Ever wonder about the first human name recorded in history? Well, it apparently wasn’t for a king, nor a warrior, nor a poet. According to one accountant, the first names appeared around the 33rd century BC.

Since then, naming a newborn baby has been part of human culture. And in Africa, it’s cause for a great celebration. 

Given that apes are our closest genetic relatives, gorillas in Rwanda are also given names at birth! Not by their own mothers, of course, but by their human cousins. The initiative was started in 2005 through Rwanda Development Board and the big annual ceremony was branded “Kwita Izina”— which meaning “giving a name.” 

The name bestowed on a baby gorilla plays a significant role in the ongoing effort of monitoring each individual in its family group and habitat. Naming them at an annual ceremony creates awareness of conservation efforts to save the endangered mountain gorilla both in Rwanda and around the globe.

The theme for this year’s Kwita Izina (September 1st) was “Conservation for Life.” During the ceremony, 19 lucky humans were given the opportunity to bestow names on 19 gorillas (including babies and adolescents).

Among the namers was American businessman, politician, philanthropist, photographer, farmer and conservationist Howard Buffet. Howard is the chairman of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, whose various good works includes the conservation of mountain gorillas.

His Excellency Paul Kagame, the president and great conservationist of Rwanda, hosted thousands of international, regional and local participants to the ceremony at Kinigi in the Musanze District near Volcanoes National Park. The throng included conservationists, business entrepreneurs, government ministers and famous entertainers, as well as religious and cultural leaders from around the world.

Most (if not all) Adventure Consults safaris include gorilla tracking as a sign of support towards conservation efforts for this endangered species. As we wait to take you on safari to the gorillas, here are the exciting names along with their meaning that were given to the baby gorillas at the 13th Kwita Izina:

Uruyange: “Shiny”

Macibiri: named after Dian Fossey’s nickname, Nyiramacibiri.

Ubudasa: “Remarkable”

Umutware: “Leader” (honoring the conservation and leadership of HE Rwanda President Paul Kagame

Arakaza: “Welcome” (born while the family was in the Democratic Republic of Congo).

Iyamarere: “Enthusiastic”

Urugano: “Generation” (to highlight investment in Rwanda’s youth)

Nsanganira: “Well Accepted”

Ikoranabuhanga: “Information Technology”

Inyange: “Handsome and Smart”

Isuku: “Cleanliness” (honoring the cleanliness of Rwanda and her people)

Inkingi: “Pillar” (gorillas contribute heavily to the Rwandan economy)

Tembero Rwanda: “Visit Rwanda”

Inkesha: “Star” (gorillas are the shining stars of the region)

Imirasire: “Ray of Sun” (to reflect Rwanda’s investment and effort in solar power)

Mudahinyuka: “Truthful and Reliable”

Ubwiza: “Beautiful”

Iriba: “Water Source”

It’s very possible that our previous clients and partners have interacted with one or more of these babies. If you’re planning to gorilla tracking in Rwanda (for the first, second or even third time), we welcome you to the Land of a Thousand Hills! Drop us an email!

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