The 19th century European Curse across Africa: Part One

Image of Tutsi with long horned cattle

In my earlier blog tracing the descendants of Aurochs, I came across the above intriguing photograph. This theme of this and the next blog is due my educating myself about the people with the long horned cow, the Tutsi.

“The Tutsi tribe, which is also known as the Watusi tribe, hails from the African Great Lake region, mainly from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.” That is one definition I found. Another said “Banyarwanda are Hutus, Tutsis and Batwa who all speak Kinyarwanda today and live along the Rwandan border in Kivu province, together with Hunde, Nyanga and Nande.” Of course, in recent memory we are all aware of the terrible genocide in Rwanda. This now seems to me to be a consequence of 19th century interference in African life by Europeans.

What makes the Tutsi stand out is their height. They can grow to 7 to 8 ft.

Image of 20th century Tutsi King with Belgian colonialists before Independence in 1961.

His Majesty King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, a Tutsi born in 1936, lived in relative obscurity in Virginia in his final decades but remained resolute about the viability of the Rwandan monarchy.

Jean-Baptiste Ndahindurwa, the final King of Rwanda before monarchy was abolished, died in exile in the United States. Here we see Kigeli, second from left in the archival photo, became king following the 1959 death of his half-brother, King Mutara III Rudahigwa. His tenure ended in 1961 as Rwanda moved toward independence at the end of Belgian colonial rule.  His own father had died in exile in the Congo during World War II, where the family lived in poverty after Belgian authorities deposed him for being too independent, Kigeli told journalist Ariel Sabar in 2013. (Source :https://africatimes.com/2016/10/17/kigeli-rwandas-king-with-no-country-dies-in-u-s/)

In Razib Khan’s April 19, 2019 blog, the geneticist suggested the Tutsi are of Cushitic descent. They are more closely linked to the Maasai.

(Merriam Webster Definition of Cushitic : a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family comprising various languages spoken in eastern Africa and especially in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya.)

Here are his results and you can see them and read more about his findings by clicking on the link above.

Images from Razib Khan blog:


Tutsi (sometimes known as Watusi) people may have migrated from the northern Great Rift Valley in the second millennium to the Great Lakes region in search of better conditions for themselves and their cherished cattle.

African tribes lived more harmoniously before colonisation, with typical territory raids which have happened all over the world, but leaving no carbon footprint, showing respect to animals and the environment, and usually, each other. They understood the plants and forests within their landscape, and made use of these as needed, no over consumption, no hoarding. As an example, as with ancient folk of Brazil utilising the liquid they obtained from the rubber producing tree,  the ancient African practices located the milky fluid which oozed from the vines which parasitically wound around trees in the area.  These vines were a blessing in a myriad of practical ways when used in those ancient times, but became a curse in the late 19th century as we shall see in Part 2.

“The Rift Valley’s human story has powerfully influenced Kenya’s history and the prehistoric site of Hyrax Hill on the outskirts of Nakuru town, shows evidence of ancient, Cushitic-speaking inhabitants. For at least the last 2,500 years, generations of migrants trekked into the Rift Valley from South Sudan’s marshlands, from the Ethiopian highlands and from the headwaters of the Nile. Early migrants were the Nilotic-speaking ancestors of the Kalenjin peoples who nowadays dominate the central Rift Valley and play a pivotal role in Kenyan politics. From the early seventeenth century, the ancestors of the Maasai began arriving, also from the Nile and South Sudan, raiding the local inhabitants, adopting their customs, intermarrying and acting as role models for many other people, including the Kikuyu of the central highlands. The Maasai went on to dominate much of central Kenya for at least a century before the Europeans arrived at the end of the nineteenth century.”……..

Image of Maasai

Image of Tutsi


“The results of numerous excavations yielded three major areas of pre-historic settlement; the oldest dating to 3000 years and the youngest to possibly 300 years. The museum displays ethnographic materials of the people in the Rift Valley, and local ecology.”

Source: https://www.expertafrica.com/kenya/rift-valley

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers.
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