17 December 2012

Rwanda: Kigali Mourns Fallen Minister

Kigali — Rwanda's President Paul Kagame paid tribute to his long serving Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Aloisea Inyumba who succumbed to cancer a fortnight ago.

President Paul Kagame and the First Lady, Jeannette Kagame led a multitude of dignitaries last week at the National Parliament where they paid their last respects to Inyumba whom Kagame described as a selfless leader, full of courage, patriotism and a great cadre of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).

"Inyumba was not just another leader, she was more than a minister, a very good cadre who was ideologically straight," remarked Kagame amidst a somber mood on Monday last week.

The 48-year-old minister had reportedly been suffering from throat cancer and had been treated in Germany, and was supposed to go to Nairobi for further treatment on the day she died.

Aloisea Inyumba was born on January 1, 1962 in Uganda, where her mother had fled after her husband (Inymba's father) was killed in the massacres of Tutsis in the early 60s.

She grew up in refugee camps, yet she managed to obtain a degree from Makerere University. Shortly afterwards, she joined the RPF, where she was first involved in a peace education program in schools, and later took charge of the movement's financial arm, where she was responsible for fundraising.

Upon returning to Rwanda, Inyumba served as the first Minister of Gender and Social Affairs from 1994 to 1999. As Minister at the time, she was part of the leadership team that faced the challenges resulting from the Genocide. For her ministry, this included organizing the adoption of the large number of orphans and the establishment of the national women's network to adjudicate family and property issues resulting from the Genocide.

Shortly after her appointment, she made the courageous but controversial decision to appoint as her deputy a lawyer whose husband had been imprisoned for acts of Genocide. Faced with public outrage, she remained steadfast and said the woman should be judged on her own capacities, not the crimes of her husband.

From 1999 to 2001, Inyumba served as executive secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC). Inyumba's beliefs were that women are by nature peace makers and should use their abilities to lead peace and reconciliation initiatives in the communities and spearhead efforts at national unity.

From 2004, Inyumba served as a Senator. In that capacity, she was part of two committees: the Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security Committee and the Political Affairs and Good Governance Committee. While in Parliament, she was an active member of the Rwanda Women Parliamentary Forum.

She had been Minister for Gender and Family Promotion since May 2011.

Kagame who first met Inyumba in 1985 said her character symbolized Rwanda's own experience of perseverance and triumph, and urged the nation to uphold her legacy.

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