Gorilla Naming Ceremony

Gorilla Naming Ceremony (Kwita Izina)

Late June
In Kinyarwandan, a language spoken primarily in Rwanda, Kwita Izina means "to give a name." The phrase refers to a long-standing ceremony for naming newborn Rwandan babies. In the 21st century, the tradition has extended to naming newborn mountain gorillas. What was once a humble ceremony among park rangers and wildlife conservationists has become an annual international event.
The Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) launched the first gorilla naming ceremony in 2005 as part of a larger effort to monitor gorillas in Rwanda's jungles and to raise awareness about the various factors that threaten the animals and their habitat.
The ceremony, which since 2007 has been known officially as Kwita Izina, is a jubilant affair that includes traditional Rwandan dance and music. Past ceremonies have featured the naming of between 10 and 30 gorillas. Each animal is publicly named by a notable figure from Rwanda or another country—typically a conservationist, successful business person, or international celebrity. A fundraising gala dinner often accompanies the Kwita Izina to raise additional funds for gorilla conservation campaigns.
CONTACTS:
Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks
Rwanda Tourism Board
Boulevard de la RÉvolution ní1
P.O. Box 905
Kigali, Rwanda
250-576514; fax: 250-576515
www.rwandatourism.com