Tracing the role of musicians in Kwita Izina

Music is an integral part of the annual gorilla naming ceremony (Kwita Izina). In the Rwandan tradition, music signifies celebrations and joyous moments in the society.
Legendary folk singer Jean-Marie Muyango naming a baby gorilla on Friday. / Faustin Niyigena
Legendary folk singer Jean-Marie Muyango naming a baby gorilla on Friday. / Faustin Niyigena

Music is an integral part of the annual gorilla naming ceremony (Kwita Izina). In the Rwandan tradition, music signifies celebrations and joyous moments in the society.

Over the last 12 years, Kwita Izina has featured musical performances from local artistes and this year was no different as thousands of residents of Musanze who convened at the foothills of volcanoes for the official ceremony were treated to an evening of music celebration. This year’s main event was spiced up by performances from local stars that were given an opportunity to grace the event.

 

Urban Boys trio of Humble Jizzo, Safi Madiba, and Nizzo Kaboss, Rafiki Mazimpaka of the famous Coga style were selected to participate at the 12th edition of Kwita Izina which was graced by President Paul Kagame.

 
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Manzi James aka Humble Jizzo and Safi Niyibikora (R) from Urban Boys group naming Ukwiyunga (To Unite) a baby gorilla born on 15th September 2015. / Faustin Niyigena

Legendary folk singer Jean-Marie Muyango was also part of the ceremony as he also named a baby gorilla

 

The 2016 Primus GumaGuma Super Star winners Urban Boys attended, this time not to sing, but to name a baby gorilla, while the Musanze based ballet also did its bit to entertain the crowd with grand traditional Rwandan dances.

Last year, the event was graced by artistes like female music star Knowless Butera who was given an opportunity to name the baby gorilla while Man Martin and Rafiki performed for the residents.

Rafiki on the other hand, is considered every year because of his strong links to the Northern Province where he hails from and his Coga style which relates much to the people of the province.

According to Urban Boys’ Humble Jizzo, artistes being part of such ceremony is way beyond entertaining people but the recognition that the government has given to the local artistes and the whole music industry.

“To be part of this event as the people doing music means a lot to us. We have been coming here to perform but this time we came here as part of other invited ‘namers’ and I must say we are so honoured for our government’s efforts to support the industry.”

“We pledge to continue working with them (government) to sustain the conservation efforts,” he said.

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Singer Rafiki entertains the participants. / Faustin Niyigena

The local boy band named a baby gorilla Ukwiyunga hailing from Mafunzo family which means “To Unite” while Muyango named a baby gorilla Ishimwe, which means “thankful.”

Muyango, known for his strong traditional music prowess, commended the government for making music an integral part of the development process and a pillar of unity. One can easily say that inviting artistes to be among the ‘namers’ is undoubtedly an acknowledgment of how far the Rwandan music industry has come and the role music plays in the Rwandan society.

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