Marked every year in September, delegates from across the world gather at Musanze, in the Northern part of Rwanda to name baby gorillas.
During this year’s naming, celebrated movie actor; the late Chadwick Boseman ‘resurrected’ through a gorilla that was named by Zimbabwean-American actress Danai Guria.
Danai starred alongside Boseman in ‘Black Panther’, and as a way of remembering Boseman aka T’challa, she named the gorilla Aguka (Kinyarwanda word for Expansion) T’challa.
"I pick this name to applaud Aguka T’challa’s mother for her contribution to growing the motobo’s family members as well as to commemorate and honour T’challa the king of Wakanda this memorial week whose love for this continent shines brightly in his legacy left behind,” Danai Gurira.
Among other namers was; Hazza AlQahtani, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Republic of Rwanda, who named a male gorilla from the Kwitonda family, mother Icyamamare, ‘Urunana’ which means collaboration. The ambassador choice was to ‘highlight the importance of collaboration and partnership to achieve global conservation goals’.
Andrew Mitchell-Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, UK named the gorilla from the family of Pablo, mother Teta, daughter ‘Mukundwa’ which means Beloved and Favoured.
Actor Idris Elba and wife Sabrina Elba named their gorilla ‘Narame’, which means ‘Long life’. The Elba’s chose the name wishing the newborn gorilla a long life as her mother Mudakama from the Motobo family, has previously lost two of her babies.
Still from the acting industry, Actor and Producer Winston Duke named his gorilla ‘Wintarumwika’ which translates to ‘Resilient Giant’.
Winston chose the name in honour of his late single mother who taught him the meaning of resilience while Kevin Hart named his baby gorilla ‘Gakondo’.
Arsenal legend Sol Campbell named the gorilla ‘Jijuka’ which means enlightenment while former NBA Chicago Bulls Centre/Forward, Joakim Noah and International model Lais Ribeiro named a baby gorilla from the family of Igisha- ‘Turumwe’ which means Oneness.
“The baby is named after Chicago’s one city basketball league symbolising safe spaces for youth growth and fostering inter-community oneness. The name also symbolises the unity of the Rwandan people,’’ said Noah.
Twelve year old Ineza Elvine, the youngest of all namers, named her gorilla ‘Nibagwire’ which means to multiply.
Nibagwire is daughter to Ubuhamya, from the family of Segasira and Elvine chose the name as a way of wishing the Segasira family to grow in number.
Other gorillas were named; Bigwi which means achiever, Ingoboka meaning support, Intiganda to mean Humble and Brave, Umutako which symbolises Ornament, Ikirango-Symbol, Ramba-Sustainable, Igazo-origin (Source), Ishingano- Responsibility, Impundu-acclamation, Gisubizo-solution, Umucunguzi-redeemer, Mugisha-blessing, Uburinganire-gender equality, and Murare-Sleepover encouraging all those who visit Rwanda to stay longer and enjoy the beauty of the country.
23 gorillas were named during the 19th Kwita Izina event which was graced by the First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame.
In her speech, the first lady stressed that ‘nature can persist without us, but we can’t persist without it’, hence urging for continued efforts in conserving the gorillas.
“To us, mountain gorillas represent more than a source of tourism or adventurous entertainment, to us our gorillas are custodians of a nature we truly cherish,” she said.
Together with President Paul Kagame, the First Lady pioneered the first Kwita Izina that happened in 2005, where they named baby twin gorillas: Byishimo and Impano.
Kwita Izina will mark its 20th anniversary in 2024 and according to the CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Clare Akamanzi, everyone should mark their calendars as it will be filled with a ‘series of celebrations’ that will have all previous gorilla namers.