Hollywood actor Idris Elba and his wife participated in a high-profile annual event in Rwanda, where they named newborn baby gorillas. This event aims to raise awareness for conservation and tourism in the region.
The Kwita Izina naming ceremony is held in Kinigi, a small town nestled beneath imposing volcanoes, and it celebrates the naming of rare mountain gorillas. The event draws a diverse array of prominent figures from various fields, including activism, sports, politics, film, philanthropy, and fashion.
In the previous year’s ceremony, British royalty, including the then Prince of Wales now King Charles III participated virtually. During the event, King Charles III named a baby gorilla “Ubwuzuzanye,” a Kinyarwanda word signifying harmony.
At this year’s naming ceremony, 23 baby gorillas received their names from notable individuals who attended in person. Actor Elba and his wife Sabrina named one gorilla “Narame,” symbolizing “long life.” Former Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Bernard Lama chose “Ramba,” signifying “sustainable,” while local environmental activist Grace Ineza named a gorilla “Bigwi,” representing “achiever.”
British MP Andrew Mitchell attended the ceremony and named a baby gorilla “Mukundwa,” which translates to “favored.” Meanwhile, U.S. comedian Kevin Hart, who participated virtually, named one of the infants “Gakondo,” symbolizing “traditional.”
Kwita Izina is a Rwandan tradition of naming mountain gorillas, aimed at raising awareness and funds for their protection and habitat expansion. This ceremony has become a significant event for conservation in Rwanda, featuring activities like debates, fundraising events, exhibitions, and a conference.
Previously, rangers and researchers named gorillas, but now conservation champions and notable figures from around the world participate in Kwita Izina ceremonies, according to the Republic of Rwanda.
Celebrating these gorillas underscores the importance of conservation-based tourism and economic development while acknowledging the role of local communities in successful conservation efforts. President Paul Kagame emphasized the crucial cooperation and support of these communities in advancing conservation and development goals.
Rwanda’s government is considered a global leader in conservation practices, with over 8.9% of its land protected as national parks. Since 2005, more than Frw 5.2 billion ($4 million) has been invested in 647 community-based projects, providing benefits like clean drinking water, milk, health centers, classrooms, and housing to community members living near the three national parks: Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park, and Volcanoes National Park.