Last week Rwandans celebrated the birth of 18 baby gorillas at the 10th anniversary of Kwita Izina, the annual gorilla naming ceremony. The event was held at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains in Kinigi, Northern Rwanda, and brought together more than 40,000 residents of Musanze District and visitors from all over the world. This year’s Kwita Izina was held under the theme: “A Decade: Conserving-Empowering-Growing.”
This year’s Kwita Izina attracted over 470 international guests from around the world including Kenya, Nigeria, China, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Russia, Japan, South Sudan, South Africa, Gabon, Ghana, among others. Publisher of ATQ magazine, Ikechi Uko, was among dignitaries who got to name a gorilla.
The CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza said: “We celebrate, for the tenth time, the growth of the gorilla family by naming 18 baby gorillas born over the last year, bringing the total population of the endangered species to over 600 in the Virunga Transboundary Parks.”
Kwita Izina is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming babies soon after they are born. The ceremony has transformed from being a local event in 2005 to becoming an international gorilla conservation event that also promotes tourism. Early this year, Kwita Izina won second prize in the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. In the nine years since the event was established, 161 gorillas have been named in a celebration of nature and the communities who protect the majestic mountain gorilla.