Communities eye gorilla naming ceremony windfall

Tuesday September 06 2022
Gorilla naming ceremony

The Kwita Izina event which used to attract thousands of locals and celebrities from across the world received few people in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions. Picture: Cyril Ndegeya

By Ange Iliza

Businesses and communities near the National Volcanoes Park in Musanze are upbeat
about the return of in-person Kwita Izina, saying it is an opportunity for their business to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic effects.

For the past two years, Kwita Izina has been held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic that halted public gatherings and ceremonies. The event which used to attract thousands of locals and celebrities from across the world, attracted very few people in 2020 and 2021.

This year's Kwita Izina returned to Kinigi on September 2, where 20 baby gorillas born in the past 12 months will be named. Among the celebrities and prominent conservationists who will attend are Prince Charles of Wales, former Arsenal player Gilberto Silva, Moses Turahirwa, creative director at Moshions, a Rwandan fashion shop, Youssou N’dour, a Senegalese Musician, Salma Mukansanga, a Rwandan international football referee, Sir Ian Wood, a British Investor, Kadou Sebunya, chief executive officer of Africa Wildlife Conservation, among others.

Speaking during the launch of this year’s Kwita Izina, RDB acting chief tourism officer Ariella Kageruka said the ceremony will also celebrate the partnership of communities around the park.

“We are excited to return to Kinigi this year for the 18th Kwita Izina ceremony after holding it virtually for the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year we celebrate the gains made in our conservation efforts, notably the increase in our gorilla population and the partners and communities who actively participate in the daily conservation and sustainability efforts to ensure a harmonious human-wildlife coexistence,” she said.


Prior to the Kwita Izina ceremony, Rwanda Development Board distributed over Rwf7 billion to support 880 community-based projects in areas around tourist attractions across the country including Kinigi, in Musanze district, where the ceremony takes place.

Among the beneficiaries is COPAVU Mararo, a co-operative that has a hand-made crafts shop in the entrance of the Volcanoes National Park. The co-operative was given Rwf6 million to expand and recover from losses made during the pandemic. The cooperative has 76 members.

Pre-covid period

“We used to make Rwf3 million during the week of Kwita Izina before the pandemic. Many of our members completely depend on how much we make in our shop. Since our clients are almost exclusively tourists who visit the park, we did not make any money during the pandemic.

This year’s Kwita Izina is going to save our business,” said Agnes Uwamahoro, president of COPAVU Mararo. Kwita Izina ceremony attracts local and international guests that are catered for by hotels and restaurants in Musanze district. F&B Restaurant is among the restaurants that will cater for the event.

The restaurant manager, Jean Bosco Sinabajije, told Rwanda Today that they will provide food for 10,300 people on Kwita Izina day.

“We have already signed the agreement with RDB. Five more permanent employees have been added to our staff and we have hired 10 more temporary employees,” Sinabajije said.

He added that the restaurant is gaining much more than before the pandemic now that international and local tourism is picking up quicker than they expected.