Rwanda’s iconic gorilla naming ceremony Kwita Izina takes place on Friday, September 2, with a star-studded lineup of namers.
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who will name one of the 20 baby gorillas virtually, is among famed global leaders, philanthropists, conservation champions, sports, music, and fashion stars.
Kenya’s music band Sauti Sol is also on the list released by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
This year marks the 18th edition of the international conservation event and is the first time in person since 2019 following the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted travel.
Held in Kinigi at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park, the namers will join local communities, rangers, trackers, and researchers at the home of the endangered mountain gorillas for the ceremony.
Since the naming ceremony began in 2005, 354 baby gorillas have been named. As a result of conservation efforts, the number of gorillas has increased, making Rwanda home to one-third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.
The 20 baby gorillas to be named are members of the Noheli, Musilikali, Ntambara, Mutobo, Igisha, Susa, Kureba, Pablo, Sabyinyo, Muhoza, Amahoro, and Hirwa families.
“We are also happy to celebrate the safe return of tourism to Rwanda, after managing the Covid-19 pandemic well. We look forward to continuing to protect our natural heritage, providing world-class experiences that highlight the diverse natural beauty of Rwanda, while also ensuring that Rwandans benefit from tourism and conservation,” said Clare Akamanzi, RDB’s chief executive officer.
According to RDB, Rwanda is targeting to collect at least $360 million (about Rwf372 billion) in tourism revenues this year, up from $164 million collected last year.
In the first half of this year, the sector has shown signs of recovery, with the government collecting at least $168 million between January and June.
In 2021, total tourism revenues were $164 million, a 25 percent increase from $131 million in 2020. The country welcomed more than 512,000 international visitors in 2021.
The 2022 Kwita Izina baby gorilla namers are:
- HRH The Prince of Wales (virtually)
- Uzo Aduba - Actor
- Dr Evan Antin - Veterinarian and Television Presenter
- Neri Bukspan - Managing Director, Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Service
- Dr Cindy Descalzi Pereira - Philanthropist and Entrepreneur
- Didier Drogba - Football Legend
- Itzhak Fisher - Chairman, Rwanda Development Board
- Laurene Powell Jobs - Founder and President, Emerson Collective
- Dr Frank I. Luntz - Founder and President, Luntz Global
- Stewart Maginnis - Deputy Director General, International Union for the Conservation of Nature
- Thomas Milz - Board Director, Sales and Marketing, Volkswagen Group South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa
- Salima Mukansanga - International Football Referee
- Louise Mushikiwabo - Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
- Youssou N’Dour – Musician
- Naomi Schiff - Professional Racing Driver and Presenter
- Kaddu Sebunya - CEO, African Wildlife Foundation
- Gilberto Silva - Arsenal Football Club Legend
- Sauti Sol - Musical Band
- Juan Pablo Sorin - Paris Saint-Germain Legend
- Moses Turahirwa - Creative Director, Moshions
- Sir Ian Clark Wood, KT, GBE - Chairman, The Wood Foundation