Hotel Rwanda describes the rivalry between two ethnic groups- Hutus and Tutsis-both groups shared the same language, culture, territory, customs and beliefs but had different physical features and belonged to different ‘classes’. Hutus were peasants whereas Tutsis were the minority elite who obtained privileges from the colonizers- first the Germans then the Belgians.
Before the colonization Hutus married Tutsis, and both ethnic groups were close. It is believed that the Belgians inculcated a sense of superiority in Tutsis and instigated the rivalry and hatred in both groups.
On the 6th of April 1994, Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed when their plane was shelled by rocket fire as it attempted to land at the airport in Kingali, Rwanda. The two were returning from Tanzania where they met with other African leaders in an attempt to end the ethnic warfare that had been devastating their nations.
The assassination of the Hutu president was attributed to the Tutsis just as a pretext to begin violence since it is believed he was murdered by his own people, the Hutus.
Then the genocide begins. For years in Rwanda under the Belgians, the Tutsis ruled and killed not a few Hutu. Now, the Hutus are in control, and armed troops prowl the nation, killing Tutsis.
The film focuses on the story of Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a Hutu hotel manager at the Mille Collines, a Belgian-owned luxury hotel.
We also learn early in the film that his wife and her family is Tutsi.
Along with checking in guests, Rusesabagina must use his wise business sense to buy supplies from a rebellious Hutu who strives to get him involved in taking a stand against the Tutsis. At first, Rusesabagina is in denial, afraid of getting involved and ignorant enough to believe that peace between the Hutus and the Tutsis is underway.
Tension mounts when his neighbours are raided and beaten down simply because of their identity. When his own wife and children are threatened and the community is forced out of their homes, reality sets in for Rusesabagina. As chaos ensues, United Nations forces, previously stationed to help, leave the Rwandans with nothing but their own will. Tutsi refugees turn to the Hutu Rusesabagina for help. Paul becomes the hero of the film saving over 1,000 refugees from death by harboring them in the hotel that he manages