What a great month September has been! Although, it’s no wonder as September is a traditionally a celebratory month for gorillas and this year in particular.
September – a beautiful month at Sabyinyo – photo credit Hieu Tran
Baby gorilla ‘Igihango’ from the Sabyinyo Family – photo credit Will Fortescue
The 1st Friday in every September is marked as the end of one ‘Gorilla Year’ and the beginning of the next ‘Gorilla Year’ – a ‘Gorilla New Year’ so to speak. The new year is celebrated with the Kwita Izina Festival in Kinigi, where all of the baby gorillas born in the previous year are named.
Sherrie Silver names ‘Ibirori’ of the Susa family at Kwita Izina – photo credit Michael Hughes
September 6th this year was the 15th edition of Kwita Izina and was graced by Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, as the guest of honour. Twenty five baby gorillas were named by a mix of celebrities, conservationists and philanthropists; here below, are just some of the names of the newborn gorillas and the people who named them. You can find the full list of names HERE.
1, ‘Ingando’ meaning ‘represents hope and a chance for sustainable tourism’. Gorilla family: Isimbi. Named by Jeremy Jauncey – Conservationist, Founder of Beautiful Destinations.
2, ‘Isanzure’ meaning ‘Gorillas should roam freely’. Gorilla family: Amahoro. Named by Madeleine Nyiratuza – Conservationist, driver of the Gishwati Forest Reserve restoration.
3, ‘Igihango’ meaning ‘A connection between humans and God and the unbreakable bond between the gorillas and their guardians’. Gorilla family: Sabyinyo. Named by Ron Adams – Israel Ambassador to Rwanda.
4, ‘Sura u Rwanda’ meaning ‘Visit Rwanda’ (After the Rwanda sponsorship of Arsenal). Gorilla family: Mafunzo. Named by Tony Adams – English football manager and Arsenal legend.
5, ‘Irembo’ meaning ‘A gateway’. Named by: Niklas Adalberth – founder of Norrsken Foundation.
6, ‘Inkoramutima’ – the name of a popular song in Rwanda. Gorilla family: Musirikare. Named by ‘Meddy’ – famous Rwandan musician.
7, ‘Intarutwa’ meaning ‘Excellence’. Gorilla family: Muhoza. Named by Naomi Campbell – Humanitarian, businesswoman and supermodel.
8, ‘Ibirori’ meaning ‘Celebration’. Gorilla family: Susa. Named by Sherrie Silver – Choreographer, actress, and humanitarian.
9, ‘Biracyaza’ meaning ‘Great things are coming’. Gorilla family: Kuryama. Named by Ne-Yo – American singer and songwriter.
10, ‘Inzobere’ meaning ‘Expert’. Gorilla family: Agashya. Named by Robert Twibaze – Rwanda senior tour guide.
This a wonderful tribute to the many stakeholders responsible for the conservation of gorillas – well done and congratulations to all involved in their protection. The marvellous celebrations continued for us up at Sabinyo Silverback Lodge where we hosted two of the baby gorilla namers for lunch; Otara and Sherry. Beautiful ladies, both of them – it was a great pleasure having them here!!
Kwita Izina celebrations – photo credit Michael Hughes
Further on in the month, we had good reason to celebrate once again; the 24th marked World Gorilla Day when we celebrate the future generations of this species that are being protected through community conservation. This is the first World Gorilla Day where mountain gorillas are classified as endangered and not critically endangered.
At Sabyinyo, we know that in order to save gorillas, you must look after communities and through a successful revenue sharing model, we have now generated over $3.5 million in income for the SACOLA community surrounding the lodge and neighbouring the park. This income has allowed the community to invest in projects to improve the lives of its members. All guests staying at Sabyinyo make a direct contribution to the SACOLA community.
September was very busy in terms of guests, buzzing with a great atmosphere and warmth. We had an incredibly cold spell at the beginning of the month with Mount Karisimbi (4,507 meters) and Mt Mikeno (4,437 meters) both with snow for a period of three days!
Priscilla our Masseuse says ‘I know it’s beautiful but let’s go back inside. It’s freezing’.
Photo credit Michael Hughes
On Friday 30th August, we celebrated our own internal ‘Rwanda Heritage Day’ – what a nice evening that was! It kicked off with a music recital with Inanga and Umadhuri, both are instruments from the ancient Kingdom of Rwanda. We had initially planned for this to be round a bonfire in our formal garden but as fortune would have, it rained and we had to abandon the garden for our main lounge area. No one’s spirits were dampened though! Our guests on that evening very much participated in the performance, dressing up in traditional ‘Kitengi’ (central African fabric) and dancing to the Rwanda rhythms and beats – courtesy of our homemade musical instruments such as cocktail shakers filled with dry roasted coffee beans! To finish off the day we all enjoyed a banquet of Rwandan style cuisine – well done to all the chefs!
Staff and guests enjoy ‘Heritage Day’ at Sabyinyo – photo credit Fidele Nsingiza
Sabyinyo’s ‘Heritage Day’ special menu!
From all of us here at Sabyinyo – Amahoro! We look forward to hosting you when you come to see the baby gorillas, which have been newly named this Gorilla New Year.
Sabyinyo Family – showing off our new fleeces! Photo credit William Karoki
By Michael Hughes, manager at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge.