The precursor to the modern nations of Burundi and Rwanda was Ruanda-Urundi. This was the territory ruled over by the Germans and then assumed by the Belgians as spoils of war after World War I. These territories would see more than a million genocide deaths in the second half of the 20th century, but to understand the seeds that blossomed at the end of history in Burundi and Rwanda, we have to go back in time a little.

The flags of the modern nations of Burundi and Rwanda.

In this podcast episode, we look at the divisions the Belgians built and enhances among the Hutu and Tutsi in these future nations. We look at the Hamitic Hypothesis, an erroneous and racist belief that Europeans held to for centuries that suggested God made the darker races to be enslaved to the lighter races.


Detail from Ethnographic map of Africa, Arabia, the Indian Subcontinent, and Southeast Asia, from Meyers Blitz-Lexikon (1932).

We also briefly touch on the several genocides between the Hutu and Tutsi in Burundi and Rwanda that preceded the infamous genocide of 1994. As with most stories from history, there is far more going on in Rwanda and Burundi than most of us have been led to believe. The story of Ruanda-Urundi in this podcast episode hopes to unravel some of those mysteries.

The links below represent some of our sources in this podcast episode and recommended readings for additional learning about Ruwanda-Urundi.


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Find the other episodes of our History of Africa podcast series here.

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JB Shreve is the author of "How the World Ends: Understanding the Growing Chaos." He has been the host of the End of History podcast since 2012. He has degrees in International Relations and Middle East Studies. His other books include the Intelligence Brief Series. Regular posts and updates from JB Shreve are available at