In 1954, Luc de Heush filmed the traditional harmonious relationship between Tutsi herdsmen and Hutu farmers in the Central African kingdom of Rwanda, then still a Belgian protectorate. Now, forty years later, a million Tutsi have perished at the hands of the Hutu in the first genocide of modern African history.
Contrary to popular opinion, this tragedy is not the climax of an ethnic struggle between long warring groups. The Hutu and Tutsi had long lived as one nation whose inhabitants shared a language, a religion, and acknowledged the rule of a single sacred king. The stratification of Tutsi and Hutu resulted when Catholic missionaries proclaimed the Tutsi a superior race, deserving of western education and favored treatment by the colonial Belgian authority. When Tutsi leaders, mistrustful of Belgian intentions, retreated from this relationship, the Hutu and Tutsi exchanged places in the colonial scheme. But the seeds of ethnic conflict had been sown and were now ready to be used in a murderous game of politics.
As it recounts Rwanda's history from the 1885 partitioning of Africa which made it a German colony, to Belgian conquest during World War I, the creation of a republic under Grégoire Kayibanda in 1961, and the ultimately catastrophic regime of Juvénal Habyarimana, A REPUBLIC GONE MAD goes further than any film available in providing the background necessary for an analysis of the horrifying recent massacres.