- Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide
Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide


Rwandan Stratification

By samantha on February 5, 2013

Last week’s readings and activity regarding the stratification and power centers in Rwandan society really helped me better understand what life is like for the people of Rwanda.  While I initially expected this course to focus solely on the causes, genocide, and aftermath, the classes regarding culture are an extremely necessary foundation.

In examining social strata in Rwanda, I was struck by the classifications.  In Rwandan society, there are 6 total stratifications, but 4 (the majority) of these deal solely with people who could be considered extremely impoverished and have little to no upward mobility.  The vulnerable and abject poor constitute the bottom rung of Rwandan society, and any actions perceived as helping them are frowned upon in Rwandan society; which makes it nearly impossible for these members of society to do anything but steal or beg in order to get the necessary resources.  The next two categories, destitute, and poor, are considered more honorable, but still lead difficult lives.  Rwandans in these categories (typically) own some land, but the destitute and poor must rely on each other for survival.  Salaried poor qualify as self sufficient and may be appointed to local officials, but based on title and their description, they are considered the highest of the lower classes. Meanwhile, poor without money and the elites appear to be the best off in Rwandan society; however, poor without money (in spite of their educations and work) are beneath the elite.  Based on understandings of these strata and the way in which the game operated, it is extremely clear that the elites have the most control in Rwandan society, as well as the power to spread their ideas and contain the ideas of others.

Such power is clear when discussing the reconstruction effects on the elite.  There is no denying that Paul Kagame’s reconstruction efforts have improved the economic situation in Rwanda; however, the question remains: for whom? In a society where the term ‘poor’ is applied to 5 of the 6 social strata, one would hope that the economic success would assist those in extreme need, such as the men women and children who must eat rocks daily in order to stave off hunger.  Instead, the economic prosperity appears to remain in the uppermost section of society.

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