Rwanda Religion

Rwanda Religion


A religion is quasi-universal in Rwanda. Freedom of religion is fundamentally guaranteed. Since the German colonization, but especially since the Belgian colonization after the First World War, the country has been systematically evangelized. The first missionaries belonged to the congregation ” Africa Missionaries White Fathers “, which led to the predominance of Catholicism prevailing in Belgium , to which about two thirds of the population belonged shortly before the genocide (1994). Because of their controversial role during the genocide, the Roman Catholic Church is criticized to this day. Started by the then Archbishop of Kigali, whose credibility was undermined by his political commitment as a member of the Central Committee of the ruling party MRND, which to clergy in numerous cases of atrocities guilty to have. While many people have sought refuge in churches, the institution has done nothing to protect them. Instead, hundreds of victims were murdered in places of worship. Priests and church leaders were involved to varying degrees, passively or actively. Today only about 45% of the population are members of the Catholic Church. Evangelical denominations are represented with around 35% by various churches such as Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists. The other Christian communities include Adventists with around 10%, and a modest proportion of Anglicans. To Islam about 5% of Rwandans acknowledge * inside, mainly of urban population. Because of his exemplary solidarity behavior during the genocide, Islam enjoys more respect in society than before 1994. The original religious cult now includes less than 1% of the population.

Charismatic groups and new Free Churches (born again Christians and Awakening Churches) could, as in other African countries – since around the year 2000 – spread quickly. The Restoration Church, for example, was able to convert more than 3,000 followers within the first ten years of its existence. ” Zion Temple “, one of the most famous local free churches, counts – according to its own statements – more than 7000 followers in Rwanda. Their charismatic leader Paul Gitwaza has even managed to win supporters outside of the country. Bishop Innocent Rugagi is one of the most effective charismatic preachers in the media. He and other preachers are repeatedly accused of exploiting the emotional vulnerability of their followers and exploiting them financially. For this reason, as well as with the charge that numerous types of prayer hygienic and The security authorities intervened at the beginning of 2018 because of violations of the public disturbance of the peace . Hundreds of places of prayer (700 in Kigali alone, around 6000 nationwide) were closed and in some cases those responsible were arrested. New legislation – in the same 2018 – has issued stricter requirements for regulating religious institutions.

Originally there was an ancestor cult. It is a monotheistic religion with a creator god – Imana – and a great personality – Ryangombe – who, similar to Christianity, was the earthly representative of God and took on the role of mediator. Because of this analogy, the Rwandans were relatively easy to win over to the Christian faith. Today the traditional cult of ancestors hardly appears in public.

Rwanda Religion


According to militarynous, the country is inhabited by three population groups. The Bahutu, which is estimated to make up 80-90% of the population, the Batutsi (approx. 10-20%) and the Batwa with approx. 1%. The term “ethnicity” is scientifically incorrect for characterizing the Rwandan population groups. “Hutu” or “Tutsi” are not different tribes either, as can be read in numerous literature. They speak the same Bantu language, “Kinyarwanda”, form a common social structure and share religious beliefs. They share the same culture and history. A certain regional origin is also not assigned to any of the three groups. Everyone lives on the hills property by property, door to door, and marriages between Hutu and Tutsi families are not uncommon. In fact, in the course of history, an “ethnic” awareness and identification with one of the groups has developed.

Group identity

The examination of colloquial language and terms from the Rwandan language of the present makes it clear that in addition to the group names Hutu and Tutsi, other terms today reflect the social identity.

The refugee flows caused by the genocide have resulted in the formation of new solidarity communities within Rwandan society, along the existing ethnic groups. A common path of suffering proves to be a link within the respective population group. A distinction is made between old and new refugees, returnees and those who stayed at home. Long-term refugees who have returned from neighboring countries, mostly from 1959 and after, are called old refugees. Although these are all Tutsi returnees, they are divided into three main sub-groups according to the host country of origin (Abasajja from Uganda, Abajepe from Burundi and Abadubai from the DR Congo).

The new refugees are Hutu refugees from 1994. Particular attention was paid to those who were repatriated from eastern Congo as a result of the Rwandan army marching into what was then Zaire in 1996. This relatively large – not homogeneous group – became known under the colloquial name “Abatingitingi” (named after the geographical location of a large refugee camp in Eastern Congo).

The largest group in terms of numbers are Rwandans who have not been displaced or have only been displaced within the country. Particularly in the first few years, immediately after the genocide, they were referred to as the colloquial term “Abasopecya” in reference to a gas station in Kigali that was still functioning for weeks during the massacre from April to July 1994. Through this designation, which is afflicted with negative resentment, members of this category were identified and accordingly treated with suspicion, as they were generally associated with involvement in genocide.


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