Rwandan Genocide Lesson for Kids: Summary & Facts

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

In the 1990s, one group of Rwandan people attacked and killed members of another group. Come learn about this attack, how many people were killed, why it happened and how it finally ended.

Fair Play

Your soccer team is about to play for the championship against a team from the park down the street. You know a lot of the players because you go to the same school and live in the same neighborhood. Your soccer coach is talking to your team before the big match, and he says some things that upset you. Instead of using good sportsmanship and playing by the rules, he wants your team to play dirty and attack the other players so they can't win.

You know attacking other people just because they play on a different team is wrong. But in a country called Rwanda, one group of people attacked another group of people and tried to completely get rid of them.

Where Is Rwanda?

Rwanda is a small country in Africa.

Rwanda (pronounced roo-WAHN-duh) is a small country in the mid-eastern part of Africa. In the 1990s, it was very crowded because a lot of people lived there.

Most of the people in Rwanda belong to a cultural group called the Hutu (pronounced WHO-too). Another main cultural group is the Tutsi (pronounced TOO-see). These two groups fought many times over the years to take power.

But in 1994, the Hutus committed genocide (pronounced JEN-uh-side) against the Tutsis. Genocide is the planned mass killing of people who belong to a certain cultural group to completely get rid of them.

What Started the Genocide in Rwanda?

On April 6, 1994, the plane carrying the Hutu president of Rwanda was shot down with a rocket over Kigali (pronounced key-GAH-lee), which is the capital city. Even today, no one knows who shot it down, but the extremist Hutus in the government used it as an excuse to kill anyone who was Tutsi and take power. Evidence found later shows that the Hutus were planning the killings before the plane crash even happened.

Victims of the Rwandan genocide
Victims of the Rwandan genocide

Hutus blocked roads and started killing any Tutsi they found in and around the city. But this didn't stop in Kigali. Like a virus that spreads and makes everyone sick, the killing soon spread to the entire country. Many Hutus called the Tutsi 'cockroaches' and wanted to get rid of them.

This went on for several months, until anywhere from about 800,000 to 1 million Tutsis were dead.

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