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July 1 All day

This is Rwanda’s National Day and commemorates independence from Belgium on July 1st 1962.

History of Rwandan Independence Day

Rwanda is a landlocked region in central Africa. It became part of the colony of German East Africa in 1884.

After Germany’s defeat in the First World War, control of the western part of German East Africa was ceded to Belgium under the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

In October 1924, Ruanda-Urundi, which consisted of modern-day Rwanda and Burundi, became a Belgian League of Nations mandate territory.

Tension rose between the two main ethnic groups in the country, the Tutsi and the Hutu. This led to the Rwandan Revolution in 1959. This resulted in Rwanda changing from a Belgian colony with a Tutsi Monarchy to a Hutu-controlled republic, after a referendum in 1961 abolishing the monarchy.

Following elections in which the Hutu gained overall control, Rwanda was declared an autonomous republic in 1961 and gained its independence on July 1st 1962.

Tensions between the Tutsi and the Hutu continued for several decades, erupting most notoriously in the 1994 genocide.

Despite commemorating the country’s independence, there are no official ceremonies on that day.  Independence Day is closely followed by Liberation Day, which marks the defeat of the genocidal regime by the RPF in 1994 and is seen as a more appropriate day for celebration.

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