Clan of the dynasty Abanyiginya (clan of the king), including its origin in the country, whether its members are identifiable by language, name or physionomy and the treatment of its members by the government authorities (October 2002) [RWA39892.E]

In Généalogies de la noblesse (les Batutsi) du Ruanda, Léon Delmas states that the dynasty of the Banyiginya was founded in 1100 by Gihanga (1995, 8-10). Jan Vesina notes that "the present Republic of Rwanda has its origin in a kingdom that founded in the 17th century and was dominated by the Nyiginya dynasty until the coup of 1896 which broke the power of the Nyiginya aristocracy lineages" (20 Apr. 2001).

A journalist for the Belgian newspaper Le Soir who has published several works on the African Great Lakes region provided the following information during a 24 October 2002 telephone interview.

The clan of Abanyiginya is the clan of the former kings of Rwanda. However, sources provide contradictory information about its origin. Many among them agree that the Rwandan kingdom was founded between the 15th and the 17th centuries. While some internal divisions emerged among the members of the royal house in 1896, the dynasty of Abanyiginya also known as the Nyiginya dynasty, reigned from the time of its foundation until the country become the Republic of Rwanda in the beginning of the 1960s.

The journalist explained that members of Abanyigiginya clan are not identifiable by their language, by their names or by their physionomy. She pointed out that all Rwanda citizens speak the same language, the Kinyarwanda, and have the same kinds of names. She added that members of Abanyiginya clan belong to the tutsi ethnic group and have the same physionomy as other Tutsis.

The Belgian journalist stated that belonging to the Abanyiginya clan does not of itself have any consequences in Rwanda. However, supporting the return of the monarchy to the country could lead to mistreatment by the current Rwanda authorities.

Referring to the people of Rwanda, Gérard Prunier wrote in Le Monde that [translation] " there are some Hutu who look like Tutsi and vice-versa; all speak the same language, even the names... do not provide any indication of whether a person is Hutu or Tutsi" (16 Jul. 1999).

For additional information on languages spoken in Rwanda, please see RWA29320F of 6 May 1998.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Delmas, Léon. 1950. Généalogies de la noblesse (les Batutsi) du Ruanda. Kabgayi: Vicariat apostolique du Ruanda.

Interdisciplinary Research Group Africa (IDOGA). 20 April 2001. Vansina, Jan. "The Nyiginya Kingdom in Ancient Rwanda." (Lecture abstract) [Accessed 23 Oct. 2002]

Le Monde [Paris]. 16 July 1999. G. Prunier. "Rwanda: une honnête vue de l'enfer." [Accessed 23 Oct. 2002]

Le Soir [Bruxelles]. 24 October 2002. Telephone interview with a journalist specializing in the African Great Lakes region.

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential 2001-September 2002.

Africa Research Bulletin 2001-June 2002.

Resource Centre country files. Rwanda.

Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance. 1994

Dialogue. 1996-June 2002.

IRB databases.

Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent January- September 2002.

Rwanda: Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. 1999.


Rwanda : Histoire d'un génocide. 1994. Éditions Fayard. Terreur africaine, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaïre : les racines de la violence. 1996 Éditions Fayard.


Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International.


Human Rights Watch.

Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA).


Search engines, including: