Kwita izina Rwanda’s gorilla naming ceremony

Kwita izina Rwanda’s gorilla naming ceremony : Everyone who has been to Rwanda has surely heard of ‘Kwita Izina,’ the famous Rwanda gorilla naming ceremony. The ceremony is held every year and involves the general public taking part in a number of activities, including gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park.

Kwita  izina Rwanda's gorilla naming ceremony
Rwanda Gorilla Naming Ceremony

Rwanda is well known for its habituated mountain gorillas that reside in ‘Parc national des Volcans,’ also known as Volcanoes National Park. The national park which is located within the Virunga Volcano Massif, is home to half of the world’s endangered species of mountain gorillas. The recent gorilla population census that was carried out in the Virunga Conservation Area (Virunga National Park in Congo, Volcanoes National Parks in Rwanda and Mgahinga National Parks in Uganda), shows that there are about 400 mountain gorillas living within the Virunga Ranges. There are estimated to be about 1004 mountain gorillas left in the world today.

Kwita Izina happens to be one of the biggest events on the tourism calendar in Rwanda. The ceremony involves the naming of all the newly born gorillas in Volcanoes national Park. This event is copied from the ancient Rwandan culture of naming children who had just been born.


According to the Rwandan culture, newly born babies were presented to the entire extended family and given a name. The names were usually suggested by children and the parents of the infant child, would then choose a suitable name from the ones suggested. The names suggested always carried a meaning and this is what the child’s parents would consider when choosing the infant’s name. The child naming ceremony was usually a lively one, characterized by lots of food, drinks and dancing. This was a good time for merry-making and bonding with friends and family.

In the same way, the gorilla naming ceremony involves naming baby gorillas that have been born with in the year leading up to the ceremony. The Kwita Izina ceremony attracts lots of visitors both international and domestic, who travel miles to witness the naming of baby gorillas.

There are quite a number of activities that take place during Kwita Izina like; a conservation exhibition, conservation dialogue forum that is hosted in Kigali, a fund-raising dinner in Rubavu, and a gorilla trekking trips for international Tour Operators and Media Houses.

Kwita Izina is a really important ceremony that is attended by government officials, nature conservationists, officials from Rwanda Development Board, Tour Operators, officials from international tourism and conservation organizations such as UNESCO, African Parks and so many more. Citizens of Rwanda are also invited to attend the Kwita Izina ceremony.

Kwita izina Rwanda's gorilla naming ceremony
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking safaris

Kwita Izina is conducted at the headquarters of Volcanoes National Park in Kinigi. Every newly born baby gorilla to be named on this specific occasion is represented by a statue or manikin dressed like a gorilla.

The gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda was started in 2005 with the aim of conserving gorillas and their natural habitats. Kwita Izina is always celebrated at the foothills of Volcanoes national park, and has been Rwanda’s leading foreign exchange earner since 2007.

The naming of gorillas in Rwanda helps with easy identification of the gorillas, especially when studying them and monitoring their health and well-being. With names, park rangers and researchers can easily identify which gorilla is sick, injured or dead. The ceremony also looks at encouraging more visitors to trek gorillas in Rwanda.

Kwita Izina is also held every year in order to attract tour operators from all over the world so as market Rwanda as the ideal gorilla trekking destination in Africa. It is also an opportunity to unite the various tour operators with local Rwandan tour operators, hence making the event an ideal place for the various tour operators to make new business connections.

The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda, looks at marketing other tourism destinations and products in Rwanda such as the Canopy walkway and chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park, Dian Fossey hike in Volcanoes national park, and the Big Five animals in Akagera National Park among others.

The ceremony of Kwita Izina also aims at educating the general public on the importance of conserving mountain gorillas and their habitats, in order to create a better understanding between humans and gorillas.

Since the beginning of Kwita Izina, Rwanda has seen the birth of more baby gorillas in Volcanoes national park, thus showing an increase in the number of mountain gorillas in the national park.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done throughout the year and visitors who wish to see Rwanda’s habituated mountain gorillas can do so by purchasing a gorilla trekking permit for a fee of USD 1500 dollars per person.

Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda is done in groups of only 8 members and the activity can take between 4-8 hours, inclusive of one hour spent with the gorillas once they have be located.

Trekking mountain gorillas in Rwanda is such a wonderful experience and the Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony only makes it even more fun and educative activity. Visitors planning to trek gorillas in Rwanda should plan their trip at least 6 months in advance, and those who wish to attend this year’s Kwita izina Rwanda’s gorilla naming ceremony should contact a trusted tour operator like Explore Rwanda Tours, in order to arrange your trip.

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