How a Genocide Spreads: Mapping Anti-Tutsi Radios, Magazines, and Speeches in Rwanda


Following the last two issues of The Funambulist, we continue to feature architecture theses (the final step in architecture studies) in our pages. Patricia Mhoja Bandora presented the following research in late 2022 when she was a student at the University of Johannesburg. In a broader effort to make sense of the interconnected historical and present political realities of the Great Lakes region, we asked her to particularly discuss the part of her work that focuses on the role of radios, magazines, and public speeches, within the context of the genocide in 1994 Rwanda that killed close to one million of the Tutsi.

Mhoja Bandora Funambulist 3
Mapping Tools of Measurement Radio, Print Media, Speeches and the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsis. / Document from The Port of Evidence: Reconstructing Past Events of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi by Patricia Mhoja Bandora (2022).

My architecture thesis focuses on the media dissemination of specific ideals that played a role in inciting the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, in order to reveal architecture’s impact on this event and its ability to surface truths of the past and future.

The colonial science on African ethnicities that ultimately led to this genocide has no connection to pre-colonial identities and communities. In Rwanda, it is due to the bureaucratic culture of the Belgian colonial state that locates, demarcates, classifies, and counts ethnicized populations as a means of control and social surveillance. Craniofacial and body measurements were identified by Belgian specialists as indicators to claim a superiority of the Tutsi over the Twa and the Hutu. This claimed superiority originated from what was perceived as Caucasoid phenotypes, as Belgian anthropologist Jean Hiernaux has shown in his work on facial indexes.