January 10, 2008

East Africa's Tall vs. Average War

The New York Times reports about a Tutsi general who operates his own army in the chaotic Congo:

Fighting in Congo Rekindles Ethnic Hatreds

... It began with the Rwandan genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in 1994. Many of the genocide’s perpetrators fled into Congo, igniting regional conflicts that were fueled by the plunder of Congo’s minerals, lasted for nearly a decade and killed, by some estimates, as many as four million people through violence, disease and hunger.

Now a new wave of anti-Tutsi sentiment is sweeping Congo, driven by deep anger over the renegade Tutsi general. Many see his rebellion as a proxy for Rwanda, to the east, whose army occupied vast parts of Congo during the most devastating chapter of the regional war and plundered millions of dollars’ worth of minerals from the country, according to many analysts, diplomats and human rights workers.

The current battle is in many ways a throwback to the earliest and most difficult questions at the heart of the Congo war, and also a reflection of longstanding hostilities toward Tutsi, who are widely viewed here as being more Rwandan than Congolese.

Many Congolese Tutsi see themselves as members of an especially vulnerable minority, one that has already suffered through genocide and whose position in Congo has always been precarious. But many other Congolese see Tutsi, many of whom have been in Congo for generations, as foreign interlopers with outsize economic and political influence.

At the center of this latest rebellion is the renegade general, Laurent Nkunda, a Congolese Tutsi with longstanding ties to the Tutsi-led Rwandan government.

Yet, the Rwandans themselves are deeply linked to the government of Uganda.

Indeed, Rwanda's Tutsi President Paul Kagame was the Intelligence chief for Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni when the latter overthrew Ugandan President Milton Obote (Idi Amin's successor, if you are keeping score at home) in 1986. Museveni then helped finance his friend Kagame's Tutsi invasion of Hutu-ruled majority-Hutu Rwanda in 1990. As Kagame came closer to winning the war in 1994, the Hutu leadership went nuts, like Revolutionary France fighting refugee invaders in 1793, and launched the genocide, which was shut down when Kagame's Tutsis won.

In Burundi, the Tutsi minority has managed to stay in power over the Hutu majority for all these years of independence.

So, what's going on? Underneath it all, there's a vague, intermittent struggle in East Africa that keeps popping in different forms up between the tall, thin, black Nilotics (like the Tutsis, Luo, and the shorter, dark brown Bantus.

For example, in Nairobi in 1987, Barack Obama noticed the physical difference between the "
... tall, ink-black Luos and short, brown Kikuyus ..." Currently, the Luos are rebelling against the domination of Kenya's government by the Kikuyus, with hundreds dead in ethnic clashes. Indeed, the Luo leader Raila Odinga told the BBC after a recent phone call from Obama that he is the American Senator's first cousin (which I doubt).

There are exceptions to this pattern (for example, the main rebels in Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army, are mostly tall Luo-speaking Acholis), but the underlying dynamic across several East African states tends to be tall vs. medium. (There are also short and very short pygmoid peoples in this region, such as the Twa of Rwanda, but they are not power players.)

The tall black Nilotics generally see themselves as more intelligent than the shorter brown Bantus. Obama's Luo relatives in Kenya told him: "The Luo are intelligent but lazy." The Bantus tend to fear that they will be outsmarted by the Nilotics if they give them a fair shake, so they often treat the tall people like the Jews tend to be treated in Eastern Europe.

The dividing lines between the Nilotics and Bantus are not sharp. There's been lots of interbreeding. (This is Africa, after all.) But, they still exist. The situation is rather like that in Latin American, where after five centuries of interbreeding, the economic elites are still pretty white-looking, and the indigenous masses occasionally organize under demagogues like Hugo Chavez to fight back.

All this obscure anthropology is becoming increasingly relevant because the U.S. has been building new military bases in Kenya as part of the War on Global Islamic Extremism. I suspect we will increasingly be sold bills of goods by ambitious locals in East Africa who want U.S. subsidies for their indigenous power struggles, such as Tall vs. Medium, which they will mask with rhetoric about fighting Global Islamofacism.

We'll be especially vulnerable to being suckered into imagining local conflicts are part of the frontline in the War on Terror because our cultural anthropology experts these days mostly refuse to use vulgar physical descriptions, even though helpful shorthand tags like Obama's phrase "tall, ink-black Luos" are extremely useful in keeping the players straight. That kind of thing just isn't done anymore in polite society.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

30 comments:

AllanF said...

What did the multi-racial US Rangers call the locals in Black Hawk Down?

Skinnies.

Maybe if we can come up with a colorless short-hand for the two group's physical description we can solve the problem.

Does the NBA-ers against the NFL-ers work? Nah, can't start with the same letter: Sunni/Shia Iraq/Iran.

Does Skinnies against the Runts work?

tommy said...

The tall black Nilotics generally see themselves as more intelligent than the shorter brown Bantus. Obama's Luo relatives in Kenya told him: "The Luo are intelligent but lazy." The Bantus tend to fear that they will be outsmarted by the Nilotics if they give them a fair shake, so they often treat the tall people like the Jews tend to be treated in Eastern Europe.

Power and influence definitely seems to run from north to south in East Africa. I can't help but wonder if Nilotics might be smarter than Bantus because of their Nilotic genetics or because of their geographical proximity to (and presumable admixture with) even smarter Afro-Asiatic speakers. If that is the case, you wouldn't know it by Ethiopia's extremely low IQ, but severe malnutrition might be partly to blame.

I wonder if the same pattern holds true in West Africa. Do Afro-Asiatic-speaking northern Nigerians tend to be politically dominant over their Bantu countrymen on the coast?

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if the same pattern holds true in West Africa. Do Afro-Asiatic-speaking northern Nigerians tend to be politically dominant over their Bantu countrymen on the coast?"

Yes, to some extent. But no one thinks it's because of higher intelligence. All the evidencce the suggests that the Igbo and Yoruba people in the south are smarter than the Muslim people in the north. The certainly are better educated and have more success economically.

Anonymous said...

Btw, Museveni and Kagam had a falling out several years ago.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of the difference in height is nutricional rather than genetic. The Tutsi's own cows and drink milk and the Hutus don't.

Evil Neocon said...

Steve -- as usual you get things wrong about Rwanda.

In 1991, the Tutsis under Kagame were within victory, when the French acted to protect their Hutu proteges. [Kagame spoke English and was Anglophone oriented, and helped lead the RPF into Anglophone orientation. Of course for the French this would NEVER do.]

After the plane carrying the "compromise" Hutu President and the President of Burundi was either shot down or crashed, the killing began whipped up by French Radio stations and the Interahamwe (literally, people who kill together). The RPF battalion at Kigali came under immediate fire after the plane crashed/was shot down and fought their way north.

The killing was done on a massive scale. To give you an idea, nearly all those killed were chopped to pieces by machetes or had their heads bashed in by rocks. By comparison in the five years or so of operation, Auschwitz is estimated to have killed about 1.1 million people. This with industrial style gas chambers and ovens and the like. Hutus by contrast (the killing lasted three months) killed nearly as many by hand.

The sheer scale of this boggles. In THREE MONTHS Hutus killed close to what the Nazis did all of Auschwitz's operation over five years!

And just like the Holocaust -- the Hutu Interahamwe diverted efforts to fight off Kagame's RPF which advanced from Uganda to stop the killing (after Clinton of course dithered, post-Somalia, then blamed America years later). Men and fighters were diverted from the front lines to go kill Tutsis and "moderate" Hutus. And like the Holocaust even infants were killed.

This is also remarkable. Humans are hard-wired generally to protect infants, even those not their own. The Darwinian advantage of that is quite obvious. This happened btw even with "moderate" Hutu infants -- not just Tutsi infants.

While there may or may not be a "tall vs. average war" -- what happened in Rwanda was off the scale in terms of human events. Only the Holocaust, Rape of Nanking, and perhaps the Armenian genocide come close.

It's also btw compelling evidence that the best way to avoid attack is to be well armed. And startling evidence of the uselessness of the UN, EU, and "soft power" when bad stuff starts happening.

Evil Neocon said...

More on point -- the killing started BEFORE the RPF fought it's way into the country. The Killing was Holocaust-scale. The Killing was done over fighting off the RPF. And the Killing was stirred up by the French to preserve their Francophone influence. The former regime of Chirac is being sued in Paris by Kagame's government -- they allege a deliberate policy of encouraging genocide. The Canadian General heading the UN Mission there was on record that he felt the allegations were true.

In the statements you made you were factually wrong in asserting that the killings were in RESPONSE to an invasion. Since the killings PRECEDED the invasion (which was launched by the RPF in response to the killings).

Anonymous said...

It's tough to look at the last fifteen years of eastern African history without concluding that the Nilotic tribes really do have advantages over their Bantu neighbors. The Banyamulenge (Tutsis who migrated to Congo) were an ecnomically dominant minority for decades, and the Rwandan Tutsis managed to organize the one (or perhaps two, if you count Eritrea) effective, professional military force in black Africa. The Rwandan Patriotic Army's defeat of the French-backed Rwandan government's four times more numerous and infinitely better equipped army is one of the great feats of arms in the last fifty years. And then the RPA's covert invasion and takeover of humongous neighbor Congo was even more impressive, with imaginative military tactics from double envelopment attacks to hijacking planes to ferry troops a thousand miles across the country.

Gary Brecher is wrong in asserting that African wars are all massacre, no battles. The first and second Congo wars had battles for the ages, the coolest probably being the RPA/Ugandan fighting retreat from western Congo, which involved an attack into northern Angola, taking over an abandoned airfield, and airlifting the troops out under Angolan/Zimbabwean fire.

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks for the update on the Tutsi army performance.

How did elongated Nilotics in the Southern Sudan do in their 20 year long civil war with the medium brown Arab-speakers from northern Sudan? It seemed like they mostly got pushed around, but you might know more.

TGGP said...

Evil Neocon, what is the Darwinian advantage of protecting non-related children? I believe among Walruses or Bull-Elephant Seals (where sexual dimorphism reaches ridiculous lengths and males are huge) when two males fight over who is to be the alpha in control of the harem they regularly crush infants under their bulk, which they ignore because that is to their Darwinian advantage.

Sleep said...

I just want to post this picture of a group of members of the Ethiopian Oromo tribal group.
Image



And on the subject of IQ: Although I believe blacks are in general less intelligent than whites, I am extremely skeptical of any IQ tests claiming to represent a whole population especially when they have such a small sample size. For example, an IQ test administered to 500 mostly-white boys all across Britain in 2003 came up with an average IQ of 84.
Source

The source states that boys' IQ has dropped 1.04 standard deviations which works out to a score of 84 given the previous norm of 100.

Martin said...

"Evil Neocon said...

Steve -- as usual you get things wrong about Rwanda.

In 1991, the Tutsis under Kagame were within victory, when the French acted to protect their Hutu proteges."

EN:

I didn't see a single thing that Steve wrote that contradicted any substantive thing you said. So in what sense did he get things wrong?

Oh, and by the way, super-genius, here's something YOU got wrong: the Rwandan genocide happened in 1994, not 1991. But I suppose an expert in geopolitical strategy like you can not be bothered with mere facts.

All the recent history in Africa goes to show that we should stay the hell out of that beknighted, miserable continent. Hutus, Tutsis, Luo, Kikuyu.... Who gives a s....... They will be butchering one another with or without our help. Involvement in Africa is the absolute worst decision our government could make - it would be more foolhardy still than getting involved in the middle-east.

If you think its a good idea to start messing around in Africa, here's an instructive exercise: go to your local ghetto, and take it upon yourself to referee a domestic dispute in a crack-house. Then see how you feel about it.

Crom said...

Evil Neocon, do you really believe that the violence in Rwanda was France's fault? If so, how do you explain the high levels of violence in other parts of sub-saharan Africa?

Rob said...

TGGP,

I think we can add Darwinian evolution to the (long, long) list of things Long-Winded Paranoid Neocon has not mastered.

Johnson said...

Why are the lighter skinned Bantus of lower intelligence? Wouldn't that go against the generality that skin tone is a good proxy for IQ for large groups of people?

SFG said...

Why are the lighter skinned Bantus of lower intelligence? Wouldn't that go against the generality that skin tone is a good proxy for IQ for large groups of people?
Again, you think like an American in terms of white and black (literally). There's no reason different subgroups can't have different IQs along with everything else. The few Igbos I've known tend to be very bright.

Mr. Noah said...

Not to be a contrarian, but Tutsi speak Bantu-family languages, not Nilotic languages. If they are indeed descended from Nilotic tribes, they must have changed their language long ago, which typically involves heavy interbreeding.

Steve Sailer said...

Right, kind of like the Norman conquerors of 1066 eventually adapting the peasants' English, but with more visible physical differences enduring.

uwi said...

I'm a tall guy who has put up with a lot of crap from shrimps envious of my height advantage over them through the years. I can't stand these little pricks with a chip on their shoulder for taller guys.

I bet you anything this whole tutsi-hutu rivalry got started because the Hutus had a raging case of the Little Man's Syndrome. In which case, they deserve to get their whiney little asses stomped!

fifi said...

"I can't stand these little pricks with a chip on their shoulder for taller guys."

Me either, Uwi, I'm a short woman who should be a natural choice for a short male to boost his ego by finally being taller than someone but, noooooo. I have rarely seen a vertically challenged male who wasn't in the company of a leggy female at least half a foot taller than him. Fortunately, the occasional tall guy has taken pity on me and dated me.

ogunsiron said...

Steve,
I don't think you can lump the Tutsis with the Nilotics.
It's true that Tutsis and nilotics tend to be tall pastoralists but the differences seem stark to me .First of all Tustis speak a bantu language, which they most certainly adopted from their Hutu host along the way. This happened several times throughout history : Normans eventually spoke english, Bulgars eventually spoke their slavic serfs' language , arabs business people in haiti speak haitian creole, etc .
Tutsis seem closely related to fellow pastoralists like the Massai of kenya and the Hema of uganda/northern Congo. I'm sure there are other similar tribes in the area . When one looks at a guy like Paul Kagame , one can't help seeing an erythrean/ethiopian/somali . Theis skin tone varies from very dark to some rather light brown . It's a much wider range than what you find in typical nilotic populations like the Luo/dinka who tend to be pitch black ( the perfect example are the Dinka people from sudan )

dougjn said...

Mr. Noah said--
Not to be a contrarian, but Tutsi speak Bantu-family languages, not Nilotic languages. If they are indeed descended from Nilotic tribes, they must have changed their language long ago, which typically involves heavy interbreeding.

It is very common for a group’s language to change after it is conquered – or alternatively, for the conquering group’s language to change to the conquered. It’s not so easy to devise any rule for when which will happen – although probably it’s a pretty safe bet that when one culture is GREATLY more sophisticated and literate than another it’s language will continue predominant, even when it’s been conquered. This happened repeatedly in China for example, through e.g. Mongol (Kublai Khan) conquest giving rise to the highly successful and long lived Yuan Dynesty under which China reached it’s greatest territorial extent, and Manchurian conquest, giving rise to the long lived if less successful Manchu Dynesty.

Generally peaceful or largely peaceful immigrations lead to the pre-existing group’s language being adopted, especially when they are piecemeal over time. In Finland for example DNA evidence shows that the population is of predominately Baltic/Germanic/Slavic extraction, while the language is Altaic-Uralic (Siberian), which was almost certainly that of the preexisting population. There was intermarriage but the Siberian genes were mostly swamped.

dougjn said...

The Tutsi migrated into what’s now Rwanda about 600 or more years ago and formed an overlord, aristocratic class, over the Hutu horticultural agriculturalists. The relationship was generally that of patron and client rather than anything like master and slave, or probably even feudal lord and serf, though there’s no question that the Tutsi’s were the ascendant group. Contrary to leftist propaganda following the genocide this was true before the appearance of Western (in this case initially German) colonialism was introduced in the late 18th century – though as was the case in much of the world, the Western colonial power ruled through the predominant tribe or other group, here an ethnicity or micro race.

As is often the case in these situations, the Tutsis were greatly outnumbered by the Hutus, by something like 10 to 1.

One of the background pressures preceding the genocide was severe land shortage as the small country’s population continued to swell. Hutus thought Tutsi’s controlled far “too much” of the good land and other resources. As well, the post colonial period had brought modern western notions of equality and fairness to a mass consciousness in Rwanda as elsewhere in Africa.

Perhaps somewhat counter intuitively, nomadic herders, particular horsemen but not exclusively so, tend to pose a serious threat to neighboring agricultural societies even though the later are usually much more populous and often at a far more advanced cultural level. There’s a pattern of ebb and inundation, particularly from the vast Eurasian steppe. The Mongols were only the last massively successful horde of invaders, not only of China, but also of India, the Arab middle east as far as Bagdad which they sacked, Russia and Eastern Europe. The first may have been the proto Indo-Europeans, whose invasions and overlordship lead to the languages spoken from India and Persia to all of Europe.

The Tutsi’s and Hutus may have mirrored this pattern in a sort of miniature, both as to the Hutu’s level of pre invasion advancement and the Tutsi’s level of (pre colonial) military prowess and mobility (no horses they).

MensaRefugee said...

I cant help but draw a parallel between the "moderate Hutus" and the liberals in the West.

Were they really 'moderate'? Or just blind, self secluded and interested in their own moral exaltation?

Bill said...

This happened repeatedly in China for example, through e.g. Mongol (Kublai Khan) conquest giving rise to the highly successful and long lived Yuan Dynesty under which China reached it’s greatest territorial extent, and Manchurian conquest, giving rise to the long lived if less successful Manchu Dynesty.

-dougjn


The Yuan dynasty wasn't long-lived, nor particularly successful, unless you consider the multi-generation subjugation of ethnic Han Chinese (most comprehensive affirmative action program in history, deprecation of the traditional exam system, decimation of ethnic Han population) on the part of Mongols a success. It didn't even last 100 years. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure Qing China was territorially larger than Yuan China.

dougjn said...

Bill-

You're right, the Yuan was a short lived dynasty, a bit less than 100 years. In my mind I'd conflated it with the Ming which succeeded it. My comment was only peripherally about China, and I didn't check my memory there.

The Ming dynasty saw the greatest territorial expanse of China, pushing into Vietnam and Burma as well as all of present day China, though I believe the Yuan were second on that, at least so far as significantly populated areas go. It was during the Yuan that Marco Polo, the first recorded European to reach China did so, which was merely symbolic of the great two way exchange along various "Silk Roads" between east and west which reached a pre-modern peak or anyway cyclically very high tempo during this dynasty (though it dated back in volume to Roman times, and at much lesser levels perhaps as far back as the proto Indo-Europeans beginning some 4 kya), almost entirely mediated on the western side by the Islamic Middle East (which is what first motivated the great age of European maritime discovery (which lead to European world wide colonialism) as an effort to cut out the Islamic middlemen in the Eastern trade (China, India and Indonesia) by finding a sea route that bypassed them -- rather than running through Egypt and the Red Sea).

The Grand Canal between the two massive river valley systems of China where most of the population was concentrated, was greatly renovated, improved and extended up to Beijing during the Yuan dynasty. As well, importation and tolerance of foreign (and non Mongol) ideas and religions was generally high.

Yes of course the Mongol overloads initially placed Mongols in the top political and bureaucratic slots for both loyalty and nepotistic reasons.

But yeah, my reading is that it was the Ming who were the Chinese peak (what with among other things their exploratory naval expedition that went as far as East Africa) and technological achievements, though they're rivaled or perhaps exceeded by the earlier Song.

Anonymous said...

it's always nice to read from whites and their perverse reflection on truth . All the racism and hypocrisy through the lens of whites. The bantu nilotic complex is really not hard to understand. The nilotic people are the most oppressed in Africa. They have been victims of countless invasion. First driven from their lands in the north by arabs, hunted and killed in the nuba mountains, Oromo people in ethiopia have face discrimination and still do. The Acholi in uganda and kenya still face an unknown future and destiny under Museveni. Facial disfigurement is praticed by Nilotic tribes in ethiopia to fend off slave traders. Nilotic people unlike Bantu's who have a sense of belonging to a greater and larger community are very much to themselves, hence the saying back home " the quiet east african" This people have been marginalized all throughout Africa, they lack unity. Bantu have no fear for nilotic people as they are a divided people warring amongst themselves by cattle raiding or other means. Bantu Africa unlike the rest of Africa tends to move ahead under their own blueprint no sense of arabization or westernization can penetrate bantu africa.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Tutsi sentiment in Congo is fueled by not fear of Tutsi but lack of trust. The situation in Rwanda is one manipulated and influenced by Anglo-Saxon nations who fear the emergence of Bantu regionalization of southern Africa. SADC mainland countries are entirely Bantu. By destabilizing the Congo and working towards its partition the west with all its puppetry mechanism still intact in East Africa can still exploit the richness of Africa. It's easy to arm marginalized people, pour millions into to their support and hand out marching orders for all out invasion of a country whose military has been rendered ineffective by 30 years of western sponsored dictatorship. Thanks to our brothers in southern Africa, Libya and Chad for supporting the Congo. The Congo remains intact and east African Bantu’s has wakened to the puppetry of Rwanda and Uganda to destabilize the region. Long live MAI-MAI Long live Mungiki, Long live the Interhamwe, Long Live Northern Impi. Bantu nationalism will wipe out the puppets from god's soil.

Giovanni Dannato said...

The pattern we see here is classic antipathy between farmers and herders.

Whether the Dinka or the Dutch, peoples who traditionally consume the milk and blood of their animals as a staple tend to grow tall and slender.

Anonymous said...

Your blog post was filled with baseless generalities that in no way accurately describe the situation on the ground in East Africa. Furthermore I am not aware of any truly scientific unbiased studies that have accurately quantified the IQs of the peoples of East Africa. There are numerous cultural differences between the peoples of East Africa and colonialism affected them differently. Frankly some people made it through colonialism relatively unscathed while others had their ancestral lands taken from them. If everyone was living on the land where the British found them Kenya would probably have avoided a lot of the violence that occurred with the last presidential election. What happened had nothing to do with skin color, height or relative differences in aggregate intelligence.

You should actually take your advice about us being fed baloney by foreign actors in order to extract money from us for God knows what purpose. Don’t believe everything you read and take it as the gospel. I wouldn’t take one sentence uttered by a highly intellectual biracial man who never knew his father struggling to make sense of his identity in race concsious America and start extrapolating about hundreds of years of history in a place thousands of miles away. Put the sentence in proper context and accept it for what it is. Obama probably knows about as much about the real deal on the ground in Kenya as a semi well traveled white European. Honestly I could think of a ton of 100% “white” Europeans that could give him a pretty decent history lesson and get him up to speed.

The issue of race/ethinicity is different in different parts of the world. In America slavery, Jim Crow, and modern day discrimination are fueled 100% by skin color. In East Africa different ethnic groups have issues with each other because something very concrete happened. No one really cares about skin color or height in Kenya. Culturally the peoples are very different and due to the shambolic culturally insensitive way colonialism was initiated, maintained, and eventually semiwound down East Africa has been left a complete mess. Sadly it didn’t have to be that way.