Home NewsNational Kwita Izina: Rwanda’s Baby Gorillas Get Names from World Celebrities

Kwita Izina: Rwanda’s Baby Gorillas Get Names from World Celebrities

by Daniel Sabiiti
5:30 pm

First Lady Jeannette Kagame with gorilla namers

Musanze was today a place to be for celebrities from around the world who came for the 2023 gorilla naming ceremony, Kwita Izina.

Namers include sports legends, actors, musicians, global enterprenuers, tourism key players including rangers, conservation scientists, media personalities and investors who have a passion for the environment and conservation.

One of them, Kevin Hart, an America film actor and comedian who was recently in Rwanda joined the ceremony virtually and on behalf of the Hart family, named one of the gorillas as Gakondo.

In a joking mood, Hart said he wanted to be close to the baby gorilla and will updates through photos, acquisition of its birth certificate, an email and a cell phone to ‘chat’ with her.

On his side, Idris Elba – Actor, musician and producer with his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba – UN Goodwill Ambassador for IFAD as well as a CEO, model and activist named their baby gorilla “Narame” which means “Long Life. The family said the gorillas are a strength and naming the gorilla will give it a long life.

Friend of Rwanda Andrew Mitchell MP – Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, United Kingdom named his baby gorilla “Mukundwa” (“Favored”).

Mitchell who has visited gorillas twice, saluted the government of Rwanda for great things done and especially the brilliance of the conservation work being done.

After him came Danai Jekesai Gurira, a Zimbabwean–American actress and playwright and best known for her starring roles as “Okoye” in the movie Black Panther Wakanda named a male baby gorilla as Aguka Tchalla (Expand).

She said this was in memory of the Chadwick Boseman, the late Wakanda film Star Tchalla (prince of the African nation of Wakanda) and in applaud of the baby gorilla mother for being able to grow her family. Gurira stated that she will Visit Rwanda to meet the baby.

Joakim Noah – Former Chicago Bulls Centre/Forward and Lais Ribeiro – International Model name their baby gorilla “Turumwe” which means “Oneness” named after the Chicago city One Basketball league which symbolizes safe spaces for youth that foster intercommunity growth and celebrate the unity of Rwandans.

Larry Green, a Board Trustee at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF),  known for his passion for African wildlife and their habitats named his female baby gorilla as Ingoboka (support).

“I have no doubt baby Ingoboka will be a great inspiration to the Hirwa family, who has also lost a number of members over the past years,” he said explaining that the word support is seen in how the gorilla population support the community and Rwanda and vice versa.

BioNtech’s Dr. Özlem Türeci and Dr. Sierk Poetting, whose investment leads from the global German pharmaceutical giant in Rwanda also named a female gorilla as “Intaganda (humble and brave).

“The name is the essence of someone who can face challenges, continue to face ambitious goals and be at the same time humble and selfless,” Poetting said.

Dr. Özlem Türeci said that from their one-year experience of seeing Rwanda’s resilience, development and cooperation in developing the mRNA vaccines, they cannot wish more than a humble and brave friendship implied in the gorilla name.

French investor Cyrille Bolloré – Chief Executive Officer, Bolloré named his baby gorilla “Mugisha” which means “Blessing” to symbolize the blessing of having all baby gorillas alive in Rwanda.

“The first time I came to Rwanda more than five years ago, it has opened my eyes on a lot of subjects and discovered the importance of conservation in life, and sustainable development as an investor and it has guided my steps until this day,” Bolloré said.

In the spirit of defending Gorillas, Bolloré said he has taken up the challenge and with all involved nothing is impossible.

Anders Holch Povlsen, a Danish billionaire, CEO and sole owner of the international retail clothing chain Bestseller named his male gorilla as “Umutako” (ornament).

“This name was chosen to celebrate Rwanda’s creative industry that produces authentic and high quality ornaments and other products sold around the world,” he said.

Audrey Azoulay, a French politician and Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization who had a privilege to meet the baby gorilla and experience the DNA connection between gorillas and humans in Virunga national park- a UNESCO biosphere park.

From the Sabyinyo family, she named her baby gorilla “Ikirango (symbol) of Rwanda’s progress in biodiversity protection and conservation.

Bernard Lama, a legendary French football coach and former Paris Saint Germain (PSG) goalkeeper named his gorilla from the Muhoza family as “Ramba” (sustainable) in recognition of Rwanda’s sustainable tourism.

Bukola Elemide, a.k.a. Aṣa – Award winning Nigerian-French singer-songwriter name her baby gorilla: “INGANZO” which means origin or source.

Hazza Al Qahtani – The United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda named his baby gorilla “Urunana” which means “Collaboration”

Zurab Pololikashvili – Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) named his baby gorilla “Inshingano” which means “Responsibility”

Winston Duke – Tobagonian actor named his baby gorilla “Intarumikwa” which means “Resilient Giant”

Queen Kalimpinya – Rwandan Rally Car Driver and Gender Equality Advocate named her baby gorilla “Impundu” which means “Acclamation”

British Novelist, Jonathan Ledgard named his baby gorilla “Gisubizo” which means “Solution” stating that he is humble to see Rwanda is owning its future.

Sol Campbell – Arsenal and England football legend named his baby gorilla “Jijuka” which means Enlightenment. “For me this represents peace and a stably nature for many years to come,” Campbell said.

Nick Stone – Lead Director, Wilderness named his baby gorilla “Umucunguzi” which means “Redeemer”

Joe Schoendorf – Silicon Valley Pioneer named his baby gorilla “Uburinganire” which means Gender Equality.

“This name was chosen to recognize Rwanda’s efforts to build the gender equal society in which every one of you, all of you can reach you full potential,” he said.

Grace Ineza Umuhoza, Founder and CEO of The Green Protector, and environmental activist and 2023 Global Citizen’s Prize winner amed her gorilla as “Bigwi” (Achiever) from the Ntambara family, with a wish she will grow protected by each one at the event and beyond.

Twelve year old Elvine Ineza named her baby gorilla “Nibagwire” which means Multiply; while the man behind the gorilla safety, Innocent Dusabeyezu – Ranger in Volcanoes National Park named his baby gorilla “Murare” which means “Sleep Over”.

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