Kwita Izina: What gorilla namers said about Rwanda

The group of namers featured a diverse array of participants, including celebrities, dedicated conservationists, and representatives from international organizations, among others. Below, we have gathered the reflections expressed by some of the individuals regarding their experiences in Rwanda.

US comedian Kevin Hart

The American comedian and actor sent a virtual message in which he named a baby gorilla “Gakondo.”

He expressed his amazement at encountering an incredible gorilla family and pledged to stay updated on the gorilla’s progress through pictures and updates. He also extended his gratitude to the country for organising the ceremony for the past 19 years.

“I am amazed by the work you are doing here. To see the gorillas in their natural habitat, the majestic animals that they are… is simply life-changing. I can’t wait for other people to have the same incredible experience that I had,” he remarked.

Idris Elba

The British actor and producer, along with his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba, an activist and UN Goodwill Ambassador for IFAD, named their baby gorilla “Narame.”

Elba, who last visited Rwanda in 2005, commended the country’s remarkable growth and its status as a shining example for Africa.

He stated, “Geographically, where Rwanda is situated represents the heart of Africa, and you are definitely the heart of Africa. We thank you so much. Long live, Rwanda.”

UK Minister Andrew Mitchell

UK’s Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office commended the conservation work being done in Rwanda, extended congratulations from friends of Rwanda in the UK for what the country has achieved in various fields.

He named his baby gorilla Mukundwa.

Larry Green

He is a Board Trustee at African Wildlife Foundation and named his baby gorilla Ingoboka (Support) recognizing the support and leadership of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to support the people of Rwanda and other “amazing” conservation opportunities.

He added: “The word ‘support’ allows us to connect with and think about the support that happens on a much greater level, which is about how the gorilla population really supports the community and the people of Rwanda, and how the people of Rwanda in turn support the gorillas. It’s really a mutual love affair between everybody.”

Prof. Őzlem Türeci

He is the Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Sierk Poetting, Chief Operating Officer at BioNTech SE, named their baby gorilla “Intiganda.”

Poetting expressed their admiration for Rwanda, where their company has been operating for a year, and commended the country’s passionate populace.

“You are remarkable with your perseverance, your determination and commitment,” she said. “This is visible here in the impressive work you are doing in the Volcanoes National Park. It’s also visible in how your country is growing and for us in the progress our work is making in Kigali together with you, working towards our shared goals and vision to build sustainable and state of art MRNA vaccine manufacturing capabilities here with and for you.”

American actor Danai Gurira

The Black Panther character, activist and plawrighthighlighted that Rwanda has embarked on an impressive journey to safeguard wildlife and their inhabitants for generations to come, adding that it was an honour for her to be part of it.

“I am inspired (and aspiring now) by the achievement thus far, including this incredible ceremony,” she asserted after naming her baby gorilla Aguka.

Audrey Azoulay

The Director General of UNESCO, expressed her gratitude to the people of the Northern and Western provinces of Rwanda for their support of the ambitious policy, which stands as one of the most remarkable successes.

She highlighted that Volcanoes National Park as UNESCO site achieved its status by adhering to three fundamental pillars: science, biodiversity, and sustainable income generation for local communities.

Zurab Pololikashvili

He is the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), named the gorilla “Inshingano,” which translates to “responsibility.” He pledged the UNWTO’s commitment to supporting Rwanda’s tourism initiatives and commended the significant progress achieved thus far.

He particularly praised the Kwita Izina ceremony as a splendid example of how to promote tourism globally, with Rwanda leading the way.

Sol Campbell, the legendary Arsenal figure, named the baby gorilla “Jijuka,” symbolising enlightenment and a future characterised by peace and environmental stability for generations to come.

Joa Schoendorf

He is a pioneer from Silicon Valley, bestowed the name “Uburinganire” upon the baby gorilla, signifying Gender Equality. He acknowledged Rwanda’s dedication to constructing a society where gender equality prevails, allowing everyone to reach their full potential.

Schoendorf also commended the cleanliness of Kigali and the exemplary leadership of President Paul Kagame, emphasizing that the world could benefit from more leaders of his caliber.

Anders Holch Poylsen

He is Chief Executive Officer of Bestseller said that throughout his time in Rwanda, he learned about the remarkable conservation journey that the country has embarked on to safeguard wildlife and the habitats for the generations to come.

“This work is not easy, and I am inspired by the achievements,” he added after naming his baby gorilla Umutako

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