Africa We Want

KOREA IN RWANDA; RWANDA’S KWIBUKA 30 AND THE KOREA-AFRICA SUMMIT

This year, the Kwibuka 30 commemoration is being held in Rwanda in solemn remembrance, in the spirit of ensuring that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is never forgotten. Ten years ago, then-United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended Kwibuka 20. This year, a Korean Special Envoy representing the Government of the Republic of Korea at the bilateral level visited Rwanda to attend the Kwibuka 30 commemoration event, together with 18 heads of state and six former heads of state including Bill Clinton of the US and Nicolas Sarkozy of France. By Ambassador Jeong Woo Jin Jeong Woo Jin

It was in May 1994 that I became a civil servant at Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The reports of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda were the focus of attention at that time. When I went to Rwanda as the Korean Ambassador in June 2023, I felt the pain of those events very personally and all the more vividly than when I read about it in the papers. I could clearly sense that the trauma of the Genocide was still evident in Rwandan society and indeed in relations with neighbouring countries.

Rwanda today is very different from the Rwanda with which Korea established diplomatic relations in 1963. In particular, before and after the Genocide, Rwanda has transformed from a place marked by racial discrimination into a land in which discrimination is unacceptable.

Then-commander of the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) Paul Kagame led an army that put an end to the Genocide against the Tutsi. Since then, a lot changed including the national anthem and national flag. A new Rwanda was revealed to the world: a Rwanda in which discrimination is prohibited.

One might say that overcoming and outlawing various types of discrimination may be said to be a path travelled in achieving a deeper sense of humanity and respect for human dignity and rights. The new Rwanda is respected as making a significant contribution to the development of human history by nurturing a country where racial discrimination is impermissible.

The Genocide is a thing of the past, but the trauma continues to haunt survivors and their families. Rwanda still grapples with the aftermath of the Genocide, facing ongoing tensions with neighbouring countries.

Not only Rwanda but also its neighbouring countries, and extremist armed groups around them, have been victims of extreme racism and extreme violence. I sincerely hope that all of these may overcome the trauma of the Genocide, and that one day in the future, at the Kwibuka commemoration in Rwanda, they will stand strong, and heads of state from neighbouring countries will attend the memorials commemorating the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It is my heartfelt hope that this vision will be realised in the near future.

Today, Rwanda has ambitiously been pursuing the goals of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2035 with a per capita GDP of $4,036 and a high-income country by 2050 with $12,476 embraced as a long term National Transformation Strategy.


H.E. Jeong Woo Jin is the Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea to the Rwanda with President Kagame.

When President Kagame served as Chairman of the African Union, he actively promoted the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Recently, South Africa and several other countries have made pilot attempts to directly verify its value.

On global issues such as climate change, Rwanda was the first country in Africa to update its greenhouse gas reduction target (NDC) in May 2020, and a great number of eminent international organisations are eager to open a new regional representative office covering the entire African continent in Rwanda.

Author: MANZI
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