Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding



The republic of Rwanda is a small country in central Africa, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With its 26,338 sq km, Rwanda is nearly the size of Burundi. Its population is estimated at 10,186,063. Like Burundi, Rwanda has three ethnic groups, the Hutu (Bantu) 84%, the Tutsi (Hamitic) 15% and the Twa (Pygmy) 1%. The Roman Catholic Church has an adherence of 56.5% of the Rwandan population whereas 26% belong to the Protestant Church, 11.1% are Adventists, 4.6% confess the Islamic faith, 0.1% practice indigenous beliefs and an estimated of 1.7% does not belong to any of the mentioned traditions.


The history of Rwanda is marked by ethnic rivalry between the major two groups, namely the Hutus and the Tutsis. The Twas, considered the first inhabitants of Rwanda, are the minority and do not have big impact in politics. The Rwandan historical dynamic is characterized by changes in leadership between Hutus and Tutsis. In the pre-colonial and the first half of the colonial era, Tutsis were leading the country. Their hegemony created discontent and led to the rise of Hutus who overthrew the Mwami (king). Hutus reigned from 1959 to 1994 using the same exclusive political tactics similar to the Tutsi pre-colonial era. Since the 1994 tragedy, a Tutsi elite controls power and strives to maintain political, social and economic stability. However, the country still faces numerous challenges for its future. These include the unresolved problem of the presence in the Congo of the Interahamwe militias accused of the 1994 killings, the controversial trials to identify genocide perpetrators and question of and peace in the region.