Inyumba: A Legacy is A Debt

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By Rama Isibo

In one of my favourite films, a Spartan is challenged by an enemy “You fight like a woman!” and the Spartan answers “You haven’t seen our women.” The legacy of women in the RPF is strong, in fighting, in nursing, in logistics, in politicising and pushing us over the finish line.

None exemplified this more than Aloisea Inyumba, to sum up her contribution in words would never be enough, yet her modesty would never allow her to accept the praise, eulogies should be for the living and it is sad that we praise when people are gone. The best you can say is the she was a good human being, grounded in humility, patient in her judgement, a solution-oriented person, soft spoken in tone but none the less assertive and loving. Her presence was always a stabilising presence, she never picked sides and had a strong moral code guiding her.

During the RPF struggle she was part of an efficient fundraising and logistic network, small-scale businesses were formed to generate funds, old mamas made mandazi and chapattis for sale “each chapatti was a bullet, sell 30 and you have a magazine.” Thousands of women in milk parlours making pennies for the front, weddings were a front for fundraising and most pledges went to the effort, old men sold their cows, and students gave their fees. They did this with cheer because people like Inyumba could convince them that the sacrifice was worth it.

This collective effort made it possible for her to travel to Germany to buy surplus East German military kit that would forever be called “Mukotanyi” this gave the soldiers so much pride, they now looked like an army. She dealt calmly with the problems of soldiers at the front, tending to the wounded, she often brought bad news to mothers who lost their children in battle and still made you feel it was worth it.


She outfoxed and old fox, she convinced Alexis Kanyarengwe to defect to the RPF, her achievements are well known, her fight from human rights and female equality was well-known, her attitude was “every Rwandan child is my child.” Now we will know just how important she was in Rwandan life, it is impossible to replace her, she was the conscience of a nation. She calmed the situation always, looked at the long-term, never had enemies, never wanted material gain, and always sacrificed for others.

It was always important to ask “what does Inyumba think about the issue?” If anyone embodied the RPF and its values the incomparable Inyumba was one of them, she lived a life packed with achievements, yet modestly carried on, she lived a full life and had a deep relationship with God She is an example to both men and women, she sacrificed so women and even men could know anything is possible. A legacy is something bought with sacrifice, an inheritance can be squandered or depleted, but a legacy lives forever.


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