- Kigeli IV of Rwanda
Kigeri IV was the ruler of the Kingdom of Rwanda from 1853 to 1895. He was a Tutsi with the birth name Rwabugiri. He established an army equipped with guns and prohibited most foreigners from entering his kingdom.
Rwabugiri's administration imposed a harsh regime on the formerly semi-autonomous Tutsi and Hutu lineages, confiscating their lands and breaking their political power. Rwabugiri amplified feudal labour systems, in particular the uburetwa, i.e. labour in return for access to land, a system that was restricted to Hutu peasant farmers while exempting Tutsi. He also manipulated social categories, and introduced an "ethnic" differentiation between Tutsi and Hutu based on historical social positions. Polarization and politicization of ethnicity thus began before the advent of European colonialism.
Rwabugiri held authority from 1860–1895 and expanded the borders of the kingdom, except for certain areas in the north and southwest that remained largely autonomous. Areas that remained outside the rule of the central court were primarily inhabited by Hutu and still form a distinctive subculture to this day.
By the end of Rwabugiri’s rule, Rwanda was divided into a standardized structure of provinces, districts, hills and neighborhoods, and administered by a hierarchy of chiefs predominantly controlled by Tutsi at the higher levels and with a greater degree of mutual participation as the unit decreased in size. The Hutu-Tutsi divide was further strengthened by an increasing presence of lines of distinction dividing territory and rule.
The borders of the Rwanda kingdom were rounded out in the late 19th century by Kigeri Rwabugiri, who is regarded as Rwanda's most powerful king. By the beginning of the 20th century Rwanda was a unified state with a centralized military structure.
Regnal titles Preceded by
Mutara II of Rwanda
King of Rwanda
1853 – 1895
Mibambwe IV of Rwanda
- The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience, see Historical Perspective
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