Kwita Izina : How to name a Gorilla



By Businge Abid Weere

Sometime back , the WorkZine went to Rwanda to witness the annual gorilla naming ceremony . SO lets begin this story from the beginning. Along time ago , God made man , gorillas and a few other animals that don’t feature in this story. Man multiplied faster than gorillas and destroyed their homes until a few were left around the world.

 Another version of the story is that once there was a small cell living in water that expanded and decided to come to land where it became a lot of things including gorillas. The gorillas got tired of being gorillas and decided to become men and women. SO most of them shed their hair and learnt how to say “hello.” However a few remained as gorillas and those few now chill in the dense forest shared by Rwanda, Uganda and Congo.

Whichever version you like, we all see that it takes to few gorillas. SO everytime a new gorilla is born, its sort of an event to celebrate the return the species that shares a bond with man. We even give the gorillas born a name in a ceremony called “Kwita Izina ” which means …drumrolls please….. Giving a name

Back to the narration , we arrived at the border and were met by this sign which is self explanatory


Moving on to Kigali, the neon lights that also act as traffic lights kindly informed us to wait our a few seconds before we could move. I was impressed. It seems the traffic lights in Kigali have evolved to the next level. They were probably responding to the stubborn refusal of the roads which have been pothole free since …..well ………forever.

Hurriedly we moved on to the sacred site of the gorilla baptism where we expected to be greeted by this cute little fellow who I had already named WorkZine (such a cool name ) .

 SO you can imagine my surprise when I was met by a mammoth crowd of the locals who also it seemed had their own ideas for names.


 At that point I was debating what would be the best way to get an upper hand at naming the gorillas. The crowd was  way too big to be even captured by the camera I was using. A little thinking had to be done. Perhaps give each of them a sweet. Nah, a bottle of the strong stuff for each would do. But the cost…. While I was still debating the issue with my imaginary self, I bumped into three locals who made me change my mind. They were dressed up in the local gab and looked to be ready to walk down the aisle. What if I give them my name?  Mrs. WorkZine would definitely have a good ring to it.


 Before I could propose, the other lovely ladies of Rwanda came on stage to enchant us with their wiles.

And all the journalists present (who I had not noticed) rushed the stage to get a glimpse of the wonders of Rwanda.


And in response, the men of Rwanda in full regalia rushed to the defence of their womenfolk from the evil machinations of the men with big technological gadgets


On second thought, they may not have been serious since most of the men were smiling. The women seemed to like either the men’s spears or their smiles because they came back on stage in different clothes and the men in gratitude knelt down to feast their eyes.

The journalists must have been simmering. But before they could retaliate, a hush descended on the group as the elders made their way to the stage. It turns out that they, not I nor the crowd, would bestow names of wisdom on the baby gorillas. Drat!! No one got blessed with the WorkZine name.


Closely behind them came the baby gorillas. At first they sort of looked weird and a bit familiar. Like I had seen them somewhere before. I did eventually figure it out. In order to make us comfortable with them , the gorillas had dressed up as humans first then as gorillas again . Silly me , should have figured it out sooner.


 The elders led by one from the land of the rising sun got right down to it and like the fairies in sleeping beauty; they heaped names worthy of praise on the gorillas.


The gorillas ran back to the forests and told everyone else about their new awesome names. Someone should have told them that they should look out for a new addition to the jungle. An addition called Muzungu that could only be found in the mist. ..muhahahahahahaha . (For you illiterate people, Muzungu means white person and that was an evil laugh.  )


And that’s how the story ended. After that we all went away and did more stuff like Gacaca and have dinner. But that’s a story for another day ….



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