Remembering Hon. Inyumba Aloisea
On February 2nd the snowy city of Ottawa was chosen to remember and honor the late Hon. Aloisea Inyumba, a remarkable Rwandan woman. Gathered were many Canadian-Rwandans from as far away as Quebec City, Montreal , Toronto and Hamilton together with a large number of fellow citizens from Ottawa, the Hon David Kilgour as well as HE. Edda Mukabagwiza, the High Commissioner of Rwanda to Canada.
Representatives of WFWP-Canada were also in attendance since we had the honor to meet the Hon. Inyumba when she was invited to be our keynote speaker at the joint UPF-WFWP-Can. conference on the family held in Toronto On June 9th 2012.
Joseph Rulinda , chairman of the Ottawa chapter of Rwandans in Canada was the first to testify to the humility the Hon Inyumba exemplified that despite her high position she truly touched people’s hearts. We then viewed the speech that HE. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, gave in Hon Inyumba’s honour in the Rwandan Parliament in the presence of her family. He proceeded to give some background information on Ms Inyumba who became Minister of Gender and Family Promotion in May 2011. At the time, people around her noticed her failing health and he asked her to take time off but she wouldn’t, feeling a great sense of responsibility to her duties.
He testified to her as being a brave woman, hard-working and a patriot who could forget about herself. He said that not only had she been a Senator and a Minister but foremost she was an exceptional person with a pure heart, a leader. In his words: “Anybody can be a Minister or a Senator, but not everyone can be a good leader.” She had great clarity of thought, was dignified and a great educator, teaching so many people life skills. She could befriend people of many different persuasions, a unifier. He also testified to how she could acknowledge her own errors, talk about them, accept them and ask forgiveness. During the struggle to liberate the nation she would go to the front line to provide help, never afraid for her life. Her dedication was absolute. Every time she was needed, she responded.
He ended his discourse with a heartfelt acknowledgement to her family and the statement that this occasion was only a farewell to her body but her deeds, hard work, her values and heart are still with us and changed the nation. Chantal Mudagohora, the MC for the event who worked with Hon Inyumba after the genocide echoed these comments. Pastor Kayijuka talked about her as a women of great faith, not a smarter women but one who listened to God.
Her niece, Sandra Uwimana, related how her aunt had such a positive impact on the development of women. She recounted her experience of going back to Rwanda and being warmly greeted and taken care of by her aunt. She thought she was receiving special treatment due to kinship but soon realised that her aunt would show the same grace and attention to everyone who came to her. She was like a mother to all, discrete, simple and humble.
Francoise Gakuba, a former colleague and friend told how she had learned so much in a short time and was helped and shaped by Inyumba’s forward vision and unencumbered optimism. Working with her from 1993 till 2003 in the Ministry of the Family, she described how the Hon Inyumba was the brain and cornerstone of the revival of the nation and had fought so hard to uplift women and take care of so many orphans. When she had met her in June 2012 and noticed that she look tired Inyumba retorted: ”Have you forgotten how I used to work? I haven’t changed.”
HE Edda Mukabagwiza gave testimony of her experience planning and taking care of Hon. Inyumba on her visit to Canada last June. At the time she had not yet been diagnosed with throat cancer but was having difficulties speaking and swallowing, nevertheless , through her determination she delivered the keynote address to our conference on the Family in Toronto then went on to meet with the Rwandese community of Ottawa.
Maybe some of the most moving words were given by Dr.Richard Masozera , the late Hon. Inyumba’s husband by video; “I thank God for her life, I thank God for the sixteen, almost seventeen years of a fruitful marriage. We have two wonderful children. We have so much to be thankful for, no regrets. The peace I am sensing is not given by a man, it is a peace from Heaven.”
This celebration of the 48 years of life of Aloisea Inyumba, a nation-builder, a woman of quiet, unshakable conviction left us with the clear impression that her spirit is alive and well in the hearts of the nation she loved and all those who knew her around the world.