There are two days remaining to Kwita Izina, or gorilla naming ceremony, which is Rwanda’s greatest yearly tourism event, and a list of 20 dignitaries and Celebrities attending this year’s edition have been revealed.
Among them is the Prince of Wales, Charles Philip who will name the baby gorilla on September 2, however, virtually. The rest will attend physically.
Celebrities set to name baby Gorillas during this year’s ceremony include former Arsenal midfielder, Gilberto Silva, former Paris Saint-Germain FC, Juan Pablo Sorin and Chelsea FC legend, Didier Drogba.
According to the organizers, the legends join other famous football legends from both clubs who have given a young mountain gorilla a name over the past four years as a result of the Visit Rwanda Partnership agreements with Europe based clubs.
The diginataries also set to name baby Gorillas physically include Stewart Maginnis, Deputy Director General of International Union for Conservation of Nature, Salma Mukansanga, female International football referee, Youssou N’Dour, a performer recognized for the West African music genre known as mbalax, and Lorrene Powell, the founder and chair of EmCollective.
Also, Frank Ian Luntz, a political consultant, pollster, and pundit from the United States who is most known for creating talking points and other messaging for Republican causes, Itzhak Fisher, Israeli businessman and founder and general partner of Pereg Ventures and Naomi Schiff, a Rwandan-Belgian racing driver and television presenter.
This year, will be the 18th edition of Kwita Izina and will ensure a safe return to the foothills of Volcanoes National Park, joining the communities living around the home of the endangered mountain gorillas in the ultimate celebration of nature and conservation.
The event will feature a naming ceremony of 20 baby mountain gorillas born in the park over the last 12 months. And, so far 354 baby gorillas have been named since the start of the naming ceremony in 2005.
Among the namers also is Neri Bukspan, Managing Director, Standard and Poor’s Credit Market Service, award winning American actor, Uzo Aduba and Thomas Milz, Board Director, Sales and Marketing Volkswagen Group.
Also, Kaddu Sebunya, Chief Executive Officer of African Wildlife Foundation, Scottish billionaire and philanthropist, Sir Ian Clark Wood, Dr. Cindy Descalzi Pereira, philanthropist and Chairperson of Global Events Africa, and Moses Turahirwa, famous for taking Rwanda’s fashion beyond borders.
Louise Mushikiwabo, the fourth and current Secretary General of Organization internationale de la Francophonie will be among the namers.
Clare Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), says this year’s Kwita Izina will be a celebration of conservation and the return of tourism.
“We’re delighted to be back in Kinigi in Rwanda’s Northern Province, near the habitat of these majestic creatures for Kwita Izina, two years since our last in-person ceremony. Initiatives such as the Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony play a major role in conserving gorillas. Thanks to Rwanda’s conservation efforts, we have improved the gorilla trekking experience for our visitors and increased the support to local communities through our Tourism Revenue Sharing programme,” Akamanzi said in a statement released on August 31.
“We are also happy to celebrate the safe return of tourism to Rwanda, after managing the Covid-19 pandemic well. We look forward to continuing to protect our natural heritage, providing world class experiences that highlight the diverse natural beauty of Rwanda, while also ensuring that Rwandans benefit from tourism and conservation,” she added.
The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony is modeled 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, dedicated conservationists, and rangers who protect the gorillas on a daily basis.
Kwita Izina is now a part of an ambitious plan to protect Rwanda’s natural heritage and increase the contribution of tourism to the country’s development. Following the naming ceremony, Rwandans from all walks of life now recognize the intrinsic worth of gorillas and their relevance to the nation’s economy. Rwandans now guard the gorillas.