Introduction and background

Kwita Izina is modelled off a centuries old tradition in which Rwandans name their children in the presence of family and friends. Inspired by this ancient tradition of naming family newborn babies, KWITA IZINA has become a Rwandan annual ceremony of giving a name to a newborn gorilla in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Mountains.

This ceremony was first introduced in 2005. To host this an annual Gorilla naming ceremony each September is a conservation tool to raise awareness of people living near the park and funds for the ongoing protection, management of the country’s mountain gorillas and the expansion of their habitat. In addition, the ceremony is an opportunity to thank the communities that live around Volcanoes National Park, research partners, vets and the dedicated conservationists, rangers and trackers who protect the gorillas.

Over the last 15 years, more than 300 mountain gorillas have been named, each one thoughtfully selected to reflect the infant’s individual story and heritage, or to harness good luck and protection. Names have always been significant in Rwanda, where they’re believed to influence the character and future prospects of a newborn, helping to shape their life journey.

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