Religious Customs of the Hutu Tribe

The three stars on the flag of Burundi represent the Hutu, the Tutsi and the Twa.
... Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The Hutu is a tribe that makes up a majority of the population in Rwanda and Burundi. The other two tribes that inhabit this area of central Africa -- the Tutsi and the Twa -- speak the same language and observe the same traditions and customs as the Hutu. In 1994, political tensions between the groups rose to a boiling point and more than 800,000 people -- mostly Tutsis -- were murdered in a span of 100 days.

1 Christianity in Rwanda

Christianity was brought to Rwanda by Belgian colonists and missionaries in 1916. They issued identification cards to the locals, according to ethnicity. They gave better jobs and educational opportunities to members of the Tutsi tribe, who they believed to be mentally superior. All three tribes began to observe the same customs and holidays of the European colonists.

2 Freedom of Religion

The official constitutions of both Rwanda and Burundi promise freedom from religious persecution for their inhabitants. Though the major religion practiced and observed in both of these countries is Christianity, a portion of the population is Muslim or Bahá'í. Different Christian groups, including Roman Catholics and Quakers, have a presence in this part of Africa.

3 Ancient Religion

Despite the overwhelming adoption of Christianity by the Hutu tribe, there are members who still observe certain ancient customs of their people. They may visit fortune-tellers or make offerings to the abazima, spirits of their ancestors. The God Imaana has various human qualities and often is worshiped as a deity secondary to God and Jesus Christ.

4 Holidays, Traditions and Rites of Passage

In the Hutu tribe, a marriage is legal when the bride's family is paid by the groom, usually with cattle, goats and beer. She is covered with milk and herbs during the wedding. When she has a baby, she remains in her home with the child for seven days before emerging for a naming ceremony. When a family member dies, mourners abstain from work and sexual activity to show their respect. When the mourning period ends, the family holds a feast. The Hutu celebrate all of the Christian holidays, in addition to the independence days of Rwanda and Burundi, New Year's and May Day.

Lindsey Landis has more than seven years of combined writing, editing and marketing experience in the book publishing and media industries. She holds a journalism bachelor's degree from Indiana University and studied art history at the Universita di Bologna in Italy. Landis currently works at the Chicago Reader and manages her own author development services company.