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Abstract

Rwanda, a small land-locked country, has a very long and complex history, dating back to the precolonial period. Unlike most Sub-Saharan countries, numerous anthropologists and scholars have dedicated their time to uncovering and preserving Rwanda’s history. They have provided solid research and new interpretations on a topic filled with controversy over its social structure. Given the richness of the historical literature, Rwanda will serve as a case study for an analysis of the history of centralization and kingship in Sub-Saharan-Africa.

The focus on political centralization is paramount in this study. First, every constitutional government, to a variable extent, necessitates centralization to operate properly. Even the central/federal power needs to exert authority over its decentralized constituencies. Therefore, the history of centralization reinforces more knowledge on current governmental systems. More importantly, this study is even more significant in the light of understanding the formation and the consolidation of early civilizations and the political customs of the modern day. In this regard, the impetus for this research on the African Great Lakes region is in no way synonymous to regionalism. Rather, it emanates from the discovery of avenues of research that can nourish knowledge about interethnic processes and highlight the establishment of a particular centralized political structure endemic to precolonial Rwanda. The ability of the Nyiginya Kingdom to form a centralized monarchy and even its history of oppression are indicative of its ability to survive and prosper in a region where other kingdoms struggled and floundered.

This study will to add to the literature of ancient civilizations by utilizing the Nyiginya Kingdom as a reference point for centralized kingdom-statehood in Sub-Saharan Africa. From the well-administered nobility to the local traditional institutions, this study will present a comparative argument proving the particular significance of this monarchy in the formation of early centralized governments. As such, this hypothesis will be developed further in a comprehensive essay starting with a brief contextual presentation of the situation. Next, the academic literature on the topic will be analyzed. Finally, a thorough exploration of historical events will present a favorable argument about the importance, past and present, of the political structure of the Nyiginya Kingdom.

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