Rwanda holds famous gorilla naming ceremony

Twenty infant Mountain Gorillas were given names on Friday 2nd of September 2022 at the colorful 18th annual gorilla naming ceremony locally known as Kwita Izina held at the foothills of the Volcanoes National Park, in Kinigi Sector, Musanze District, Northern Province.

Thousands of residents joined by government officials, diplomats, local and international conservationists and celebrities attended this uniquely Rwandan event.

Kwita Izina, a uniquely Rwandan event, was introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla. The event is fast becoming known as Africa’s leading dialogue on conservation and tourism.

The government of Rwanda, through the Rwanda Development Board and in collaboration with conservation partners, private sectors stakeholders and local communities, has achieved remarkable success in protecting and growing the endangered mountain gorilla population and its habitat.

This year, prominent people named the baby gorillas which include Prince Charles, the Secretary General of Organization Internationale de la Francophonie Louise Mushikiwabo and former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales when virtually naming a baby gorilla at this year’s ceremony said, “The name I give him is Ubwuzuzanye, which means Harmony since the restoration of harmony between nature, people and planet is the most critical issue facing humanity.”

Football legend, Didier Drogba said, “I give the name Ishami, which means Offspring. This name was chosen to showcase the importance of the newborn gorillas as “offsprings” that symbolize expansion and growth.”

This year marks the 18th edition of the international conservation event and is the first time in person since 2019 following the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted travel.

Since the naming ceremony began in 2005, 354 baby gorillas have been named. As a result of conservation efforts, the number of gorillas has increased, making Rwanda home to one-third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.

The 20 baby gorillas named are members of the Noheli, Musilikali, Ntambara, Mutobo, Igisha, Susa, Kureba, Pablo, Sabyinyo, Muhoza, Amahoro, and Hirwa families.

Rwanda is aiming to collect at least $360 million (about Rwf372 billion) in tourism revenue this year, up from $164 million last year, according to the Rwanda Development Board.

The sector showed signs of recovery in the first half of this year, with the government collecting at least $168 million between January and June.

Total tourism revenues in 2021 were $164 million, a 25% increase from $131 million in 2020.

In 2021, the country received over 512,000 international visitors.

The government of Rwanda, due to noticeable conservation achievements, has become a World leader in conservation practices. More than 8.9% of the country's land base is protected as national parks. Over Frw 5.2 billion has been distributed to 647 community-based projects since 2005. These projects have availed clean drinking water, milk, health centers, classrooms and housing to members of the communities living around the three national parks; Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park and Volcanoes National Park.

The 2022 Kwita Izina baby gorilla namers were:

1. HRH The Prince of Wales (virtually)

2. Uzo Aduba - Actor

3. Dr Evan Antin - Veterinarian and Television Presenter

4. Neri Bukspan - Managing Director, Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Service

5. Dr Cindy Descalzi Pereira - Philanthropist and Entrepreneur

6. Didier Drogba - Football Legend

7. Itzhak Fisher - Chairman, Rwanda Development Board

8. Laurene Powell Jobs - Founder and President, Emerson Collective

9. Dr Frank I. Luntz - Founder and President, Luntz Global

10. Stewart Maginnis - Deputy Director General, International Union for the Conservation of Nature

11. Thomas Milz - Board Director, Sales and Marketing, Volkswagen Group South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa

12. Salima Mukansanga - International Football Referee

13. Louise Mushikiwabo - Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie

14. Youssou N’Dour – Musician

15. Naomi Schiff - Professional Racing Driver and Presenter

16. Kaddu Sebunya - CEO, African Wildlife Foundation

17. Gilberto Silva - Arsenal Football Club Legend

18. Sauti Sol - Musical Band

19. Juan Pablo Sorin - Paris Saint-Germain Legend

20. Moses Turahirwa - Creative Director, Moshions