This year’s Kwita Izina event—the annual gorilla naming ceremony—was a “huge success’’ according to the organisers, Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
During Kwita Izina gala dinner, held at Lake Kivu Serena night, Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza paid tribute to all the stakeholders of the Kwita Izina series of events and described the 14th edition of the gorilla naming ceremony as “spectacular”.
Kariza’s comments were echoed by Clare Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer of RDB.
She told The New Times that the main event in Kinigi pulled a record attendance of 65,000 members of the communities around the park in addition to the longer list of global icons who took part in the naming of the infant apes, than the previous 13 editions.
“Kwita Izina 14 was a huge success,” Akamanzi said, adding, “We had very distinguished namers who are leaders across different sectors, and who have now become Kwita Izina Ambassadors.
We had excellent entertainment and a record attendance of 65,000 members of the communities around the park.”
23 baby gorillas were named .
Kwita Gala dinner taken to L. Kivu
After along colorful naming event held in Musanze, Northern Province, invited guests and revelers were hosted to a spectacular dinner bash at the breezing shores of Lake Kivu, in Rubavu district, in the Western Province.
The cheerful gala dinner was characterized by beautiful and energetic musical performances from the traditional band, Gakondo Group and spiced up by the South African legendary duo, Mafikizolo.
Participants were treated to delicious meals and partying till late.
Unlike the short appearance in Kinigi by Mafikizolo, the Ndihamba Nawe performed for about 2 hours in Rubavu to a rather more energetic audience that sang and dance to every song they belted out.
As for Gakondo group, it was another round of some beautiful and rich traditional melodies in harmony with the nostalgic vibes of inanga, the Rwandan harp.
“The gala dinner was also an old tradition that we renewed, as we have had these in Rubavu before,” Akamanzi said.
On why the event was taken back to Rubavu, Akamanzi added, “The idea is to use entertainment to bring awareness to conservation and to spread Kwita Izina activities around different parts of the country. We also use the proceeds from ticket sales for conservation. This year we were sold out days before the event.”
The party was attended by most of the baby gorilla namers, among them being the two Arsenal Football Club legends Laureano Bisan Etamé-Mayer and Alexandra Virina Scott and Sheikh Dr. Abdulaziz Ali Bin Rashid Al Nuami, among others.
The sold-out gala dinner was also fundraiser for the expansion of the Volcanoes National Park.
Several participants pledged toward the project in addition to the ticked sales.
“What an honour and a unique experience to be a gorilla namer at the #KwitaIzina2018 ceremony! Thank you @visitrwanda_now and @Arsenal I chose the name - IZAHABU meaning precious thing.” Scott, the retired English footballer and former Arsenal Women right-back tweeted.
On his part, Lauren, the retired Cameroonian and Arsenal fullback tweeted, “I feel honoured to have been invited to Kwita Izina in Rwanda alongside @AlexScott to name a baby gorilla. I chose the name Ikipe which means 'team' in Kinyarwanda. Welcome to the @Arsenal team, Ikipe.”
Expect “Bigger and Better” in 2019
Akamanzi also revealed that the 15th gorilla naming ceremony, next year is going to be one of a kind.
“Kwita Izina 15 will be bigger and better. It’s the same year we will celebrate Kwibuka 25 and Kwibohora 25, so 2019 is a very special year for Rwanda and for Kwita Izina as well.” Akamanzi said.