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Kwita Izina Ceremony: Interview with Anaclet Rudahera, in charge of tourism department at Volcano national Park in Rwanda

GVTC: Mr Anaclet Rudahera, could you please introduce yourself to our listeners and readers?
AR: My names are Rudahera Anaclet; I am in charge of tourism department of the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

GVTC: Our readers and listeners may certainly be interested in knowing your academic and professional background which provided you with such skills in tourism and conservation. Would you like to talk about this?
AR: Before working for tourism in Rwanda, I graduated from the Walaf College in Tanzania at Mweka in the Northern Province called Arusha, the Northern Province of Tanzania. I also had a postgraduate course in endangered species management.

GVTC: How many years have you been working for the Tourism department in Rwanda?
AR: Actually I have been working for the conservation of the mountain gorillas for more than 10 years as I started in 1999, serving in this tourism department, at different levels.

GVTC: How many parks do you have in Rwanda?
AR: In Rwanda, we currently have three national parks including Volcanoes National Park where I am now working; the Nyungwe National Park in the South West and the Akagera National Park in the East of Rwanda.

GVTC: How do you personally appreciate the collaboration between the Protected Areas including national parks in RDC, Rwanda and Uganda?
AR: As far as I am concerned, we are all striving to protect the endangered mountain gorillas in this area of Virunga Massif; there is a very strong collaboration between the three countries especially through this transboundary collaboration between Rwanda, Uganda and Congo where by the three countries together with other conservation NGO and organizations are coming in to strongly support that collaboration in terms of protection monitoring and other related issues. So there is a very positive collaboration.

GVTC: What kind of visitors do you usually welcome in Rwanda for tourism?
AR: Actually Rwanda is welcoming visitors from different countries. Some are from the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, etc. They are from different nationalities coming in Rwanda to visit Rwandan attractions like the Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe, Akagera, the Rwandan culture, and other features. So there are people from different categories.

GVTC: Which categories of animals do these visitors prefer to visit in Rwandan national parks?
AR: Rwanda has diverse biodiversities that are visited by tourists especially in this Virunga Volcanoes Park where we have mountain gorillas which is the main activity and most of the tourists coming in Rwanda want to go to mountain gorilla tracking in the Volcanoes National Park. But, apart this, we also have golden monkey tracking, we have nature walks, we have mountain climbing. They are all done within the Volcanoes National Park. For those who prefer to do mountain climbing, we have four volcanoes that are always ready for climbing. We have Karisimbi, Visoke, Gahinga and Muhabura; it will take two days. Gahinga is between Rwanda and Uganda; the same as Savinyo although it is not used for hiking on the side of Rwanda, yet it is also between RDC, Uganda and Rwanda.

GVTC: There must be a security challenge for visitors to climb these mountains during their tourism.
AR: The security is always ensured, there is no problem about security, and everything is ok.

GVTC: Let us come back to the current activities as planned and organized by RDB and focused on “Kwita Izina” ceremony in Musanze stadium and Kinigi sector.
AR: This event is taking place in Musanze and Kinigi. As you have seen today, this event is an open day which is prior to “Kwita Izina” event which is going to take place on the 1rst July 2014. So, this open day is a special day where we have RDB together with other stakeholders in conservation all supporting the entire habitat of the mountain gorillas including local community groups, cooperatives, those benefiting from tourism, conservation and those supporting both tourism and conservation. So they are meeting today to present, to explain and display to the public how well they are benefiting from tourism and how good they are also supporting conservation of the mountain gorillas. And today is an opening day and this event is prior to the Kwita Izina Gorillas naming ceremony. It is going to take two days, today Sunday and tomorrow Monday. I mean that on Tuesday, the 1st of July we are going to celebrate this Kwita Izina or Gorilla naming ceremony event. We will celebrate it together with our stakeholders and partners, international, national and local communities at different levels to show to the public what we have achieved in terms of conservation and tourism; community development, especially those communities living near the park, how well they have benefited from the tourism and the conservation initiatives and how they are also improving their livelihood.

GVTC: How is exactly the program today in Musanze stadium?
AR: Today, as I said previously, it is an opening day which has to start soon, at 10:30; it is going to take place officially and this event will last until this evening whereby the guests to coming to see what we are doing for the conservation and tourism; there will be information delivered to different people, visitors coming to see what RDB together with supporters are doing for the conservation. They will arrive from different community organizations, community groups, stakeholders, to show what they achieved for the people and the wildlife in the Volcano National Park.

GVTC: As you have just mentioned, today the ceremony is at Musanze stadium and tomorrow visitors and guests will move to another place.
AR: Tomorrow the ceremony will be still taking place in Musanze stadium until evening and it will be combined with a “Gitaramo”(a traditional ceremony). In our Rwandan culture, there is a Gitaramo preparing such a Kwita Izina ceremony. The parents and their children will sit together and think about the past, about the future of the kids and the culture. This ceremony will be held in Kinigi which is 15 km from Musanze stadium.

GVTC: How many young gorillas will be named at the Kwita Izina ceremony on the 1st July and who will give those names?
AR: Eighteen (18) gorillas will be named and the names will be given by different guests; even the park workers, community representatives, conservationists. There will be different persons to give the names to new babies.

GVTC: What is the age of those new babies or young gorillas?
AR: They are different ages. There are those of one year and above one year. The Kwita Izina ceremony will be held in Kinigi at the Park office.

GVTC: Will young gorillas be present at the Kwita Izina ceremony event?
AR: We are not bringing gorillas out but they will be represented by their protectors.

GVTC: In this case visitors will not get the opportunity to see them?
AR: They will have the opportunity to see them not for that day; maybe before if they had arranged for this; they may go into the park and see the gorillas and afterwards attend the ceremony.

GVTC: How much do they pay for a visit?
AR: They are different categories of payment. They are those who pay 750 $ US for non residents coming to Rwanda from their countries like tourists from UK, USA, etc those are not resident, I mean they do not stay in Rwanda and other categories of residents those who are living in Rwanda or are foreigners but living in Rwanda they also pay 450 $ US. They can pay either in dollars or in Rwandan francs. Rwandese also will pay 30,000 RWF or 50$ US.

GVTC: Are Rwandan populations interested in tourism in their own country?
AR: Very much! Because when you have a look at the statistics, in the first position we have Americans, secondly British, thirdly Australians and fourth we have Rwandese. So they are coming also in a very good position.

GVTC Communication Service