Tourists rush in to witness Rwanda’s ‘Kwita Izina’, the ‘gorilla-naming’ ceremony
KIGALI, Rwanda - At the foot of the Virunga Mountains, Northern Rwanda, thousands of villagers and tourists gathered to celebrate the birth of 18 mountain gorillas, just meters from the bamboo forest
KIGALI, Rwanda – At the foot of the Virunga Mountains, Northern Rwanda, thousands of villagers and tourists gathered to celebrate the birth of 18 mountain gorillas, just meters from the bamboo forest up the hills.
On July 1, 2014, they camped at the foot of the Mountain to celebrate the 10th Kwita Izina – newborn gorilla-naming festival.
It is considered a privilege to name a baby gorilla. The Clintons, Bill Gates and Natalie Portman have all once been granted this privilege. In June 2006, Gates visited the Sabyinyo family and named a baby ‘KEZA’ [cute]. In 2008, Portman named a baby ‘Gukina’ [to play].
This year, American Ambassador to Rwanda, Donald Koran excitedly named one of the babies – ‘Twiyubake’, loosely translated ‘self-reliance’. Leoni Cuelenaere, the Netherlands Ambassador to Rwanda chose the name ‘Inzozi’, meaning dreams, for another newborn.
Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, who presided over the ceremony, and named a baby ‘Birashoboka’ [it is possible], said conserving nature is integral to the country’s development agenda.
Kwita Izina, launched in 2005, has grown to become an international event and creates a global buzz.
Media networks, such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, SABC, Reuters, M-Net Studio 53, Animal Planet etc., broadcast the event live to millions of viewers around the world.
Traditional instruments are played at the event to set the mood. The Rwanda national troupe, a selection of beautiful and exemplary women dancers swing their attractively curved bodies to the sound of drum-beats. There are performances by International and local pop artists as well.
Valentine Rugwabiza, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board, says 163 newborns have been named since 2005. Eighteen were born this year.
Owing to the festival and the collaborative efforts of the government, the local communities neighboring the national park and conservation partners, the mountain gorilla population in Rwanda has increased to over 600 from 10 families of the remaining 880 gorillas found in Rwanda, Uganda, and DRCongo.
Gorilla trekking permits help Rwanda’s tourism industry. The industry generated $200Mn from 666,000 visitors in 2010 and $294Mn from 1,137,000 visitors in 2013.
The government allocates 5 percent of the revenues to local communities around the national park.