Home NewsNational Kwita Izina 2023: Who Are The Namers This Year?

Kwita Izina 2023: Who Are The Namers This Year?

by Edmund Kagire
12:27 pm

Some of the namers this year.

Tomorrow Friday, September 1, Rwanda’s Annual Gorilla Naming Ceremony- Kwita Izina will take place in Kinigi, Musanze district, at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Wednesday revealed distinguished individuals who will christen baby Mountain Gorillas at the 19th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony will be held in the Northern Province district, where the namers, invited guests and celebrities will join the communities living around the home of the endangered mountain gorillas in what is expected to be the ultimate celebration of nature and conservation.

The ceremony will see the naming of 23 baby mountain gorillas born in the last 12 months, bringing the total of baby gorillas to be named since the inception of the naming ceremony in 2005 to 374.

Below are the details of the namers this year, who are mainly Global leaders, conservation heroes and renowned celebrities, in what appears to be one of the most spectacular Kwita Izina events, drawing in some of the most prominent names in the said domains.

Sol Campbell

The Arsenal and England legend, who was part of the team that became known as ‘The Invincibles’ for Arsenal
’s undefeated 2003–04 Premier League campaign, is one of the namers this year, according to RDB, thanks in part to the Visit Rwanda partnership Rwanda has with Arsenal.

Every year the club sends some of its renowned players and legends from the men and women’s teams to represent the club in the annual event, with past namers including Tony Adams and Alex Scott, among others.

The 48-year old former defender, full name Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell, was most recently the manager of National League club Southend United. A centre-back, he spent 20 years playing in the Premier League and had an 11-year international career with the England national team.

Campbell is already in Rwanda.

Larry Green

Larry Green is a Board Trustee at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and he is known for his passion for African wildlife and their habitats. His record as a global conservationist is truly remarkable. He will name a baby gorilla at this year’s Kwita Izina ceremony, come September 1.

“I’m excited to be one of the baby gorilla namers Sept 1st at Kwita Izina in Rwanda. Wonderful tradition to honor the mountain gorilla population and the amazing conservation efforts in this country.” Green posted upon being announced among this year’s namers.

Bernard Lama

Bernard Lama is a French football coach and former Paris Saint Germain (PSG) goalkeeper. Together with the French national team, he won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and  UEFA Euro 2000. The 60-year old former shot stopper will name a baby gorilla at the 19th Kwita Izina, adding to the list of legendary footballers who have named a baby gorilla in the past.

Grace Ineza Umuhoza

Rwanda’s very own environmental activist and 2023 Global Citizen’s Prize winner will be among the namers during this year’s Kwita Izina ceremony. Ineza has managed to garner global reputation for her advocacy for youth participation in climate action. She is Founder and CEO of The Green Protector, a non-governmental organisation focusing on engaging young people in environmental protection. She is also the 2022 National Geographic Society Young Explorer of the year. A well earned slot on the list of namers this year.

Global Citizen Award winner Ineza Umuhoza is upbeat.

Anders Holch Povlsen

Denmark billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, currently the CEO of global retail powerhouse Bestseller, will be among the namers this year. He is reputed for shaping the future of fashion. He is the sole owner of the international retail clothing chain Bestseller, a company founded by his parents. He is the largest shareholder in the British internet fashion retailer ASOS and second-largest in German internet clothing retailer Zalando.

Audrey Azoulay

Audrey Azoulay has served as the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 2017. She is one of the distinguished Namers at this year’s gorilla naming ceremony. The former French civil servant and politician became the second female leader of the UN agency.

UNESCO boss Audrey Azoulay gets briefed by a park ranger in Kinigi.

Winston Duke

The hunky Tobagonian actor Winston Duke who made his film debut in the role of M’Baku in Black Panther, is best known for portraying the character in four films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His iconic performance has earned him global reputation and put him among the most recognized actors. He will be naming a baby gorilla this year.

Jonathan Ledgard

Jonathan Ledgard, British born novelist and an expert in advanced technology, nature, and risk in emerging markets will be joining namers at this year’s Kwita Izina. He is known to work with conceptual artists and for being a futuristic thinker. Ledgard Believes Imagination Could Save the World. His strategies for a more equitable, sustainable future range from practical and humanitarian to fanciful and abstract.

Zurab Pololikashvili

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili, will be among Kwita Izina 2023 namers. Pololikashvili has been Secretary-General of the UNWTO since January 2018. Prior to that, he worked in a number of high-level roles in both the private and public sectors.

“Very excited to visit Rwanda for the first time and be part of the Kwita Izina Ceremony! Tourism has been a major part of saving mountain gorillas and I am thrilled to be invited to join in naming the gorilla babies born over the past year,” he tweeted.

Pololikashvili enjoys a cup of Rwandan coffee in Kinigi.

Kevin Hart

He was recently in Rwanda and he took time to document his summer visit on social media. Well, Kevin Hart now gets to name a baby gorilla. God knows how many jokes he will craft out of the noble act. The renowned American comedian and actor will be among the namers this year. Originally a stand-up comedian, he has since starred in numerous box office films and hit TV shows. A physical presence at Kwita Izina would definitely bring star fever to the annual event.

Kevin Hart recently visited Rwanda.

Andrew Mitchell

He is known as a friend of Rwanda and has been part of the country’s rebuilding process through different projects in the country, partly as a politician who makes decisions or as a member of a group of conservatives who pursued different initiatives in Rwanda through their ‘Umubano’ project. British legislator and politician Andrew Mitchell, who is in Rwanda for a working visit, will name a baby mountain gorilla tomorrow. He is currently the UK Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Hazza AlQahtani

Ambassador Hazza AlQahtani has been the UAE Ambassador to Rwanda since June 2018. Prior to this role, he was the Advisor in the Department of African Affairs in the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He will name a baby gorilla in Kinigi this Friday.

Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba

Celebrity power couple Idris Akuna Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba will be among the namers this year. The renowned, award winning English actor, musician and producer, alongside his lovely wife, Sabrina, a UN Goodwill Ambassador for IFAD, CEO, model and activist, will grace the occasion tomorrow, bringing with them star fever.

The namers being taken through the process ahead of Kwita Izina tomorrow.

Danai Gurira
Danai Gurira needs no introduction. Real name, Danai Jekesai Gurira, the Zimbabwean–American actress and playwright will join the distinguished list of namers at Kwita Izina this year. She is best known for her starring roles as Michonne on the AMC horror drama series The Walking Dead and as Okoye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero films, including Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, among others. She is a strong advocate for women and girls’ equality.

Nick Stone

Nick Stone is the Lead Director of Wilderness, a world leading conservation and hospitality company, which considers itself a proud custodian of the planet’s most significant wild places. He is deeply committed to growing Wilderness’ impact in the region through conservation tourism in countries like Rwanda. He gets the honour to name a baby gorilla tomorrow.

Dr Özlem Türeci & Dr Sierk Poetting

Dr Özlem Türeci & Dr Sierk Poetting will represent German pharmaceutical giant BioNTech Group at this year’s Kwita Izina. BioNTech is currently establishing a sustainable and state-of-the-art mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing Facility in Rwanda. The duo will be in Kinigi to name a baby gorilla, come September 1.

Innocent Dusabeyezu

Innocent Dusabeyezu has been a ranger in the Volcanoes National Park since 2007 and his many years of service have been honoured by giving him an opportunity to name a baby gorilla. He is described as a dedicated individual with special gorilla monitoring skills and naming one born under his watch will be quite memorable.

Bukola Elemide ‘Asa’

Asa, real name Bukola Elemide, is a Nigerian-French singer-songwriter who mixes soul, pop, folk, and reggae into her music. She is known for her soulful voice and introspective lyrics. The singer, reputed for her ‘smoky voice’ will join the namers in Kinigi this friday to name one of the 23 baby mountain gorillas.

Joakim Noah & Lais Ribeiro

Former Chicago Bulls Centre Forward Joakim Noah and his Brazilian international model wife Lais Ribeiro will be among the names at Kwita Izina this year.  The trailblazing couple will give a name to a newborn baby gorilla living in Volcanoes National Park. They are no strangers to Rwanda as they often travel to the country for different basketball activities.

Cyrille Bolloré

Cyrille Bolloré is the Chief Executive Officer of Bolloré. The French businessman has been at the helm of 12 different companies and currently holds the position of Chairman-Supervisory Board of Sofibol SCA, Chairman & Co-Chief Executive Officer at Bolloré SA, Chairman at Bolloré Energie SAS, Chairman at Blue Élec SAS, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer for Bolloré Transport & Logistics Corporate SAS and Chairman-Management Board at Compagnie du Cambodge SA (which are all subsidiaries of Sofibol SCA) and Chairman of Fédération Française des Pétroliers Indépendants.

He is also Chairman for Bolloré Energie SAS and on the board of 20 other companies, among other roles. The French business leader will be one of the distinguished Namers at the 19th  edition of Kwita Izina.

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