Apart from all its fascinating intellectual abundance, some of the ethnical aspects can and did indeed lead to a tragedy, like the one from 1994-the Rwanda Genocide. It is estimated that about 8 000 000 up to 1 071 000 lives were lost in the genocide, figure impressive not only due to its obvious size, but to the actual impossibility of even making a close approximation. Moreover, the 1994 marked a huge failure of the UN forces in a small african country.
The issue can be traced back to the ethnical distinction between the Tutsi and Hutu Tribes in XV Rwanda. Over the centuries, the former became associated with high positions, ground ownership and more privileges than the less advantaged Hutus. Although such a big distinction was present, the two tribes were living in a relative peace up to the colonization and harsh changes it introduced. German and then Belgian colonial policy chose Tutsis as the ‘dominative’ social class. Moreover, categories based on which the ethnical group could had been distinguished were introduced. When in 1962 Rwanda gained independence, it were Hutus who came to power in most of the regions. It posed as a revenge for long oppressed Hutus who now on categorized Tutsis as worse humans and started a propaganda campaign discriminating them. When the genocide started, a lot of Tutsis ran away to Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. Lives were lost, and no UN member took the actual responsibility of solving that ‘internal affair’. When the Hutu government was abolished and the Tutsis came to power, the reverse happened and Hutus were forced to flee and hide, in possibility of a bloody retaliation.
The ethical distinction then spread to Kongo, causing a civil war there. To familiarize yourself with the conflict and its ethnical background, I recommend watching Terry George’s ‘Rwanda Hotel’. It is an eye-opener, helping in understanding the tragical aftermath of ethnical distinctions.