The newest additions to Rwanda’s mountain gorilla population in Volcanoes National Park will be named this Friday, 1 September 2023, at the 19th Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony in Kinigi, Northern Province.
The 23 baby gorillas, born over the last twelve months will be named by global leaders, sports legends, artists and conservation champions.
The babies are members of the Agashya, Muhoza, Mutobo, Hirwa, Pablo, Ntambara, Dushishoze, Segasira, Isimbi, Musirikari, Kwitonda, Igisha and Sabyinyo families. In total, 374 baby gorillas have been named since the first Kwita Izina was held in 2005.
The 2023 Kwita Izina Namers are:
- Sol Campbell – Arsenal and England legend
- Larry Green – Board Trustee, African Wildlife Foundation
- Bernard Lama – French football coach and former Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper
- Joakim Noah – Former Chicago Bulls Centre/Forward and Lais Ribeiro – International Model
- Anders Holch Povlsen – Chief Executive Officer, Bestseller
- Dr Özlem Türeci M.D. and Dr Sierk Poetting – Representing BioNTech, which is establishing a sustainable and state-of-the-art mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing Facility in Rwanda
- Audrey Azoulay – Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- Zurab Pololikashvili – Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
- Jonathan Ledgard – British novelist and an expert in advanced technology, nature, and risk in emerging markets
- Winston Duke – Tobagonian actor
- Kevin Hart – American comedian and actor (Naming virtually)
- Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP – Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, United Kingdom
- H.E. Hazza AlQahtani – United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda
- Cyrille Bolloré – Chief Executive Officer, Bolloré
- Idris Elba – Actor, musician and producer and Sabrina Dhowre Elba – UN Goodwill Ambassador for IFAD as well as a CEO, model and activist.
- Ineza Umuhoza Grace – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Green Protector
- Innocent Dusabeyezu – Ranger in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
- Danai Gurira – Actor, activist and playwright
- Bukola Elemide, a.k.a. Aṣa – Award winning Nigerian-French singer-songwriter
- Nick Stone – Lead Director, Wilderness
- Queen Kalimpinya – Rwandan Rally Car Driver and Gender Equality Advocate
- Joe Schoendorf – Silicon Valley Pioneer
- Elvine Ineza – Primary Six Student at Regina Pacis School in Musanze District
Clare Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board, said:
“We are excited to return to Kinigi for the 19th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming ceremony. As the culmination of a series of conservation events, we will welcome distinguished Namers from all corners of the world who will name one of the 23 baby gorillas born in Volcanoes National Park over the last year. Kwita Izina isn’t just an event; it’s a tribute to the mountain gorillas and the dedicated communities championing their conservation. This year’s ceremony promises to be unforgettable.”
This year’s Kwita Izina will be MC-ed by Benny, Sandrine Isheja and Arthur Nkusi and feature performances by Rwandan artists including Zawadi, The Bless, Meylo, DJ Sonia, Eric Senderi, DJ Bisoso, Danny Vumbi, Bwiza, Bulldog, Ariel Wayz and Riderman.
A performance featuring almost 180 artists from the Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company will celebrate 19 years of Kwita Izina through the theme of consistency, growth, and expansion. In the performance, artists will honour the origins of Rwanda’s unique conservation initiative and pay tribute to the steadfast commitment to mountain gorillas shown over the past 19 years.
The ceremony will also feature remarks by the Governor of the Northern Province, the Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board and the Guest of Honour.
The 19th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming ceremony will be broadcast live on Rwanda TV and the Visit Rwanda YouTube channel.
About Kwita Izina
The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony is modelled off a centuries-old tradition in which Rwandans name their children in the presence of family and friends. For three decades before the first official gorilla naming ceremony, park rangers and researchers named Rwanda’s mountain gorilla babies to monitor each gorilla in their family and habitat.
In 2005, Rwanda began officially naming mountain gorillas in what has become a global celebration of nature. By giving a name to these majestic animals, they are given the value they undoubtedly deserve.
The ceremony is, first and foremost, an opportunity to thank the communities that live around the gorilla habitat, Volcanoes National Park, research partners, vets and the dedicated conservationists, rangers and trackers who protect the gorillas daily.
Overall, Rwanda has emerged as a conservation and sustainable tourism leader on the continent. For instance, while in the 2010 Census, there were 480 mountain gorillas, the 2016 Census report indicated 604 individuals in the Virunga Massif. These efforts have contributed to the increase in mountain gorillas worldwide (1,063) and are no longer categorised as critically endangered.
Learn more at https://www.visitrwanda.com/kwita-izina/.
For any media enquiries, please contact Maurice Twahirwa at firstname.lastname@example.org.