In the article on “Who are Bahororo?” it was mentioned that men do not marry Bantu women. Some readers have asked me to elaborate in order to understand why they don’t. Although Bahororo (Batutsi from Rwanda), Bahima and Batutsi cousins speak Bantu language, they are ethnically different from Bantu people, hence the use of Nilotic Bahororo and their cousins in the heading. At one time it was erroneously believed that Bahororo and their cousins were white people, but scientific studies have demonstrated conclusively and definitively that they are black people and darker with thicker lips than Bantu people – no disrespect is intended (J. D. Fage A History of Africa 1995 & Jean Hiernaux The People of Africa 1975). Although Bahororo and their cousins do not marry Bantu (Bairu and Bahutu) women they use them frequently for sexual pleasure and even produce children together. More references will be provided for those who would like to read more on the subject. Many quotations will also be used to avoid misinterpretation of authors’ messages.
Any conversation about the Great Lakes region of Africa is likely to touch on ethnic relations. During my mission (January/February 2010) to DRC, Burundi and Rwanda ethnic issues came up in the three countries. Those who argue that there are no ethnic problems resort to using intermarriage as a justification. While in Burundi, the topic of extensive intermarriage came up at times when it was out of context.
In Uganda senior officials have endorsed the institution of intermarriage as a national unifying factor. And we should applaud that. But we need to examine the kind of intermarriage that has occurred between Batutsi/Bahima and Bahutu/Bairu in the region to be able to determine whether that is the model we should promote.
I will be brief because I have written on the subject several times. Let me stress at the outset that I support the institution of intermarriage but it has to be a two way relationship between ethnic groups to be meaningful and unifying. It also has to be combined with other considerations such as social interaction and equal access to opportunities by all ethnic groups based on merit. A few illustrative examples will be used about intermarriages and other social relations that have taken place so far.