A wave of shock swept across Rwanda yesterday following the death of Aloisea Inyumba, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion in the Prime Minister's Office.
Inyumba, 48, succumbed to cancer at her home in Kagugu, a Kigali suburb, yesterday, at around 10a.m. She is survived by a husband and two children - a daughter aged 15, and a son aged 10.
She was wife to Dr Richard Masozera, the Director General of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority.
MP Gideon Kayinamura, a close relative, told The New Times yesterday that the late Inyumba had traveled to Germany for treatment but returned home two weeks ago after showing signs of improvement.
"It is a great, great loss to the family, to many people, and for the country," Ambassador Kayinamura said.
Kayinamura said it is unfortunate Inyumba will not be part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations for the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), a party she diligently served for the better part of her adult life. The anniversary is scheduled for December 20.
He said the she will be laid to rest on Monday, December 10.
President Paul Kagame was among the people who took to social media yesterday to express their sadness for the minister's death.
He tweeted, "What a great loss in the passing away of Aloisea Inyumba for RPF, the nation and all of us at a personal level. She was among the best of RPF and national leaders."
Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) is a political organisation that Inyumba belonged to and served for many years. The President added, "A. Inyumba will be greatly missed and remembered among others, for her Liberation and Gender credentials/effort(s)! May her Soul Rest in Peace."
Inyumba held leadership positions since 1994.
She held the Ministry of Gender twice - first during the immediate aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and then from May, 2011 until her death.
In between, Inyumba served as the head of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Governor of the former Kigali Ngali province, and Senator in the country's bicameral parliament.
As Minister of Gender and Social Affairs in the first post-Genocide cabinet, Inyumba focused much attention on the welfare of widows and orphans of the Genocide. She is credited for actively encouraging women to vie for elective positions.
At the NURC, Inyumba oversaw the burial of Genocide victims, the resettlement of returnees, actively promoted truth-telling and reconciliation, and spearheaded a national adoption campaign to place Genocide orphans in homes.
Inyumba was instrumental in the establishment of the national women's network, which helped adjudicate family and property issues resulting from the Genocide.
Inyumba held an Honors Degree in Social Work and Social Administration from Makerere University Kampala, Uganda, and a Masters of International Relations from the Irish American University and the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy.
He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by La Roche College in the United States.
The late Inyumba was a board member of Women for Women International (Washington, DC), and the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace in Kigali.
Inyumba has been a respected senior cadre in the ruling RPF, and is credited playing a central role in mobilising for the party's support during the 1990-94 liberation struggle.
She played a central role in fundraising for the Rwanda Patriotic Front since 1987, directly managing the funds that were raised.