybody there would be a lot better off.

The Tutsi certainly do have some recent accomplishments. They chased out the Hutu genocidal regime in 1994. They rule both Rwanda and Burundi and dominate Eastern Congo. In 1996 they toppled the Kinshasa regime and installed Laurent Kabila (who soon betrayed them). Since then they have dominated Eastern Congo through various proxies and in 2012 they took control of Goma briefly, using a proxy militia.

Their history is also pretty glorious. War Nerd:

The Tutsi came down to the lakes sometime around 1400, cattle-raising people who were good at war. They enslaved the Hutu, who’d come a little earlier and enslaved the Twa, the pygmies. So there was a straightforward three-tier system in the lake region: Tutsi on top, Hutu under them, and the Twa hiding out in the bush.

But why so successful? Why is there a Tutsi hegemony in the region?

Milk? Perhaps ability to digest milk give them a nutritional advantage over their neighbours? Wikipedia says that ~80% of Tutsi are lactose tolerant. This speaks to a long pastoral history, in common with other pastoralists of East Africa. There are reports that the Tutsi are relatively tall. This also seems associated with pastoralism in East Africa: the Maasai are famously tall.

Cooperation? Maybe historic pastoralism made them inclined to cooperate more solidly? Several centuries ago the Tutsi migrated away from the other pastoralists on the dry plains of East Africa, with their incessant cattle raiding feuds, into the wetter volcanic highlands of the Great Lakes. There lived sedentary farmers, less involved in raiding. Pastoral peoples have to cooperate in war band. Maybe the Tutsi are adapted more for cooperation. The Turkana, a pastoral cattle-raiding people of Northwest Kenya, commonly cooperate in large war bands. Maybe the Tutsi are more adapted for cooperation than their immediate neighbours.

All this is speculative, but when analysis is embargoed, speculation is all we have.


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