Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


David Humphries

Subject Categories

African History | Cultural History | Diplomatic History | United States History


Rwanda, Rwanda Genocide, 1994, Rwandan Patriotic Front, Paul Kagame, Decolonization, PARMEHUTU, Tutsi, Hutu


Martin Shipway, renowned author of Decolonization and Its Impact and professor of twentieth-century French Studies stated that:

"[...]it took only about twenty years for most of the formal structures and institutions of colonialism [...]to be swept away.[The] often violent and intermittently intense period of crisis[...] [explains] an international phenomenon as complex as decolonization[...] ."

Yet this quote by Shipway does not speak to the fact that independence from former colonial powers has not been fully achieved and neither has decolonization. According to the documentation of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the former German/Belgian colony of Rwanda did not achieve the “complex international phenomenon”. It can be argued that despite being granted independence in 1962 the Belgian divide and conquer policy, implemented in 1916, still continued to foster separation and hatred amongst the Tutsi and Hutu tribes. Which would lead to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, that would, in turn, shape the nation in the years to come; particularly in its government. Paul Kagame, the former commander of the rebel forces who ended the 1994 genocide, is the current President after having taken power in March of 2000.

What role does the Belgian government or oligarchy have on the Rwandan government since as well as prior to the genocide? Aside from the genocide what is the legacy left behind by the Belgians and the Germans? What does it say that President Kagame is still president after 17 years? Can his administration be seen now as a dictatorship? What are the sentiments of the Rwandan people? Do the Germans presently hold sway in Rwanda? Is there political, economic or social unrest in the country today?

Frantz Fanon a psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and writer once said in The Wretched of the Earth: "[for] a colonized people an essential value [...] is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity." With his quote, Fanon highlights the struggle of the Rwandan people, which rested on the whim of the tribe in power, before the genocide and which would be among the catalysts for it. Can complete independence be achieved when the echoes of the colonial period can still be seen and heard? Can decolonization truly occur within a nation whose history and traditions have been rewritten or erased to suit the pleasures of the colonial fathers?