The Kwita Izina is an annual event held in Rwanda to celebrate the births of Africa's greatest mammal, the majestic Mountain Gorilla.
The annual Gorilla Naming Ceremony is a tradition of the Banyarwanda people, celebrated for decades. This ceremony is known as 'Kwita Izina'
which means 'to give a name'. The Gorilla Naming Ceremony is a conscious effort to not only raise awareness of the Gorillas in Rwanda, but also to highlight Rwanda as an excellent tourist destination.
Celebrating the birth of Gorillas in Rwanda in their natural habitat is the main purpose behind this event, which is on its way to becoming one of the world's premier tourist events in Rwanda. The theme of the 2007 event was 'Caring for Wildlife concerns us all'
. Every birth is a confirmation of a successful conservation and protection program, with the hope of one day removing the Mountain Gorilla off the endangered species list.
The ceremony was held on the 30 June 2007 and saw 23 Gorilla being named
. Rwanda is proud to be the first country to have a public Gorilla naming ceremony and intends to use this event to firstly, raise awareness at a national and international level to protect the few remaining Mountain Gorilla, secondly, to announce the success of Rwanda's conservation efforts of the Mountain Gorilla and thirdly, to attract tourists to the Kwita Izina ceremonies.
In 2008 the central theme around the event was the message "working together for wildlife" and 20 Gorillas were named
in the ceremony. In 2009 at the 5th Kwita Izina another 18 Gorillas were given names. In 2010, the United Nations declared that it was the International Year of the Gorilla and the ceremony garner much attention, with celebrities such as Prince Albert of Monaco attending.
In 2011 the ceremony had become firmly entrenched as one of the premier events in the local's calendar and over 7000 people turned out for the event
. The 7th Gorilla naming ceremony was held at Kinigi / Musanze and 22 baby gorillas were named. There was live entertainment which showcased local culture. There were traditional drummers playing and local dancing. Dignitaries and celebrities who attended were dressed in traditional clothing.
Community members involved in protecting the Gorillas, international celebrities and local dignitaries can all contribute to the naming of the Gorillas. People can adopt baby gorillas
in the sense that they can contribute funds to helping protect that Gorilla. Many companies help name Gorillas after they have made a donation.