KWITA IZINA GORILLA NAMING CEREMONY IN RWANDA.
Kwita Izina is a Rwandan word which means “giving a name”. This is a traditional function done after the birth of a new baby. It is as well done to new born gorillas in a similar way and this happens in Volcanoes national park, the only conservation area where you can find these endangered species in Rwanda.
Rwanda is one of the three countries in Africa and the world at large where you can trek mountain gorillas. Rwanda is located in East Africa and the gorillas are sheltered in Volcanoes National Park (also known as Parc national des Volcan) within the Virunga massif.
As the Rwandan culture is, a new born child in a family is brought in front of the elders and the entire family members and then given a name. The names are suggested by the parents of the infant that suits them according to his or her behaviour or character. The name given to a child always had a meaning and the ceremony was lively, with lots of fun, cultural music and dances, food and much more.
Kwita Izina ceremony is normally done every year in the month of September and it takes the whole week, it’s one of the biggest events in the tourism industry of Rwanda. This activity is aimed at raising funds and creating awareness about protection of these endangered mountain gorillas. This means that in case you want to be part of this great activity, you are advised to take a safari in September or late August to be able to catch up with this magical event.
The invited guests choose a suitable name which portrays the acts of the infant and the person who chooses the name pays a certain amount of money. The ceremony is accompanied with traditional dances and music from the local groups, and a lot of people from all walks of life join the celebrations and among others are the park rangers, conservationists, and president of the republic of Rwanda, local communities and many more and the ceremonies are normally conducted at the foothills of Virunga Massif.
Kwita Izina therefore is not only about celebrations and raising funds but also it acts as a significant day for Rwandans to recognise their efforts towards protection of nature and cultural heritage.
On this day, Dian Fossey (RIP) is highly remembered because she was a primatologist / researcher who helped save mountain gorillas in the volcanoes national park between Karisimbi Mountain and Bisoke Mountain from poachers. Sadly she was murdered in cold blood in her house in 1985. This lady also helped to establish a gorilla research station, Karisoke research centre and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund international to continue with her work of education, conservation, community program and park ranger funding.
This activity of Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony started way back in 2005 and now over 280 babies have been named. This activity has given visitors or attendees of this function to interact with the park rangers and conservationists and get to know more about these gorillas.
During this ceremony, art pieces are displayed and interested visitors can purchase some and return home with them as souvenirs. These art pieces are in form of wood, carvings, paintings, weavings like baskets, mats among others. These can also be presented as gifts to friends, relatives and loved ones at home.
This celebration is preceded by many activities, including gorilla trekking and habituation, chimp trekking in Nyungwe forest and wildlife tours in Akagera National park. Visitors are also given opportunities to ask questions concerning wildlife conservation and any work related to protection of mountain gorillas.