The annual mountain gorilla naming ceremony, locally known as Kwita Izina, is set to kick off Friday in Kinigi, northern Rwanda.
The event, now in its 15th edition, brings together conservationists, celebrities, renowned philanthropists and diplomats to celebrate the country’s success in protecting the endangered mountain gorilla species.
The star-studded line-up to name baby gorillas at the foothills of the Volcanoes National Park include Nation Media Group Chairman Dr Wilfred Kiboro, Former Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn, Deputy Secretary of the UN Amina Mohammed, American RnB singer Ne-Yo, former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, former Arsenal FC captain Tony Adams, HRH Princess of Jordan Basma Bint Ali, Sri Lankan philanthropist Otara Gunewardene, Rwandan US based Choreographer Sherrie Silver and British supermodel Naomi Campbell among others.
The stars will be naming 25 baby gorillas that were born in Rwanda between September 2018 and September 2019.
The baby gorillas are members of the Amahoro, Umubano, Hirwa, Igisha, Isimbi, Muhoza, Kwitonda, Sabyinyo, Susa, Pablo, Kuryama, Mafunzo, Kureba, Musirikali and Ntambara gorilla families.
The number is an increase compared to the 23 baby gorillas named last year.
The theme for this year’s event is Conservation is Life.
The conservation event is inspired by a centuries-old Rwandan tradition of giving a name to a new born baby soon after birth.
The ceremony will be followed by a music concert on Saturday headlined by Ne-Yo and Rwanda’s top RnB artiste Ngabo Médard Jobert, known by the stage name Meddy.
The Kwita Izina Concert will take place at the newly launched indoor sports complex, Kigali Arena.
It will happen concurrently with a gala dinner at the Kigali Convention Centre.
This week-long event will conclude with the Business of Conservation Conference organized in partnership with the African Leadership University (ALU) that will take place from September 8-9 to attract policymakers and conservationists and double as the climax of the annual Kwita Izina 2019 celebrations.