Tutsi People - Origins and Classification - Genetics


Modern-day genetic studies of the Y-chromosome suggest that the Tutsi are largely of Bantu extraction (80% E1b1a, 15% B, 4% E3). Paternal genetic influences associated with the Horn of Africa and North Africa are few (1% E1b1b), and are ascribed to much earlier inhabitants who were assimilated. The Tutsi, in general, demonstrate a close genetic kinship with neighboring Bantu populations, particularly the Hutu.

generations of gene flow obliterated whatever clear-cut physical distinctions may have once existed between these two Bantu peoples -- renowned to be height, body build, and facial features. With a spectrum of physical variation in the peoples, Belgian authorities legally mandated ethnic affiliation in the 1920s, based on economic criteria. Formal and discrete social divisions were consequently imposed upon ambiguous biological distinctions. To some extent, the permeability of these categories in the intervening decades helped to reify the biological distinctions, generating a taller elite and a shorter underclass, but with little relation to the gene pools that had existed a few centuries ago. The social categories are thus real, but there is little if any detectable genetic differentiation between Hutu and Tutsi.

However, Razib Khan, based on analysis of the autosomal genetics of the Tutsi, suggests that "the Tutsi were in all likelihood once a Nilotic speaking population, who switched to the language of the Bantus amongst whom they settled."

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