Can Lead to This.
The picture I have posted above is of an East African woman and the second, young boys dead in the Rwandan Genocide.
The Rwandan Genocide. Where did it stem from? A Genocide that took the lives of 800,000 people, how did its begin? Who planted the ideas of a superior race into the minds of the Rwandan people? And why does it continue in Congo today? Here is how Beauty leads to Genocide.
Author and Journalist Philip Gourevitch in the the book We Wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be Killed with our families Stories From Rwanda tells us the beginning of the Rwandan Genocide . Gourevitch explains to the reader how one of the root causes of Genocide was the “difference” in the appearance of Hutus and Tutsis. This is called Racial Science. I am quoting this book through out this post.
The Hamtic hypothesis founded by Englishman John Hanning Speke in 1863 says that “all culture and civilization in central Africa had been introduced by the taller, sharper-featured people, whom he considered to be Caucasoid tribe of Ethiopian origin, descended from the biblical King David, and therefore a superior race to the native Negroids.” ( 51) Basically, white looking Africans will introduce civilization to black looking Africans.
Speke kept a journal, Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, this journal was devoted to and used biblical references to explain why dark Africans are inferior to the white human being. In a journal called Fauna he says, “…take man–the true curly-head, flab-nosed, pouch-mouthed negro…How the negro has lived so many ages without advancing seems marvelous, when all the countries surrounding Africa are so forward in caparison...the African must soon either step out from his darkness, or be superseded by a being superior to himself.” (52)
So while in Africa, Speke discovered a “superior” set of people. these people had “Fine oval faces, large eyes, and high noses, denoting the best of blood of Abyssinia( Ethiopia).” During this time, it is important to note that The tutsis were a tribe in Ethiopia. Speke liked these peoples bridged noses- he labeled them lost christians and suggested with training they can be superior like the English people.
“Few Rwandans would deny that the Hamatic myth is one of the essential ideas by which they understand who they are in this world.” (53)
So this is how the story goes. After Speke, there was justification among Europeans to enslave, colonize and rule over the dark man. After European powers held a conference in 1885 to divide the African states which they would colonize, ethnic groups were designated a state to which they did not have a say in belonging to. Rwanda was awarded to East Germany and soon after WWI, Belgium colonized Rwanda.
Colonization takes strategy, Europeans did not simply come into Africa with guns and try to enslave the people. No, they came in calm, smiling, “worked” with the current leaders to attain what they want. In Rwanda, Belgium used the Speke analysis of the dark man to name Hutus and Tutsis different ethnic groups, differentiate the two by having scientists measure their noses, and administered Tutsis to be their chiefs. They encouraged Tutsis to exploit and degrade Hutus and placed one group above another. Rwanda wasn’t Rwanda anymore, it was a country where the law of the land declared Tutsis better than Hutus.
Long Story short, in 1957, a group of the” inferior” race, Hutus, published the Hutu Manifesto which argued for a majoritarian democracy- embraced the Hamatic myth- argued the Hutu people were the original the rightful leaders of the nation since bridge nosed Tutsis were from Ethiopia. They wanted their country back. decades later, 800,000 Rawandas would be killed so Hutus can Rule Rwanda again.
all of this because one white man liked one persons nose better than another persons nose.
I write this post not to only share the history of the Rwandan Genocide, but to show you, how labeling something more attractive than another can lead to preference, which as seen above leads to tragic events such as genocides. East Africans from countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia are often praised for their Eurocentric beauty. But should we proud that we were labeled beautiful by a white scientist that caused ethnic conflict and deaths of thousands of people? Should we proud that this very notion is what justified slavery, and rape of women, in North America 300 years ago? Is it fair to leave out our sisters in these countries that were not praised by Mr. Speke? You tell me, are East African women now colonized through prostitution in placed like Dubai? Is it colonization that leads dark women to bleach their skin in hopes of making it lighter? Do we perpetuate and use Spekes lies in our personal lives? We need to ask and answer these questions for
beauty leads to Genocide and it has the power to lead to Genocide again.