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January 18, 2020

The Belgians did not invent the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, who have different origins

Filed under: Population Structure,Tutsi — Razib Khan @ 5:08 pm

Since I resurrected the analysis of Tutsi genotypes last year I’ve been getting a fair number of emails and messages from people. The issue is that periodically someone, usually, but not always, a white male, will explain that “actually, Tutsis and Hutus aren’t real ethnic groups, and were invented by the Belgian colonialists….” Many people from this region of the world are privately very skeptical of this viewpoint (they tell me so, but don’t want to get into a huge public spat with all-knowing-white-gods). After all, they are from this region, and Hutus are Tutsis are physically often quite distinctively different. They simply do not buy the social constructionist narrative as explaining everything that they see with their own eyes.

But we’ve seen this before, haven’t we? “Well actually, the Lombards weren’t ethnically different from the Romans, they were a Germanized group of mercenaries who created an identity de novo.” Also, “well actually, ‘caste’ is an ancient Indian concept but modern caste-jati groups were reified by the British in the 19th-century….” (genetics tells us both assertions were wrong).

Historiography of the early 21st-century will observe that many white semi-intellectuals took on the metaphorical role of Hamlet in world history, tortured and self-hating souls who put themselves at the center of every dramatic event. All roads lead back to Hamlet.

As it happens, I now have a single Hutu to compare the dozen or so Tutsis to.

Click to enlarge

On the PCA plot above you see the Hutu is nearly the Luhya and Bantu agriculturalists from Kenya. The Tutsis are shifted toward various Near Eastern populations. Nothing surprising.

Click to enlarge

The TreeMix plot to the right shows that the Tutsi seem to be similar to Ethiopian Jews. Basically, they have some Cushitic origins, even though they now speak a Bantu language (the same language at the Hutu).

We now know more about the process that may have led to this situation due to ancient DNA. Cushitic pastoralists were ancient inhabitants of eastern Africa, displacing and absorbing foragers. But later on, Bantu agriculturalists became demographic dominant. Perhaps the Tutsis were a group of pastoralists integrated into the Hutu social and cultural system?

That being said, there are clear genetic distinctions between the two groups. Ancient DNA Reveals a Multi-Step Spread of the First Herders into Sub-Saharan Africa has an explicit admixture model using ancient DNA (qpAdmin, not Admixture). I pulled the data and re-ran the analysis with Tutsis.

Below you can see one of the models from Ancient DNA Reveals a Multi-Step Spread of the First Herders into Sub-Saharan Africa (table S8). I followed the same outgroup populations as the supplemental methods. I included Luhya to make sure that my answer aligned with the paper. You can see the Tutsi/Hutu/Luhya results in bold. The rest are from the paper.

Test_PopDinkaIsrael_CMota
Tutsi0.6170.1940.189
Hutu0.793-0.0040.211
Luhya1.049-0.0510.002
Aari0.2160.1780.606
Agaw0.3770.5260.098
Amhara0.3430.470.187
Iraqw0.3970.3030.3
Kikuyu0.7830.1060.111
Luhya1.024-0.0530.029
Luo0.961-0.0460.085
Maasai0.6390.1860.175
Mursi0.7480.060.193
Ogiek0.5740.1920.234
Rendille0.5020.360.138
Sengwer0.6520.1270.221
Luxmanda (~3100 BP)0.1810.3710.447
Pemba (~600 BP)1.032-0.0760.044
Kenya PN (Elmenteitan)0.3950.4130.192
Kenya PN (other)0.3630.4020.235
Kenya PN (all)0.3740.4070.219
Kenya possible early pastoralists0.2270.4930.28
Kenya LSA-0.179-0.0491.227
Kenya PIA0.5740.2280.199
Kenya IA (all)0.6540.1660.18

The Tutsis and the Hutu individual are very distinct. The Tutsis are similar to the Maasai, in keeping with my earlier analyses. Here is the Wikipedia entry on Tutsi autosomal genetics:

In general, the Tutsi appear to share a close genetic kinship with neighboring Bantu populations, particularly the Hutus. However, it is unclear whether this similarity is primarily due to extensive genetic exchanges between these communities through intermarriage or whether it ultimately stems from common origins:

I think this is almost certainly wrong. Most people from this area of the world know it is wrong. But there is a concerted effort to impute all Tutsi-Hutu distinctions to the Belgians.

What next? Specifically, I need more Hutu genotypes. So I’m making the call for people to email me at contactgnxp -at- gmail -dot- com.

More generally, this should make readers cautious about experts on ethnographic history. They were wrong about a lot of things in the past generations (caste, the spread of farming and language to Europe, etc.). Right now in the case of the Tutsi-Hutu difference they have engaged a campaign of conscious or unconscious deception.

April 11, 2019

Tutsis are genetically very similar to Masai

Filed under: Human Population Genetics,Human Population Structure,Tutsi — Razib Khan @ 9:57 pm


Many years ago, before I used ggplot, I did a little analysis of the genetics of the Tutsi. Actually, it was the genetics of a single Tutsi, or more precisely, someone who was 75% Tutsi ancestry (3 out of 4 grandparents).

I found that the Tutsi individual seemed quite distinct from the Bantu peoples in nearby Kenya. I suggested that it was likely that the Tutsi were then genetically distinct from the Hutu people amongst whom they lived. For many years this was part of the genetics section of the Wikipedia entry on the Tutsi, but recently the reference was removed and the page seems to have been re-edited.

That’s fine. I’m just a random blogger who had one sample. But as it happened recently about a dozen Diasporic Tutsis reached out to me. Over the last decade, the number of people who have been genotyped has increased greatly. So it wasn’t that difficult for interested parties to find these genotypes.

The mission they put before me is simple: “tell us about our genetics”. Over the next few weeks, I’ll do that. As there is no IRB, this won’t be published in a peer-reviewed journal (I am open to putting any researcher in contact with these Tutsis who reached out to me). I’m just going to put what I find out there so that Tutsis who do personalized genetic testing can make sense of what they’re finding out.

I received these genotypes today. A quick merge of samples I have reduced it down to 50,000 markers. I will work on creating a merge with a larger number of markers. But, I’ll report what I have found out so far as a first pass.

As you can see on the PCA plot above the Tutsi overlap almost perfectly with the Masai. Not with the Kenyan Bantu, or the Luo, who are more “African” shifted. But with the Masai. But, they are not as “Eurasian shifted” as the Somali.

Treemix confirms this:

The Tutsi and Masai are right next to each other. Between the Somalis, and other Sub-Saharan Africans.

Running 5 migration edges, you see gene flow into the Tutsi from Cushitic populations.

I ran Admixture at K = 6. You can see the raw results, but the chart makes it clear, the Tutsi are like the Masai:

The same for K = 7:

I think that’s all for now. More later!

August 30, 2011

Tutsi genetics, ii

In my post below, Tutsi probably differ genetically from the Hutu, there were many comments. Some I did not post because they were rude, though they did ask valid questions. I will address those issues, but let me quote one comment:

That’s an interesting possibility, but this admixture run didn’t split the non-hunter-gatherer Africans that well. In one of your previous analyses on East Africa you managed to get a pretty accurate ‘Afro-Asiatic/Cushitic’ and ‘Nilotic’ cluster. Is it possible that you could run this Tutsi sample using the same admixture settings as in the ‘Flavors of Afro-Asiatic’ blog post to see if he carries a significant Nilotic component or is mainly Bantu & Cushitic derived?

So I replicated ADMIXTURE runs for many of the same populations as I did in my post, Flavors of Afro-Asiatic. I also pared down the population set and generated a PCA with EIGENSOFT. Before I get to those results, let me tackle the questions.

1) “Are the Luhya suitable proxies for the Hutus?”

Probably. The reason is that Bantu-speaking populations, from the Congo to South Africa, are surprisingly similar. Not only that, but these populations are very distinctive from groups which are close them …Tutsi genetics, ii

August 29, 2011

Tutsi probably differ genetically from the Hutu

Tutsi probably differ genetically from the Hutu
Paul Kagame with Barack and Michelle Obama

I first heard about Rwanda in the 1980s in relation to Dian Fossey’s work with mountain gorillas. The details around this were tragic enough, but obviously what happened in 1994 washed away the events dramatized in Gorillas in the Mist in terms of their scale and magnitude. That period was a time when the idea of “ancient hatreds” leading to internecine conflict was in the air. It was highlighted by the series of wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the TutsiHutu civil wars in Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo. Of the latter the events in 1994 in Rwanda were only the most prominent and well known.

After having read Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa I am relatively conscious of the broader canvas of what occurred in Central and East Africa in the 1990s. Not only was there a conflict between Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda, but a similar dynamic also flared up in Burundi. The tensions are more complex in Congo and Uganda, in large …Tutsi probably differ genetically from the Hutu

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