Kwita Izina: Naming Rwanda's Baby Gorillas
Every year in September, the small town of Kinigi in northern Rwanda welcomes locals, tourists, diplomats and celebrities to a special naming ceremony. This ceremony, called Kwita Izina (to give a name), is particularly significant as it involves naming Rwanda’s newborn baby gorillas.
2018 marks the 14th Kwita Izina and this year, all baby gorillas born from September 2017 to September 2018 will be bestowed with carefully considered names.
The event is hosted by the Rwandan Development Board and acts as a way to raise awareness about the plight of the critically endangered mountain gorillas and promote their protection on a local and international level.
In different cultures across the globe, names are important as they help create emotional connections between beings. The mountain gorillas have become incredibly important to and cherished by Rwanda. With less than 880 living in the wild, every gorilla born is an incredibly important event. This makes the naming ceremony an auspicious occasion.
The ceremony is inspired by ancient Rwandan culture and traditions. Getting to name a baby is a special honour. Each year, a select few patrons are chosen to name the baby gorillas as well as any new additions to the Rwandan gorilla families. In 2017, 19 babies from Volcanoes National Park were given names including Umngano (generation - signifying investing in Rwanda’s youth), Temberwanda (visit Rwanda - to highlight the importance of gorilla tourism) and Inkingi (Pillar – to show the importance of the gorillas in Rwanda’s economy).
This year, a whole new group of infants will receive their names on 2 September in Kinigi.
Looking to go on your own Gorilla Trekking adventure or witness Kwita Izina? Start planning your dream safari today!