Fare thee well - A tribute to Senator James Inhofe

0 10-07-2024 - saa 11:43, Wycliffe Nyamasege

Former U.S. Senator James Inhofe passed away on the morning of Tuesday, July 9, 2014, at the age of 89, five days after suffering a stroke.

The Republican congressman was the longest-serving U.S. senator from Oklahoma. He served in the Senate for nearly three decades, from 1994 until 2023, when he retired.

In his long political service, Inhofe is mostly remembered for his opposition to climate science, which often dominated headlines in the Western media.

He was a strong critic of the idea that human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, drive climate change. He believed that efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions would harm the economy without significant environmental benefits.

"You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it and that’s their strategy," he said of environmentalists, scientists and public officials who argued that man-made emissions had altered the planet’s climate.

For many years, this controversial stance on environmental policy made him a prominent figure in debates over climate change in the United States.

An Army veteran and licensed pilot, Inhofe was also known for his strong support of defence spending and strong ties with Africa and Rwanda in particular.

Africa’s Friend

He supported U.S. efforts to enhance security cooperation with African nations, particularly in combating terrorism and extremism and promoting stability.

In 2018, Inhofe said he had taken more than 140 trips to Africa over about 20 years, and he had a hand in creating U.S. Africa Command.

He also advocated for increased U.S. support for humanitarian efforts in Africa, particularly during crises such as famines, conflicts, and natural disasters.

As a testament of his close ties with Africa and Rwanda, President Paul Kagame eulogized the late senator as "a singular friend of our continent, and of Rwanda in particular".

"The bonds that Jim fostered between Africa and the United States will remain central to his legacy as a statesman and public servant," President Kagame said in his tribute.

Senator Inhofe had a special attachment to Rwanda. He led a delegation of US Senators and Congressmen on a three-day visit to Rwanda in January 2014.

During the visit, the lawmakers were briefed on peace and security in the Great Lakes region, with particular focus on the Central African Republic, where Rwandan troops have been involved in recent years to help bring stability.

The delegation also discussed the prospects of increasing trade between Rwanda and the US.

At the summit of his visit, Inhofe acknowledged the strides Rwanda had taken since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which had derailed the country, saying that "the USA doesn’t have a better friend than Kagame".

“We have been to the countryside and the transformation of this country is incredible. You can’t see it in other countries. We commend Rwanda’s role in peacebuilding and peace creation in the region; in South Sudan, and especially in the Central African Republic,” he said.

Senator Inhofe also visited Rwanda in 2017 and was once again hosted by President Kagame at his office in Urugwiro Village.

As a demonstration of strong relations with the late lawmaker, Rwanda hosted a breakfast at its embassy in Washington, D.C. on September 15, 2022, in appreciation of Senator Inhofe’s career and friendship with Africa and Rwanda.

In a conveyed message, President Kagame said Inhofe’s dedication to Rwanda and the relationship he helped nurture had strengthened ties between Rwanda and the USA.

“We have watched you invest in learning about and understanding Rwanda and other African countries. We have also watched you educate your peers on the importance of Africa and countries like Rwanda as worthy global allies,” President Kagame stated.

“You have shown that a productive relationship with the United States is mutually beneficial for our people and contributes to greater security and stronger economies."

Vincent Biruta, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation beween 2019 to June 2024, and Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States Mathilde Mukantabana presented a gift to Senator Inhofe during the event.

During the event, a grateful Inhofe reminisced about his first visit to Rwanda and recounted how President Kagame agreed to meet his delegation after midnight.

“After midnight he (Kagame) agreed to meet with us and he has been meeting with us ever since. We have had opportunities to do things together.” He said.

Sincerely, Rwanda has lost a true friend. Fare the well Senator James Inhofe.

An Army veteran and licensed pilot, Inhofe was known for his strong support of defence spending and strong ties with Africa and Rwanda in particular.

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