|Mandate of Belgium|
Ruanda-Urundi (dark green) depicted within the Belgian colonial empire (light green), c.1935.
|Languages|| French, Dutch (official)|
Also: Kirundi, Kinyarwanda
|Religion|| Roman Catholicism|
Also: Protestantism, Islam and others
|Political structure||League of Nations Mandate|
|•||Belgian invasion||April 1916|
|•||Creation of mandate||20 July 1922|
|•||Administrative merger with the Belgian Congo||August 1925|
|•||Independence||1 July 1962|
|Currency|| Belgian Congo franc (1916–60)|
Ruanda-Urundi franc (1960–62)
|Today part of|| Burundi|
Ruanda-Urundi was a territory in the African Great Lakes region, once part of German East Africa, which was ruled by Belgium between 1916 and 1962. Occupied by the Belgians during the East African Campaign during World War I, the territory was under Belgian military occupation from 1916 to 1922 and later became a Belgian-controlled Class B Mandate under the League of Nations from 1922 to 1945. After the disestablishment of the League and World War II, Ruanda-Urundi became a Trust Territory of the United Nations, still under Belgian control. In 1962, the mandate became independent as the two separate countries of Rwanda and Burundi.
Before the Scramble for Africa, the region of Ruanda-Urundi was dominated by two independent kingdoms, Rwanda and Kingdom of Burundi, which were annexed by the German Empire in 1894. The Ruanda-Urundi region formed the westernmost part of the colony of German East Africa which included modern-day Tanzania.
After the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Ruanda-Urundi was the scene of fighting between German and Belgian forces from the Belgian Congo which bordered the region to the west. In April 1916, as part of the East African Campaign, Belgian-Congolese forces invaded Ruanda-Urundi and by September most of the west of German East Africa was under Belgian occupation while forces from the British Empire fought elsewhere in the colony.
Occupation and League of Nations mandate (1919–46)
The Treaty of Versailles divided the German colonial empire among the Allied nations. German East Africa was divided, with the vast majority of the territory, known as Tanganyika, going to the British and a small portion to Portugal. The western part of the colony, formally referred to as the Belgian Occupied East African Territories, was allocated to Belgium. In 1924, when the League of Nations issued a formal mandate granting Belgium full control over the area, the area officially became Ruanda-Urundi.
The Belgians were far more involved in the territory than the Germans, especially in Ruanda. Despite the mandate rules that the Belgians had to develop the territories and prepare them for independence, the economical policy practised in the Belgian Congo was exported eastwards: the Belgians demanded that the territories earn profits for the motherland and any development must come out of funds gathered in the territory. These funds mostly came from the extensive cultivation of coffee in the region's rich volcanic soils.
To implement their vision, the Belgians used the existing indigenous power structure. This consisted of a largely Tutsi ruling class controlling a mostly Hutu population. The Belgian administrators believed that the Tutsi were superior and deserved power. While before colonization the Hutu had played some role in governance, the Belgians simplified matters by further stratifying the society on racial lines. Hutu anger at the Tutsi domination was largely focused on the Tutsi elite rather than the distant colonial power.
Although promising the League it would promote education, Belgium left the task to subsidised Catholic missions and mostly unsubsidised Protestant missions. As late as 1961, shortly before independence arrived, fewer than 100 natives had been educated beyond secondary level. The policy was one of low-cost paternalism, as explained by Belgium's special representative to the Trusteeship Council: "The real work is to change the African in his essence, to transform his soul, [and] to do that one must love him and enjoy having daily contact with him. He must be cured of his thoughtlessness, he must accustom himself to living in society, he must overcome his inertia."
United Nations trust territory (1946–62)
After the League of Nations was dissolved, the region became a United Nations trust territory in 1946. This included the promise that the Belgians would prepare the areas for independence, but the Belgians felt the area would take many decades to ready for self-rule and wanted the process to take enough time before happening.
Independence came largely as a result of actions elsewhere. In the 1950s, an independence movement arose in the Belgian Congo, and the Belgians became convinced they could no longer control the territory. Unrest also broke out in Ruanda where the king was deposed. In 1960, Ruanda-Urundi's larger neighbour gained its independence. After two more years of hurried preparations, the colony became independent on 1 July 1962, broken up along traditional lines as the independent nations of Rwanda and Burundi. It took two more years before the government of the two became wholly separate.
- Royal Commissioners
- Justin Malfeyt (November 1916 – May 1919)
- Alfred Marzorati (May 1919 – August 1926)
- Governors (Deputy Governors-General of the Belgian Congo)
- Alfred Marzorati (August 1926 – February 1929)
- Louis Postiaux (February 1929 – July 1930)
- Charles Voisin (July 1930 – August 1932)
- Eugène Jungers (August 1932 – July 1946)
- Maurice Simon (July 1946 – August 1949)
- Léon Pétillon (August 1949 – January 1952)
- Alfred Boùùaert (January 1952 – March 1955)
- Jean-Paul Harroy (March 1955 – January 1962)
- William Roger Louis, Ruanda-Urundi 1884-1919 (Oxford U.P., 1963).
- Peter Langford, "The Rwandan Path to Genocide: The Genesis of the Capacity of the Rwandan Post-colonial State to Organise and Unleash a project of Extermination". Civil Wars Vol. 7 n.3
- Mary T. Duarte, "Education in Ruanda-Urundi, 1946-61, " Historian (1995) 57#2 pp 275-84
- "Rwanda profile". BBC Online. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- Chrétien, Jean-Pierre (2003). The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History (Eng. trans. ed.). New York: Zone Books. ISBN 9781890951344.
- Louis, William Roger (1963). Ruanda-Urundi 1884-1919. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Gahama, Joseph (1983). Le Burundi sous administration Belge: la période du mandat, 1919-1939 (2nd ed.). Paris: Karthala. ISBN 9782865370894.
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