Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rwanda's Genocide and their population pressure from Jared Diamond "Collapse"

I read this book again. (My former memo: "Twilight at Easter", "One island, two peoples, two histories" and "Martha's Vineyard Island") And I would like to write down another part of the book; Chapter 10 "Malthus in Africa: Rwanda's Genocide" The author Jared Diamond says his theory as follows in this chapter:

Rwanda (and neighboring Brundi)'s 1994 genocide is the second biggest massacre, per population since 1950s, next to Cambodia. There are many presume statistics but many people say the death rate was 10% of the entire population of Rwanda.

Why did many people kill neighborhoods suddenly? Generally speaking, the main factor was the hatred between Hutu and Tutsi (and the ex-host country Belgium's policy to make it). However, we can't attribute all topics to this factor. In the northwest area of Rwanda, Hutu people killed Hutu people. And in other areas, with decreasing Tutsi population, Hutu killed Hutu people. Why?

Admitting this hatred factor and many other factors, additionally, Diamonds mentions Rwanda's population explosion and the destruction of environment as a result of this explosion. In short, high population growth made an agricultural land quite smaller per person. My question was "Is it true killing neighborhoods because of such a reason?"

In Rwanda, after their independence, the government continued their conventional agriculture method and didn't try an innovation to enhance productivity. They also didn't go ahead with family planning. The author's friend found this proceeded environmental destruction in 1984. He saw the lack of basic and important agricultural methods: the whole country land was like banana orchids, not in terraced fields but ordinary fields along the steep land (it was a danger for the fields to be flushed away by heavy rain), not aerating the soil by covering it with grass (which is bad for soil).

As a result, the population density of Rwanda and Brundi is the world's highest, the worst of Africa, ten times that of neighboring Tanzania. Other highly populated countries, such as Holland and Belgium use highly efficient agriculture and have other industries. Bangladesh is transferring from a conventional agricultural method to the new "Green Revolution" method. But Rwanda didn't change their method.

Rwanda's agricultural land per person was 0.09 acres (360 square meters) in 1988 and 0.07 acres (280 square meters) in 1993. In the state of Montana in the USA, one family needs over 40 acres of land. So, you can understand the seriousness regarding the lack of Rwanda's land.

I say it again, the author doesn't say that the population explosion is the only reason for Rwanda's genocide. If this is true, genocide would occur in Holland and Belgium (in Bangladesh, genocide occurred - smaller than Rwanda), but it hasn't. In less densely populated countries - the Third Reich of German and Cambodia - people experienced genocide. However, along with other factors, population explosion can be a big factor of genocide. It is the author's conclusion.

In my opinion, the author's theory gave me some convincing explanation to my question "Why did such a tragedy happen?" after seeing the movie "Hotel Rwanda" and reading "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda" by Philip Gourevitch. But this tragedy is still beyond my imagination. I want to understand it, I need to, but I don't understand.