Hutu /ˈhuːtuː/, also known as the Abahutu, are a Bantu ethnic
group native to
African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes region of Africa, primarily area
Burundi and Rwanda. They mainly live in Rwanda, Burundi, and
the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they form one of
the principal population divisions alongside the
Tutsi and the Twa.
3.1 Y-DNA (paternal lineages)
3.2 Autosomal DNA (overall ancestry)
5 Post-colonial history
6 See also
Main articles: Demographics of
Rwanda and Demographics of Burundi
Hutu is the largest of the four main population divisions in
Burundi and Rwanda. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, 84%
of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians are Hutu, with Tutsis the next
largest ethnic group at 15% and 14% of residents in
The Twa pygmies, the smallest of the two countries' principal
populations, also share language and culture with the
Hutu and Tutsi.
However, they are distinguished by a considerably shorter
Main article: Origins of
Tutsi and Hutu
Hutu are believed to have first emigrated to the Great Lake region
West Africa in the great Bantu expansion. Various theories
have emerged to explain the purported physical differences between
them and their fellow Bantu-speaking neighbors, the Tutsi. One such
thesis, largely based on oral tradition, posits that the Tutsi
experienced some admixture with or were partially descended from
migrants of Caucasoid stock, who usually were said to have arrived in
the Great Lakes region from the
Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa and/or North Africa.
These pastoralists were then reckoned to have established
aristocracies over the sedentary
Hutu and Twa. Through intermarriage
with the local Bantus, the herders were gradually assimilated
culturally, linguistically and racially.
An alternate theory is that the
Tutsi originally belonged to
the same Bantu population, but were artificially divided by German and
then Belgian colonists so that the
Tutsi minority could serve as local
Berlin and Brussels. The latter view has received
support among proponents of Rwandan national unity, but has been
criticized as an attempt at historical revisionism.
Still others suggest that the two groups are related but not
identical, and that differences between them were exacerbated by
Europeans, or by a gradual, natural split, as those who owned
cattle became known as
Tutsi and those who did not became Hutu.
Mahmood Mamdani states that the Belgian colonial power designated
Hutu on the basis of cattle ownership, physical
measurements and church records.
There is an ongoing debate as to whether the
Tutsi are really
separate groups or not; the government of
Rwanda seems to no longer
use any such distinction.
Y-DNA (paternal lineages)
Modern-day genetic studies of the Y-chromosome suggest that the Hutu,
like the Tutsi, are largely of Bantu extraction (83% E1b1a, 8% E2).
Paternal genetic influences associated with the
Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa and
North Africa are few (3% E1b1b and 1% R1b), and are ascribed to much
earlier inhabitants who were assimilated. However, the
considerably fewer Nilo-Saharan paternal lineages (4.3% B) than the
Tutsi (14.9% B).
Autosomal DNA (overall ancestry)
In general, the
Hutu appear to share a close genetic kinship with
neighboring Bantu populations, particularly the Tutsi. However, it is
unclear whether this similarity is primarily due to extensive genetic
exchanges between these communities through intermarriage or whether
it ultimately stems from common origins:
[...]generations of gene flow obliterated whatever clear-cut physical
distinctions may have once existed between these two
Bantu peoples –
renowned to be height, body build, and facial features. With a
spectrum of physical variation in the peoples, Belgian authorities
legally mandated ethnic affiliation in the 1920s, based on economic
criteria. Formal and discrete social divisions were consequently
imposed upon ambiguous biological distinctions. To some extent, the
permeability of these categories in the intervening decades helped to
reify the biological distinctions, generating a taller elite and a
shorter underclass, but with little relation to the gene pools that
had existed a few centuries ago. The social categories are thus real,
but there is little if any detectable genetic differentiation between
Hutu and Tutsi.
Tishkoff et al. (2009) found their mixed
Tutsi samples from
Rwanda to be predominately of Bantu origin, with minor gene flow from
Afro-Asiatic communities (17.7% Afro-Asiatic genes found in the mixed
Hutu throwing knife.
Rwanda-Rundi as their native tongue, which is a member of
the Bantu subgroup of the Niger–Congo language family. Rwanda-Rundi
is subdivided into the
Kirundi dialects, which have
been standardized as official languages of
Rwanda and Burundi
respectively. It is also spoken as a mother tongue by the
Hutu speak French, the other official language of
Rwanda and Burundi, as a lingua franca.
Hutu and other Rwandan children in Virunga National Park.
Rwandan genocide (1994)
Rwandan Armed Forces
1st and 2nd Congo War
Tutsi monarchy survived until 1959, when Kigeli
V was exiled from the colony (then called Ruanda-Urundi). In Burundi,
Tutsis, who are the minority, maintained control of the government and
military. In Rwanda, the political power was transferred from the
Tutsi to the majority Hutu.
In Rwanda, this led to the "Social revolution" and
against Tutsis. Tens of thousands of Tutsis were killed and many
others fled to neighboring countries, such as Burundi,
Tutsi ethnic group in the South Kivu region
of the Belgian Congo. Later, exiled Tutsis from
Rwanda to close its border with Burundi.
In Burundi, a campaign of genocide was conducted against Hutu
population in 1972, and an estimated 100,000 Hutus
died. In 1993, Burundi's first democratically elected
president, Melchior Ndadaye, who was Hutu, was believed to be
Tutsi officers, as was the person constitutionally
entitled to succeed him.
This sparked a genocide in
Hutu political structures
Tutsi military, in which an estimated 500,000 Burundians
died. There were many mass killings of Tutsis and
moderate Hutus; these events were deemed genocide by the United
Nations International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi.
Tutsi remained in control of Burundi, the conflict resulted in
Rwanda as well. A
Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan
Patriotic Front, invaded
Rwanda from Uganda, which started a civil war
Hutu government in 1990. A peace agreement was
signed, but violence erupted again, culminating in the Rwandan
Genocide of 1994, when
Hutu extremists killed an estimated 800,000
Rwandans, mostly Tutsis.
About 30% of the Twa pygmy population of
Rwanda were also killed by
the Hutus. At the same time, the
Rwandan Patriotic Front
Rwandan Patriotic Front took
control of the country and is still the ruling party as of
Burundi is also currently governed by a former rebel
As of 2006, violence between the
Tutsi had subsided, but the
situation in both
Burundi was still tense, and tens of
thousands of Rwandans were still living outside the country (see Great
Lakes refugee crisis).
Burundi Civil War
History of Burundi
Rwanda Civil War
History of Rwanda
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Ethnic groups in Burundi
Great Lakes Twa
Ethnic groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Great Lakes Twa
Ethnic groups in Rwanda
Great Lakes Twa
Ethnic groups in Tanzania