Every year there is an important baby naming ceremony in Rwanda. People come from villages around, far off towns and even countries far away to come see these babies being named. You may wonder what the hullabaloo is about naming babies but these babies are special. They are baby gorillas and there has been a centuries old tradition of naming them. The naming of these babies is an important part of Rwanda’s conservation efforts. The numbers of this endangered species had gone down and Rwanda has been working tireless to create awareness about the Mountain Gorillas, and to foster a love for these beautiful endangered gorillas. The efforts are working as the population of Mountain Gorillas have started to rise again.
Now the Kwita Izina – the gorilla naming ceremony is now an international tourist event. It attracts tourists from all over the world who come to take part in the festivities during the Kwita Izina ceremony. This year 24 baby mountain gorillas are being named on the 5th of September at the eleventh annual Kwita Izina. Kwita Izina was introduced in 2005 to create awareness about the endangered mountain gorilla. There is alot to see and do at the festival as there is singing, dancing and other activities.
The Rwanda Development Board will be hosting Kwita Izina at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains. The theme for this year’s festivities is “Conserving Now and For the Future.” Find out 14 things you need to know about Rwanda here.
According to Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, the Head of the Tourism & Conservation Department under the Rwanda Development Board. “The centuries-old tradition now serves to play a significant role in the monitoring of each individual gorilla in their habitat and with their families. The Kwita Izina ceremony is a demonstration of the commitment to the conservation of Rwanda’s wildlife by the local communities, conservation groups, researchers, rangers, and tourists.”
This year Rwanda will be carrying out another general census of the of the gorilla population in the Virunga Massif. The last report in 2010 showed encouraging growth in the gorilla population, registering a 26.3% growth in a period of seven years. The Rwanda Development Board has been continuing their conservation efforts and expects to once again see growth in the gorilla population.
Highlights of this year include
The Kwita Izina Awards being launched this year to recognize local conservationists for their contributions and celebrate achievements that have had a significant impact in improving of tourism and the protection of the wildlife globally.
There will be a business expo to highlight the economic growth in Rwanda. There will be products on sale, including honey and handicrafts. There will also be interactive weaving sessions.
There are also activities aimed at promoting conservation.
– August 28th – 29th, Inka Z’URwanda: This cultural event will be held in the Eastern Providence and will focus on the importance of cows in Rwandan tradition and the impact on the social well-being of the people living in different areas of the country. Activities will include workshops, exhibiting cow products, parading the cows, and awarding the herders.
– September 1st – 2nd, Conversation on Conservation: This is a high level forum, whose target audience is policy makers, conservationists, philanthropists, civil society, business and community stakeholders. The event will provide a platform to network and exchange ideas on the future of wildlife conservation in Rwanda. Along the sidelines of the forum, there will be an exhibition showcasing conservation success through art, photography, business, education and community involvement. As the highlight of this, two leaders in conservation will have a conversation with the audience on the achievements and challenges in sustainable conservation and tourism.
– September 1st – 2nd, Photo Exhibition: This conservation photography exhibition will feature images that tell the most inspiring and impactful stories. It will take visitors on a journey through conservation’s biggest triumphs and arm them with the knowledge to make a difference. It will feature photographs of one of world renowned wildlife photographer Suha Derbent.
– September 2nd, Launch of a Community Project: During the eleventh Kwita Izina, one of the community projects that were developed through the Tourism Revenue Sharing scheme will be launched. A Public Library, with support from the Dianne Fossey Foundation, was set up in order for the public to access conservation and responsible tourism information.
– September 4th, Community Igitaramo: The famous community party (Igitaramo) will be held on the evening prior to the main naming ceremony. Rwandan traditional dances, storytelling and cultural performances will highlight this evening.