For Rwandan Students, Ethnic Tensions Lurk

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When Eva Mutoni’s boyfriend of three years broke up with her, she realized she should have seen it coming.

Ms. Mutoni, 25, whose mother is ethnic Tutsi and whose father is Hutu, and her boyfriend, a full-blooded Tutsi, were college sweethearts at the National University of Rwanda in Butare.

“A year into the relationship, we had a big talk about me being mixed,” she said. They weathered that discussion, aided by the fact that Ms. Mutoni identifies herself as Tutsi. But as they got older, she recalls, his family and some of his friends refused to accept his dating someone of mixed parentage.

“He knew he couldn’t stay with me forever in Rwanda,” she said. “To some, I’m just a Hutu girl.”

Sixteen years after the Rwandan genocide, ethnicity remains an inescapable part of growing up for the young people who will determine the nation’s future. And if the universities, where the government has focused its efforts on building a post-ethnic society, represent the great hope of coexistence, they have so far succeeded only in burying ethnic tensions just beneath the surface.

As presidential elections approach and the nation has grown more repressive, the campuses have become tense. Students say that they are being watched, and that the laws aimed at suppressing ethnic differences have made them afraid to speak openly....

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