The ceremony of naming newborn baby gorillas, commonly known as ‘Kwita Izina’ happens in Kinigi, a native town adjacent to Volcanoes national park and has been part of Rwandan conservation culture for over a decade.
Naming infant gorillas has become a significant annual nationwide tradition in Rwanda organized by the Rwanda Development Board with support from various regional and international partners. The event is based on a historic norm for naming newborns in Rwanda and Africa at large, and has been adapted to recognize and celebrate Rwanda’s efforts in successful gorilla protection and conservation.
Kwita Izina ceremony is Rwanda’s popular gorilla event since its inception in 2005 and it has turned out to be a household term not only in Rwanda but also globally. Up to 216 baby gorillas have so far received names for the last 11 years this event has been in existence.
Each year, the gorilla naming ceremony pulls over 20,000 conservationists, local and international tourism stake holders together with the local communities who live close and conserve these endangered apes.
The name attributed to each baby gorilla plays a vital role in the day to day monitoring activities for every gorilla in their individual families and habitats. During this year’s event, 18 baby gorillas born after September last year are expected to receive names.
This year’s Kwita Izina includes a number of buildup events leading up to the ceremony, including launching community projects, familiarization trips, a gala fundraising dinner, a conservation and tourism exhibition and a two-day “Conversation on Conservation” conference in Kigali with delegates attending from all over the world. The “Kwita Izina conservation exhibition” is a 2 day event that intends to showcase Rwanda’s remarkable work in conservation of wildlife and culture, while the two-day conference will bring delegates from around the world to discuss Africa’s common conservation challenges and devise lasting solutions for preserving critical ecosystems for generations.
The “Kwita Izina” event ends with a remarkable “Igitaramo cultural dinner” – a Cultural Celebratory dinner whose objective is to raise funds for supporting Rwanda’s ongoing conservation activities particularly the ‘Expansion of the mountain gorilla habitat’.
This unique dinner is a great cultural celebration with amazing entertainment from the famous Rwandese cultural groups and locally fashioned cuisine to be hosted on the banks of idyllic Lake Kivu in Rubavu.
This week long event in Rwanda will include a variety of conservation-awareness activities, with park staff, local groups, government leaders, international community, celebrities,students and native communities all coming in to help choose names for the baby gorillas born from the past year and also participating in buildup events throughout the week.
Through forming a unified force and coherent participation and commitment of government authorities, tourism bodies, research, protection and community initiatives Rwanda is bound to witness vital successes in conservation efforts, and now with inclusion of Kwita Izina is an important national celebration.
Kwita Izina has grown to become an important event more than just giving names to young gorillas, and it is now a global event during which the international community and Rwandans join together to celebrate and recognize milestone achievements of the country’s rich bio diverse ecology as well as inclusive growth of the economy and wellbeing of its citizens.
It’s also a day to recognize the value of partnerships and also show appreciation to specific individuals who have dedicated their lives to the cause of conservation.
Some important persons to attend this year’s Kwita Izina ceremony include but not limited to;- President Paul Kagame, Dr. Allan Karlsson – senior conservation advisor at the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), manager of Phinda Reserve that donated lions to Akagera National Park – Simon Naylor, Amy Vedder – a pioneer of conservation work with mountain gorillas and Yale University Professor, Dr. Hans J. Heuer – managing director of Best Western Plus Lusaka Grand Hotel, Dr. Janaki Alavalapati – Senior fellow for Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas at the U.S. Department of State, Fred Swaniker – Founder and CEO of the African Leadership Group andFrank Keesling- the son of the founder of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Rwanda, among other notable dignitaries and celebrities.