On Saturday the world, represented by a diverse cross-section of people who had come from near and far, participated in the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN)-organised Gorilla-naming, or Kwita Izina ceremony. This is a function, like Swaziland’s famous Reed Dance, or Umhlanga, that has blended tradition and modern necessity, to sensitise people in the vicinity of gorilla habitats, that it pays to be friends, not enemies, of these endangered species of the animal kingdom. It pays because the world does not wish gorillas to become next on the list of extinct species, and so it pays to conserve them and their environment.
And how does the community of people, who would rather cut down the trees and turn the mountain slopes into farming lands, gain from befriending their shaggy brothers and not turn them away from their homes?
ORTPN has more than demonstrated this when, a week prior to the gorilla-naming event, the organization donated to Kinigi Sector a newly-built school, Nyabitsinde Primary School, constructed out of proceeds form gorilla tourism.
This is not the only gain the people of Kinigi have gained; so many other contributions have been made to make the community appreciate the values of gorilla conservation.
On Saturday a Frw650 million Sabyinyo Community Lodge was inaugurated, built from the proceeds of previous ceremonies, as were many avowed former poachers gifted phone handsets by MTN CEO, Themba Khumalo.
There is a lot more to Kwita Izina than the international hype. There is more to celebrate in this growing popular pilgrimage to Musanze District, in the sense of bringing change through innovative concepts.
Everywhere where there is a clash between people and the wild, the government has running gun battles with the former, sometimes with little success.
The lands will still be settled and farmed and grazed to desertification sometimes, and to certain defeat to purposes for which they were set out.
Hats off, this newspaper says, to the brains behind the peaceful and economically motivating programme of persuading people to fall in line with government conservation policies.