Are you a conservation enthusiast? Are you a Rwandan national and you wish to track mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes national park? Have you heard about Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony? Across the world, humans are identified and differentiated by their tremendous names, symbols, cultural and traditional practices. In Africa, it is during such a fire-place gathering that warmth and wisdom, families and societies get together and common values are passed onto future generations. Currently, culture is passed humans as it is demonstrated at the Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda where hundreds of Rwandans, regional and international visitors come together every year as a “united community” to demonstrate the shared values specifically on protection and conservation of our close relatives-the rare mountain gorillas. At Kwita Izina, conservation meets sustainable tourism! The event demonstrates the sense of direction and guidance in the tourism industry in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region.
Tracking mountain gorillas is the most spectacular experience in life and through this wondrous annual event various societies across the world meet to reflect on efforts that Rwanda has invested on protecting them. The concern isn’t just ensuring their sustainability but also the benefits that are generated to the adjacent local community members. In most cases, the feeling of ownership and pride in our own natural resources lies in hearts of few members and this explains why stories of wildlife tourism in Africa is the most painful flashback especially with a way illegal practices like poaching have been and still the main threat on mountain gorillas and other wildlife around the continent. Today, there are less than 950 mountain gorillas that are still surviving on earth and they are only found within Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Kwita Izina annual gorilla ceremony is not reliant on a particular society alone or an event that targets a specific continent but it is an event that covers our shared humanity. It is one of the rarest events in life as stories and traditions are passed on one current and future generation and specifically on the ecosystems and wildlife given the fact that they are our shared history and experience. During this event, various people are attracted to give a newly born mountain gorillas are names and last year alone, at least 500 international and 20000 local attendees showed up for remarkable event. Just like humans, mountain gorillas also deserve identity and by so doing, conservationists are able to spread the message that these newly born creatures are not just statistics but they are also beings with an identity, history and part of a family.
On 1st September 2017, Kwita Izina-Rwanda will be holding its 13th edition of annual gorilla naming ceremony and interested visitors and all conservation enthusiasts around the globe shouldn’t miss this incredible moment in life. This year the theme of the event is “Conservation and sustainable tourism, a foundation for future generations” which affirms Rwanda’s focus on enhancing awareness on sustainably maintaining biodiversity. The Board also targets to increase the number of Rwanda Safaris and nationals who were born on 4th July and they are above 15 years will get opportunity to win a $1500 gorilla permit to track in the lush Volcanoes National Park to see the critically endangered mountain gorillas in November. This date is arranged in such a way that it accommodates the dates when Rwanda was liberated since it coincides with a day when conservation struggle began. The Rwanda Development Board will conduct a rottery draw to choose the lucky 100 winners.
Previously, the Kwita Izina ceremonies only involved naming a baby mountain gorilla, but for 1st September 2017, all the 4 adult female mountain gorillas and a family will be named including all the 14 baby mountain gorillas. This event started in 2005 and currently a total of about 239 baby mountain gorillas have been named. This year, the event began on 23rd June with numerous community activities that are estimated to cost Rwf 137 million and it will climax with the major event in Kinigi area-Musanze district on 1st September. There will be a by two day conservation and tourism exhibition between 27th and 28th August; the conversation on conservation that every year attracts the leading experts to deliberate Africa’s common conservation challenges will also occur from 28th to 29th August 2017 and then followed by a fascinating gala dinner on August 26th.
Besides naming the newly born baby mountain gorillas at Kwita Izina, other events include; launching of 2 primary schools-Akagera Primary School in Rwimbogo area, Gatsibo district and Rugera Primary School near Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rusizi district on 29th June. Gihorwe health centre near the Volcanoes National Park, Kabatwa cell-Nyabihu district will also be launched on 17th August.
In conclusion, the Kwita Izina gorilla ceremony is a Rwanda’s cultural practice that has stood for several years. It is one of the criteria that create an understanding among many people about the role of mountain gorilla conservation.