Difference between Hutus and Tutsis

Hutus and Tutsis are the two main ethnic groups originating from the Republic of Rwanda, a country in central Africa that borders Uganda, Burundi, the Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. However, there is also a presence of these groups in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On the other hand, the Hutus and the Tutsis are known worldwide for having carried out a genocide that occurred in 1994 in that country, where extremist Hutu groups massacred more than 800,000 Tutsis and groups of moderate Hutus. As is known, ethnic conflicts are violent confrontations that take place between people with different cultural, geographical, religious or racial origins.

In this sense, in this article we will show the differences between the Hutus and the Tutsis, two African ethnic groups of great importance, based on their brief definitions.


The Hutus are one of the three ethnic groups originating from Rwanda along with the Tutsis and the Twa. They were considered a lower class, workers, serfs and slaves of the dominant ethnic group (Tutsi). However, this was the group that settled in Rwanda years before the others. Therefore, it was a large group, occupying approximately 75% of the population.

Among its characteristics we can find that it is a group dedicated mainly to agriculture and somewhat less to livestock, Hutu women are dedicated to the home and in some cases to agricultural work. With regard to religion, more than 65% are Catholic, 30% maintain their traditional beliefs in which there is a God called Imaana, and 5% have recently adopted Islam. With regard to physical characteristics, Hutus have a thick complexion, are of medium height and very dark in color.

Next, the Hutus have a generally thick face, they have very large lips and a flattened nose. Their original language is Kinyarwanda, Urundi and Kirundi but they currently also speak French. This ethnic group that was considered segregated and excluded during the Tutsi government, achieved a certain dominance and control in Rwanda after the genocide where approximately 800,000 Tutsi were massacred, whom they considered foreigners and abusive in power.


The Tutsi are another of the three ethnic groups that currently make up the population of Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi along with the Hutus and the Twa. They are also called waTutsi and in the plural they are called BaTutsi. These are descendants of ethnic groups from Ethiopia and migrated to Rwanda and Burundi approximately 400 years ago. In principle they were dedicated to livestock, a situation that managed to impose this ethnic group over the others when the peoples of Rwanda and Burundi obtained their independence in 1962, which consolidated them as a powerful group that also led them to lead the government.

In the same order of ideas, the Tutsis make up approximately 19% of the population of Rwanda and have always been considered a feudal, elite and segregationist group. In light of this, following the death of the Rwandan Dictator, ethnic conflicts with the Hutus took hold and a violent war ensued, claiming the lives of approximately 800,000 BaTutsi.

With regard to their religion, upon their arrival in Rwanda and Burundi they adopted most of the beliefs of the majority groups and today there are Catholics, practitioners of Islam and of the original beliefs. Regarding their physical characteristics, they are a little taller and thinner than the Hutus and the Twa. They also have a slightly lighter skin tone and their facial features are more elongated and stylized than the Hutus. For this reason, they were considered foreigners to the Hutus. The language spoken by the BaTutsi is the same as that of the Hutus, since they adopted it upon their arrival in Rwanda and Burundi.

Taking into account the aforementioned, the main differences between the Hutus and the Tutsi are:

  • The Hutus are older settlers than the Tutsi. This is because the Hutus settled in Central Africa about 500 years BC while the Tutsis settled there about 400 years ago.
  • The Hutus are more numerous than the Tutsi, because there are currently a total of approximately 11 million Hutus and 3 million Tutsi.
  • Regarding their physical characteristics, the Hutus are smaller, darker and thicker than the Tutsi.
  • The Hutus made up the slave and serf lower class of the Tutsi.

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