Have you ever imagined what exactly takes place at Rwanda’s famous gorilla naming ceremony since its inception 15 years ago? Adventure Consults passionately participates in this prestigious event, which aims at promoting Rwanda nature conservation and responsible tourism initiatives.
Naming a newly born human baby has been part a Rwandan tradition for centuries. But naming baby gorillas is something relatively new. The ceremony is called Kwita Izina, which literally means “Giving a Name.” It was created as another way for the Rwanda Development Board — and in collaboration with various conservation partners and local communities — to actively protect the mountain gorillas and their habitat.
Who names the Gorillas?
Conservationists, celebrities, and friends of conservation from all over the world. They gather at Kinigi (near Volcanoes National Park) to bestow names to individual gorilla babies.
Among those who participated in the 2019 naming ceremony were British supermodel Naomi Campbell, American R&B singer Ne-Yo, soccer legend Tony Adams, and renowned choreographer Sherie Silver. And gorilla “namer” and local superhero that Adventure Consults feels must be mentioned is Emmanuel Niringiyimana, the 23-year-old Rwandan who built a two-km road on his own to facilitate the movement of people and goods in his village in the Karongi District.
Were actual baby gorillas brought to the scene? Unlike the traditional baptism ceremony at your local church, the baby primate don’t have to be present to receive their name. Gorillas are high altitude forest creatures and not used to crowds. They can easily contract diseases from humans, and for this reason, they are never brought to the naming site.
- Ingando (Isimbi gorilla family): Hope and a chance for sustainable tourism in Rwanda and the world at large.
- Isanzure (Amahoro family): Mountain gorillas should roam freely with no disruption.
- Igihango (Sabynyo family): A covenant symbolizing a connection between God and humans, as well as a strong bond between gorillas and their human guardians.
- Suru’urwanda: “Visit Rwanda.” This baby gorilla was named after the tourism partnership between Rwanda and England’s Arsenal soccer team.
- Irembo: The doorway of innovations that will lead to a better world.
- Inkorumutima (Musirikare family): A prominent singer with popular songs in Rwanda.
- Kira: “Bless You.”
- Ingogozi: Respect for peace and the remarkable recovery that Rwanda has made since 1994 to become one of the world’s most peaceful countries.
- Umukuru (Pablo family): A tribute to Mutware, the old elephant that died in 2018 in Akagera National Park.
- Intego (Kwitonda family): “Purpose.”
- Uhiriwe: “Lucky One.”
- Mugwire: (Meaning not known). Named by Emmanuel Niringiyimana an exemplary young Rwandan man who constructed a road on his own to facilitate movements of people and goods in his community.
- Inararibonye (Pablo family): wise and experienced.
- Uruti: (Igisha family): highest recognition of heroism.
- Intarutwa (Muhoza family): “Excellence” — named by Naomi Campbell
- Ingangi: (Amahoro family): “Long Life”
- Ikirenga: (Kwitonda family): “Exceptional.”
- Ibirori (Susa family): “Celebrations.”
- Karame (Korea family): Korean Name (meaning not known).
- Ituze (Sabyinyo family): “Stability” and also “Take Care” in Swahili.
- Bisoke (Ntambara family): Bisoke is one of the 8 Volcanoes in Rwanda meaning “soaked with water”
- Igonga (Umubano family): “Courage.”
- Umwihariko (Ntambara family): “Exception.”
- Inzobere (Agashya family): “Expert”
- Biracyaza (Kuryama family): “Great Things are Coming.”
When does gorilla naming ceremony take place?
The event normally takes place on the first Friday of September in the Parc des Volcans, but not on a specific date. Those interested in attending can book a trip through Adventure Consults that takes place around that period, but we cannot guarantee that Kwita Izina will absolutely take place during those dates.
Don’t miss out an opportunity this year to visit some of the 25 gorilla babies that were named in 2019. They will be more playful and never know, might touch you! Check our list of gorilla trips and safari options to Uganda and Rwanda.