Kwita Izina, or ‘to give a name’ in Kinyarwanda, is an event unlike any other on Earth, yet rich in cultural significance and ancient custom. It is inspired by the Rwandan practice of having a naming ceremony for newborns following their birth.
Rwanda conducts this annual, week-long program of events in September to raise awareness and finances for the country’s mountain gorillas’ continuous conservation and habitat extension. Kwita Izina is one of the world’s most recognized conservation and sustainable tourism conferences, including a conference, seminars, and the centerpiece – a naming ceremony for gorillas born in the country’s Volcanoes National Park in the last year or so.
Invited visitors take to the big, silverback-shaped wooden stage and name each gorilla carefully based on the baby’s conduct and distinctive character qualities, which Rwandans think would inspire good fortune and play a significant part in moulding the kids’ fates.
The festivities, which include traditional music, dancing, and performances by local students and artists, draw thousands of visitors each year, including conservationists, rangers, and communities, as well as international celebrities, dignitaries, and the country’s President, who attend the ceremony near Kinigi, at the foothills of the Virunga Massif.
Rwanda’s conservation and ethical tourism activities help both animals and humans, including a successful trekking program to observe gorillas in their natural habitat. It is predicted that a single ‘habituated’ mountain gorilla may indirectly earn about $3 million in tourism money over the course of its lifespan. Revenue from the selling of gorilla trekking permits helps to fund Volcanoes National Park and three other protected wildlife areas around the nation. Furthermore, 10% of tourist earnings is shared with surrounding communities, and locals serve as vets, researchers, trackers, porters, and guides, while others work in safari hotels and camps.
Kwita Izina plays a significant role, not just via encouraging conservation and generating finances with ticket sales for the ceremony, but by asking the Rwandans to enjoy and preserve their natural – and cultural – heritage. The Virungas’ thickly wooded summits are where American primatologist Dian Fossey studied mountain gorillas and established the first gorilla research facility known as Karisoke, one of only two surviving strongholds for the species (the other being Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda). Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) now collaborates closely with the Rwandan government to carry on Fossey’s legacy through education, park ranger funding, and community activities.
“Kwita Izina is a source of great pride for all Rwandans,” says Tara Stoinski, President and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer of DFGFI. “It pays international attention to the great efforts of the government and people in saving mountain gorillas. At a time when conservation success stories are few and far between, what has occurred here is absolutely amazing, demonstrating what can be done when long-term conservation commitment and leadership are in place.”
There’s a lot to be proud of. While all other great ape species are in decrease, mountain gorilla numbers are on the increase. In the 1980s, just 242 individuals were reported in the Virunga Massif; today, the territory is home to over 1000. With 400 more in Bwindi, the IUCN downgraded the species from “critically endangered” to “endangered” in 2018.
Over 280 young gorillas have been named since Kwita Izina began, each one carefully chosen to reflect the infant’s unique tale and history, or to invoke good luck and protection. Names have traditionally been crucial in Rwanda, where they’re considered to impact the character and future prospects of a child, helping to mold their life path. Prior to Kwita Izina, it was up to the park guards who guarded them to name the gorillas.
Just as our personal names give us significance and a link to our past, place, and relatives, the names given to gorillas allow rangers and researchers track the advancement of individuals within their family groupings and throughout their ranges.
Naturalist Sir David Attenborough named a newborn Inshungu, which means “blessing,” in 2016. In 2017, Dr. Stoinski named Macibiri in honour to Fossey, whose Rwandan nickname was Nyiramacibiri, thought to roughly translate as ‘the woman who lives alone on the mountain’. In 2018, former Arsenal footballer Laureano Bisan Etamé-Mayer named infant Ikipe, which means ‘team,’ with Izahabu (‘precious,’ Kunesha (‘to win,’ and Uburumbuke (‘prosperity’). All were greeted with enthusiasm, shouts, and a communal sense of optimism for their future.
“A name proclaims the dreams parents have for their children, thus we define our own future by the names we give our children,” explains Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board.
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We have experienced adventurous gorilla trecking, chimpanzee tours, safari accompanied by waterbuffalo, pumba, giraffe, antilops etc encounter that has made our trip supercool I appreciate to have Martin as a… read more local fixer/guide/driver who was familiar in topics, flexible in unusual clients requests and cheerful guy that is soooo needed when travel long hours in a van.Samuel also was cooperative and reliable too
18 days with tent on top of the car with driver. Our driver Alonso helped us and guided us at all times! Good tips for sleeping, where to eat… read more and buy!!! In the safaris he knew all the parks very well and was passionate about birds!!! Agustin and Silvia from Spain we return in love with this country and its nice people!!! Thanks Alonso and Samuel!!! from Laba Africa Expedition!!
We had a 8-day wonderfull travel in Uganda, so well organized by LABA Africa. If you want to discover Uganda, choose this company, and you will have the… read more best experience ever.
We visited Bwindi Forest National Park with gorilla trekking – unforgettable -, beautiful Lake Bunyonyi – with a refreshing swim -, cykling safari between zebras, giraffes, antilopes and birds and finally boat trip to the source of the river Nile in Jinja.
All guides were knowledgeable and took very well care of us, espacially Robert, our excellent driver and guide for the whole tour.
The accomodations were perfect, confortable rooms, helpful staff and good food.
It’s amazing to be able to get so close to the animals, and experence the beautiful landscape and scenery of Uganda.
Thank you so much, Samuel and Robert.
AMAZING journey with Laba Africa all around Uganda for 21 days !! – We’ve had the chance to travel with ALONSO from LABA AFRICA for 21 days all around Uganda. We have met a lot of turists along our trip and I can… read more assure you one thing… LABA AFRICA is THE best company to discover Uganda.
Communication is really easy with Samuel (Laba’s Boss). He will take care of the itinerary, chimps and gorilla’s permits and will advise you perfectly on what to do, what to expect, and will make sure to answer all of your questions before your arrival.
Samuel even bought a Sim card for us to make sure we could get internet data as soon as we arrive in Entebbe Airport.
Our guide was Alonso.
Alonso is our best guide ever… We’ve traveled in a lot of countries, but I can assure you Alonso knows his country better than any other guide. He is very open minded and is able to talk for hours about everything related to his country (way to live, politics, economy, religion, local us and beliefs, etc.).
Alonso is also a true legend all around his country, he knows someone at every places we have been.. he knows perfectly all the natural reserve and taught us many things about the animals during our safaris.
He is an excellent driver.
If your are planning to come in Uganda and do self driving… Please don’t.. The roads are terrible and I wouldn’t advise anyone that is not used to it to drive on these roads by himself.
The car that Laba Africa provided us was amazing. Big SUV with 4 wheel drive with an open roof and a tent on the roof (amazingly comfortable).
The car is very comfortable and safe. Laba Africa even provided us sleeping bags (for the roof tent), cooler, camping chairs, cooking gaz and all the ustensiles we needed to cook ourself.
Alonso and the company has always been attentive to our wishes, needs and desires and is really customer focused.
During our trip, we’ve met a lot of locals, and it has been an amazing human adventure. Uganda is not only a destination to see animals and wildlife, it’s also a beautiful country that has so many to offer (waterfalls, landscape, tea fields, lakes, mountains, volcana, natural reserve, culture, traditions, people, local dance, music, crafts, hikings, cycling, rafting, boats trip, etc.)
Here are the main places we’ve visited : Kidepo National Park, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchinson Falls National Park, Queen Elisabeth National Park, Bwindi Forest, Bigodi Village, Kibale, Lake Mburo National Park, Sipi Falls, Jinja, Kampala.
Among our best memories, we will remember for ever our homestaying with a lovely local family within the Bigodi community, our night safari in Queen Elizabeth NP with the Lions turning around the car, and the quiet Jinja city on the Nile.
We really wanted to spend some time with locals and share a night with them. Laba Africa never organise Homestaying before. We’ve asked Alonso if it was possible. Of course, he made it possible because Alonso would make anything possible for you. So i wanted to thank him again because he made this trip amazing for us and now we keep this experience as our best memory from this trip.
Our trip was supposed to end on the 31st of December as our flight was very early in the morning on the 1st of January.
Alonso drove us to Samuel’s house. Samuel and Morgan (Sam’s GF) cooked for us for lunch and have spend the 31st of December with us. They’ve made a city tour for us, drove us to the craft market in order to buy some gifts for our family before our departure.
And the cherry on the cake… They took us with them in a party to show us “how we celebrate new year Eve in Uganda”. It was on the best rooftop of Kampala, to watch the midnight fireworks.
Honestly, do you know some company that can offer you such experience?
Don’t make a mistake and hire Laba Africa for your journey in Uganda, and please, stay at least 2 weeks if you want to discover most of the things this country has to offer.
Thank you again Samuel, Morgan and Alonso.
I will not forget you guys and I wish you the best for the future, you deserve it!!
Hope to see you again.
we keep in touch
We experienced a very well organized 9-day trip with a driver& guide (Robert) filled with amazing experiences like game drives, chimpz and gorilla tracking and boat safaris. The communication… read more with Laba Africa was very smooth and they tailored the trip according our wishes. The guide was very flexible and came up with ideas and options while on the road. We really appreciated him being with us. The Laba Africa guide had a vast knowledge about flora and fauna and was happy to answer all our questions. The accomodations chosen and booked by Laba Africa were absolutely stunning with very helpful staff.
Laba Africa planned a (4 days, 3 nights) trip to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with a stop in Lake Mburu (Uganda’s smallest national park). We had a great and friendly guide… read more in Alonso, who was very organized and patient. Making a stop in Lake Mburu breaks up the long drive to Bwindi, and is a great opportunity to get very close to giraffes and many other animals in the park. The gorilla trek itself was amazing and surreal getting very close to a gorilla family. All the lodges booked by Laba Africa, were in beautiful and serene locations with nice rooms, friendly staff and good food! After my third trip with Laba Africa, I would recommend them to anyone any day!
Great 3day trip go Murchison national park and falls! Also passed by rhino sanctuary on our way there. Really liked our driver and guide (Robert) who drove is there safely… read more and found tons of animals for us to see in the park.
Robert was a great guide. We went on Safari at Murchison and to the rhino sanctuary. The bGreat food and company. 10/10
On the way to the safari we went to the rhino sanctuary which was a cool experience. We slept at Fort Murchison which was a really good place to stay… read more in. The next day we went on the safari trip and a boat trip which was amazing. We saw so much animals.
Our guide, Robert, really gave us the best experience one could get.
Really recommend going with Laba!
I certainly got way way more than I imagined on this trip. I seen it on YouTube but not many indulge how fantastic the service this company has provided. My… read more guide Patrick was 10 out of 10. Friendly, informative and never refused an activity I wanted to see or do absolute gentleman. Then little did I know I was going to be provided with bony a top top quality chef. I was expecting package meals but no the food was excellent that I actually gained weight on this trip. I travelled the world but must say this company really exceeded my expectations.
Sam put together a perfect itinerary for our mother-daughter trip. Alonso took us around Kampala and showed us the main sights (Buganda kingdom, the mosque and bustling downtown Kampala), and… read more Robert took us to Murchison Falls National Park, then to Jinja and our final destination Entebbe (4 days). We had such a wonderful time and loved every minute of it: the roadside life, the food, the nature, the magestic animals, the friendly people – everything. They say that once you have experienced Africa, you will always feel a tug to return. Be prepared Laba!
My mom and me went on a two nights trip to Murchison Falls for safari and it was amazing! Sam organized a great trip for us and the communication was… read more very smooth the whole way. Our guide Robert was so nice and we saw so many animals each day. Sam also organized a city tour in Kampala for us and we also went to Jinja on a boat trip to see the source of the Nile, the local markets, and ate Ugandan food. Every part of our holiday was amazing and I would recommend Laba to anyone travelling to Uganda (and elsewhere)!!
I went on a two day Safari in Lake Mburo with Laba Africa Expeditions and it was an amazing trip. Everything was organized very well and our guide Samuel was… read more wonderful and came with suggestions during the trip and listened to our wishes as well. I would recommend this to everybody who wants a fun, safe and amazing safari. Even the rangers at Lake Mburo was great. I had not expected a safari to be such a incredible experience but it really was!
Samuel is the real fixer in Uganda! Within a week he got me the Gorilas permit to Bwindi. He also advised me in anything else I needed.
Adam, my… read more driver who took me from Kigali (Rwanda) to Bwindi, crossing Uganda’s border, became a friend. Is the best guide to move you around! Truly recommend both of them. Laba africa is the best!
We rented a car with roof tent for three weeks and I can highly recommend Laba Africa.
Great advise for trip preparation and replied instantly to all our (many) question… read more by whatsapp. Also arranged for gorilla trekking which was very pratical.
Car turned out to be great, no mechanical problems. Our rooftent was never used before it was brand-new.
Uganda is a beautiful country with very friendly population. We had a great time.
We went three friends on a safari to Murchison Falls (2 nights) and we had the best time. Everything was timed and organized to the last detail by Sam –… read more the best guide and the best company. We saw so many animals and it was an incredible experience for all of us. Sam was very knowledgable about the animals and the nature in general, which added to the whole experience. We stayed in a great lodge just outside the park. There was great food and a nice pool! We would definitely recommend this trip to anyone!
Christopher and I have been filming in Uganda for the past week, and the excellent results we got wouldn’t of been possible without Laba Africa. Top professionals who made our… read more work trip go super smooth. We would highly recommend them to other media professionals.
We rented a car from Laba Africa. They are very service minded and nice people. The car was kept in good condition. Recommended
We hired a land cruiser with a tent on the roof. The car and tent were great and pick up and drop off were very smooth- they met us at… read more our hostel each time.
We had a wonderful time with Laba Africa. From the beginning till the end of the trip we felt welcomed and very comfortable.
The accomodations we‘re well chosen and they… read more even prepared a surprise for our honeymoon :).
Samuel and our driver Alonso know a lot about the country and their way of presenting it to us was very pleasant.
The gorilla trekking in bwindi forest was definitely the highlight of our trip. Only after 30 minutes of walking we met the gorilla family and the rangers made sure that all of us could take nice pictures of the animals without disrespecting their personal space. We can really recommend the Bakiga Lodge for the Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi. The staff was really friendly and the food was great. The view from the top is breathtaking and the lodges are lovely decorated.
All in all a trip we‘ll never forget.
The gorilla trekking with Laba Africa was absolutely gorgeous. We were lucky to find the family after just 20 minutes of walking through forest. The rangers were always helping us… read more to get great pictures and they knew much about the animals.
Our driver Alonso was also very kind and gave us many valuable information on the pearl of Africa.
We really enjoyed every single moment that trip and can recommend it to everyone else.
An amazing experience! We saw so many animals, so many incredible landscapes. We also have the chance to discover the local cultures.
The guides were very nice… read more and we learned a lot!
Every lodge we slept in, was perfectly chosen. Uganda is worth a visit! Go there!
Did a great weekend tour visiting the Mundari tribe near Juba, South Sudan. Everything went well, I really enjoyed the trip.
Traveling with Laba Africa was a great experience!
We saw amazing landscapes and animals in different national parks and spent the nights in beautiful lodges. The guides were extemely… read more nice and fun to be around.
Especially the planning of our trip was amazing. We had some special requests because I wanted to visit some friends in between our Safari tours. That was no problem and got nicely included in our plan for the trip. Whatever we requested was made possible!
I can only recommend traveling with Laba Africa. We will definitely return!
My family and I just came back from a three-week-customized roudtrip of Uganda with Laba Africa. It was a tremendous experience!
Starting with chimp tracking in Kibale, we saw lions… read more the same day in Queen Elizabeth NP. Then on to Ishasha, Lake Mburo NP and jinja, where we had a short break. Then we went to a small village near Soroti to visit friends of our daughter. From there we went on to Karamoja, Kibale NP, Murchison Falls NP before we came back to Entebbe.
It didn’t matter what special requests we made, Laba Africa made them possible, sometimes even more!
But the most important thing is this: The planning of this trip startet in autumn 2019 and it was mostly paid for in January 2020. It should have taken place in March 2020, but then the pandemic destroyed our plans. Through all the insecurities for that 18 months peroid until we finally could make the trip, Laba Africa held contact, took care that our chimp tracking permits did not to expire und charged nothing additional – except for some new requests we had.
So Laba Africa is absolutely the best and most reliable partner for visiting Uganda or any of the other countries they are offering tours to! We will return to Uganda and to Laba Africa for sure!
The best part was definitely chimpanzee tracking, that was an incredible experience! Next amazing part of our trip was community walk, where locals showed us their traditional beer, gin, coffee… read more and basket making. It was great to have time to talk to them :) Game drives through savanas was so amazing, our guide Alonso did everything to try to find the best parts of the park and to find every animal there is to see, but you can never be sure, you’ll be lucky enough to see them all. We also saw Murchison falls, that was so nice, although the boat ride to see them from the river was kind of boring, too long for too little of experience. But overall amazing trip!
We really enjoyed out trip through Uganda with Laba Africa. The tourguides took good care of us and they showed us so many fascinating things! Furthermore, it was very… read more easy to change or add additional things to our already existing program.
I can really recommend a trip with Laba Africa to everyone! :)
Thank you very much to Samuel and his team! We really enjoyed our time in Uganda and with you.
Amazing experience!! Very serious and friendly team!! I really advise this company to travel in Uganda!!!
My friend and I did a 10 days Safari through Uganda which was one of the best things we‘ve ever done! Laba Africa organized an amazing tour and we really… read more enjoyed all of it. They took very good care of us. We also got to know local communities such as the Batwa tribe. Thanks to Samuel for this unforgettable adventure.
The trip was simply amazing! Had an experienced guide(Alonso) who showed is not only ugandian nature, but also explained many things about culture of this country. I would aspecially recommend… read more visiting community near Kibale NP.
Naprosto skvělý výlet. Zkušený průvodce, skvěle vybrané cíle i ubytování! Mohu jen doporučit.
White Water Rafting
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