Monday, June 22, 2009

KWITA IZINA…Gorilla Naming Ceremony

Three of us traveled in my study Toyota sedan early Saturday (6:00AM) and made a brief stop at SINA Gerard’s facility about 45 miles outside of Kigali for breakfast. It is called URWIBUTSO and it is a framing and food processing operation. This organization helps more than 2000 local farmers to grow fruits and crops by giving them seeds, technical advice as well as marketing support. It is also has an educational component to teach them how to grow the crops properly and gain the best yield.

They produce, farm fresh juice, jam, wine, chili sauces and powders (peri-peri very popular in Africa), honey and operate a bakery and restaurant. All is grown organically and fresh products are sought after in Rwanda and are now being exported to other East African Nations. I read a blog that can really give you more of the feel and importance of this operation and suggest you visit the site

After juice and pastries we continued to Ruhengeri for the ceremony. We arrived around 8:30 and large crowds were already forming. Since we were on the “US Embassy List”, we were able to enter the Tent with chairs. The “masses” were standing in large fields surrounding the stage on three sides with the tent on the fourth. I was embarrassed that everything was played to the tent and not to the Rwandans who had walked for many miles to attend.

Since this part of Rwanda does not receive much entertainment, the Ceremony consisted of lots of music, dancing and short skits interspersed with dignitary’s speeches and the actual ceremony to name the Gorilla. For someone who does not speak Kinyarwanda, it was difficult to follow and at times loud and boring but the main event was well worth it. The 18 dignitaries who named a gorilla were dressed in traditional garments and theywere brought to the stage surrounded by drummers. I was again reminded how dramatic drumming is and sets the tone for all that what follows.

Each person explained why they were there and gave the Kinyarwanda and English name for their gorilla and why they choose it. I have searched the local papers and web for al full list to include but it does not exist yet. I will forward as soon as it is released.

A few observations: I and my friends would have bought many t-shirts if they had them and will send a letter to the organizers that they missed an opportunity. If you looked at the website, you saw how cute those photos were of the Gorillas and with the backdrop of the Volcanoes it would be a no brainer to raise funds.

Secondly I will recommend the stage be set-up in the future so all people can see what is going on, not just the “special” people in the tent.

It was a long day and when we pulled back into Kigali at 6:00, we were exhausted but very happy we attended.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the local Rwandans should have gotten to actually see the ceremony. The many accounts of this that I have read have not mentioned the (what I would call) segregation that goes on. Thank you for sharing that. For all your followers at home in the USA, I recommend sharing this documentary: It looks at the efforts of the African Wildlife Foundation to deepend the relationship between the mountain gorillas and their human neighbors in Rwanda.