2016 Took Them Away

President Kagame with late Bertin Makuza (left) at the inauguration of M.Peace Plaza in Kigali city

And as the year comes to end, we look back at some of the people that have left a big gap in the country. The loss was unprecedented. 2016 will go down in history.

Dr. Naason Munyandamutsa: The leading psychiatrist passed on March 01, 2016 after battling a one year sickness. A longtime board member of Never Again Rwanda – a peace building and social justice organization, Dr. Munyandamutsa 58, was known to have rebuilt and supported various psychiatric initiatives in Rwanda, coming to the rescue of Psychiatry-Psychotherapy patients and survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, affected by trauma.

The academia and social activism will surely miss him.

Jacque Bihozagara: Ambassador Jacques Bihozagara – a former Rwandan envoy to Brussels died on March 30 after being assassinated in Burundi’s Mpimba prison where he had been jailed since December 2015.

A renowned Rwanda Patriotic Front cadre, Bihozagara served as Rehabilitation and Social Integration minister and later as Youth, Sports and Culture minister, in addition to serving as an ambassador of Rwanda to France and Belgium.  By the time of his arrest, he had left politics and set himself to doing business in Burundi.

Mucyo Jean de Dieu: The death of Sen. Mucyo, who served in different public institutions including as Justice Minister, emerged like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. The entire country was shocked.

“It’s with heavy heart and great sorrow that the Senate of Rwanda announces that Honorable MUCYO Jean de Dieu has passed away on this September 03, 2016 in the morning as a result of stairway fall in the Senate building,” said astatement signed by the Senate President, Bernard Makuza. Mucyo fell off parliament stairs as he arrived for work around 9am.

Late Mucyo was well known in Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. He held various positions including Justice Minister, Prosecutor General, and also led a famous ‘Mucyo Commission’ that investigated France’s involvement in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. Mucyo became senator in 2015 after serving as Executive Secretary at National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG).

Rwabukamba Vénuste:  Mostly known in the Eastern Province where he had invested heavily in real estate. Rwabukamba died on October 10, 2016 after he shot himself from his home. The reasons as to why the tycoon killed himself remained unknown.

MP Nyandwi Desire: On October 14 2016, the lower chamber of parliament announced the death of its member. “With heavy heart and great sorrow, Parliament of Rwanda announces that Hon. Nyandwi Désiré has passed away,” it stated in a tweet.

His death added more sorrow and darkness in the parliament because he passed away two weeks after Mucyo had been laid to rest.

Nyandwi Desire had been in government since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He served as prefect of former Gitarama prefecture. Later appointed Minister of Local government, from where he moved to parliament – the place he has occupied till he died.

He was in the house of representative on the RPF Inkotanyi ticket.

King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa: The last king of a dynasty that ruled Rwanda for a millennium died on October 16, 2016 in Washington where he had been living.

The passing of Rwanda’s last monarch King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa exploded a debate as to whether to repatriate his body and accord a stately burial or be left to be laid to rest in the US where he lived.

So far, the 80-year-old has not been laid to rest until the court decides in January 2017.

Mourners at the funeral of the late Lawmaker Desire Nyandwi

Makuza Bertin: He was one of the country’s top businessmen with stakes in long list of businesses including Rwanda Foam – mattress manufacturer of 30 years. He was also the owner of Rwanda’s new architectural marvel, M-Peace Plaza which was constructed at a cost of $40 million. Makuza died on November 02, 2016.

“He is among people who would help us; attracting private investors to improve performance or support the country’s development projects,” is how President Kagame described Makuza, adding that to live on through history depends on one’s deeds.

Indeed, Makuza will live on!

Byemayire Lambert: The cycling community was in shock following the sudden death of Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY) first Vice President Lambert Byemayire on Monday morning November 28.

FERWACY revealed that Byemayire started feeling unwell during stage three of the concluded 2016 Tour du Rwanda (Karongi- Rusizi). He had been sick and admitted to hospital since then. The deceased got elected to the post unopposed in December 2010, replacing François Rutayisire.

At his funeral, all the ‘who is who’ of Rwanda attended.

Sana Maboneza: The first counsellor at the Rwandan mission to the United Nations in New York died on December 01, 2016, in a car crush accident in Virginia.

“I am devastated by the untimely loss of Sana Maboneza, one of Rwanda’s best young diplomats (NY Mission), in car accident in Virginia, USA,” Foreign affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said of Sana.

There was grief from across government. The outpouring of messages on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp described Sana as a gentle, caring, efficient and simply a good human being.

He is survived by a wife and a young daughter.




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