Kwita Izina Ceremony

Rwanda’s Kwita Izina Annual Ceremony

Overview

Kwita Izina is a Rwandan ceremony of giving a name to a newborn baby gorilla. It is named after the ancestral baby naming ceremony that happened after the birth of a newborn.

The ceremony’s main goal is in helping monitor each individual gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat. It was created as a means of bringing attention both locally and internationally about the importance of protecting the mountain gorillas and their habitats in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Mountains in the north of the country.

Rwanda is drawing thousands of travellers every year to its famous gorilla trekking safaris. The Rwanda Tourism Board has been hard at work heading up developments in the travel sector in recent years, ensuring that money made from visitors is used to help the communities surrounding the main tourism destinations, such as the well known Volcanoes National Park

The mountain gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla.With two populations, in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three National Parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the other in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

In Rwanda there is a centuries-old naming ceremony called Kwita Izina (translated as ‘naming’) which is held when a child is born to welcome them into their family and into the community. Kwita Izina is a Rwandan ceremony of giving a name to a newborn baby gorilla. This Ceremony is derived and named after the ancestral baby naming ceremony that happened after the birth of a newborn.

Kwita Izina Gorilla baby Naming Ceremony in Rwanda

In the nine years since the event was established, 161 mountain gorillas have been named in a celebration of nature and the communities who protect these magnificent animals. While ‘names’ are usually reserved for humans and our domestic pets,  Rwandans have extended this to their gorilla population. As our affiliated relatives, sharing over 98% of their genetic DNA with us and having been observed to exhibit behaviors similar to man,

Gorilla naming as is done at the Kwita Izina ceremony, stems from the Rwandan culture and tradition of naming new born babies in a family. The names given to the gorillas at the ceremony become their identity with the main goal to enable monitoring and reporting on each individual gorilla in their families/groups in their natural habitat.

The Kwita Izina being the key to the success of Rwanda’s conservation efforts,It has led to a 26.3% growth in the population of gorillas with the last registered gorilla population in 2010 being 480 from 380 in 2003.

In Rwanda the birth of a gorilla is a reason to celebrate the successful conservation efforts. This practice of Kwita Izina helps to merge culture, tourism and conservation and was created as a means of bringing attention both locally and internationally about the importance of protecting the mountain gorillas and their habitats in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda. The annual baby naming ceremony is a national celebration of conservation and sustainable tourism achievements reflected by the growing population of the endangered species mountain gorillas

With Kwita Izina now taking place in September, as part of the World Tourism month activities, this gives us much more exposure and sharing our sustainable tourism and conservation story globally while showcasing the country as a remarkable tourism destination”, the Rwanda Development Board Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, explains.

In the 2016, the theme for the ceremony was ‘United in driving growth through conservation’, building on the 2015 call to prioritize conservation in the promotion of sustainable tourism.  During the ceremony, 19 baby gorillas were named, the newest arrivals born after the 2015 ceremony, among them a set of twin babies.

The 2016 Kwita Izina ceremony attracted guests from all over the world including policymakers, conservation partners, regional partners, tourism industry leaders, philanthropists, renowned travel bloggers and celebrities.  At a colorful ceremony, Twenty four baby gorillas were named on 5th Sept at Kinigi, Musanze District, Rwanda by a cross section of people and dignitaries from Rwanda and around the world. The baby gorillas named were born in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, in 2014 and 2015.

This below is the Family name, mother’s name, date of birth and baby’s name

Family Name Mother’s Date of Birth Baby’s Name
Amahoro Mbere 17th June 2014 Zirakamwa
Agashya Inyenyeri 19th June 2014 Ububashya
Amahoro Muhabura 7th July 2014 Inkunga
Isimbi Isura 8th July 2014 Indongozi
Susa Umuco 28th July 2014 Icyogere
Sabinyo Umurinzi 1st Aug 2014 Ubusabane
Kuryama Umutekano 1st Aug 2014  Kanyamahanga
Hirwa Ikirezi 17th Aug 2014 Imbaraga
Igisha  Impuhwe 22nd Aug 2014 Twongere
Isimbi Afurika 3rd Sept 2014 Ubunkungu
Musilikare Ufubatanye 18th Sept 2014 Tabaro
Hirwa Kabatwa 7th Oct 2014 Umuteguro
Susa Turibamwe  8th Oct 2014  Ikifuzo
Bukima 16th Jan 2015 Umugwaneza
Igisha Ubuntu 31st Jan 2015 Indashyikirwa
Pablo Gutangara 24th Feb 2015 Gasizi
Musilikare Mahane 10th March 2015 Ubwira
Umubano Umurimo 28th March 2015 Indangamirwa
Pablo Ishyaka 4th April 2015 Akariza
Kwitonda Mbilimbili 6th April 2015 Gahuza
Susa Ruvumu 15th April 2015 Urakoze
Amahoro Kubaha 2nd May 2015 Ingingo
Isimbi Rwandarushya  24th May 2015 Hangumurimo
Isimbi Tuyishime 29th May 2015 Umuhora

A trip to Rwanda is not complete without a visit to the Volcanoes National Park, famous for its gorilla tracking and golden monkey treks. The volcano hikes, Lake Bulera and Dian Fossey tomb are a bonus for all gorilla trackers around the park. And for those in love with the country’s culture, Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village has it all.

Enquire with our team of experts about a tailor-made Rwanda Gorilla Safari at very friendly rates.

Reference: Kwita Izina Events Page – The Rwanda Development Board Kwita Izina Event page