|Kenyan Ambassador to South Korea Ngovi Kitau (left) and Vice Minister for Political Affairs Lee Kyung-soo raise their glasses on Jamhuri Day, Kenya’s Independence Day, during the 50th anniversary of the East African nation’s independence from British colonial rule in Seoul on Dec. 16. (Kenyan Embassy)|
Kenyan Ambassador Ngovi Kitau celebrated the pioneers of African liberation and pointed out the implications of the current economic boom in Africa during the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence from colonial rule at a hotel in Seoul on Dec. 16.
One of the pioneers Kitau lauded during the reception for Kenya’s Independence Day, called Jamhuri Day by Kenyans around the world, was anti-Apartheid activist and former South African President Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Dec. 5.
Others he paid homage to were Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first post-independence leader, and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenya’s East African neighbor to the south.
For the past decade the African region has been posting double-digit growth figures and attracting massive foreign direct investment. For Kitau this means his nation and region has come of age.
“It is important to recognize that Kenya and Africa have come of age. Kenya seeks constructive partnership. We will embrace partnerships based on mutual respect and win-win scenarios,” he said. “We will not accept partnerships that do not recognize that we also have the intellectual capacity to engage on equal terms. Kenya has a voice. Fifty years after independence Kenya demands that its voice must be heard.”
Lee Kyung-soo, South Korea’s vice minister for political affairs, on hand at the reception, echoed Kitau’s remarks, adding that 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
“Former President Park Chung-hee recognized Kenya as an independent state immediately after its independence was declared in late 1963. And during the half century since then, our friendship has deepened even across the 10,000-kilometer distance between us.”
South Korea’s flagship airline, Korean Air, launched direct flights connecting Seoul and Nairobi last year in June. Now a trip to Kenya’s capital is shorter than one to New York City. For South Korea, Nairobi is now seen as “the gateway to East Africa,” Lee said.
By Philip Iglauer