Twenty-three baby gorillas have been given names in the popular Rwanda’s gorilla naming ceremony on Friday 1st September 2023.
This annual event was held at the foothills of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in Kinigi, Musanze District in Northern Rwanda. This event was attended by several dignitaries, celebrities, conservationists and local people living around the home of the endangered mountain gorillas.
The theme for the 2023 Kwita Izina which is the 19th edition was “Conservation is Life”. The ceremony was graced by first lady of Rwanda, Her Excellency the First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame.
Kwita Izina is a baby gorilla naming ceremony. Every year, the new born baby gorillas in Volcanoes Park are given names. The idea rips off the Rwandese tradition where a new born baby is officially given a name by the respected elder in the family.
The 2023 Kwita Izina marks the 19th year since the inception of this event in 2005. More than 300 gorillas have been named since the inception of the event. Every year, notable personalities around the world are invited to grace the event as well as naming one of the baby gorillas.
Among the notable names that have named gorillas in the previous editions include the former Chelsea football star Didier Drogba, the King of England, Gilberto Silva, Sauti Sol Band among several other notable names.
2023 Kwita Izina Namers
The Kwita Izina namers’ list is quite a long. But you can find an exhaustive list at Kwita Izina website. Though all the people who are given the opportunity to name the baby gorillas are notable, it is mainly people from the entertainment industry that make most of the headlines. Among the 2023 most popular entertainment personalities were Idris Elba and Kevin Hart
The gorilla trekking experience and baby naming
All the invited guests have the opportunity to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes Park. It is an experience like no other. Kevin Hart seems to have been the most vocal about his experience. He went gorilla trekking with his eldest daughter, son and wife.
They had the opportunity to come face to face with a silverback mountain gorilla. Like many trekkers, the whispers in amazement were unavoidable. These moments were captured with their phones as memories that will stick with them forever.
Kevin Hart came out to share his gorilla trekking experience through Visit Rwanda as well as the reason to why he chose the name that he gave to the baby gorilla during the Kwita Izina ceremony. Comic as usual, he went ahead to highlight how he wants to be updated about Gakondo baby gorilla; from birth certificate to constant photo updates, telephone chats with the gorilla among several other funny twists!
All this is a reminder that conservation is of utmost importance to Rwanda. Actually, the government of Rwanda has taken steps into expanding Volcanoes national park (one of the only four national parks that host the mountain gorillas). In the presence of all the notable personalities, Rwanda often shares their conservation journey as well as their vision for the future.
For instance, during the Kwita Izina speeches, the CEO of Rwanda development board re-echoed the invitation to all visitors to invest in Rwanda’s tourism and hospitality ecosystem. She tipped them about the fact that Rwanda’s invest climate is ranked 2nd on the African continent. This pitch was going straight to people who had already had a firsthand experience with Rwanda tourism through activities such as gorilla trekking.
The changing face of Rwanda
Rwanda has done a great deal of work to prove that a country can rise again to greatness even after an internal civil war that escalated into a genocide.
It is very easy to tell a negative story. Nothing moves as fast as a tragic news. You do not need any sponsorship to further these stories. Almost everyone easily shares them. But when things change and return to normal or even better; the positive news stories rarely go viral.
In a world where it is clear that unless you tell your personal positive story, no one is willing to make it trend free of charge. With that regard, Rwanda has invested massively in the “Visit Rwanda” campaign. Though many people assume it is simply about tourism. But it is about everything someone can do in Rwanda.
One of the things Rwanda wants the world to know is that the country is safe and ready for business. Anyone from around the world can invest in Rwanda. That is part of the story they are telling. But you might not just pick interest in the investment until you visit the country yourself.
The country has invested massively in Rwanda tours and gorilla tourism is booming. They have made sure that they put up accommodation where the rich people (potential investors) can feel comfortable during their stay. It is not a complete journey, many other good lodges and hotels are still opening up in Rwanda.
But with this massive step, hosting international personalities with a personal touch experience is now possible in Rwanda. It is why events such as Kwita Izina are possible.
In summary, the Kwita Izina event isn’t simply a gorilla naming ceremony, it is a facet of Rwanda’s dedication to conservation and an invitation to the whole world to partner with Rwanda on their conservation journey. This is continually done by having notable personalities grace the event.
The article Twenty three baby mountain gorillas named at Kwita Izina 2023 first appeared in TravelDailyNews International.
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Author: Apollonas Kritikos