Rwanda’s baby gorilla namers for Kwita Izina 2022

Rwanda is getting ready for its 18th edition of Kwita Izina, a ceremony that marks the naming of newborn baby gorillas, held in Kinigi at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park on 2 September 2022.

Every year Rwanda celebrates their newborn baby gorillas by honouring them at a Gorilla Naming Ceremony called Kwita Izina. Kwita Izina is modelled off a centuries-old tradition in which Rwandans name their children in the presence of family and friends. In 2005, Rwanda began officially naming mountain gorillas in what has become a global celebration of nature. By giving a name to these majestic animals, it gives them a value they undoubtedly deserve. 

The stage is set for Kwita Izina 2022. Photo: RDB

The ceremony is also an opportunity to thank the communities that live around Volcanoes National Park, the research partners, vets and the dedicated conservationists, rangers and trackers who protect the gorillas.

This year there will be 20 baby gorillas to be named, who are members of the Noheli, Musilikali, Ntambara, Mutobo, Igisha, Susa, Kureba, Pablo, Sabyinyo, Muhoza, Amahoro, and Hirwa families.

Meet the baby gorilla namers

This year’s baby gorilla namers include Royalty, football legends, athletes, actors, musicians, vets, conservationists and more. Here are this year’s namers.  

The Prince of Wales (virtually)

Charles, Prince of Wales, is the heir apparent to the British throne as the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He has been heir apparent as well as Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay since 1952 and is both the oldest and the longest-serving heir apparent in British history. He was last in Rwanda in June this year where he had come to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). He is known for his passion for conservation.

Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie

She is the fourth and current Secretary General of La Francophonie. She previously served as Rwanda Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for nine years from 2009 to 2018. She also served as Government Spokesperson. She had previously been Minister of Information.

Neri Bukspan, Managing Director, Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Service

Neri oversees Standard & Poor’s accounting initiatives through advanced training, internal and external communications, and the establishment of a global internal accounting network. He supports Standard & Poor’s analysts, as well as CPAs and chartered accountants in the industry analytic teams in addressing the increasing complexity of emerging accounting and financial reporting matters. Neri joined Standard & Poor’s in 2002. Prior to that, he worked with Ernst & Young.

Didier Drogba, Chelsea Football Club Legend

He is an Ivorian retired professional footballer who played as a striker. He is the all-time top scorer and former captain of the Ivory Coast national team. He is best known for his career at Chelsea F.C where he scored more goals than any other foreign player and is currently the club’s fourth highest goal scorer of all time.

Itzhak Fisher, Chairman, Rwanda Development Board

Besides being the board chairman of RDB, Fisher is an Israeli businessman who served as the Founder and General Partner of Pereg Ventures. He was previously Executive Vice President, Global Business Development at Nielsen Holdings. His responsibilities included strategic business development initiatives as well as all Mergers & Acquisitions and overseeing the Sports Practice. He was co-founder and Chairman of Trendum, before selling the new entity to the Nielsen company.

Kaddu Sebunya, CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation

Sebunya has 25 years of experience in conservation of nature and other related activities. In his work, he has raised a voice for the funding of an African-tailored conservation model. He previously worked with UNESCO in Paris, Water Aid, Oxfam, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Peace Corps, Conservation International, and Solimar International.

Gilberto Silva, Arsenal Football Club Legend

He is a Brazilian former professional footballer who played as a defensive midfielder most notably for English Premier League club Arsenal, Super League club Panathinaikos F.C., Clube Atlético Mineiro and the Brazil national team.

Thomas Milz, Board Director, Sales and Marketing, Volkswagen Group South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa

Thomas Milz joined VWSA’s Board of Management in December 2021. He has occupied various positions across the Volkswagen Group since 1997, in a career spanning Germany, USA, the Middle East and Russia. Prior to joining VWSA, he held the title of Director: Volkswagen Passenger Cars Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Countries.

Naomi Schiff, Professional Racing Driver and Presenter

She is a Rwandan-Belgian racing driver and television presenter. She was born in Belgium, to a Belgian father and Rwandan mother, grew up in South Africa, and now lives in the United Kingdom. She is famously known as a race commentator. In 2020, Schiff was appointed as the diversity and inclusion ambassador for the W Series, and in 2022 she became a presenter for Sky Sports. Schiff began her career in single-seater racing cars at age 16 in 2010 in the Southern African Formula Volkswagen.

Stewart Maginnis, Deputy Director General, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Stewart Maginnis is the Deputy Director General for Programmes in IUCN. Since 2008, he and his team have developed and promoted Nature-based Solutions as a framework for harnessing ecosystem management as a solution to socio-economic challenges. He has worked in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation for 35 years.

Uzoamaka Aduba, American actress and three-time Emmy Award winner

Aduba is known for her work on stage and screen which served her five Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards nominations and a Tony Award nomination. The 41-year-old Nigerian actress featured in films like Lightyear (2022), Miss Virgina (2019), and Orange Is the New Black (2013-2019), among others.

Sauti Sol, Musical Band

Sauti Sol is a Kenyan band formed by vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano and Savara Mudigi in 2005. Initially an a cappella group, guitarist Polycarp Otieno joined before they named themselves Sauti Sol. The band has had several successful tours in Africa and Europe, topped Kenyan charts and gained international attention with shows in Europe and the US, as well as television appearances and various accolades and nominations. They have performed in Rwanda several times and drawn quite an audience.

Juan Pablo Sorin, Paris Saint-Germain Legend

He is an Argentine former footballer and current sports broadcaster, who played as a left-back or left midfielder. He had a successful club career in his native Argentina with River Plate, in Brazil with Cruzeiro, and with various teams in Europe, including Barcelona, Lazio, Paris Saint-Germain and Villarreal. At international level, he represented Argentina at two FIFA World Cups, and was the captain of Argentine side at the 2006 FIFA World Cup; he also represented his nation in two editions of Copa América.

Dr Evan Antin, renowned veterinarian and television presenter

He is a veterinarian and wildlife conservationist. He studied evolutionary and ecological biology at the University of Colorado.

Youssou N’Dour, Senegalese musician

N’Dour is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, musician, composer, occasional actor, businessman, and politician. He is also the Former Minister of Tourism of Senegal. The 62-years-old singer is expected to perform at Kwita Izina gala night.

Moses Turahirwa, Founder and Creative Director of Moshions

Turahirwa is the founder of one of the most popular luxury clothing brand in Rwanda, Moshions, and he is known for taking Rwanda’s fashion beyond borders.

Lauren Powell Jobs, Founder and President of Emerson Collective

Powell is an American billionaire and widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. She invests her fortune in many areas including Emerson Collective, a hybrid investment, social impact and philanthropic firm she founded in 2004.

Cindy Descalzi Pereira, Philanthropist and Chairperson of Global Events Africa

Pereira was last in Rwanda to launch the first edition of Ironman Triathlon, which is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation.

Ian Clark Wood, Chairman of the Wood Foundation

The Scottish billionaire businessman and philanthropist has a net worth of $1.7 billion, according to Forbes 2022 and is best known for his work in the North Sea oil industry with Wood Group.

Frank I. Luntz, Founder and President, Luntz Global

Luntz is an American political and communications consultant, pollster. He has served as a commentator and analyst on different television news shows. He is also an author of business books dealing with communication strategies and public opinion.

Salima Mukansanga, Rwandan International Football Referee

Mukansanga is the first Rwandan female referee to officiate at any FIFA World Cup event during the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay. Arguably the best and most famous female referee the country has ever produced, Mukansanga is one of the three women referees selected to officiate at the FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Qatar.

Naming baby gorillas at Kwita Izina is a step towards conserving these endangered animals. Photo Credit: RDB

Stay tuned as our editor, Kate Webster, is on the ground in Rwanda to attend the event firsthand and come to you with the news on what the baby gorillas were named, and more.