Kwita Izina: Gorilla Naming Ceremony back in Rwanda

Get ready to experience one of the world’s most important celebrations of nature and meet Rwanda’s newborn baby gorillas in the famous Kwita Izina ceremony. This event is one of its kind which closely associates both lacal and international communities towards conservation of the living gentle giants (Mountain Gorillas)

Background and importance of Kwita Izina

Kwita Izina is modelled off a centuries old tradition in which Rwandans name their children in the presence of family and friends. In 2005, Rwanda began officially naming mountain gorillas in what has become a global celebration of nature. By giving a name to these majestic animals, we give them a value they undoubtedly deserve.

The ceremony is an opportunity to thank the communities that live around Volcanoes National Park, research partners, vets, dedicated conservationists, rangers and trackers who protect the gorillas. Over the last 17 years, 354 mountain gorillas have been named.
While on the Kwita Izina event you will be able to explore the magnificent top of the Volcanoes National Park which is a home to over 357 Gorillas in the world.

Volcanoes National Park

The park is situated in the northwest of Rwanda and it projects steep slopes of magnificent mountain gorilla ranges which are rich with mosaic of montane eco systems, these embrace evergreen bamboo forest, open grasslands, heath and moorland and swamps.
Volcanoes National Park is named after the chain of dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga Massif: Karisimbi – the highest at 4,507m, Bisoke with its verdant Crater Lake, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura.

Mountain gorillas and wildlife in wildlife in Volcanoes National Park

Tracking endangered mountain gorillas through the mysterious intimacy of the rain forest, alive with the calls of 200 species of colourful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, is only one of the truly unique experiences in the area.
Besides mountain gorillas, Volcanoes National Park is home to golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), buffaloes (Syncerus caffer), elephants, black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus Niger), and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus). The park also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to Rwenzori Mountains and the Virungas.

Understanding Kwita Izina ceremony

The gorilla-naming ceremony which is locally known as Kwita Izina in Kinyarwanda language is an annual event where all the baby gorillas born within the year are given names. The ceremony is inspired by Rwanda’s ancestral baby-naming ceremony that was held after the birth of a newborn. The major aim of naming baby gorillas is to help in monitoring each gorilla in their groups on a daily basis as they roam their habitat.

The introduction of the ceremony also aimed at bringing both local and international attention to the importance of protecting the endangered mountain gorillas. Several high profile individuals from across the globe including celebrities like artists and athletes as well both local and international leaders usually attend this gorilla-naming ceremony in Rwanda. The ceremony takes place in September each year in Volcanoes National Park in northwest Rwanda.

The 18th Kwita Izina will be held on Friday, 2 September 2022, and will celebrate the country’s commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism and its held in Kinigi on the foot hills of volcanoes National Park. Here are some of the new born Gorillas to be named.

Baby gorillas to be named during the 2022 Kwita Izina ceremony

Rwanda in the past 2 years has registered an increase in population for mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. This has quite marked the new 19 baby gorillas from the 19 gorilla families and this has simply been in the post Covid period. Infant gorillas to be named during this year’s ceremony include the following;

Umucyo Daughter – Noheli Family
This female baby gorilla was born on 4 August 2021 to Umucyo from the Noheri family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Ubufatanye’s Daughter  – Musilikali Family
This female baby gorilla was born on 15 August 2021 to Ubufatanye from the Musilikali family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Mother: Nsanganira – Ntambara Family
This baby gorilla was born on 28 August 2021 to Nsanganira from the Ntambara family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Igitangaza Daughter – Mutobo Family
This female baby gorilla was born on 13 September 2021 to Igitangaza from the Mutobo family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Ubuntu’s Daughter – Igisha Family
This female baby gorilla was born on 15 September 2021 to Ubuntu from the Igisha family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Umwari’s Son – Susa Family
This male baby gorilla was born on 4 October 2021 to Umwari from the Susa family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Izihirwe’s Son – Musilikali Family
This male baby gorilla was born on 12 October 2021 to Izihirwe from the Musilikali family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Akamaro’s Daughter – Kureba Family
This female baby gorilla was born on 12 October 2021 to Akamaro from the Kureba family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Gwira’s Son – Pablo Family
This male baby gorilla was born 09 December 2021 to Gwira from the Pablo family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Tamu’s Son – Susa Family
This male baby gorilla was born on 10 January 2022 to Tamu from the Susa family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Bukima’s Son – Musilikali Family
This male baby gorilla was born on 21 January 2022 to Bukima from the Musilikali family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Mother: Urahirwa – Ntambara Family
This baby gorilla was born on 8 April 2022 to Urahirwa from the Ntambara family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Umutungo’s Son – Sabyinyo Family
This male baby gorilla was born on 26 April 2022 to Umutungo from the Sabyinyo family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Agasaro’s Son – Muhoza Family
This male baby gorilla was born on 29 April 2022 to Agasaro from the Muhoza family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Umutuzo’s Son – Amahoro Family
This male baby gorilla was born on 31 May 2022 to Umutuzo’s from the Amahoro family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Mother: Ruhuka – Noheli Family
This baby gorilla was born on 10 June 2022 to Ruhuka from the Noheli family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Twiyubake’s Son – Muhoza Family
This male baby gorilla was born on 28 July 2022 to Twiyubake’s from the Muhoza family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Mother: Umuteguro – Hirwa Family
This baby gorilla was born on 1 August 2022 to Umuteguro from the Hirwa family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Umwe’s Daughter – Noheli Family
This female baby gorilla was born on 13 December 2021 to Umwe from the Noheli family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Gorilla namers in Kwita Izina 2022

The 2022 Kwita Izina event has hosted a number of prominent personalities from across  the globe and these are delegates from different countries including the Chief Guest HRH. Charles, the Prince of Wales. Others include some football legends like Didier Drogba, Gilberto Silva, former Arsenal Fc and Brazil national team player.  Other key personalities include Uzo Aduba an American Actress, Dr. Evan Atin Veterenian and Tv Presenter, Neri Bukspan Managing Director, Standard and poor’s Credit market service, Dr. Cindy Descalzi Pereira a philanthropist and entrepreneur among others.

What else to do and see in Rwanda?

Besides Kwita Izina and gorilla trekking, Rwanda offers a variety of other experiences which can be of interest to travellers who visit the country. These may include traditional cultures, wildlife, sports and dark tourism which all represents Rwanda at a global level.

Visit the Kigali Genocide memorial

Here travellers can learn about the horrific event at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The haunting museum dives into the timeline that led to the 1994 genocide, bringing the horrors to life through halls of photographs, artifacts, and information. The main exhibit hall wraps around poignant sculptures and features stained-glass windows that cast a hopeful glow on the space. The museum continues with another permanent exhibit on the history of genocide around the world and intervention efforts from international communities, helping to put the Rwandan genocide into context.

Visit to Nyungwe Forest National Park

One of the most important forest conservation areas in all of Africa, Nyungwe Forest National Park contains a spectacular array of biodiversity, including 1,068 plant species, 322 species of birds, and 75 types of mammals. Most tourists come to this rainforest to track chimpanzees, which have been habituated to humans by park rangers. This animal encounter is a fraction of the cost of gorilla trekking, yet no less memorable.
Hanging out with primates isn’t the only thing to do in Nyungwe. The park is also home to the only canopy walk in East Africa, roughly a 90-minute hike from the Uwinka Visitor Center. You’ll walk across a 91-meter-long suspension bridge dangling more than 50 meters above the verdant rainforest, getting a dizzying view of the treetops and mountains in the distance.

Bird watching

Rwanda is one of the top birding destinations for avian lovers as it has total sum of 703 bird’s species with 29 Albertine rift endemic with several Lake Victoria basin endemics and here most birders will want to put their attention on Nyungwe and Akagera National parks.

Visit to Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is a savannah park with rolling hills, lakes, wetland and woodlands. It offers a more traditional African Big 5 safari experience, but the diversity of habitats mean it has excellent birding too. To date 490 bird species have been observed in Akagera NP. The park offers a comparable experience to others in the region, but its compact nature means you can access the different habitats easily and build a good bird list.
The range restricted Red-faced barbet is probably the most sought-after bird and should be easy to find around Akagera game Lodge and Muyumbu campsite. Other range restricted species and highlights include Northern Brown-throated Weaver; Papyrus Gonolek; White-Winged Swamp Warbler; Carruthers’s Cisticola, White-collared Oliveback, and Grey-crowned Cranes. Another desirable species is the Shoebill which is also seen in the park fairly regularly. The park is also home to good populations of raptors and large numbers of water birds.

Visit to Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu offers a very relaxing stop over during a birding tour and is not without its highlights. The lake supports huge numbers of White-breasted Cormorants, Pied Kingfishers and Osprey can be seen fishing during its migration. The lake shores are home to some of Rwanda’s more common terrestrial species and hotel gardens in Karongi, Rubavu and Rusizi can offer interesting birding. Double-tooth Barbet is regularly seen in this region along with species such as Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Familiar Chat, Brown-throated Wattle-eye and Spot-flanked Barbet. The area around Kinunu also offers good bird watching for the more common species.

In addition to Kwita Izina and gorilla trekking, Rwanda has several key activities or attractions that can be done by visitors while on trip in Rwanda and these do offer an immense experience and exciting opportunities to the visitor, for instance the Kigali city exploration, Kings palace and ethnographic museum and the great volcanoes National Park.