Senator Therese Bishagara Kagoyire, named “Mama Therese” by fellow senators due to her sociability was buried accompanied in a funeral service attended by both family and fellow senators in mid-July.
She was one of the 10 women senators out of a total 26 and died at the age of 67 on July 8 at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland in the United States from liver complications.
This was a month before her last term as a senator. The mother of five and grandmother to three was buried at Rusororo Cemetery in Kigali.
The late Bishagara will be remembered as one of the founder members of FAWE in 1997, which supports girls’ education in the country and leads many women’s rights organisations including Profemme- Twese Hamwe.
The molecular biology scientist took part in the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) liberation struggle, was an educationist and freedoms advocate, which endeared her to citizens in the Western Province who voted to have her be their representative in the senate in 2011.
In a condolence letter, President Paul Kagame termed her a true patriot who loved the country and Rwandans.
“She has been characterised by truth, determination, and dedication in all the positions she served,” said President Kagame.
Her party RPF, the ruling party, hailed her heroism right from the Liberation struggle to her time as a senator.
“She participated in the Liberation Struggle and when she returned to Rwanda she remained hardworking in the complicated tasks she was given” said RPF Secretary-General Francoise Ngarambe, adding that “she has been blameless.”
The senate president Bernard Makuza reiterated reasons why fellow senators referred to the late Bishagara as “Mama Therese” including her affableness and counsels of insight.
“She loved us and could be so resourceful in counsels. She has been a peacemaker among us,” said Makuza.
Late Bishagara was born in 1952 and grew up in DR Congo where she attained a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology science.
A fellow Western Province senate representative Apollinaire Mushinzimana told Rwanda Today that the late Bishagara’s convictions for quality in education, foodstuffs and drugs and women’s rights were evident in various senate sessions.
“She would shed a lot of light on topics concerning education. I remember she was so active in our sessions on the University of Rwanda,” said Mushinzimana.
Just a year ago, the senate checked on the quality standards of several factories in the country and the late Bishagara “could get apparatus to personally carry out the laboratory experiments on products at factories,” according to Mushimiyimana who was in the team.