Arsenal players were surprised this week during training when a group of Rwandan drummers turned up to entertain them.
The promotion was part of Arsenal’s shirt sponsorship deal with ‘Visit Rwanda’. Players including Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Lucas Torreira, Alexander Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and head coach, Unai Emery joined the dancers.
Rwanda hopes that their three-year, £30m-deal with Arsenal will help to highlight what the country has on offer for tourists. Growing numbers of wildlife in their natural parks, including black rhino, lions, zebra, chimpanzees and the mountain gorillas have helped tourist numbers grow.
The country also expects Arsenal to send a first-team player to their annual gorilla-naming ceremony known locally as ‘Kwita Izina’
Arsenal’s participation is part of the sleeve sponsorship deal.
Speaking to the media in the country, the RDB Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, said, ‘a number of superstars’ have been lined up for the event which will take place on 7 September in Kinigi on the slopes of the Volcanoes National Park but he declined to confirm the names of the players who would be in attendance.
Kwita Izina started in 2005 and is described by AllAfrica.com as ‘a uniquely Rwandan event with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla.’
In total, 23 mountain gorilla babies will be named at this year’s ceremony which seems tailor-made for Aaron Ramsey, known for his love of wildlife and animal conservation.
Although his particular favourite seems to be the rhino, who doesn’t love a gorilla?
About the mountain gorilla, the official Volcanoes National Park website writes, “The mountain gorillas (Gorilla Gorilla Berengie), the world’s most endangered ape, is found only in small portions of protected afro Montane forests in northwest Rwanda, southwest Uganda and eastern DRC.
“Hidden high among the forested volcanoes of East Africa, the mountain gorilla was unknown to science until 1902, when two were first encountered by a German explorer and promptly killed. It set the tone for the relationship. For much of the time since, due to deforestation and poaching, it has seemed that the mountain gorilla was swiftly destined to be lost to the world again. Not long after the species’ greatest champion, the American zoologist Dian Fossey was killed in Rwanda in 1985-there were fewer than 300 of the giant primates left in the wild.
“Today nearly half of the world’s 700 remaining mountain gorillas live in the Virunga Mountains of central Africa, at the intersection of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The volcanic slopes here are lush with tropical forests and diverse mammal, bird, and reptile species but they are also at the heart of a region in crisis.”