I always have a hard time remembering which side was which in this conflict. Not good considering I have blogged on this before, and have to remind myself all the time before I cover material regarding Africa.
The Tutsis were the Belgian supported minority in Rwanda and were left in power when the Belgians turned the country over to the local populations in the late ‘50s.
The Hutus represent the largest of the three ethnic groups in Rwanda, the third group being the Twa, a pygmy people who are quite different in appearance from the Hutu and Tutsi.
No real difference between the Hutu and Tutsi is distinguishable, as the two groups have intermarried. To learn whether one was Hutu or Tutsi requires personal knowledge of the person, or a glance at their identification card. However, Hutus tended to be of a lower social class than Tutsis, as a result of the favoritism shown the Tutsis by the Belgians. The Hutus generally were the farmers, the manual laborers, while the Tutsis tended to be the administrators.
As for this movie, while good and worthy of watching, I still think Sometime in April is a better movie. Don Cheadle is a great actor and there is nothing wrong with his performance, nor the performance of most of the actors in the movie, with the exception of Nick Nolte. Nearing anyone could have been cast in his role, as he didn’t really bring anything to the movie.
Much of the action depicted in the movie seems like it was true to events, as much as I know them. I am sure that some were probably contrived events, used to help explain or illustrate the level of violence, as Hollywood tends to do. But that is just a feeling of mine and I have no real basis for that opinion.
The Interahamwe was the Hutu militia, created to chase down and kill the Tutsis and the Hutu sympathizers. Friendships and marriages made this genocide a difficult situation, as families that were previously friends could find themselves torn apart and bitter enemies. Hutus protecting Tutsi friends could find themselves being hacked apart just as easily as the Tutsis by the Interahamwe.
The Tutsis are also referred to as “cockroaches” in the movie.