Home Obituaries Bereaved Rwandans In 2023 From All Backgrounds

Bereaved Rwandans In 2023 From All Backgrounds

by Daniel Sabiiti
10:01 pm


The year 2023, will enter into records where big names in politics, education, business and entertainment among others in Rwanda and beyond, continued to shine but didn’t make it to January 1,2024. The Christian and religious sector equally bereaved.

On the list, just randomly, one such losses include Pastor Théogène Niyonshuti,  who was popularly known as ‘Inzahuke’. The way he preached the Good News , including to the street children where he once belonged, made him a man a pastor of the truth because he was a living testimony.

He passed away on June 23, 2023 in a car accident in Uganda while travelling back home. At first, it was hard to believe for Christians who were looking forward to his bright future in the service of God.

Pastor Theogene

On this list of men of God also included Monsignor Simon Habyarimana, well-known in the Catholic Diocese of Ruhengeri. He passed away at age 73 in April in Italy where he had moved on to continue serving the Catholic Church with 48 years of service since his ordination in 1975.

Also from the Catholic Church, Monsignor Nicodème Nayigiziki passed on in July at the age of 94. He had retired in 2016  from active priesthood after 64 years of service.

He had served since 1959 as the Vicar in Rutongo, Kibungo and St. Michael’s parish respectively. Among others, he also served as rector at Saint-Paul Minor Seminary and Secretary of the Archdiocese of Kigali.

From the sister country of Uganda, Father Francis Ndawula, who served as a missionary in Rwanda for 27 years also passed away in February in Nyanza Parish, Butare Diocese.

Father Francis Ndawula

Meanwhile, Edwin Mbanda, the  son to Most Reverend Dr. Laurent Mbanda, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Rwanda died in the United States at young age of 31.

The father learnt about the demise while in Kigali, hosting the Global Anglican Church Future Conference (GAFCON), a crucial global Anglican meeting.

In the world of philanthropists, the losses that were hard to bear include Sister Ann Fox, the co-founder of Maranyundo Girls School, a model high school and center of excellence for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Rwanda.


Ann Fox died at King Faisal Hospital-Kigali in August.

Among the things she will be remembered for is having managed to find computers for every student to help them do research.

During COVID-19 challenges, Ann made sure that every child gets a meal especially the students who were not able to afford one. She also bought mobile phones for students, to allow them proceed with online courses so that they are not left behind.

Damas Mutezintare Gisimba, well-known for his efforts to save people during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, as well as raising many orphans, passed away at 62 years on June 4, 2023 due to illness.

Damas Gisimba

Gisimba was the founder of Centre Memorial Gisimba –an orphanage in Nyarugenge district which was named after him. Gisimba was decorated with a national medal of honor as a protector of friendship pact (umurinzi w’igihango).

Amongst politicians and other leaders in Rwanda, Prof. Kalisa Mbanda, the former chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and a veteran civil servant. passed away early January.

Mbanda, 74, passed away shortly after working all day, following a health complication while at the NEC offices in Kimihurura.

The head of Mbanda family said in his message that Prof Mbanda taught many people the virtues of life, especially patience, humility, kindness and discretion.

“We know and will remember you  for your smartness, patience, discretion and wisdom in whatever you did,” he eulogized.

MP Fidel Rwigamba and Senator William Ntidendereza

This past year took away two seasoned Rwandan politicians and lawmakers.

Member of Parliament (MP), Fidel Rwigamba passed away at the age of 73 in February after a long illness which he had been battling with for some time.

MP. Fidel Rwigamba

He joined the parliament in 2018 and served as the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs committee in the Chamber of Deputies and also represented Rwanda in the Pan African Parliament.

“We will remember honorable Rwigamba for being a very committed person who served with gentleness and integrity whenever I addressed any issue to him,” said fellow MP, Dr. Frank Habineza.

Senator William Ntidendereza, passed away in September leaving another gap among fellow senators, members of parliament, senior government officials, his family and friends and the Rwandan community.

Sen. William Ntidendereza

He died on September 3, 2023 at the age of 72 years following an illness which he had battled at the King Faisal Hospital for some time.

He had also served as visiting lecturer at the University of Rwanda from 1996-2000, then as Vice-chairman and Secretary General of the former National Itorero Commission from 2012 to 2018, and before then as Mayor of Kicukiro District in the City of Kigali from 2006-2008.

President of the Senate, Dr. François Xavier Kalinda said the late Senator Ntidendereza was a hero in his duties.

“For our strength as human beings, it is not easy to accept such a sad story as the loss of a loving father, a man who was characterized by kindness and care like Senator Ntidendereza William,” he said.

Venetia Sebudandi, a Rwandan diplomat succumbed to an illness while receiving treatment at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali at the age 69.

Sebudandi, served as Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva from 2006 to 2011, and as Rwanda’s diplomat in Sweden and other Nordic countries, in Japan, Paris.

General Marcel Gatsinzi: The Rwandan General and businessman died in March at age 75 in Brussels where he was undergoing treatment.

Gen Marcel Gatsinzi

Gatsinzi was Rwanda’s Minister of Defence from 2002 to 2010 who also served as Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs from 2010 to 2013 when he retired from the army.

During the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, he served as Army Chief of Staff of the former Rwanda Armed Force (FAR) and because he advocated a more moderate approach and opposed expansion of the genocide, he was removed from the post and was replaced by Augustin Bizimungu.

Afterwards he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned to negotiate with the RPF and “other duties that did not involve direct command of troops”.

After the genocide, Gatsinzi was integrated into the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF).

Former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu died early December in Brussels, Belgium, where he lived in self-imposed exile, at the age of 78.

He was the first Prime Minister of Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi from 1994 to 1995 when he resigned from the position.

The artistes that are no more

Jean Luc Karamuka, better known as “Junior Multi system”, is one of the artiste who did not see the horizons of 2024, because he passed on at 30 years.

After getting involved in a car accident and his left hand amputated, Junior suffered from cancer and sought crowd funding to be treated abroad in vain.

Multi system made his mark on Rwanda’s music scene through his work with artistes such as Urban Boyz, Knowless, The Ben and King James to mention but a few.

Saidi Brazza – A famous Rwandan Reggae singer, passed away in March at Ngozi Hospital – Burundi.

Said Brazza

With 25 years’ music experience, Brazza was known for his hit songs like Yameze amenyo, Twiganirira, Iyi Si mureba, Bavuga Ay’bandi, Nanje among others which are among the productions that laid ground for Rwandan music development as we know it today.

Alain Nzeyimana, the founder and president of  the renowned Inganzo Ngari Cultural Troupe passed away in October at the age 44 after battling an illness.

Nzeyimana, played a pivotal role in the growth and success of this renowned traditional dance troupe, which began its operations in 2006. The troupe comprises more than 100 members and has been instrumental in showcasing Rwandan culture both locally and internationally.

Chantal Nyakubyara: was popularly known as Nyiramana in a local movie series ‘Seburikoko’. She passed away on September 2, 2023, due to illness. Her death gripped the film industry in Rwanda.

Calvin Kagahe Ngabo– a Rwandan singer and songwriter who tragically passed away in Ottawa, Canada in September was laid to rest after weeks of waiting for his body to be flown back home in Rwanda.

The body of the deceased was buried but the cause of his death is something that his family says they will pursue in 2024 to have a full closure of losing a young talent at age 23.

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