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The majority people of Rwanda and Burundi, speaking the respective closely-related languages Kinyarwanda and Kirundi. They were the agricultural people of those countries, dominated by the minority Tutsi herders.

Both countries were Tutsi kingdoms for centuries before the colonial period. In the run-up to independence in 1962, the Hutu majority in Rwanda threw out the Tutsi mwami or king (Kigeri V) and became a Hutu-majority republic; but Burundi remained a Tutsi monarchy then (after 1966) republic.

The 1993 first democratic elections in Burundi were won by Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, but his assassination shortly afterward together with President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda led to genocide in Rwanda and massacres in Burundi. In Rwanda, the Hutu death squads were called Interahamwe and the radio station calling them to action was Radio Mille Collines.

In all Bantu languages the names of peoples have a prefix: the Hutu are actually the Abahutu.

The traditional division of Hutu and Tutsi, that the Hutu were southern, more Negroid stock, and the Tutsi were tall Nilotic stock from the north, was a stereotype imposed for colonial convenience in identity documents, and with not much truth among the mixed peoples of the two countries.

There were actually a number of small independent Hutu kingdoms under only nominal Tutsi (Rwandan) sovereignty, which however were absorbed into Rwanda in the early colonial period, typically between 1916 and 1930: their names were Bugama-Kiganda, Buhoma, Bukonya, Bushiru, Bwanamwari, Cyingogo, Kibari, Ruhengeri, and Rwankeri.

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