His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Gello hosted a celebratory reception to commemorate 55 years of independence of the Republic of Kenya on 11th December, 2018 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul. The celebrations served to amplify Kenya’s prestige in the Republic of Korea and provided an opportunity to celebrate Kenya’s remarkable attainments at home, regionally and internationally since independence in 1963.
In attendance were about 350 guests comprising officials from the Government of the Republic of Korea, Ambassadors and other representatives from the diplomatic corps, associate agencies including the International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Korea Trade and Investment Authority (KOTRA), Importers Association (KOIMA), Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) and the Korea Trade Association (KITA). The Kenyan fraternity in Korea also came in their numbers in a show of solidarity under the auspices of the Association of Kenyans in Korea (KCK).
In his remarks, Ambassador Gello indicated that Jamhuri Day was a reminder of our hard won freedoms and a call of duty for all Kenyans to safeguard the fruits of our hard work as a nation. He highlighted the remarkable economic milestones and the blue print for future progress captured in the Presidential Legacy dubbed the Big Four Agenda. He pointed out Kenya’s growing influence in international affairs following the successful conclusion of the high level blue economy conference that was held in Nairobi on 26th-28th November, 2018 and in this respect, he expressed appreciation for the support and participation by Korea. In addition, Ambassador Gello lauded the vibrant pace that characterizes relations between Kenya and Korea underpinned by the various high level exchanges including the visits of the Korean Prime Minister Mr. Lee Nak-Yeon to Kenya in July as well as Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amb, Monica Juma to Korea in October, 2018. He also hailed Korea’s stewardship in the ongoing effort to establish peace in the Korean Peninsula.
The Guest of Honour, Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, Amb. Joong Wo-You, in his statement recognized that Kenya was the first African country in which Korea established diplomatic presence thus providing great impetus for the current strong ties between the two countries. He recognized Kenya’s strategic significance in regional and continental affairs and reiterated Korea’s commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation. Representing the Korean National Assembly at the occasion was the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and President of the National Assembly’s Forum for Africa’s New Era Ambassador Lee Ju-young who emphasized Kenya’s unlimited potential as a regional hub for ICTs, commerce and industry. He called for the optimization of bilateral engagement in areas of mutual interest including energy, infrastructure, health, education and agriculture.
The colourful occasion featured a Kenya Corner which served delicious Kenyan cuisine such as Mukimo, chapati, ugali, managu, samosas, bhajia and kachumbari that proved popular with both Kenyans and Koreans. A beverage point was also set up to provide a taste of premium Kenyan AA coffee which has to date found resonance with many Koreans.
Friends of Kenya including KOICA, Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Daewoo Engineering and Construction, Korea Tea Board, Paradise Group, Kenya Airways, Korea Federation of Textile Industries (KOFOTI), Goldrock Korea, LG Corp, Korea-Kenya Economic Forum KKEF, KEB Hana Bank (Itaewon) and Yooshin Engineering Company sent elaborate flower arrangements in recognition of this momentous landmark in our nation’s history. The profusion of beautiful colour was testament to Kenya’s influence and outreach in Korea as well the goodwill of our interlocutors and cordial relations nurtured over the years.
By Lorraine A. Owele