Kwita Izina: Reaping the profits of conservation

Today, at the foot of the Virunga volcanoes, residents will be wearing their Sunday best as they prepare to welcome distinguished guests from the world over attending one of the important cornerstones of our culture - giving a name to a newly born baby.

They will lay out an elaborate programme in true Rwandan style as they perform one of the most important parts of our culture.

In normal circumstances, the whole village would be invited to step forward and propose names to the new born baby. But this ceremony has a twist; it is not the usual one and neither are the babies.

These 20 cuddly hairy babies are creatures who dwell in the misty mountains, a stone-throw away from where the ceremony will be held. They are mountain gorillas, and their families are the only ones remaining in the world.

The pomp and splendour with which the Rwanda Office of Tourism (ORTPN) organises this occasion is a celebration of the conservation efforts in saving these rare species.

This now world famous “Kwita Izina” ceremony has helped put these efforts in the spotlight.

Ever since the event started in 2005, 65 baby gorillas have been named, quoting the official website of the ceremony, “Rwanda is now on a first name basis with its gorillas,” and their numbers have swelled over the year.

Today is a day of reflection, that man and beast can live in harmony in as confined an environment as the Kinigi area, and who knows better the benefits of helping conserve the Virunga Park than its neighbours in Kinigi?

As the newly named baby Gorillas go about prancing proudly with their name tags, the neighbouring community will be running all the way to bask in new community projects financed by ORTPN from the proceeds of tourists.


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