My name is Andrew Obeki and I am a Rwandan. Like millions of my compatriots, I have never met Ms Inyumba Aloisea in person, but a life well lived is unrestrained by such trivial limitations and touches the hearts of all.
It pains me to say that the history of the World would reserve only a small space for Ms. Inyumba, for she did not start a war, or get involved in huge controversies, she did not stage a coup or make billions in the corporate world. For such is the tale of our past and Africa that these are remembered while the good are forgotten. But today, my 12 million strong people will bear testament to the fact that all through her life; she carried on with a passion, integrity, dedication and a deep, heartfelt love for the common man. Qualities that were reflected in her life’s work, for the eternally-grateful people of Rwanda.
A life, I am determined to honour her being today, by sharing her inspiring story with the World.
Ms. Aloisea Inyumba’s journey began not in my homeland Rwanda, but our neighbouring nation of Uganda. It was here that she was born on the 1st of January, 1962. Her mother had fled there after her father had fallen victim to the massacre of the 1960s, an affair that motivated her to drive forward Rwanda’s rapid recovery from the genocide, three decades later. For a child brought up in refugee camps by a single mother, Inyumba’s early years during which she overcame all challenges to achieve immortality in our hearts will serve as a role model for generations to come.
She was intellectually gifted and her humble upbringing was not a hindrance to graduating from the Makerere University, an academic trend she carried on throughout her life. At her time of passing she held a Masters in International Relations from the Irish American University, a Doctorate in Social Work and Social Administration from the Makerere University and a Doctorate from La Roche College in the USA.
In the 1990s, it was in Rwanda’s greatest hour of need, after my country was tending the wounds of the brutal genocide that Inyumba had returned to her homeland as the Minister of Gender and Social Affairs. An Angel in the eyes of many, she nursed us back to health by caring for our orphans and resolving our petty property-feuds. She held the position for a tenure of five years, during which her noble action to defend a woman facing imprisonment for the crimes of her husband was lauded by the World.
Among the many thankless roles she took on was that of a devoted wife and loving mother. Aloisea Inyumba was married to Richard Masozera and the couple had two children.
She later served as the executive secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission for two years, followed by a term as Senator. Her active participation in the Rwanda Women Parliamentary Forum is noteworthy.
In 2011, she was declared the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion. Additionally, she also served as a member of the African Women Advisory Committee. And true to her nature of raising benchmarks with every opportunity, she was bestowed with the Courage Award by ‘Women with Wings’. This was in recognition for her work, encouraging the participation of women in the democratic process. She always led by example and her leadership inspired more women to take the initiative.
Such was the impact that Inyumba had on our people, so great the place she held in our hearts that when President Paul Kagame eulogized “Today we bid goodbye to her body, but her work and legacy shall forever remain within us”, it brought a tear to the eye of every Rwandan, in the country and across the world.
Among the distinguished guests paid their last respects were Jeannette Kagame – the first lady and close friend, whom Inyumba had accompanied on various state missions outside the country; Minister Protais Musoni and President Ellen Sirleaf of Liberia who expressed her condolences to the family and described Inyumba as the “Gallant Daughter of Africa”.
But I shall not burden you with more details of her death, for the time for mourning shall pass; but a life of selfless service will continue to inspire and embolden us to emulate the legend that was Inyumba.