DR Congo: Why understanding the roots of the conflicts in the DRC

Why understanding the roots of the conflicts in the DRC in general and in the Eastern DRC in particular?.

Why understanding the abahutu people in the DRC and their fate in the conflicts?.

Why understanding the meaning of the expressions “Banyarwanda/Rwandophons” in the DRC?.

We want to work and empower attitudes that ulitimately will contribute to restoring lasting Peace, Justice and Democracy (corner-stone values of development) in the DRC. The elements above would contribute to the achievement of this goal.

This document is dynamique and newsgena will be updating it as research publishes new findings in the matters above.Read updates at the link


Before 1885, the abahutu people (congolese Hutus) were living in well structured kingdoms united and led by the “umwami”(king). The Germans are the first western society to have visited the kingdoms. With the colonization era the fate of the abahutu people lacked attention.

The Berlin conference in Germany in 1885 resulted in the tearing apart of abahutu kingdoms as Germany, Great Britain and King LeopoldII of Belgium shared the colonies in central Africa.

After 1885,the abahutu were divided into Eastern Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, North-Western Tanzania, southern Uganda,. However the Eastern Congo border is only traced latter in 1911 following agreements regarding precise border markings between King Leopold II ( Belgium)(taking Congo), Great Britain(taking Uganda) and Germany(taking Ruanda and Urundi).

Following this division abahutu families found separated from their family relatives and friends across the Eastern Congo border. Some members living in Congo on one hand and the other relatives living either in Ruanda (actual Rwanda) or in Uganda.Migration between these families took place volontarily and unofficially.

1914-1919; First World war. Germany lost the war campain and lost the control of Ruanda and Burundi. These 2 german colonies were placed under Belgium trustee by the Society of Nations(actual UNITED NATIONS-UN).

Belgium encouraged and supported movements accross the eastern Congo border towards 1937-1955 mainly from Ruanda into Congo. The high density populated Ruanda, the well structured abahutu kingdoms ( Bushiru, Bugoyi, Buhoma, Burera etc,) and the hardwork and loyal spirits of abahutu people on one hand and the increasing need for human resources in the Eastern Congo to work in the belgian commercial and widescale farms on the other hand motivated the Belgium into encouraging and supporting the migration. Belgium latter even recruited abahutu from Ruanda-Urundi to go and work in the mines as far as Kipushi, Kolwezi, Likasi in the Katanga province! Belgium felt the wahutu had particular social strutures that entrusted the hardwork and the loyal spirit.

It is quite clear that Belgians did not force any “Umuhutu” (singular word meaning 1 (a)congolese hutu) into migration but they rather encouraged and supported the migration.

“Nyirarukundo” an elderly lady who lived in “Rusho (murugano)” county in “Masisi “( unfortunately passed away in 1999 at the age of 80 years!) explains” they brought to us big potatoes and informed the land accross is fertile”!”…” My husband and I decided to go and see as well as others were going there. We first settled in a the area down the Nyiragongo volcanoe. It was all bush. No people lived there. One day as I went to fecth water down the river I escape death from a lion threat. When I went back home, I forced my husband to leave and we went back to Bushiru. Few months latter we decided to cross again. This time we settled in Rusho. It was all bush. Now the fields are all green!”.


The Belgian’s motivation was driven by the already existing self-initiated movement across the eastern Congo border. This is crucial to understanding subsequent conflicts that arose around migration.

Reporter Correspondent

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