Rwanda’s gorilla naming ceremony which takes place in June and is known as Kwita Izina, took place for the first time in 2005. Kwita Izina is a Rwandan baby naming tradition in which the entire community gets involved and which has now spread to the annual naming of the baby gorillas. This event has become so popular that the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has accepted the event as a nominee for the Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance.
The application for this prestigious award was submitted by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and the winner will be announced next year at the International Tourism Trade Fair in Madrid, Spain, on January 22, 2014.
"We are delighted for the recognition of being a finalist in innovative projects by UNTWO," commented RDB CEO Valentine Rugwabiza. "This nomination is a global recognition of Rwanda's leadership in innovative, community-focused, and sustainable tourism."
Around one-third of the entire mountain gorilla population remaining in the world lives in Rwanda. Ever since the first ceremony, 173 baby gorillas have been named during Kwita Izina, with President Kagame and the First Lady among those who have had the privilege of naming the babies. From personalities in tourism, ambassadors, international conservationists, Hollywood stars, renowned journalists and performing artists, mountain gorilla babies have been bestowed with their names in a ceremony that has evolved from a one-day ceremony to a week-long event.
ETurboNews’ own Africa Correspondent, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, has named two baby gorillas over the years. “It is an honor and a pleasure to have been asked to participate in this special ceremony. I was surprised at the first ceremony in which I got to name a baby gorilla at how touching and moving this event is,” he said.
Prior to the main gorilla-naming ceremony, the week-long series of events highlights the conservation and community welfare efforts of Rwanda. The event aims at raising awareness for the conservation of mountain gorillas as well as empowering communities surrounding Volcanoes National Park.