"Title","Audio","Image","Lieu","Publication Date","Speech Date","Short Title","Speech Themes","Speech Type","Localisation","Author","Date Decade","Evénement","Communiqués de presse","Publication URL","Speaker","Vidéo","Caption","Create Banner Item","Cycle","Enable Project Carousel","External Media","Hub page","Newsletter category","Pages to exclude","Related Audio/Video","Related Events","Related In the Media","Related News","Related Photos","Related Press Releases","Related Projects","Related Publications","Related Speeches","Slideshow Image","Agence","Tags","Thématique","Body","GUID","Summary","Language" "Address by Princess Zahra Aga Khan at the 2022 UCA graduation ceremony","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-06-pzak-uca-3-r.jpg","Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan","Wednesday, 22 June 2022","1655562600","Address by Princess Zahra Aga Khan at the 2022 UCA graduation ceremony","","speech","Kyrgyz Republic","","2020s","","","","8996","","","1","","1","","","","Education,Kyrgyz Republic","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-06-pzak-uca-3-r.jpg","University of Central Asia","","Education","

Bismillah ir Rehman ir Rahim

Your Excellency the Governor of GBAO, Alisher Mirzanobot,

Your Excellency the Governor of Naryn, Sabyrkul Ashimbaev,

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, and Members of the Board,

Rector Sohail Naqvi,

Dean Maxim Khomyakov and the Faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences,

Generous donors and friends of UCA around the world,

Parents and family members,

Distinguished guests,

And dear graduates of the class of 2022,

On behalf of the Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all, in Khorog, Naryn, and around the world, to the graduation of the Class of 2022. Before I address the graduates, who are soon going to join the ranks of the distinguished alumni of UCA, may I take this opportunity to highlight some extraordinary achievements of UCA that are likely to have a significant impact on the socio-economic development of Central Asia.

As you know, last year we celebrated the historic first convocation of UCA, and I cannot help admiring the giant strides this young University of Central Asia has taken in its short but immensely productive life.

First, I would like to acknowledge, on behalf of the Chancellor, the support and encouragement UCA has received from the Governments of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The several collaborative agreements UCA has signed with the various ministries are making a valuable contribution towards helping to promote and achieve national development agendas through public-private partnerships. These range from urban resilience programmes in Khorog and Naryn, with generous support from the Swiss Government and support of the AKDN agencies, to regional master plans to attract investments, promote digitization in the creation of “Smart Cities” and explore the potential for tourism in the region.

UCA defines itself as a “development university” focused on mountain societies. Its School of Arts and Sciences, which began classes just six years ago, is already considered among the premier Liberal Arts Schools in the Central Asian region, with a unique focus on the needs and challenges of mountain communities, in the hearts of which its campuses are located.

UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) last year celebrated 15 years since its founding; it has graduated over 200,000 course participants from its 17 learning centres, of which six are in Afghanistan. Its vocational education and entrepreneurship programmes have established an impressive record of enhancing occupational mobility and job creation through business start-ups. SPCE’s popular short-cycle courses are helping to upgrade technical skills and expand job opportunities, thereby providing a much-needed boost to enhancing the quality of life and harmony in rural communities. Encouraged by this success, the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees support the expansion of SPCE programmes.

Climate change is a global problem, but solutions and adaptation measures have to be locally defined and implemented. The reason that UCA teaches Earth and Environmental Sciences is that climate change will affect Central Asia as it will the rest of the planet. This sad reality will have several outcomes for the students of UCA. First of all, it will affect your daily lives and your families. It will force changes to the way you grow and distribute food; to your approach towards resources; and to the way you will build houses in the future. It will also create a raft of new jobs and careers that will be essential in the decades to come. Not only will this area, like others, require technicians and engineers who are capable of adapting daily life to a new and different reality, but it will also force changes to architecture, transport, forestry management, water conservation, livestock management, trade and effectively all areas of daily life. Most importantly, you, the students of today, will be the scientists of tomorrow. Those who can model and predict natural disasters as well as predict future changes in the climate, and the effect it will have on humans in the next hundred years or more. These scientists will be greatly in demand in various careers, from biology, geology and geography, to physics and chemistry, because all these fields will evolve with climate change, and career options will be varied and crucially important. Unfortunately, sooner than we think.

Among the Graduate School of Development’s many research accomplishments is the early success in finding drought-resistant varieties of crops, and sharing various remediation efforts with local communities. In addition, the University is engaging civil society organisations, community associations and working with women’s organisations in rural areas to find and implement sustainable solutions. Today, globally, there is a greater understanding of the potential for innovation in rural communities and how digital technologies can help farmers shift from input-intensive agriculture to knowledge-intensive agriculture. UCA is making a singular contribution in this endeavour by pushing the frontiers of knowledge and relevant research.

Let me now turn to the graduates of the Class of 2022, for whom I bring congratulations and good wishes from the Chancellor. Throughout your tenure at UCA he has been following your progress with great interest, and today is the culmination of your achievements of which we are all so proud. Despite the challenges and disruptions posed by COVID, you adapted to online learning and made up for lost time so that you could graduate on schedule. Kudos to all of you, and to the faculty and staff, from us Trustees.

The Faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences also played a significant role and were fully invested in ensuring that you graduated with the skills to enable you to pursue graduate education, or enter the job market with ease. The success of the first batch of graduates last year in achieving these objectives is evidence of the Faculty’s determination and dedication to your education. They deserve our heartfelt congratulations.

It is the Chancellor’s hope that the graduates of the School of Arts and Sciences will not only find employment opportunities in the region, but also that the graduates will themselves create employment opportunities and successful businesses to invigorate the economy of the entire region. Building an active and successful economic environment will improve the lives of all communities and add to social stability and well-being for all.

On behalf of the Chancellor, I would like to express our thanks and admiration to Sohail Naqvi, for the four years that he has spent at UCA as Rector, and for all his accomplishments in that time. Dr Naqvi has contributed to UCA in many ways, in improving the experiences of students and faculty alike. We wish Dr Naqvi every success in his future endeavours, and I would like to thank him again, on behalf of the Chancellor, for his many contributions to UCA.

The generosity of donors has made it possible to you to access an internationally benchmarked quality of education; to them we all owe a deep debt of gratitude. Their continued support will be pivotal to ensuring a strong financial foundation for UCA to sustain itself in the decades ahead.

As you continue your professional journey, our hopes and aspirations go with you. Ultimately, UCA’s success will be measured by the success of its graduates. No effort has been spared to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to enable you to thrive in a rapidly changing world, and it is our dearest hope that you will underpin your professional growth with the values of pluralism, responsible citizenship and ethical leadership.

Graduands, as you enter the next phase of your lives, UCA eagerly looks forward to celebrating in your success. We hope that your alma mater will always have a special place in your heart, and that you will stay connected to UCA as a lifelong learner and enthusiastic ambassador.

Congratulations to all of you again, on behalf of the Chancellor, and thank you.


""... أُقدم أجمل التهاني والتمنيات الطيبة باسم سمو المستشار، الذي كان يتابع تقدمكم باهتمام كبير طوال فترة دراستكم في جامعة آسيا الوسطى، واليوم هو خير مثال على تتويج إنجازاتكم التي نفخر بها جميعاً"".

","English" "Speech by Princess Zahra Aga Khan","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-04-tanzania-akhd_cancer_center4.jpg","Dar es Salaam, Tanzania","Tuesday, 12 April 2022","1649591100","Speech by Princess Zahra Aga Khan","","speech","Tanzania","","2020s","","Foundation stone laid for Tanzanian cancer care centre, 1.7m to benefit","","8996","","","1","","1","","","","Tanzania,Aga Khan Health Services,Health","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-04-tanzania-akhd_cancer_center4.jpg","Aga Khan Health Services","","Health","

Honourable Ummy Mwalimu, Honourable Minister of Health of the United Republic of Tanzania,

Ms Stephanie Mouen, Country Director, Agence Française de Développement,

President and Vice Chancellor of AKU and fellow members of AKU Board of Trustees,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies, Gentlemen and Friends,

Jambo and Karibu and Ramadan Kareem

Today marks the beginning of another really exciting journey for the Aga Khan Development Network as we lay the Foundation Stone for the cancer care centre at the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam. We are grateful to Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, to the Ministry of Health and to various other Government authorities for their support and cooperation in enabling us to build the cancer care centre at this strategically important site.

We also extend our immense gratitude to Agence Française de Développement for being a critical partner on this project. Our relationship with AFD goes back many years and spans many initiatives. Their commitment and partnership have shown an incredible commitment to improving health outcomes in East Africa and AFD has been instrumental in our work. Thank you!

This centre will further enable the Aga Khan Development Network to play a pivotal role in promoting cancer care of international standards in Tanzania.

Honourable Minister,

Your continuous support to our endeavours in the health sector is truly appreciated, and for this we would like to convey our deepest gratitude. Thank you! We are fortunate and grateful that you performed the commencement ceremony for the Phase 2 project of the Aga Khan Hospital, and today you will lay the foundation of the cancer care centre and thank you indeed for that again. Following the completion of Aga Khan Hospital’s Phase 2 project, Aga Khan Health Service, Tanzania and Agence Française de Développement undertook a study on the prevalence of cancer in the country.

This study highlighted the need to establish comprehensive cancer care services as cancer is becoming an increasing burden for public health in the country. Statistics from the United Nations Cancer Research Organization (IARC) show that there are 42,000 new cases of cancer each year in Tanzania, with a high mortality rate of over 28,000. Almost 75 percent of those cases are diagnosed at stage 3 and 4. This is a major challenge and affects survival rates. Cervical cancer represents 40 percent of all female cancers in Tanzania and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programmes are still in their infancies, unfortunately. Facilities are few and far between requiring patients to travel long distances to reach facilities for cancer screening, early diagnosis, and treatment. As a result, cancer patients present themselves too often too late.

The cancer burden can be greatly reduced if there is widespread awareness for people to have routine health check-ups, so the disease can be caught early on and easily treated.

The findings of the study above have guided the establishment of the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project, a strategic public-private-partnership, led by the Aga Khan Health Service, Tanzania together with the Government of Tanzania and Agence Française.

Thanks to a 13.3 million Euro grant, 10 million from Agence Française and 3.3 million from Aga Khan Development Network.

This four-year project is an evidence-based comprehensive initiative, aimed at reducing the burden of cancer morbidity and mortality, through a strategy that focuses on the enhanced performance and expanded outreach of the TCCP partner institutions including:

1. The Ministry of Health

2. The President's Office

3. Ocean Road Cancer Institute

4. Muhimbili National Hospital,

5. Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, and with the technical help of the Institut Curie in Paris, France.

Today’s foundation stone ceremony marks a critical project objective of enhancing comprehensive cancer care facilities in this country. The cancer care centre will have two linear accelerators to complement radiation oncology at the Ocean Road Institute and it will work with the public health system to strengthen community cancer care practices, as well as services that are affordable, comprehensive and stretched across the nation. It will include primary preventive services, screening and early detection. The new centre will work with government health facilities, to provide welfare support to needy patients, including beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Fund NHIF.

AKHS Tanzania's continued growth over nine decades is a strong testimony of our commitment to health care and development in this country. Today, AKHS facilities are known for their high level of ethical practices, innovation and provision of quality, safe and evidence-based care. The hub-and spokes-model, with one hospital here in Dar es Salaam, a medical centre in Mwanza and 24 outreach centres across 14 regions of the country, enables our institutions to increase access to quality health services, as well as to work closely with the government and other partners across the health spectrum.

Our institutions contribute to and positively help impact the health of over a million people in Tanzania every year. The patient welfare programme enables non-affording Tanzanians to utilise services at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam and in Mwanza. The programme provides financial support of about 5 billion TZS which equates to US$ 2.2 million annually and this is in addition to the 24 billion TZS which is US$ 10.2 million contributed through subsidised services offered under the NHIF programme.

The Aga Khan Health Services has been working relentlessly to attract international grants to strengthen the health systems in Tanzania, in coordination with the Government of Tanzania and especially the Ministry of Health.

Earlier, amongst other investments, AKHS was able to secure a US$ 14.7 million IMPACT project, funded by Global Affairs Canada and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, aimed at improving access to reproductive, maternal and newborn health in the Mwanza region between 2017 and 2021. The project made a substantive contribution towards reducing maternal and newborn mortality in the Mwanza region, reaching over 1 million beneficiaries.

I thank the President’s Office and the Ministry of Health for exceptional support to the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project, and for being part of the Project Steering Committee, monitoring project implementation. Without your continuous support and guidance, the project could not be successful.

I also thank the Bugando Medical Center, Ocean Road Cancer Institute and Muhimbili National Hospital for their active participation and contributions to the success of this innovative partnership, which we believe, will positively change the landscape in Tanzania for cancer prevention and treatment.

Also, our special appreciation to Institute Curie for their commitment as a full partner primarily responsible for providing technical expertise, and guidance concerning the implementation of the project across the cancer care spectrum.

Also, I extend my thanks and appreciation to all cancer stakeholders such as foundations and survivor groups participating in the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project.

My heartfelt gratitude to all those who have been involved in planning this state-of-the-art Cancer Centre.

On a personal note, I am so very happy to see this event happen today. I have been discussing this project as part of the wider project in Dar es Salaam and in Tanzania with my father for 20 years and I know that he would be thrilled to be here. So, thank you!


""تساهم مؤسساتنا وتساعد في إحداث تأثير إيجابي على صحة أكثر من مليون شخص في تنزانيا كل عام ... سيعمل المركز الجديد مع المرافق الصحية الحكومية على تقديم الدعم والرعاية الاجتماعية للمرضى المحتاجين.""


","English" "Address by the Honourable Minister of Health Ummy Ally Mwalimu","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-04-tanzania-akhd_cancer_center3.jpg","Dar es Salaam, Tanzania","Tuesday, 12 April 2022","1649587500","Address by the Honourable Minister of Health Ummy Ally Mwalimu","","speech","Tanzania","","2020s","","Foundation stone laid for Tanzanian cancer care centre, 1.7m to benefit","","264979","","","1","","1","","","","Tanzania,Health,Aga Khan Health Services","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-04-tanzania-akhd_cancer_center3.jpg","Aga Khan Health Services","","Health","

Thank you very much Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sichwale.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, The Head of the Social Welfare Committee, of Aga Khan Development Network

Justice Othman Chande, Former Chief Justice of Tanzania and Member of the Aga Khan University

His Excellency, Nabil Hajlaoui, French Ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Sichwale, Chief Medical Officer of Tanzania

Dr Grace Maghembe, Deputy Permanent Secretary Responsible for Health, President Office, Regional Administration and Local Government

Mr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, President and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Aga Khan University

Dr Gijs Walraven, Director of Health, Aga Khan Development Network

Dr Zeenat Sulaiman, Regional Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Health Services, East Africa

Ms Stephanie, Representative of the French Development Agency (AFD) Tanzania

Representative of the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Dr Rashid, Dar es Salaam Regional Medical Officer

Heads of Public Institutions, Development Partners, Directors from the Ministry of Health, President Office, Executive Directors from Various Government and Private Health Institutions in Tanzania

Representatives of Religious Institutions

Invited Guests

Ladies and gentlemen,

Nawasalimu kwa Jina la Jamuhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania

First, let me start by thanking God, for giving us good health and enabling us to be here to participate in this important event of laying the foundation stone for the construction of the cancer care centre at the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam. In particular, I would like to express on behalf of Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan,President of the United Republic of Tanzania, our congratulations and appreciation for the construction of the modern cancer care centre here in Dar es Salaam. Hongereni Sana Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam. But I will also want to thank you very much for the briefing and insightful information about the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project (TCCP), we have been told it’s a PPP project which is going to be implemented by the Aga Khan Hospital in collaboration with the ministry of Health, PO-RALG, Muhimbili National Hospital, Ocean Road Hospital and Bugando Medical Hospital. I think this is a very good model of a PPP project in the health sector and I would like to encourage other partners to take this as an example of a good collaboration between Government and the private sector in improving access to quality healthcare services for Tanzanians. Hongereni sana wote ambao mmebuni mradi huu.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We all know that non-communicable diseases, including cancer, affect us all. Cancer is a disease that affects people of all ages and genders, children, adults, men to women. We all know people whose lives have been cut short by cancer here in Tanzania and outside Tanzania. Furthermore, it also causes significant losses to the nation because the disease reduces the workforce and slows down the development of the individual and the nation. It also results in family dependency and increasing the burden on the health system as it is a chronic disease and consumes many resources.

Statistics from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for 2020, for example, show an estimated 19.3 million new cancer patients worldwide each year. Of these, more than 10 million, about 50 percent of the new cases, about 50 percent of the patients die from cancer each year. In addition, out of five people, one person is diagnosed with cancer and out of eight people, one dies from the disease. Here in Tanzania according to International Agency for Research on Cancer, Tanzania has an incidence of 76 cancer patients per a hundred thousand population per annum. Equivalent to 42,000 new cancer cases each year. And approximately 29,000 patients, equivalent to 68 percent, die each year because of cancer. This is mainly attributed by the late diagnosis and inadequate number of facilities to provide or to cater for cancer treatment in palliative care. The national population based cancer registry has registered for example 12,000 new cases which is almost 28 percent of the expected number of new cases per annum for the year 2020. This means further effort is needed to capture all cases. According to the National Registry, Eastern Zone has the highest number of registered cases about 7,381 followed by Northern Zone 2,783 cases, Lake Zone 1098 cases. In other zones in Tanzania combined making the remaining 13% of the registered cases. These statistics are alarmingly high and as a country we need to make immediate measures to control the situation. Strengthening health education, early screening and treatment is key for the control of cancer in Tanzania.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am aware that on 11 March 2022 the Ministry of Health partnered with the Aga Khan Hospital here in Dar es Salaam in the official launch of the Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Project (TCCP). One of the project goals as we have been informed is the improvement of cancer care infrastructure and treatment facilities in Tanzania. Recognising the importance of this cancer project, the Government of Tanzania will give all the necessary support to make sure that its citizens can easily access these much-needed services. Availability of these services here at the Aga Khan Hospital will reduce patient congestion at our Ocean Road Cancer Institute. We have been informed here this centre is expected to treat about 120 patients per day. Currently at our Ocean Road Cancer Institute they see about 800- 900 patients per day, so you can see the importance of this centre. It also going to reduce congestion at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute. Good news, Princess Zahra, I am very pleased to hear that this centre will also provide services to about 35 percent of cancer patients who will not be able to afford medical treatment [they] will be offered welfare support. We would like to encourage this arrangement to be implemented and we would like to thank you very much for taking it into consideration of the Tanzanians especially from low-income households to have access to high-quality cancer services at the Aga Khan Hospital. This is a good thing and I congratulate you very much. Asanteni sana.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I understand that Tanzania has a shortage of radiation equipment especially LINAC machines. So far in Tanzania we have a population of about 60 million people and we have seven radiation treatment machines, four are located at Ocean Road Cancer Institute, one at BESTA, one at Good Samaritan Hospital in Ifakara and one is in Bugando Zonal Referral Hospital, in Mwanza. I am told that Tanzania Comprehensive Cancer Centre will add two radiation treatment machines thus increasing the number of radiation treatment machines in the country to nine machines, increasing access to cancer radiation treatment in Tanzania. It is my hope that these machines will be matched with all machines in other hospitals in Tanzania so that, should one of them break down, as we usually observed at our Ocean Road Cancer Institute, then patients can easily be transferred and treated in other hospitals.

In addition, these services will reduce the number of patients travelling abroad for cancer services and it will make Tanzania the hub of premier care - for premier cancer care in medical tourism. All of these show that our Government is determined to fight cancer, but also enabling private hospitals to provide such services. And since the Aga Khan Hospital is going to add two radiation machines at our Ocean Road Cancer Institute we are installing a PET-SCAN machine, so we are looking forward to seeing complementarity between the Aga Khan Hospital and our Ocean Road Cancer Institute and other cancer centres in Tanzania.

However, my humble request to the Aga Khan Hospital here is also to invest in improving or enhancing access to screening services for early detection. As a Minister of Health, it is really, very, very painful to see that 80 percent of patients who attend or visit our Ocean Road Cancer Institute, they go there while cancer is at stage 3 or stage 4 then they make treatment very difficult. And so, we would also like to request the Aga Khan Hospital and other partners also to collaborate with the Government of Tanzania to enhance access to screening services and detection not only for cancer but also for other non-communicable diseases, for example, diabetes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would also like to recognise that the Aga Khan, maybe before talking about this, the Government will also continue to ensure or to reach out to various girls in Tanzania to have HPV vaccine. We launched it in 2017-2018 but because of COVID-19 the number has gone down because of supply of HPV vaccine in Tanzania. So, we do also believe that improving access to HPV vaccine to young girls in Tanzania will also help us to reduce the burden of cancer disease in Tanzania.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to recognise that Aga Khan Health Services in Tanzania has been working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health for many years. It has had enormous contribution on health system strengthening, particularly around quality health service delivery, in effective and efficient programming in maternal child and newborn health quality and accreditation, capacity building and now on cancer care being the good example.

The Ministry of Health highly supports this project which provides [a] unique opportunity for improving access to cancer care especially for high-end treatment and training of health professionals and we believe that partners and communities will respond positively to this project. The Government appreciates Aga Khan Health Services’ integrated approach of service delivery and collaborations in building capacities of public and private health service providers on cancer.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Before concluding this speech, on behalf of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan,  President of the United Republic of Tanzania, I would like to thank various stakeholders and donors who have made this project possible including the French Development Agency (AFD), thank you very much Stephanie for the contribution and the Aga Khan Foundation. But also, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, we thank you very much for your active participation to make this project a reality today. I know cancer, you are so much concerned to make sure Tanzanians, especially the women, men have access to cancer, quality cancer treatment, access to quality cancer services in Tanzania.

So, with due respect, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations and appreciation to His Highness the Aga Khan for giving priority to cancer and for ongoing support to Tanzania in improving health care. Kindly send our warm appreciation to His Highness the Aga Khan.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the role and importance of the media in our joint efforts to educate the public about cancer and how the sixth-term Government is improving medical services in the country. I urge you to inform Tanzanians about the importance of early screening of cancer and other non-communicable diseases as soon as possible in order to reduce the burden of disease.

With that said, I would like to officially announce that I am now ready to lay the foundation stone for constructing the cancer care centre here at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam.

Thank you for your attention, asanteni sana kwa kunisikiliza.


""الإحصائيات مرتفعة بشكل ينذر بالخطر، ونحن كدولة نحتاج إلى اتخاذ تدابير فورية للسيطرة على هذا الوضع. يُعتبر تعزيز الثقافة الصحية وإجراء الفحوصات المبكرة وتقديم العلاج أمراً أساسياً للسيطرة على السرطان في تنزانيا"".

","English" "Statement by Prince Rahim Aga Khan at the virtual Afghanistan Conference 2022","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-princerahim-afghanistan.jpg","Afghanistan","Thursday, 31 March 2022","1648720800","Statement by Prince Rahim Aga Khan at the virtual Afghanistan Conference 2022","","speech","Afghanistan","","2020s","","","","9241","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","264216","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-princerahim-afghanistan.jpg","","","","


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan, I thank the Governments of Germany, Qatar, the United Kingdom, as well as the United Nations, for convening this meeting at a time when so many Afghans are in peril.

Since August, despite huge challenges, in cooperation with UN agencies, the Aga Khan Development Network has maintained its life-saving work across Afghanistan: keeping its hospitals and clinics open; assisting communities with food, shelter and livelihoods; and continuing to help thousands of children of both genders to access learning.

That is a sign of the unfailing commitment of the Ismaili Imamat and the AKDN to the people of Afghanistan. Our experience over the past three decades, along with generous support from many international partners, has taught us to believe deeply in the capacity of Afghans, in their pluralism, and in the strength of their vibrant, diverse communities. They have shown time and again that they are resilient and resourceful, but today, they need help.

That is why we urge the international community to support the UN’s humanitarian appeal with generosity and speed. But it must also address the causes of this crisis – the economic collapse, banking and monetary paralysis, and the strangulation of legitimate Afghan businesses and jobs. These deserve equally urgent and practical attention. 

Today, we must send a signal of hope to Afghans across the country, and especially at the community level where Afghanistan’s future will be determined. It is there that Afghans of all backgrounds will come together to address their most urgent needs. Let us act swiftly in solidarity, with foresight and with compassion.

Thank you.


""يجب أن نرسل اليوم إشارة أمل إلى الأفغان في جميع أنحاء البلاد ... دعونا نتصرف بسرعة من خلال التضامن والتبصّر والتعاطف"".

","English" "Speech by the AKDN Diplomatic Representative Nazim Ahmad","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-mozambique-akbar_hakim-0852.jpg","Maputo, Mozambique","Monday, 21 March 2022","1647684900","Inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy Maputo","","speech","Mozambique","","2020s","","","","263585","","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan Academies,Education,Mozambique","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-mozambique-akbar_hakim-0852.jpg","Aga Khan Academies","","Education","


Your Excellency President of the Republic of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi

Your Excellency President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

Your Excellency Prince Rahim Aga Khan

Your Excellency Prime Minister Adriano Maleiane

Your Excellency President Joaquim Chissano

Her Excellency Madam Minister of Education and Human Development Carmelita Namashulua

Honourable Members of the Government

Your Excellency Secretary of State in Maputo Province Vitória Dias Diogo

Your Excellency Governor of the Province of Maputo Júlio Parruque

Your Excellency President of the Municipal Council of the City of Matola Calisto Cossa

Your Excellency Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal Francisco André

Representatives of the Authorities of the States of Mozambique and Portugal

Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am deeply honoured to convey to all present here our most heartfelt and warmest greetings to this inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Academy Maputo. 

This is a memorable occasion for all of us, which officially marks the opening of an important project of the Aga Khan Development Network in Mozambique, a project that will, we believe, impact the development of Mozambique and of Mozambicans.

What we are witnessing today reflects the spirit of partnership, friendship and the strong relationship between the Republic of Mozambique and the Ismaili Imamat, grounded on shared values and on the common goal of building a better future for the peoples of this beautiful country, known as the pearl of the Indic.

I therefore welcome, with particularly warmth, Your Excellency President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi to this ceremony, and convey our gratitude for making availability and honouring us with this presence.

I also warmly greet Your Excellency President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa for having also accepted to participate in this ceremony.

I also extend a fraternal and respectful salutation, allow me, to Your Excellency President Joaquim Chissano, who makes us very happy with Your presence and who was at the epicenter of this project and the institutional presence of the Aga Khan Development Network in the Republic of Mozambique, since 1998.

I express my deep gratitude to the state entities – central, provincial and local; to public companies; the project team; past and present leadership and faculty; and to all the employees who started and continued this ambitious project, since 2008.

We are fortunate to have, with us today, two Heads of State that are recognised for the affinities that unite Mozambique and Portugal. The Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network are privileged to also have a close relationship with the two countries here represented at the highest level.  It is an honour to be able to humbly welcome you to this house of knowledge, of sharing, of merit, of equality, of inclusion, of opportunities, of intellectual enlightenment and of hope.  Hope in this generation that studies here, hope in the coming generations who will study here, hope that these generations will be in the leadership of the country, in its progress, in improving the quality of life of Mozambicans.

This Academy provides excellent education in state-of-the-art infrastructures, from early childhood development to pre-university.

The principle of providing access to opportunities is rooted in AKDN projects, having the first initiatives established more than 100 years ago in Eastern Africa and South Asia, emanating from its principles of respect for human dignity and social conscience.

The Aga Khan Academy Maputo, inaugurated today by the Presidents of two Portuguese-speaking countries, in the presence of Prince Rahim Aga Khan, will play a central role inside and outside Portuguese-speaking countries, in the creation of capacity, knowledge and exchange. This will be reinforced by the future Aga Khan Academy in Lisbon.

We can find ways to build bridges around knowledge and competence, to build stronger and more inclusive societies.

Today, the creation of these bridges is increasingly pressing. We hope that this Academy, its students, parents and teachers, can make positive contributions to our common future.

Therefore, I thank you once again for your presence at this auspicious ceremony and reiterate my deep gratitude to the Mozambican government and to all those who made this dream a reality.

Thank you very much.


""إنه لشرف كبير أن أرحب بكم وبكل تواضع هنا في دار المعرفة والمشاركة والجدارة والمساواة والاندماج، والفرص، والتنوير الفكري والأمل"".

","English" "Speech by President of the Portuguese Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-mozambique-akbar_hakim-4175.jpg","Maputo, Mozambique","Monday, 21 March 2022","1647684000","Inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy Maputo ","","speech","Mozambique,Portugal","","2020s","","","","263582","","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan Academies,Education,Mozambique,Portugal","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-mozambique-akbar_hakim-4175.jpg","Aga Khan Academies","","Education","

His Excellency the President of the Republic of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi,

His Excellency Prince Rahim Aga Khan,

His Excellency President Joaquim Chissano,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Young students of this Academy,

I was here in January of 2020, when the Academy was being born. I took the time to talk to the students about its present and its future. The Academy was yet to become what it is today. It was still in its inception, but now we can all start looking at its future. I told you then and I will tell you again: attending this Academy is a great privilege and a unique opportunity in your lives. It represents the vision of His Highness the Aga Khan, which has been passed on to His Highness Prince Rahim, and it is a vision made up of humanism, of respect for the individual, for the dignity of each individual, made of flesh and bone, with their own particularities, their own diverse paths and stories. This is a very rich way of experiencing Islam, one that believes there is an intimate connection between faith and social action. Humanism results from that dignity of the divine creation of the human being and that is why it is universal; that is why it is based on tolerance and dialogue, open and inclusive, and with a place for everyone. I often carry with me a quotation from the Qur’an, which says: ""The blessings of your Lord reach everyone. No one shall be denied the blessings of your Lord."" It is about being open to all religions, to those without one, to all beliefs, everywhere in the world. This is the vision that inspires the entire Aga Khan Development Network, both economically and socially, and also this Academy. A vision that has inspired the message of the Aga Khan Network all over the world: in education, health, social solidarity, supporting those in need, fraternity, dialogue, the gathering of cultures and civilizations. This is a reality we are familiar with in Portugal, where there is a strong Ismaili Community, a Community that has been the bearer of this message of humanism and fraternity.

This message is also very present in Mozambique, a country with an Ismaili Community that is also very strong, dynamic and courageous. And this Academy is, in its own way, the recognition of the importance of that Community. That is why we have here today the Presidents of the two States in representation of the two Peoples. The President of Mozambique testifying to the strength and the future of a great country, generous and open, one which would rather give than take. And the President of Portugal, who shares the same values and principles, in an atmosphere of fraternity. And we are both here, in the context of my visit to Mozambique, to thank His Highness Prince Rahim for his message, a message of future, one that will carry on a legacy. But none of us are what really matters in this celebration, not me, nor President Nyusi, nor President Chissano, a very important figure in the early days of this project, nor even His Highness Prince Rahim; what really matters are these young women and men who are here today. They are the raison d'être of the Academy, there is no Academy without students and youth. And what I want to tell you, picking up on our conversation two years ago, before the pandemic, is that you are privileged. 

There are millions of children and young people around the world who cannot attend an Academy like this. Millions in every country and every continent would like to be able to attend an Academy such as this one. That is a great responsibility you bear on your shoulders. The more you take the more you shall give to others. One's happiness can only be built with others in mind. And the only way to reward the millions that will never get to attend this school is to be the best and the most you can be. You have to be the best at grasping this opportunity that others will not have. The best at studying, learning and communicating, at living with those who are different and respecting them. And then you must be the best in building Mozambique. A country that shall be open to all religions, to those who have no religion, to all opinions, dreams and future projects. That is your duty. 

His Highness Prince Rahim came here to express that the Aga Khan's message enabled the construction of this Academy. But its success will depend on the success of each and every student that will pass through here. I wish you all the happiness in the world because your happiness is the happiness of Mozambique. If there is happiness in Mozambique, there is happiness in Portugal. In Africa. In the world. What we do in our lives has an impact on the whole world. It is your duty to learn from the message of His Highness the Aga Khan, embodied by His Highness Prince Rahim Aga Khan here today: be useful to the world, but start by being useful to Mozambique.


""ثمة الملايين من الأطفال والشباب حول العالم لا يمكنهم الحضور والدراسة في مثل هذه الأكاديمية... والطريقة الوحيدة لتعويض الملايين الذين ليس بإمكانهم القدوم إلى هنا هو أن تكونوا في أفضل حالاتكم وأن توظّفوا أفضل إمكاناتكم"".

","English" "Speech by President of the Republic of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-mozambique-akbar_hakim-4200.jpg","Maputo, Mozambique","Monday, 21 March 2022","1647683100","Inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy Maputo ","","speech","Mozambique","","2020s","","","","263580","","","1","","1","","","","Education,Aga Khan Academies,Mozambique","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-mozambique-akbar_hakim-4200.jpg","Aga Khan Academies","","Education","

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to begin my remarks by once again welcoming His Highness Prince Rahim Aga Khan and his delegation. I trust you are enjoying our traditional hospitality, seasoned with abundant smiles and typical Mozambican cuisine.

It is always a pleasure to have Your Highness on our homeland soil, indeed I recalled that when I was with your father in France, I repeated this many times. We are sure that wherever you go, you have been our ambassadors promoting our landmark of hospitality and welcoming, to economic and social investment.

Once again, we would like to reiterate our warm greetings to His Excellency, dear brother and friend, President of the Portuguese Republic, friend of the Mozambicans. Just yesterday, I was told that for three hours you were talking to Mozambicans in the coffee shop. You are also a friend of the Aga Khan Development Network, we thought that it was in this light that you could not resist the invitation to be with us at this inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Academy.

We can, therefore, say that it is an honour to be present with you at this solemn ceremony of the inauguration of this Academy and to share the history of the growth of this group in Mozambique.

I renew the invitation that I will formally extend to you so that in August we will also be on another mission in Quelimane.

It is with great honour that we inaugurate today the Aga Khan Academy Maputo, in our beautiful city of Matola, Maputo province. This is the 2nd Academy of the Aga Khan Development Network that is implemented in our country.

The ceremony we attended today is a further testimony that our partnership agenda focused on the development will always be a priority, with human capital at its core.

Your Highness the Prince, we have been monitoring with appreciation the implementation of several social and economic projects carried out by the Aga Khan Network that contribute a lot to the development of Mozambique, mostly aligned with the national development programme.

Let me remind you of what we talked about yesterday when the three of us were together.

It doesn't need to be half of this infrastructure, it can even be one third, one third and in partnership with the Aga Khan group we'll build a hospital in Mozambique. It will be different. It will help, it will reduce travel, but taking the words of President Marcelo, it will touch the Man.

Therefore, we are pleased to say that the inauguration of this Academy is part of a far-reaching vision and is part of the reinforcement of the good cooperative relationships that we are establishing with different partners who, with us, dream of building an increasingly prosperous society.

I think you know that we will soon sign again the agreement that is being worked on and this agreement will be an instrument to strengthen our relations.

This Academy is the result of our relationship with this group that we have carried out in recent years, following our interest in expanding its field of activity, aiming for its growth. I am convinced that Mozambique can only succeed in building a prosperous nation if it succeeds in its human capital development programme, which involves promoting universal access to quality education that is capable of meeting the demand of the labour market in quantitative and, above all, qualitative terms.

We encourage the activities developed in Mozambique by the Aga Khan Network, as been referred, like the case of social development programmes, services to promote tourism, with the management of the Polana Serena Hotel as an important mark, services of industrial production such as in textiles here in Matola, the Agricultural Institute of Bilibiza in the province of Cabo Delgado, which unfortunately was the target of a terrorist action.

With the inauguration of this Academy in the city of Matola, I pray that my compatriots from this city and from other corners of our beautiful Mozambique and from the world, may acquire the knowledge and skills that this establishment will offer. The know-how that will come out of here should become a tool capable of driving the socio-economic development of our country and serve everyone without distinction.

I would like to end by thanking everyone here present and those who worked so that this act was crowned with success. And I will say one more thing: Maputo province must take advantage of these infrastructures in a rational manner and within the regulations of this institution. Let it not just be a beauty implanted in the city, but knowledge should come out of this.

To His Highness Prince Rahim Aga Khan of the Aga Khan Development Network, thank you very much for the initiative, I salute you personally and also thank you for being in person at this event of great importance for Mozambicans.

In particular, I would like to thank my brother, His Excellency Professor Marcelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic, for his honourable presence at this ceremony, and for the fact that since yesterday we have been directing our attention to important projects for the creation of the well-being of those who need it most.

Thank you very much for your attention.




""مع افتتاح هذه الأكاديمية في مدينة ماتولا ... يجب أن تصبح المعرفة التي ستحصلون عليها أداة قادرة على تعزيز التنمية الاجتماعية والاقتصادية في بلدنا، فضلاً عن ضرورة تقديم الخدمات للجميع دون تمييز"".


","English" "Speech by Prince Rahim Aga Khan","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-mozambique-akbar_hakim-4120.jpg","Maputo, Mozambique","Monday, 21 March 2022","1647674100","Inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy Maputo ","","speech","Mozambique","","2020s","","","","9241","","","1","","1","","","","Education,Mozambique,Aga Khan Academies","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2022-03-mozambique-akbar_hakim-4120.jpg","Aga Khan Academies","","Education","


Your Excellency, President Nyusi, Republic of Mozambique

Your Excellency, President Marcelo of the Portuguese Republic

Your Excellency, President Chissano

Honourable ministers and excellencies

Students, parents, and staff of the Aga Khan Academy

Todo protocol compredo

Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan, good afternoon. Your Excellency, President Nyusi, without your friendship and your support for this project we would not be here today. Under your leadership, the Mozambican authorities provided the enabling conditions for this project to see the light of day. We are inspired by your leadership and honoured by your presence – thank you.

Excellency, President Marcelo, your presence here today is a symbol of the deep friendship between the Ismaili Imamat and the Republic of Portugal, and we are honoured and grateful that you are here with us.

Excellency, President Chissano, I know that my father the Aga Khan and Your Excellency first discussed education in Mozambique some five decades ago. And that you are here today for this inauguration is an honour and a joy – thank you. I wish to thank our friends at the Agence Française de Développement for their collaboration on this academy project. They are a longstanding and valued partner of the Aga Khan Development Network, and we appreciate them deeply.

This Academy is one among a growing network of integrated Aga Khan Academies comprising Mombasa, Kenya; Hyderabad, India; Maputo; Dhaka, Bangladesh, currently in construction; and Lisbon, Portugal, in the design phase. These will be followed by Islamabad, and Inshallah several more. The wide geographic spread of the Academies is by design – to allow students and staff to seamlessly travel to academies in other countries, see different cultures, and build an appreciation and a love for them. The intercultural awakening that we hope will be experienced at the Aga Khan Academies is further enhanced by their highly diverse student bodies. For instance, in this academy, half the students are Mozambican, while the other half hail from 23 other countries.

It is no accident then, that one of the Aga Khan strands with which the Academies complement the International Baccalaureate is pluralism. We know that the Academy students will graduate into a highly interconnected world, and they need therefore to be open minded and exposed to a multiplicity of backgrounds and of views. Further preparing the Academy students, the IB curriculum at this academy is taught in two languages – Portuguese and English – but an almost unlimited number of languages can be learnt here.

As a centre of excellence, this Academy will equip its students with the tools needed to be competitive and to thrive, as they go on to their universities and then enter the arena of adult life. And it will teach them to push themselves to be the best they can possibly be.

But just as important as the academic tools with which the academy will equip its students, are the values they will strengthen here. Indeed, another one of the Aga Khan strands interwoven into the IB curriculum is that of ethics. Ethics are taught here not just in theory, but put into practice in elements of service and of leadership in the student's daily lives. The Aga Khan Academies intend for their graduates not to be good at subjects only, but good as individuals. While tools are important, the values that drive their use are what will make the world better through these students. Our commitment to our parents, then, is to do our utmost to develop values and ethics in their children, just as we equip them with the practical skills needed to achieve success in their lives.

To the students here today, I would like to share with you one perspective. Throughout your studies and your youth, adults will tell you that the future is ahead of you. I want to tell you that the future is what you leave behind you, shaped by every one of your actions and your statements and your decisions. The future follows behind you in the path that you choose. Look at this academy - it's an institution born of past decisions and past actions, which now will shape the future: your future, the future of your families, and the future of this beautiful country, Mozambique.

I cannot end today without saying that what I've seen here in the last days is a great friendship between the Ismaili Imamat and these two countries. And I think in our organisation and in our community, nobody embodies friendship as much as our diplomatic representative, Nazim Ahmad, without whom perhaps all of this would have been much more difficult. So Nazim, I want to recognise your role in getting us all here today.

Thank you very much.


""طوال فترة دراستكم ومرحلة شبابكم، سيخبركم البالغون أن المستقبل أمامكم. أود إخباركم أن المستقبل هو ما تتركوه وراءكم، وما تشكلونه من خلال أفعالكم وتصريحاتكم وقراراتكم، وإن المستقبل يتبعكم في الطريق الذي اخترتموه"".

","English" "The Global Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-2022-peter_kalmus_copienl.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Monday, 28 February 2022","1645899300","Address by Chief Guest Dr Peter Kalmus at the Global Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Kenya,Pakistan,Tanzania,Uganda","","2020s","","","","262283","","","1","","1","","","","Education,Pakistan,Kenya,Tanzania,Uganda","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-2022-peter_kalmus_copienl.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education","

His Highness the Aga Khan;

Princess Zahra Aga Khan;

Guest of Honour Dr Peter Mathuki, Secretary General of the East African Community;

Chairman Zakir Mahmood and the Board of Trustees;

Chairman Moyez Alibhai and the AKU-Kenya University Council;

President and Vice Chancellor Sulaiman Shahabuddin;

Ladies and gentlemen;

And above all, to you, the incredible graduates:

Greetings and congratulations. What an honour it is to address you today, on this joyful occasion. Great job to all of you! I share your commitment to improving the lives of all beings on this Earth. I want to acknowledge AKU’s work to improve quality of life in the developing world, as well as the leadership that Prince Rahim and the AKDN are demonstrating in addressing climate change and environmental degradation.

Now, this strikes me as a strange time in our planet’s four-and-half-billion-year history for giving convocation speeches. 

As a climate scientist, I see a meteor hurtling directly toward our achingly beautiful planet, and I don’t yet see society or world leaders mobilising to stop it. Fossil fuels are heating our planet at a rate of a tenth of a degree Celsius every five years. This may not sound like much, but for an entire planet to heat this quickly is both astounding and terrifying.

The disasters we are living through now are just the beginning. At every additional fraction of heating, climate disasters will come faster and hit harder. Like gut punches to our global society, they will increasingly stress infrastructure systems, economic systems, energy systems, food and water systems, political systems and ecosystems. 

The proximal cause of climate destruction is burning fossil fuels. Before we had a fossil fuel industry, the planet was in energy balance. The same amount of energy came in as sunlight as went back out to space, so it stayed at a constant temperature. Burning gas, coal and oil has changed that. It continues pushing our planet further and further out of balance, forcing it to heat up.

The crisis has been overwhelmingly caused by the Global North, with impacts hitting the Global South soonest and hardest. And powerful vested interests are doing what they can to block action. So, what can we do?

This is a question I’ve been grappling with for a very long time.

Sixteen years ago, I was a physics PhD student in New York City, in love with the universe and its mysteries, overjoyed to finally be part of the noble quest for human knowledge. I was interested in cosmology – the big questions, where we come from and where we’re going.

The year 2006 brought two big changes to my life. First, I became a dad, which was expansive. It connected me to the future. And second, I heard a lecture about how the Earth was out of energy balance and heating up. This lecture rattled me. Earth is out of energy balance? This is absolutely monumental news, literally the biggest story on the planet. It was then, and it’s even more so today.

I started learning about climate change. I tried to get my university to switch to electricity that came from wind power. I could only find one other person on campus who supported my cause – and not for a lack of trying, because back then, hardly anyone cared about climate change. Social norms around climate hadn’t started to shift. 

Now, social norms are unspoken but very powerful shared beliefs. They’re like society’s subconscious mind. For example, the belief that it’s normal to burn fossil fuels. Sure, it’s destroying our planet – but it’s a normal thing to do. Everyone’s doing it.

Social norms are like the water surrounding a fish. We swim in them, every moment. They create society, they shape its systems and its power structures, but most of the time, we don’t even notice them. They are partly responsible for climate and ecological breakdown, as well as humanity’s breath-taking lack of response. How much we can still save will be largely determined by how quickly we can shift these norms.

Now, as the years ticked by, I grew ever more alarmed and frustrated about climate inaction. By 2010, burning fossil fuels had become deeply upsetting to me. The connection between fossil fuels and worsening climate impacts was just too clear. So I started reducing my emissions systematically, scientifically, starting with the biggest things first: giving up air travel, biking instead of driving and slashing my energy use at home, among many other changes. This taught me three valuable lessons. First, for me it was fun to live with less fossil fuel. It engaged my curiosity, led me to new hobbies and caused me to make new friends. Second, I experienced how we all rely on vast impersonal systems for all of our daily needs – food, water, clothes, streets – everything. To be able to get to zero fossil fuel use, all those systems are going to have to change. And third, very few people were actually willing to follow me in these sorts of changes.

When I started, I hoped my actions would inspire other people. But I’d say roughly maybe one out of a hundred people are willing to systematically reduce their emissions. So, while I think it’s a great thing to do, it simply isn’t enough on its own.

By 2012, I’d become so alarmed that I couldn’t focus on astrophysics any longer, so I switched into climate science. I also started speaking out as much as I could. I was told that scientists aren’t supposed to speak out, but I did it anyway. How could I not speak out, seeing what I see and knowing what I know?

We need to help each other wake up, and quickly. We need a billion climate activists. We need to build a global climate movement that’s even stronger than the fossil fuel industry. We need a huge number of engaged, passionate, courageous climate activists. We need to come together, with courage, conviction and creativity, to stop the meteor that’s hurtling toward us. No one is safe from global heating. There is no hiding from it on this tiny, connected, pale blue dot of a planet. The only safety will come from stopping it and doing this will require deep changes in how humanity organises as a society, and how we live upon this Earth. 

Climate work will be humanity’s main task for the rest of this century: healing the Earth, restoring wild places, adapting to new disasters and figuring out how to live side by side with each other and all the other species here, who have just as much of a right to be on this planet as we do. There’s infrastructure to build, technologies to invent. There are new legal and moral and even spiritual frameworks to come up with. There is new art to make, new economics to devise and new stories to tell. We need institutions to devise new disciplines and new ways of thinking, rapidly reduce their emissions, educate the public and create social change. AKU is already playing a hugely important role in the Global South and must keep going.

We also need you, the graduates of the Aga Khan University – among the best and the brightest the world has to offer – to devote your lives to solving the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced. Contribute to global knowledge and innovation. Demand climate justice. Have the courage to cause good trouble. Be the voice for the voiceless, for all the species that are going extinct and for future generations. 

Climate disasters will get worse before they get better. But we could stop all of this if we would make the collective choice to treat climate breakdown as an emergency. Imagine in the future that we’ve turned this corner, that the living Earth is in the process of healing, that our species was on the brink of destruction but came to its senses at the last moment. I foresee that this will bring a tremendous feeling of global solidarity, of cosmic solidarity with life in the universe. My dream is that I will live to experience a time when we are finally on the right path, toward a more mature humanity, a kinder and more grateful humanity, full of joy simply to be here, on this Earth – one strand in the tapestry of life. 

I know that a much better world is possible. No law of physics prevents it. It’s up to us. It’s the journey of a lifetime, and it beckons to each and every one of you. Go out there and do it.


""نحن بحاجة لمساعدة بعضنا البعض في الاستيقاظ بسرعة من غفلتنا، فضلاً عن حاجتنا لمليار ناشط ممن يهتمون بالمناخ. كما أننا بحاجة للقيام بعمل على مستوى العالم تجاه المناخ أقوى من صناعة الوقود الأحفوري، إضافةً إلى حاجتنا إلى عدد كبير من نشطاء المناخ ممن يتحلون بالالتزام والحماس والشجاعة"".

","English" "The Global Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-adnan-ali-khan_copie.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Monday, 28 February 2022","1645898400","Valedictorian address by Mr Adnan Ali Khan at the Global Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University ","","speech","Kenya,Pakistan,Tanzania,Uganda","","2020s","","","","262281","","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Kenya,Tanzania,Education,Uganda","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-adnan-ali-khan_copie.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education","

His Highness the Aga Khan;

Princess Zahra Aga Khan;

Leaders of the University;

Distinguished guests, family, friends and my fellow graduates:

Good afternoon. My name is Adnan Ali Khan and I am grateful and honoured to welcome you on behalf of the Aga Khan University, Class of 2021. A class of physicians, dental hygienists, nurses, educators and journalists – or in other words, future leaders, pioneers and trailblazers. Congratulations to each and every one of you for chasing your dreams to this destination.

AKU has given us a multitude of opportunities to flourish in all aspects of our lives. We have been trained and pushed to achieve goals far beyond our expectations.

There have been opportunities to grow, inspire and to be inspired. It is being in the company of other passionate, ambitious and talented students, as well as following in the footsteps of many inspiring alumni, that empowers AKU graduands to strive for excellence.

Reflecting on my medical school journey has made me grateful for the memories I have made and the lessons I have learned – from lifelong friendships with fellow students, residents and nurses forged through classes, clinics and long night calls, to chai breaks with mentors that have helped shape me into who I am today and will continue to influence who I am yet to become.

At AKU, there is always an emphasis on the academic side of our profession, but there was equal importance placed on being a humanitarian. Each programme here today has made unique efforts in shaping the world into a better place through service to their community.

I would be remiss to not mention the elephant in the room: COVID. The reason we’re sitting far apart, masked up, and our family and loved ones joining us virtually instead of being by our sides, cheering us on as they’ve been doing for the last few years. We owe our faculty and administration, who made sure we are ready to face this new reality. We owe the unsung heroes who spent hours helping us follow COVID protocols, testing us weekly to make sure we remained negative on paper and positive in our attitudes.

During the pandemic, our student experiences may have to have been socially distanced, but whether it was community-based volunteer camp, an academic research-society or AKU’s own student mentorship programme, “Synergy”, COVID didn't stop any of us from reaching out and doing what we do best. Rather, it changed us – motivated us – to volunteer more, to innovate in research, and most importantly, it reminded this community that even students can and do make a difference.

We learned one of the most important skills you can’t be taught in a classroom: the ability to adapt, to pick ourselves up when we’re battered and bruised and use that experience to become wiser and more agile than ever.

With this in mind, I can safely say that this class of AKU graduates will be one of the most tenacious, resilient and open-minded groups of professionals to come from this institution. I think I speak for my entire class when I say this: We are ready.

To our Chancellor, His Highness, faculty, family members and everyone who gave us their unwavering support in our journey here: I cannot thank you enough.

On that note, it’s time for this class to look ahead to what’s next in life, after we step away from these familiar halls.

 As a fellow graduate of the Class of 2021, I can promise you the following three things:

Firstly: You are joining one of the strongest alumni communities in the world. A global family sprawled across six continents and 55 countries that will open its arms for you in your time of need – one that has embraced my classmates and myself, irrespective of distance, nationality or religion. Many of these alumni are our personal heroes, and some of our greatest inspirations returned back to this institution so that they may pass the torch to us. Remember, today, you are not just Aga Khan University graduates of Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, or London. Today, you are global graduates.

Secondly: You will be a leader in whatever you choose to do, and you will thrive. I know this because you have all succeeded thus far to be here on this momentous day – and that in and of itself is an act of courage.

Thirdly, and finally, I can promise you this: You will change someone's life. In fact, many of you already have – not just those who scrubbed in way past midnight in surgery, or their clinical partner who chose the right music in the operating room, but each and every one of you, just by virtue of being on this path, has made the world a better place. You have all chosen a career to give back to humanity and provide meaningful contributions to society first and foremost.

I believe I speak on behalf of my fellow graduates when I say that we are filled with excitement for the rest of our journeys. And whatever path we may end up on, we know that AKU has prepared us to take on the next challenge – with agility, perseverance and courage as a part of who we are.

Thank you, and congratulations once again.


""يمكنني القول بثقة وأمان أن هذه الدُفعة من خريجي جامعة الآغا خان ستكون إحدى أكثر مجموعات المهنيين ثباتاً ومرونةً وانفتاحاً. أعتقد أنني أتحدث نيابةً عن دُفعتي بأكملها عندما أقول: نحن جاهزون ومستعدون"".

","English" "The Global Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-kenya-2022-camera_1_kenya_250-r.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Monday, 28 February 2022","1645897500","Address by President Sulaiman Shahabuddin at the Global Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Kenya,Pakistan,Tanzania,Uganda","","2020s","","","","262279","","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Kenya,Tanzania,Education,Uganda","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-kenya-2022-camera_1_kenya_250-r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education","

Our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan;

Princess Zahra Aga Khan;

Our Chief Guest Dr Peter Kalmus;

Our Guest of Honour Dr Peter Mathuki, East African Community Secretary General;

Chairman Zakir Mahmood and members of the AKU Board of Trustees;

Chairman Moyez Alibhai and members of the AKU Kenya University Council;

Provost, deans and leaders, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University;

Generous donors and valued partners;

Distinguished guests and family members;

And most importantly, our graduands:

Assalam-u-alaikum, hamjambo, and a very good afternoon to all of you.

What a day this is! I am profoundly honoured to have been chosen to serve as President and Vice Chancellor by our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan. As this medallion reminds me, I have been entrusted with a great responsibility. I am humbled by His Highness’s confidence in me. I pledge to do everything in my power to prove that it has been well placed.

I am deeply grateful to you, Princess Zahra, for honouring us with your presence. Your participation speaks to the bright future of our graduands and our University. It adds lustre to an already brilliant day.

Most of all, I am excited by the opportunity I have been granted to carry forward the Chancellor’s vision, by AKU’s role as a powerful force for good in the world and by the tremendous potential of all of you, our graduands.

I remember watching my daughter, Anjiya, graduate from AKU’s Medical College. By my side was my wife, Zeenat, herself an alumna of the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Little did I know that I would be standing at this podium a few short years later while they and my son Basim look on. Certainly, when I stepped onto the AKU campus as a 22-year-old purchasing officer and a newly minted MBA, I could not have imagined that one day I would return to the University in my present role.

But that just demonstrates the transformations that AKU makes possible.

Each of you, our graduands, has taken your own unique path to this moment. Some of you are the first in your family to attend university. Others are carrying on a family tradition as the sons and daughters of teachers, nurses, or doctors. For some, our campus was their first home after leaving home. For others, AKU represented a return to academia after years in the workforce.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge your individual journeys. The moments of doubt – the first time you got back an exam paper covered in questions and comments and you thought to yourself, “I’ve got work to do!” The moments that galvanised your confidence – that day in the classroom, in the newsroom, in the library or in the clinic when you achieved a new level of insight or excellence.

I also want to recognise that you are part of a collective – one that stretches across three continents. As members of the Class of 2021, you have forged lasting relationships, supported one another’s academic development and built a shared commitment to helping those in need.

And now you are ready to make your mark on your professions and the world.

This is a time of transition for our graduates. It is also a time of transition for AKU. But a change in leadership does not mean a change in the University’s guiding principles.

We continue to believe, as we always have, in the power of knowledge to solve humanity’s biggest problems. And we continue to believe that AKU, as a powerful creator and disseminator of knowledge, can make an extraordinary contribution to improving life in Africa, Asia and beyond.

As our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, told the Class of 1994: “At its best, the university is linked to the welfare of the society in which it is based. While taking knowledge from all quarters, such a university applies that knowledge to the solution of the pressing problems of the world, both at home and abroad.”

That is, in fact, what AKU is doing. Allow me to elaborate:

In East Africa, AKU and the University of Michigan are using cutting-edge artificial intelligence to identify individuals at risk of future health problems. We are not the only ones who think that project has tremendous potential – it just received more than US$ 6 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

In Pakistan, AKU reduced newborn death rates by more than 15 percent in eight rural districts that are home to 14 million people. How did we do it? By sharing our knowledge with hundreds of public and private health facilities and thousands of community health workers.

AKU researchers are using stem cell science and gene editing to develop new treatments for blood disorders and cancers such as leukaemia. They have analysed the test scores of 15,000 students to show which factors improve performance in math and science. They are studying indigenous efforts to protect the rights of minorities in Muslim-majority countries.

As Princess Zahra highlighted a moment ago, we are also working to slash our carbon emissions and become one of the few universities in the world to achieve carbon neutrality. It is an ambitious goal that will require tremendous innovation. But we are committed to achieving it, and to helping other universities to follow in our footsteps.

In the coming years, we will launch new undergraduate medical and nursing education programmes in East Africa. Build a new University Centre and Hospital in Kampala. And open our Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Karachi to prepare young men and women as leaders with a unique education that spans the social sciences, natural sciences and the arts.

As all these examples show and as AKU approaches its 40th anniversary, we remain faithful to our founding vision, while acting boldly to meet new challenges.

I am grateful to all those who make our success possible. The policymakers who create the enabling environment in which we work, among them our guest of honour, East African Community Secretary General Dr Peter Mathuki. Our generous donors, volunteers, alumni and partners, including our fellow agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network. Nothing has given me more pleasure in my first months in office than getting to know and working with the diverse members of the AKU family.

Ladies and gentlemen, the University’s biggest contribution to the countries we serve will always be our graduates.

Graduands, our alumni – your predecessors – walked the same corridors and courtyards that you have walked and learned in the same clinics and classrooms. They wore the same green and gold that you wear now. And every day, they are proving just how powerful an AKU education can be.

They are founding schools and clinics in underserved communities. Winning international recognition for their teaching, research and leadership. Serving in government and shaping public policy. Launching high-tech start-ups and writing award-winning poetry. Here at AKU, they are among our most valued leaders, scholars and practitioners. Their record proves that you can achieve your most audacious ambitions.

Today is not an end. Your journeys are just beginning. Now is the time for you to show the world what an AKU graduate can do.

Thank you.


""خريجونا، لقد سار أسلافكم الخريجون في نفس الممرات والساحات التي سرتم فيها، كما أنكم تعلمتم في نفس العيادات والفصول الدراسية. كانوا يرتدون نفس اللون الأخضر والذهبي الذي ترتدونه اليوم، وهم يثبتون يومياً مدى قوة التعليم الذي تلقوه في جامعة الآغا خان"".

","English" "The Global Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-kenya-2022-sbl_9193-r.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Monday, 28 February 2022","1645896600","Address by Princess Zahra Aga Khan at the Global Convocation Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Kenya,Pakistan,Tanzania,Uganda","","2020s","","","","8996","","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Kenya,Tanzania,Education,Uganda","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-kenya-2022-sbl_9193-r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education","

Our Chief Guest Mr Peter Kalmus, Climate Scientist, University of California, Los Angeles;

Our Guest of Honour Dr Peter Mathuki, Secretary General of the East African Community;

Chairman Zakir Mahmood and members of the AKU Board of Trustees;

Chairman Moyez Alibhai and members of the AKU Kenya University Council;

President and Vice Chancellor Sulaiman Shahabuddin;

Provosts, deans, faculty and staff;
Generous donors and friends of AKU around the world;
Parents and family members;

Distinguished guests;

And most importantly, our graduands:

The graduation of the Class of 2021 is a watershed in the lives of its members and their families. And the installation of President and Vice Chancellor Sulaiman Shahabuddin is a milestone in the history of the Aga Khan University. This is therefore a doubly joyous day – the kind that comes along once in a very great while.  

I will be speaking today on behalf of the University’s Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan. I would like to convey the Chancellor’s deep gratitude, and my own, to the Government of Kenya and the Commission for University Education for granting AKU its Charter. I am also delighted to welcome the founding members of the new AKU Kenya University Council, which will provide oversight of the University’s operations in Kenya. 

Today, I am filled with hope for the future. How could anyone not be, knowing what this day represents?

President and Vice Chancellor Shahabuddin brings to his position a wealth of experience and a lengthy record of success in both East Africa and Pakistan. His career embodies the themes of opportunity, cross-cultural connection and commitment to improving quality of life that define AKU and the Aga Khan Development Network.

Already, he has begun to build on the strong foundations laid by former President Firoz Rasul. Moreover, he now enjoys the wise counsel of University Council Chairman Moyez Alibhai and of the new Chairman of the AKU Board of Trustees Zakir Mahmood.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I welcome President Shahabuddin to his new role; thank former President Rasul; and congratulate Chairman Alibhai and Chairman Mahmood on their recent appointments. I also wish to thank our retiring Chairman of the Board, Dr. Haile Debas, for his extensive contributions to the University’s development for the past 12 years.

It is with equally profound pleasure that I welcome each of you, our graduands, to the ranks of the alumni of the Aga Khan University. Your fellow graduates are changing lives from rural clinics and classrooms to the laboratories of world-renowned universities. I know how proud you are to be part of this illustrious tradition, and how proud your families are to be watching you today. 

This AKU class has worked harder for this moment than any other ever has. The last two years challenged you with lockdowns, quarantines and isolation. But you found new ways to learn, to connect and to maintain your motivation amid each new wave of the pandemic.

The diplomas and degrees you are about to receive testify to your fortitude and agility. In the years to come, you will always be able to look back and draw strength from your achievements during this momentous period.

Convocation is a celebration of individual accomplishment. But it also reminds us of our connections and our dependence on one another. Each of us is a link in a chain that extends backwards and forwards in time, and outward across borders and boundaries. That is especially true at AKU, as this globe-spanning event testifies.

With these bonds in mind, I wish to thank all those who have made it possible to send these 664 women and men into the world to educate, enlighten and care for their fellow human beings. Our faculty and staff have demonstrated extraordinary dedication to our students and to our mission. Our frontline health professionals have displayed exemplary courage in the face of COVID-19 – I cannot thank them enough and on behalf of the Chancellor for their many sacrifices. We are grateful to our alumni, partners and volunteers. And we are profoundly thankful for the generosity of our donors.

I began by speaking of hope. The hope I refer to is not an idle wish. It is the hope one feels when there is strong evidence for optimism. It is the hope our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, has called “probably the single most powerful trampoline of progress”.

That is the hope that I believe unites us today. It is warranted, first, by the history and impact of the Aga Khan University. AKU will mark its 40th anniversary next year. From a seed in the mind of our Chancellor, it has blossomed into an institution that spans three continents and stands at the heart of the AKDN’s unwavering commitment to the countries that it serves. In Kenya, that commitment is vividly symbolised by AKU’s towering new University Centre in Nairobi – a world-class academic facility that is one of the largest investments in higher education in the country’s history. 

Globally, AKU has educated over 18,000 individuals. It cares for more than two million patients every year in internationally accredited hospitals, and was recently ranked among the top 100 universities in the world in public health. It also serves as a trusted advisor to government and is a powerful advocate for pluralism and for women’s empowerment.

During the pandemic, the value of the University’s capacity for cutting-edge inquiry has never been clearer. Its researchers have made important contributions to the fight against COVID-19. And AKU is also contributing to another crucial battle, one that our Chief Guest Peter Kalmus will be talking about shortly – the battle against climate breakdown. Along with the AKDN as a whole, AKU has committed to becoming carbon neutral in its operations by 2030 – making it one of the first institutions in Pakistan and East Africa to do so.   

In short, the University’s record is surely one to instil hope.

But most of all, the hope we feel today is warranted by you, the graduands. By your hunger for knowledge. Your compassion for your patients. Your joy in sparking curiosity in your students. And your zeal to find the facts and share them with your fellow citizens, without fear or favour.    

I have no doubt that the hope that fills our hearts, and the pride that swells our chests, will be amply confirmed by your achievements in the years to come.   

On behalf of the Chancellor, my thanks to all of you.


""لقد قامت دُفعتكم هذه بالعمل بجد ونشاط استثنائيين أكثر من أي دُفعة أخرى ... ستتمكنون دائماً خلال السنوات القادمة من النظر إلى الخلف واستخلاص القوة مما قمتم به من إنجازات خلال هذه الفترة الحاسمة"".

","English" "AKDN Statement at the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-09-switzeland-michael-kocher.jpg","Geneva, Switzerland","Monday, 13 September 2021","1631532600","AKDN Statement at the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan","","speech","Afghanistan,Switzerland","","2020s","","","","253592","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p64YpVoRc4","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-afghanistan-fmic-dji_0713_r.jpg","","","","

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network are honoured and privileged to convey our abiding commitment to the peoples of Afghanistan.

This allegiance is enduring. It is founded on the most profound respect for Afghanistan’s many traditions and the bonds of our shared humanity. AKDN’s work and its aim of improving the quality of life of all communities it seeks to serve is premised on the ethical principles of Islam, which promote peace and harmony.

With that ideal in mind, we wish to thank the United Nations for convening the international community at this critical juncture in the country’s history.

For more than three decades, we have stood with the people of Afghanistan. We take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment, which remains unshaken.

During this time, and today, we listen to and support people at the community level to help them realise their individual and collective aspirations for a better life – coming together to find solutions that are sustainable, acceptable and deliverable.

In the process, AKDN has provided life-saving medical treatment and healthcare to millions of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers; helped educate hundreds of thousands of boys and girls; built rural infrastructure including roads, bridges, and irrigation canals; assisted families in improving household incomes; helped to preserve cultural heritage; strengthened community preparedness and resilience in the face of natural disaster and climate change; and brought connectivity and enhanced communications to many corners of the country.

Our experience teaches us that determined, transparent and inclusive engagement, led and driven by Afghans in their communities, can and does succeed. Indeed, it is the only method to bring real and lasting change.

That is a lesson we urge the international community to heed, and to act with compassion and foresight. For now is the time to engage, to stay in dialogue, and to continue on the path to mutual accommodation – to establish lasting peace, opportunity and prosperity.

Now is certainly not the time to turn our back on decades of progress. Or on the two-thirds of the country under the age of 25, a generation that has grown up under the shadow of war but with determined hopes of a better life. Their dreams and aspirations remain intact in Afghanistan, and we owe them the dignity – the promise – of standing together with them and their communities as they face the future.

For conditions are dire.

As we hear today, the economic situation in Afghanistan is bad and worsening. The banking system is non-functional. Rampant unemployment is increasing. Resources are desperately needed for food, medicine, education and other essential services. Healthcare facilities in many areas may close in a matter of days, in the midst of a pandemic. 18 million people are already in extreme need, with a similar number at risk. That suggests virtually the entire country could be without adequate healthcare, without enough food, and without sufficient livelihoods.

As a long-standing partner of Afghanistan and its people, we draw attention to the need for urgent, corresponding measures:

We join others in underscoring that these measures be taken quickly and decisively if we are to avert a sustained crisis of shocking regionally-destabilising proportions. We urge here as well that the international community not abandon Afghanistan’s longer-term development, as the consequences of doing so would be profound.

Today we require collectively focused attention on the urgency of humanitarian action. Today and going forward, our actions must be meaningfully humane.

Thank you.


In Afghanistan, the Aga Khan University manages the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children as part of a partnership with the governments of France and Afghanistan and the French NGO La Chaîne de l'Espoir.
AKU / David Fox

""نحثُّ هنا المجتمع الدولي بضرورة عدم التخلي عن تحقيق التنمية في أفغانستان على المدى الطويل لأن عواقب ذلك ستكون وخيمةً. نحتاج اليوم إلى اهتمام مركّز بشكل جماعي بضرورة القيام بالأعمال الإنسانية. يجب أن تكون أفعالنا اليوم وفي المستقبل إنسانيةً بشكلٍ هادفٍ"".

","English" "The first Convocation of the University of Central Asia","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-2021-convocation-rector.jpg","Kyrgyz Republic","Thursday, 24 June 2021","1624119300","Address by the Rector Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi at the first Convocation of the University of Central Asia","","speech","Kyrgyz Republic","","2020s","","","","257492","","","1","","1","","","","Kyrgyz Republic,Education,University of Central Asia","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-2021-convocation-rector.jpg","University of Central Asia","","Education","

Good afternoon,
Chancellor of the University, His Highness the Aga Khan,
Patrons of the University, Their Excellencies the Presidents of the Founding States of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan,
Honourable Ministers of Education,
Honourable Governors,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Shamsh Kassim-Lakha,
Members of the Board of Trustees,
Deans, faculty and staff of the University,
Parents, supporters, and distinguished guests,
and dear graduates,

Assalam Alaikum.

First convocations are special… Imagine the lifting of a rocket headed to space off the ground. It has an immense journey ahead of it, yet – it spends perhaps half the energy it will spend on its total journey – just in crossing the first few kilometres. Today we celebrate the immense effort involved in lifting this university off the ground – setting a course for the stars and passing out these first graduates from the School of Arts and Sciences. Graduates, whom we expect to play a leadership role in furthering growth and development of these beautiful lands.

The peerless vision of His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor of UCA, and the patrons of UCA, defined a unique ambition for this institution. UCA was to be a university for the mountain communities of the region and a research university comparable with the premier institutions of the world, pioneering the application of new knowledge and research to impact the quality of life of these communities.

Helping us achieve this vision has been one of the premier architects of our generation, Arata Isozaki, whose goal has been to translate the vision of UCA into an architectural masterpiece that – in its own right –is a celebration of human genius. Funds for the realisation of this ambitious dream were provided by His Highness through the Aga Khan Development Network, a unique partnership of development institutions. The Governments of the Founding States provided significant fiscal benefits, while international agencies such as the World Bank, OPIC and DFID added their support. It is this joint and combined effort that has allowed UCA to achieve this milestone today.

Simultaneously, numerous groups of scholars worked to define a curriculum that married the best traditions of a liberal arts education with the cutting edge of subjects of each major (Economics, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Computer Sciences and Communications and Media Sciences), chosen to meet critical demands of the region. In this journey, UCA chose an international galaxy of institutional partners: the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto and the University of Technology Sydney, respectively, together with Seneca College, the Stockholm School of Economics and the University of Victoria, who, with the support of the respective Ministries of Education and Science of the founding states, each contributed to building the world-class curriculum that has played such an important role in helping define you: the 57 graduates of UCA 2021, hailing from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan,  Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Through this process of development and metamorphosis of the School of Arts and Sciences, the Chancellor has been meeting with the Board of Trustees of UCA, chaired by Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, who have debated every aspect of the functioning of UCA and the School of Arts and Sciences. This first convocation would most certainly not have come to pass without their continued guidance and support.

The most critical aspect of an institution of higher learning is its faculty. In our case, preparations started over a decade ago – and continue unabated – identifying and sending the best and the brightest in the region for PhD studies to the finest institutions of the world such as the University of Cambridge. International and regional faculty who joined UCA have worked to bring harmony to the competing requirements of the international partners, local realities and legislative boundaries. I must pay tribute here to the leadership of the Dean Diana Pauna, who guided the school till last year and to Dean Maxim Khomyakov who has brought us across the finish line together with Associate Deans Kholiqnazar Kuchakshoev and Soheil Ashrafi and our world-class faculty, all of whom worked tirelessly to make today possible.

This has been an immense labour of love. Just running the region’s first residential campuses located in the remote mountain regions of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and that too through various challenges, including the COVID pandemic over the past year and a half. We thus congratulate today Muzaffar Jorubov, our Chief Operating Officer and the entire administrative and support staff, working on the frontlines and behind the scenes, for their dedication and selfless commitment to UCA’s vision.

I take this opportunity today to salute the parents of this first class of graduating students, who trusted us with their wards and believed in UCA when it was not entirely physically present and when the faculty was not there. They saw with their mind’s eye, beyond what was not yet apparent. Today we have the opportunity to repay your trust in us and to thank you for your steadfast support over these five years.

Graduates! What can I say, except that you have been tested by ALL the elements of nature – and you have succeeded. You are pioneers, adventurers, leaders without peers and this region’s hope for the future. You are what this has all been about. The beautiful environments of this campus, the phenomenal work of the faculty, the support of all your family and peers:  It has all been about your development. Today, that process is complete. You, now our Alumni, set your own sail now, chart your own course and go forth with all our love, support and prayers.

Thank you.


الأستاذ الدكتور سهيل حسين نقفي: ""أغتنم هذه الفرصة أيضاً لأُوجه التحية لأولياء أمور الدُفعة الأولى من الطلاب المتخرجين، الذين وثقوا بنا وآمنوا بجامعة آسيا الوسطى قبل اكتمال إنشاء كلياتها، فضلاً عن تفهّمهم للكثير من الأمور التي لم تكن واضحةً بعد. واليوم لدينا الفرصة لرد الجميل لثقتكم بنا"".

","English" " The first Convocation of the University of Central Asia","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-2021-convocation-skl.jpg","Kyrgyz Republic","Thursday, 24 June 2021","1624118400","Address by the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Shamsh Kassim-Lakha at the first Convocation of the University of Central Asia","","speech","Kyrgyz Republic","","2020s","","","","225081","","","1","","1","","","","Kyrgyz Republic,Education,University of Central Asia","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-2021-convocation-skl.jpg","University of Central Asia","","Education","


The Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan,
Your Excellency President Emomali Rahmon,
Your Excellency President Sadyr Japarov,
Honourable Ministers,
Honourable Governors,
Members of the Board of Trustees and Rector Sohail Naqvi,
Deans, Faculty and Staff of the University,
Parents, supporters, and distinguished guests and most important the Graduates.


On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am delighted to welcome you to this historic first convocation of UCA. My heartiest congratulations and warmest best wishes to the Class of 2021 for this momentous milestone in your life.

On behalf of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees I extend deep appreciation to the Patrons of the University, the Presidents of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Kazakhstan for their valuable support.

We also thank the Ministers of Education and Science of the three Founding States for their valuable support and the Governors and Mayors of the towns of Naryn, Khorog and Tekeli for welcoming UCA as part of their communities.

Today we acknowledge the efforts of the Rector, faculty, management, staff and volunteers in the education of these young women and men.

Our special gratitude however must go to the parents of the graduating class. It was a huge commitment on your part, and we are grateful for your faith and commitment to the vision and mission of this new University.

Establishing a private, not-for-profit, secular and regional institution dedicated to the education of the mountain communities of Central Asia, is a unique and audacious idea that was first conceived by the Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, 25 years ago.  It required meticulous designing and building of world-class facilities and the recruitment and training of the faculty and staff and refinement of the academic programmes.

The curriculum of UCA’s undergraduate programme is designed to cultivate the knowledge and skills students will need to integrate different approaches to tackle problems and create innovations.

The small class size and the close relationship with faculty offered an exceptional opportunity for intellectual growth and then living on a residential campus has been a micro-polity in which the best practices in the realm of civil culture are embodied in governance and everyday interaction.

Such a campus community has offered rich opportunities for students to develop the many intangible habits of responsible citizenship and leadership skills, which, we are convinced will be the distinguishing characteristics of UCA’s graduates.

Today, despite the many daunting and seemingly insurmountable challenges, we are fortunate to see this bold idea translated into reality.  This is therefore a particularly fitting occasion to convey our deepest gratitude to His Highness the Aga Khan for his continued guidance which has helped us to remain on mission and within the budget hugely supported by the Aga Khan Development Network.

However, His Highness has often reminded us that building a university is not like making instant coffee – that you pour hot water and you stir. In fact, UCA is today at an infant stage as universities go. We have much work ahead of us if it is to become a world class research university in the decades ahead.

As a university focused on the development of mountain societies, UCA has a special relationship with and an obligation to the communities of Naryn, Khorog and Tekeli, which host our campuses.

Our long-term joint vision led by the town municipalities is to see these communities transformed into thriving university towns where economic, social and cultural opportunities abound for everyone.  Together we are working to enhance the quality of life of the citizens through supporting the master planning of the towns and through provision of health and educational facilities, public parks and creating employment opportunities.

Let me now turn to you the graduates.

You were admitted by UCA on the basis of academic merit and your potential for leadership.

I recall some of you were nervous and unsure of how you would manage in your new environment.

However, having seen your progress through the past five years, I am really proud to see how remarkably well you have coped and your confidence is admirable. You are the beneficiaries of the hard work of your teachers and the product of this university. While we celebrate your success, we await with much anticipation your service in the years ahead to your respective societies and to your alma mater as its alumni.

I conclude by leaving two thoughts with you as you embark on the next stages of your life.

Good luck to you and thank you.


شمس قاسم لاكا، رئيس مجلس الأمناء: منذ حوالي 12 قرن قال الفيلسوف أبو يوسف يعقوب بن إسحاق الصبّاح الكندي: ""نحترم التعليم لأنه يعلّمنا القيم"". لهذا يحدونا أملٌ صادقٌ أنه كلما تقدمتم في مسيرة حياتكم على المستويين الشخصي والمهني، ستسترشدون بالقيم التي تنقلها هذه الجامعة: قيم الصدق والنزاهة واحترام التنوع وممارسة الأخلاق الصحيحة في كل ما تفعلونه.

","English" "The first Convocation of the University of Central Asia","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-2021-convocation-kr-president.jpg","Kyrgyz Republic","Thursday, 24 June 2021","1624115700","Address by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Mr Sadyr Japarov at the first Convocation of the University of Central Asia","","speech","Kyrgyz Republic","","2020s","","","","257488","","","1","","1","","","","Kyrgyz Republic,Education,University of Central Asia","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-2021-convocation-kr-president.jpg","University of Central Asia","","Education","

Dear graduates,
Dear friends,

Congratulations on becoming the first graduates of the University of Central Asia!

As you may know, the University of Central Asia was founded in 2000 by the Aga Khan Development Network Representative Office in three Central Asian countries.

The goal was to provide international level higher education for young professionals and leaders to help their local communities and make a meaningful contribution to the economic development of mountain regions.

At the same time, the mission of the University of Central Asia is to support the peoples of the region to preserve their rich cultural heritage, use it as a resource for future development, to stimulate the socio-economic development of Central Asia and its mountain societies.

World-class university campuses have been built for this purpose to provide not only education, but also a quality life for faculty members and students. The University's campuses are located at the crossroads of nine roads, in the most beautiful and historic place – the Great Silk Road.

The university buildings include beautiful modern classrooms, libraries, laboratories, as well as living quarters for faculty and staff members of the University.

The future of any country depends on its intellectuals and educated youth. The younger generation has a responsibility to lead the country into the future, which requires true patriotism, quality education, hard work and dedication that inspires the country's development goals.

The process of intellectualisation is currently underway. Only educated societies can withstand competition and challenges in the global community.

I hope the first graduates of the University of Central Asia will be a source of hope and pride for our nation and for the younger generation, so that we can all build Kyrgyzstan together.

Thank you for your attention.


السيد صدير جاباروف، رئيس جمهورية قيرغيزستان: ""يتحمّل جيل الشباب مسؤولية قيادة البلاد نحو مستقبل أفضل، الأمر الذي يتطلب حباً حقيقياً للوطن، وتعليماً جيداً وتفانياً وعملاً جاداً، ما يسهم بتحقيق أهداف التنمية في البلاد"".

","English" "The first Convocation of the University of Central Asia ","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-04-france-ucaconvocation-cecile-genest-0522r.jpg","Kyrgyz Republic","Saturday, 19 June 2021","1624112100","Address by the Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan ","","speech","Kyrgyz Republic","","2020s","","","","6926","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NSNXrRDEWE","","1","","1","","","","Kyrgyz Republic,Education,University of Central Asia","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-04-france-ucaconvocation-cecile-genest-0536r.jpg","University of Central Asia","University of Central Asia (UCA)","Education","


Your Excellency President Rahmon

Your Excellency President Japarov

Honourable Ministers

Honourable Governors

Chairman Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha and Members of the Board of Trustees

Rector, Deans, Faculty and Staff of the University

Parents, supporters, and distinguished guests and Graduates

It is truly a genuine pleasure for me to celebrate this milestone moment with you – the graduation of the first class of students from the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Central Asia. This event is also a very significant moment in my own life as it represents the culmination of more than two decades of effort in conceptualising, planning and building this institution with the valuable support of Patrons, Presidents and administrations of the Founding States.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and everyone at UCA, I extend deep appreciation to the Patrons of the University, the Presidents of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Republic of Kazakhstan and their administrations for their support and for creating an enabling environment for the University to thrive and achieve its mission and goals.

It was only in 2016 and 2017 that the campuses in Naryn and Khorog welcomed their students.  And here we stand today to celebrate each of you graduates; and your parents and families who contributed to your success.  Each one of you is here today through your sustained hard work. You needed to develop certain qualities of character and mind to face the challenges of university learning. With these qualities, you are now empowered to seek out new opportunities with confidence.  As the first graduates you will always have a special place in the history of the University. As you go forward, you will be UCA's ambassadors, our envoys and representatives.  This is a special responsibility that I am certain you will be able to fulfill admirably.

I offer my warmest congratulations to UCA's faculty, management, staff, Trustees and the very generous donors all of whose contributions made it possible to establish quality academic programmes and beautiful residential campuses.  This was not an easy task, and UCA had to navigate uncharted waters.  This new university demonstrated enormous resilience in rising to the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and capably re-configured the institution to remote teaching.  During this period, UCA succeeded in receiving accreditation by educational authorities in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, putting the institution on a solid academic footing.

Today's event brings back some wonderful memories.  Twenty-one years ago, I joined the Presidents of the Founding States in signing an extraordinary International Treaty that brought three countries together to establish the University of Central Asia as a single, multi-campus, regional institution of higher learning.  Today's graduation event, held simultaneously in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, is an example of the power of education and international cooperation.  It is a power that can change people’s lives.  It has always been the Founders’ hope that this power will come through the efforts of the class of 2021 and those which will follow, and from the research and civic engagement of the faculty.

In partnership with the Founding States, we established a type of institution that is new to Central Asia and the larger world.  Planning for an original concept, and making it operational, was a complex process that involved purposeful architectural design, construction, detailed academic planning, training and recruiting faculty.  All of this was accomplished in a decade, which is a fast-forward speed for most universities.  The many who worked on the UCA project in the past and the University community today can take pride in this achievement and have our warmest appreciation.

However, a measure of a university's success is the quality of the education it delivers and the careers of its graduates.  This starts with the recruitment of students, for without good students, a university will never achieve excellence.  A key ingredient in this story has been our open-access philosophy, enabling us to enrol students on merit alone, with the vast majority of students receiving financial support.  The result is that 70 percent of our students are from small towns and rural areas, and half are women.  They gained admission through a transparent and rigorous selection process and completed a demanding course of study with rigorous standards of academic integrity.

Research is the other measure of a university's success.  UCA defines itself as a “research-oriented” university.  Central Asia and its mountain communities face many challenges, including the impacts of climate change, building reliant communities, alleviating poverty through quality economic growth and advancing technological innovation.  These problems are analytically complex, and there are no easy solutions.  The fundamental goal is to achieve levels of excellence in research, measured by global standards to bring genuine value to those we are committed to educating.

As we celebrate the first steps of a new university, we should also recall the past. Students of world history remind us how Central Asia, a thousand years ago, led the world in cultural and intellectual achievements.  This region is where medicine was founded, where algebra got its name, where the earth's diameter was precisely calculated, where some of the world's greatest poetry was penned. This happened because the societies were open to new ideas, open to change, open to scholars and people from many backgrounds. That kind of openness can again unlock the doors to the future, and allows us to take on the great questions of our time and place.

 It is in the context of this illustrious historical background that the Trustees and I see the evolution of scholarship at this University.  We accept that the revival of this tradition of high quality and relevant research in Central Asia will need to be carefully charted and will require the requisite human and material resources over an extended period of time.

UCA has made a good start. Research output by the faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences has markedly increased.  And, of course, the Graduate School of Development, with its institutes, has achieved a significant presence on the Central Asian knowledge landscape and established international collaborations. The School is now collaborating with its sister institution, the Aga Khan University, in new research on maternal and child health and nutrition.  I urge the faculty and students to give utmost attention to enhance the current learning and create new knowledge through research, which is a most important vector for improving the quality of life of those who live in these mountain ranges.

UCA is also a development university. And an essential aspect of this mission is its relationship with the host communities. The University is partnering with the local governments and its sister agencies in the Aga Khan Development Network to develop the host mountain towns into vibrant university communities and transform them by bringing new technology, innovation and entrepreneurship hubs. Over the coming decades, the University will expand as new areas of teaching and research emerge, and the towns that are home to UCA campuses will benefit from the new economic opportunities and attain a better quality of life.

Let me conclude by expressing again, to all of you, the deep sense of joy and gratitude I feel as we celebrate this historic day.  To the graduates, I wish you a bright future.  We look forward to working together with the Founding States, the Board of Trustees, the faculty and now the alumni towards the challenging and promising future of this University.

Thank you.


سمو الآغا خان: ""انضممتُ منذ إحدى وعشرين عاماً إلى رؤساء الدول المؤسِّسة في التوقيع على معاهدة دولية استثنائية جمعت ثلاث دول معاً لتأسيس جامعة آسيا الوسطى كمؤسسة إقليمية واحدة وذات حرمات جامعية متعددة للتعليم العالي. تُعقد فعاليات حفل التخرج لهذا اليوم في وقتٍ واحدٍ في قيرغيزستان وطاجيكستان، وهذا مثالٌ على قوة التعليم والتعاون الدولي، القوة التي يمكنها تغيير حياة الناس"".

","English" "Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-kenya-aku-img_7701r.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Friday, 11 June 2021","1623396600","Speech by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Kenya","","2020s","","","","257250","","","1","","1","","","","Education,Health,Aga Khan University","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-kenya-aku-img_7701r.jpg","Aga Khan University","AKU Kenya","Education,Health","

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen:

There is no event that I look forward to more than one involving the education sector. 

Why? This is because education helps us prepare for the days and years ahead, which is a key pillar of my vision of a Better Kenya.  

The possibilities brought forth by education and knowledge drive dreams; fuel innovation; spur gender equality; and create limitless possibilities for individual and national progress.

Today is the day that will feature prominently in the history of our nation: the day we empowered a generation and expanded the capacity for delivering our destiny.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With us on this momentous occasion, though virtually, is, His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam of the Ismaili Muslim Community.  He has joined us to celebrate the culmination of his far-sighted vision and contribution to the education sector for our beloved Republic.

The phrase “Aga Khan” has become synonymous with elevating educational standards and delivering holistic training.  From pre-school to tertiary learning, its footprints are felt in this nation and region as a whole; with the present university that we are awarding a Charter today, being the latest testament of the journey of academic excellence that is, the Aga Khan brand.

The Aga Khan University’s journey for the award of a Charter started in earnest almost three decades ago.  By being focused and committed, and working hard, we can see today the enviable results of the decades’ long process.

This University is integrated with the Aga Khan Hospital, which itself offers training and health services to our people, in a manner that finely balances the theoretical, practical and empirical aspects of education.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The long-standing partnership between the Kenya Government, the Ismaili community and the Aga Khan Development Network, spans over 100 years.  This fruitful relationship has brought about tremendous benefits to the welfare of many Kenyans across the country. 

Indeed, the Ismaili community’s contribution to the education sector traces back to 1905, when the first Aga Khan School opened in Nairobi.  After the end of the First World War in 1918, His Highness the Aga Khan’s grandfather began establishing an educational network in East Africa, the foundation of the wide footprint we enjoy in the present day.

The solemnity of this ceremony is affirmed by the fact that the University and the Hospital whose benefits have been enjoyed by millions of Kenyans, feature graduate training that takes in the best students, regardless of whether they can afford to pay fees or not.

Many of the students admitted to the Aga Khan University and Hospital are supported financially by the institution, thanks to the courtesy of its commitment to humanity through service.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The idea of the Aga Khan University (AKU) came about in the mid-1970s, with the dream of creating a university in the developing world, which would have the highest of international standards.

That dream university, which is today's reality, was meant to offer the best education while improving the quality of life of all those within its reach.  Today, that noble idea has come to fruition.  Today, we have the first world-class university, focused on some of our key growth areas in our society, including health care, education, media and communication.

There is an evolving momentum for quality assurance in institutions of higher learning. It is paramount that the Aga Khan University, and, indeed, all universities in our country, align themselves to the promotion of quality education.  You must strive to remain compliant to both the programmatic and institutional standards set by our professional regulatory bodies such as the Commission for University Education.

On the part of our regulatory institutions in the education sector, each must execute its mandate fully in order to guarantee the quality of university education in our country is not compromised. Regulatory standards are not mere exercises in box ticking.  They are the lifeblood of a vital process that ensures that learning delivers tangible benefits for both the learner as well as the nation.

To the Aga Khan University, I urge you to build on a century of excellence and distinction by striding forward with ideas centered on knowledge, inquiry, discussion, authenticity, truth, application, critique, care, development and action.

Today, my call to you is to commit to become a leader in health care, media, communication and hospitality; stay abreast with the changes in the world and provide solutions to the many challenges brought by an ever-changing world. 

In the last year, the challenges we have faced arising from the COVID-19 pandemic call for strategies and solutions that are multifaceted and multidisciplinary.  I trust that this University will answer that call.

Permit me to use this occasion to also appeal to your researchers and practitioners to do all that is necessary to find solutions for our healthcare challenges, especially with regard to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As I conclude, let me say that given the long-established tradition of offering high-quality education in this country upon which this institution is based upon, I urge the Aga Khan University to invest in research and training that will support our new focus on the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

The Competence Based Curriculum is a revolutionary step we took as a country to provide our learners with 21st century practical skills relevant to the needs of the present world.

I trust that the Aga Khan University will deliver on the same and produce excellent graduates who can tackle a multitude of challenges, improve their current situations and positively affect our society to become responsible global citizens.  

Congratulations to Aga Khan University.

God bless Kenya, His Highness the Aga Khan, and us all.


فخامة الرئيس أوهورو كينياتا: ""ظهرت فكرة إنشاء جامعة الآغا خان في بلدان العالم النامي في منتصف السبعينيات، وقد وضعت الجامعة نُصب عينها ضرورة التمتُّع بأعلى المعايير الدولية. يُشكّل حفل اليوم حدثاً مهماً نظراً لأنه يحتل مكانةً بارزةً في تاريخ أمتنا، حيث أننا نسهم اليوم في تمكين جيل من الوصول لإمكاناته، فضلاً عن توفير الفرص لتوسيع القدرات والمهارات من أجل الوصول لمستقبل جيدٍ"".

","English" "Inauguration of the University Centre Nairobi, Kenya","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-kenya-aku-img_7517r.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Friday, 11 June 2021","1623417300","Address by President Firoz Rasul at the Inauguration of the University Centre Nairobi, Kenya","","speech","Kenya","","2020s","","","","8941","","","1","","1","","","","Kenya,Education,Health,Aga Khan University","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-kenya-aku-img_7517r.jpg","Aga Khan University","AKU Kenya","Education,Health","

Your Excellency Honorable Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya;

His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chancellor of the Aga Khan University;

The Aga Khan University family, supporters and friends:

The inauguration of the University Centre is a milestone whose importance to the Aga Khan University, and to Kenya, is signified by the presence of Your Excellency President Kenyatta. Thank you once again, Your Excellency, for joining us today.

We have heard the University’s Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, express his gratitude to the Government for its confidence in the Aga Khan University. AKU is also confident – confident in Kenya and its people, whose talent and hunger for knowledge are the foundation upon which this University is built. Indeed, it is because we are so confident in Kenya and its future that we have built the University Centre we are inaugurating today.

The Centre will be the springboard that launches a new era in the Aga Khan University’s history in Kenya – an era that will witness the fulfillment of our ambitious plans for growth and impact. It will serve as the University’s principal campus in Kenya, bringing together in one place for the first time our Medical College, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Graduate School of Media and Communications, Institute for Human Development, Brain and Mind Institute and other programmes. It will enable us to establish new academic degree programmes, implement new research projects, and substantially expand our enrollment. And we will continue our financial assistance programme to enable students who cannot afford the tuition fees to attend our University.

The Centre is one of the largest investments in higher education in Kenya’s recent history, encompassing 37,500 square metres or 400,000 square feet, and constructed and equipped at a cost of US$ 50 million or more than 5.3 billion Ksh. It features two towers with a total of 23 floors above and below ground, making it an example of a best-in-class vertical urban campus. Approximately 2,000 Kenyans were employed in designing, building, and equipping this facility.

But more than its size or its budget, it is the convictions that the University Centre embodies that make it so significant.

At the Aga Khan University, we believe that Kenyans deserve the very best. The Centre was designed by the internationally renowned architecture firm Payette of Boston based in USA. In addition to AKU’s other campuses, Payette has designed buildings for some of the world’s leading universities, including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Columbia. Payette was ably supported by the local architecture firm Symbion and construction was carried out to exacting standards by Kenya’s Laxmanbhai Construction Limited.

We believe that education must evolve to keep pace with changing times and changing demands. Therefore, our classrooms are equipped with the latest technology for teaching and learning. Our laboratories are state-of-the-art. Our Graduate School of Media and Communications features a multimedia newsroom alongside radio and TV studios. And we are investing US$ 2.5 million, or 270 million Ksh, to create East Africa’s first cutting-edge facility for simulation-based health education on the University Centre’s first floor.

The Centre for Innovation in Medical Education will enable our nursing and medical students to hone their clinical skills using incredibly lifelike patient mannequins in highly realistic hospital settings. Students will be able to practice everything from delivering babies to caring for patients with highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19. As a result, our students will be exceptionally well-prepared for the real-world challenges they will face.

We also believe that education and knowledge creation are social and collective endeavours. Today, research is typically collaborative, often interdisciplinary, and increasingly international in scope. Hence, we have designed the University Centre to stimulate interaction and intellectual exchange.

We have courtyards, terraces, a stunning atrium, and an outdoor amphitheatre – all spaces that will bring faculty, staff, students, and visitors together in settings that uplift and inspire. We have an exhibition hall and an auditorium with video conferencing and streaming systems that will enable us to convene researchers and members of the public from across Kenya and beyond. And we have that blend of diverse influences that characterizes the Aga Khan University – the distinctive red brick of Nairobi, teak from Sudan, patterns inspired by the architecture of the Islamic world, and the entrance portal that connects this campus to our campus in Karachi.

As it fills up, the University Centre will exude the cosmopolitan energy of a university at home in the 21st century, and eager to forge connections across borders and boundaries of all kinds. It will be an exciting place to work, to learn, to teach, and to expand the frontiers of knowledge, as we have done with the international clinical trials for treatments from COVID-19.  Just as the Aga Khan University Hospital has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the quality of health care in East Africa through international standards and accreditation, AKU’s new campus will be at the centre of the drive to raise standards in university education and research.  

That the University Centre is such a place is due to the efforts of many people. We cannot thank our Kenyan and international donors enough, because without their generosity this building would not have been possible. I am grateful to all those whose courage and dedication made it possible to complete this immense project despite the many challenges created by the pandemic. I also wish to thank the Ministry of Education and the Commission for University Education for their support and partnership.

Finally, I wish to thank our Founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, whose vision, inspiration, and insistence on uncompromising quality have enabled the University to make a tangible difference in so many people’s lives.

Thanks to all our supporters, the Aga Khan University will be educating leaders, advancing knowledge, and improving quality of life in Kenya from this one-of-a-kind building for many decades to come.

Thank you.


وصف رئيس جامعة الآغا خان فيروز رسول خلال كلمته أثناء افتتاح مركز جامعة الآغا خان في نيروبي بكينيا أنه تم اختيار شركة ""باييت"" للهندسة المعمارية المشهورة عالمياً ومقرها في بوسطن للقيام بتصميم المركز الذي بلغت تكلفة بنائه وتجهيزه 50 مليون دولار. وأضاف بأن ""المركز سيكون نقطة انطلاقٍ نحو عصرٍ جديدٍ في تاريخ جامعة الآغا خان في كينيا، وحقبةً ستشهد تنفيذ خططنا الطموحة الرامية نحو تحقيق المزيد من النمو والتأثير"".

","English" "Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-04-france-ucaconvocation-0613r.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Friday, 11 June 2021","1623408300","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Kenya Charter Granting Ceremony of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Kenya","","2020s","","","","6926","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwwEcV4dc3Q","","1","","1","","","","Kenya,Health,Aga Khan University","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-06-04-france-ucaconvocation-0613r.jpg","Aga Khan University","AKU Kenya","Health","


Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta,
Professor George Magoha, Cabinet Secretary for Education,
Professor Chacha, Chairman of the Commission for University Education,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is with the greatest satisfaction and the deepest gratitude that I accept the Kenya Charter of the Aga Khan University. My only regret is that, due to the pandemic, I cannot be present in person to receive the instruments of authority, and to celebrate this momentous occasion in the University’s history.

The Charter details AKU’s functions, powers, obligations, and governance. But it is more than a legal document. It is a vote of confidence in AKU and all those who are part of it – our faculty, our staff, administration, students, alumni, friends and supporters.

Your Excellency – Thank you for your confidence in the Aga Khan University. Thank you for creating an enabling environment that has allowed AKU to flourish, and for recognising that private institutions can play a vital role in promoting public welfare.

I would also like to thank the Commission for University Education, which has managed the difficult feat of acting as both a demanding regulator and a supportive partner. AKU is a better university because of the Commission’s efforts to improve the quality of tertiary education in Kenya.  

In this venue we see dramatic confirmation that the University is indeed thriving. Our new University Centre is the soaring embodiment of AKU’s commitment to Kenya, and determination to ensure that its people have access to the very best in higher education and health care. It is also a testament to the power of giving. The construction of the Centre was made possible by the extraordinary generosity of a number of individuals and families who are joining us today, and whose names will be permanently engraved on its walls and glass balustrades.  I am profoundly grateful for their support, as is the entire AKU community.

While its Charter is new, AKU is a firmly established institution in Kenya: It has been operating here since 2002, under a letter of interim authority from the Government. Moreover, as an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, the University is part of a wide-ranging effort to improve quality of life in East Africa, and that dates back more than 100 years, to the schools founded by my grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, in the early 20th century.

Milestones in the Network’s history include the founding of enduring institutions such as Jubilee Insurance, the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi – now the Aga Khan University Hospital – and the Nation Media Group, all of which have now been serving Kenya for more than 60 years.

Today, I think we can say without exaggeration that AKDN and its agencies, including the Aga Khan University, are part of the fabric of life in Kenya and East Africa.

What then has the University achieved in its first two decades? And what does its future hold? Let us begin with its accomplishments thus far.

First, the University has educated much-needed leaders.

In total, nearly 4,000 students have graduated from AKU in East Africa. Among them are more than 1,400 Kenyan nurses, doctors, educators, and journalists –  70 percent of whom, I would note, are women.

Across the country and the region, AKU alumni are leading departments, institutions, and professional organisations. They are founding schools and clinics. They are winning awards, including Kenya’s 2018 Teacher of the Year Award. They are raising standards in both the public and the private sectors, and in rural areas as well as cities.

Second, AKU has developed into an institution capable of delivering problem-solving knowledge, and of sharing its expertise with other organisations.

AKU’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health has published one of the most comprehensive analyses of maternal and child health in Kenya and is working with its fellow AKDN agencies to help government health facilities in Kilifi and Kisii counties to improve health for thousands of women and children.

Our Institute for Human Development has trained hundreds of professionals in the science of early childhood development and is conducting a multi-faceted research and intervention project to support child development in underprivileged communities.

The University’s new Cancer Centre is one of the few centres in Sub-Saharan Africa equipped to conduct cancer clinical trials. As such, it will bring new treatments to cancer patients that would otherwise be unavailable in Kenya.

Throughout the pandemic, AKU researchers have been working to deliver new insights and tools in the fight against the novel coronavirus. For example, the University was one of only two institutions in Africa to contribute to an international clinical trial that evaluated the use of the drug tocilizumab to treat patients with COVID-19. It is now part of the standard treatment protocol worldwide.

AKU experts have also provided advice and training on caring for patients with COVID-19 to government clinics and hospitals.

As these and many other efforts demonstrate, AKU is no ivory tower. It is deeply concerned with, and connected to, the lives of ordinary Kenyans.

Third, the University has expanded access to high-quality health care and raised standards in healthcare delivery.

The Aga Khan University Hospital, Kenya’s only internationally accredited teaching hospital and its 45 outreach clinics serve almost every major centre in the country. The Hospital also provides free health screening to tens of thousands of individuals through its medical camps.

During the pandemic, the Hospital has treated over 2,000 seriously ill COVID patients, conducted more than 76,000 tests for the coronavirus and vaccinated over 10,000 people.

All this was possible because we are the only private institution in Kenya to train specialist doctors who provide the country with much needed medical knowledge and skills. We also create opportunities for working nurses to upgrade their training to earn degrees at an international standard. Not to mention, the master teachers we develop to improve schools and the journalists whose capabilities we raise to be able to report using multiple platforms, including digital media.

In short, as called for in its Charter,  Aga Khan University has “prepared individuals for constructive and exemplary leadership…responded to identified needs in the countries it serves…and provided meaningful contributions to society”.

In the years to come, it will continue to do so.

Charter in hand and newly housed in a dynamic urban campus unlike any other in the region, the University will launch new programmes in nursing and medicine. And its new Nairobi-based Brain and Mind Institute will undertake cutting-edge research aimed at improving mental health, especially among women, adolescents and disadvantaged populations.

As its student body and its faculty grow in size, its visibility and impact will increase, new programmes will come online, much about the Aga Khan University will change. What will not change is its principle of uncompromising quality and its mission of improving quality of life in Kenya.

I look forward to continuing to pursue that mission together with the University’s trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, volunteers, donors and partners; in accordance with the Charter we have been granted today; and with the support and encouragement of the Government of Kenya.  

Thank you very much.


سمو الآغا خان: ""بقدرٍ كبيرٍ من الارتياح والامتنان، قبلتُ ميثاق كينيا لجامعة الآغا خان. يُفصِّل الميثاق وظائف جامعة الآغا خان وسلطاتها والتزاماتها وطريقة إدارتها، وهو يُعتبر أكثر من مجرد وثيقة قانونية. إنه تصويت على الثقة بجامعة الآغا خان وعلى كل من يشكّلون جزءاً منها: أعضاء هيئة التدريس والموظفين والإدارة والطلاب والخريجين والأصدقاء والداعمين"".

","English" "Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-scoviah_valedictorian.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Friday, 21 May 2021","1621681200","Valedictorian address by Ms Scoviah Masudio at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Pakistan","","2020s","","","","257039","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl5tdbpIw8k","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Health","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-scoviah_valedictorian.jpg","Aga Khan University","Aga Khan University (AKU)","Education,Health","

Graduands of 2020, the provost, the university administration, honored guests, family, friends, and well-wishers, we are so honored to have you all here on this beautiful and auspicious occasion as we celebrate the dawn of an important chapter in our lives. My name is Scoviah Masudio, and I am so honored to be representing the class of 2020 today.

I thank God for the grace and preservation of our lives that we are here today witnessing an important milestone in our lives. Despite the numerous disruptions and setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have persevered and we stand proud today as we declare ourselves champions!

I come from a family of 10 siblings and several cousins. My father (God rest his soul) finally attained his first degree at the age of 58. He told me, “my daughter, I don’t have money, neither am I much educated, but what I can tell you is that if I have managed to get my degree at this age, then nothing can ever stop you from achieving your dreams. He said you must go back to school. I want those that classified me as a failure to know that great people have emerged from my family”. Alas! Here I am today, the first girl from a long line of my family to graduate with a degree. That is history made for me, small as it is. Today is a dream manifesting into the reality!

I did not achieve this on my own. I am here today because of each and every one of you. Thank you, the university administration, the faculties and school staff. You never gave up on us, you guided and nurtured us so diligently and now it’s our time to blossom.

To family and friends, thank you for the endless sacrifices you made to ensure that this day comes to pass. To my classmates, thank you for the inspiration and encouragement.

To the Johnson & Johnson scholarship scheme, words alone can’t express our gratitude. Thank you very much.

We all have dreamt and eagerly waited for the convocation day, and it has finally arrived! But what happens after today? What does your degree or diploma mean to you? Is it going to be another piece of paper to add to your living room decorations? What are you going to do with what you have got from Aga Khan University? To the nurses and midwives, are we just excited about becoming nursing or midwifery officers? What impact will your qualifications have on the lives and training of your colleagues at work who did not have the opportunity to go back to school?

We have been empowered and are now being set free into the world, battle-tested and ready to serve humanity as agents of change, through our various disciplines.

We have received the training and skills to be the best we can be out there but are we prepared to deal with failure? I am not saying you will be a failure, but this is life. It's never a straight and smooth path. It’s filled with hills, rough terrains, and unexpected curveballs. You will apply for jobs and never get called back, you will try to save that mother bleeding, and she will die.  How do you deal with all of this? Remember, no one is perfect. Every time we fall, we get an opportunity to rise stronger and wiser to deal with what made us fall. The number of times you fall doesn’t matter; it is the number of times you refuse to stay on the ground that counts. Failure should never hold you back; it should instead ignite more fire in you to want to learn a better way to handle the same problem. The first semester was tough for me, I did not perform as I expected, coupled with the loss of my father, I was so discouraged and almost gave up. Well, here I am today.  I decided that I am not a quitter, and neither are you!

This is our moment to shine, go and make a difference in the world. Make use of every opportunity that comes your way, if the opportunities are not there, create them yourself. You will discover that you have more potential and capability than you give credit to yourself. You are unstoppable, you have all you need to rewrite your history.  Create your own legacy, put passion and dedication in everything you do, face all your fears with boldness and courage, turn your weak points into your strongest. Be the best version of yourself every day.

Thank you and good luck to you all!

Congratulations class of 2020! God bless you.



""أنا هنا اليوم أول فتاة من ضمن سلسلة طويلة من عائلتي تتخرج بدرجة علمية، ورغم ذلك، فهذا تاريخ متواضع بالنسبة لي، وحلمي اليوم يصبح حقيقةً"".

","English" "Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-anam-ehsan_valedictorian.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Friday, 21 May 2021","1621680300","Valedictorian address by Ms Anam Ehsan at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Pakistan","","2020s","","","","257038","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnRFpy1nmTk","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Education,Health,Aga Khan University","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-anam-ehsan_valedictorian.jpg","Aga Khan University","Aga Khan University (AKU)","Education,Health","

The Chancellor,
Honorable Chief Guest,
Ladies and gentlemen,
And my fellow graduates,

The Aga Khan Class of 2020 – or as a friend once jokingly called us ‘The Aga Khan Class of COVID’. This may be an unconventional ceremony, we may be sitting here with masks and have loved one’s hundreds of miles away, but let me tell you all, even a global pandemic could not stop us from graduating. Congratulations AKU Class of 2020! You did it. We all did it. Before reflecting on all that we are celebrating today I want you to picture a few, very true stories.

Ayesha is 4 years old, she lives in a village in Pakistan, she doesn’t learn and laugh at school, instead she is on her knees sweeping floors to earn for the family. She is just one of the 22.5 million uneducated children in Pakistan. Simoni is a few days old orphan in Tanzania. Her mother died in labor, bleeding on a bus. Tanzania has amongst the highest maternal mortality in the world. Njuguna (jookuna) is a resident nurse in Murang, Kenya. He is the only healthcare provider for 8000 people. He must rely on the cleaner to help run the clinic. WHO recommends an average of 25 nurses per 10,000 people, Kenya barely has 8.

I do realize this is rather a grim note to start such a joyous occasion on, however it is with a purpose that I share these stories. Today, all of you sitting in this beautiful green regalia, are not only celebrating your hard work, blood sweat and tears, sacrifices and accomplishments – you are celebrating so much more. You are celebrating the hope you symbolize for Ayesha, Simoni and Njugana (jookuna) and thousands of others. You are celebrating being change makers and leaders in the nations that built you and now need you, and in a world currently facing its worst humanitarian crisis in our lifetime with COVID-19. Now more than ever before, the world needs doctors, nurses and midwives, it needs educationists and journalists, it needs health system experts and epidemiologists it needs men and women like YOU to change the landscape; to ensure that such suffering ceases to exist and to ensure that we as nations and as humanity are better prepared. Why am I so confident that you and I are so instrumental and can be this momentous change?

That is because over the years I have grown old with many of you. I have learnt first-hand what the Aga Khan Student embodies. Commitment, leadership, talent. The Aga Khan Student is simply amongst the best. But that is not all I learnt over the years. The time was also filled with days sneaking in and out of lecture halls, hysterically laughing on exam nights, spending hours on end at the Sports Centre. There were also the tougher days where a patient’s father grabbed your hand crying, begging, pleading with you to save their child and even days where you accidentally prescribe an EEG instead of an ECG. All these days – the happy, the sad, the grueling, the gratifying – have culminated in so many memories and a much deserved today.

None of this would exist without the security guards, housekeeping staff, librarians, cooks, administration – thank you for making every day possible. Thank you to the phenomenal faculty. Thank you to the friends like family. Thank you to those who are probably happier than we are right now – our loved ones and relatives; especially our parents; today is as much yours as it is ours. And, finally, thank you to the man who built our futures, His Royal Highness The Chancellor.

Before I end, I would like to leave you with two ideas. Family and hope. Today we are not the Aga Khan University Nairobi or Kenya or Uganda or UK or Pakistan, we are simply the Aga Khan University. The AKU family, inextricably linked to one another – and like every family it can be too much at times, but it will always have your back. And today, as we leave the nest, I have the audacity to hope. I am talking about the hope that we will always try our level best and if it is one life we save, one child we teach, one story we change – it is more than enough. It is the hope of a better future, together. Fellow graduates, especially over the past year, we have been living history, but I think it is high time that you and I go out there and start making some history. I cannot wait to see all that you achieve. Here is to new adventures.





""بينما نغادر عُشَّنا اليوم، أمتلك الجرأة على الأمل كثيراً بالمستقبل. الأمل في أن نقدّم كل ما بوسعنا، سواء أسهمنا في إنقاذ حياة أحد المرضى، أو قمنا بتعليم أحد الأطفال، أو بتغيير مجرى إحدى القصص، فإن هذا إنجازٌ رائعٌ. إنه الأمل بمستقبل أفضل معاً. لذلك دعونا اليوم نضع علامة على البداية وليس النهاية. زملائي الخريجون، أنجزنا ولا سيّما خلال العام الماضي الكثير من الأعمال، والتي أصبحت سجلاً في تاريخنا، وأعتقد أن الوقت قد حان لأن نخرج جميعاً لنبدأ في صنع حكاية وكتابة تاريخ جديد"".

","English" "Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-2021-melinda-french-gates.jpg","","Friday, 21 May 2021","1621679400","Speech by Mrs Melinda French Gates at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Pakistan","","2020s","","","","257037","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MO6HOTmVsc","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Education,Health,Aga Khan University","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-2021-melinda-french-gates.jpg","Aga Khan University","Aga Khan University (AKU)","Education,Health","

Hello everyone. I am honored to join you today.

And thank you, Anita, for the kind introduction. Anita does an amazing job as the president of our Gender Equality Division and the director of our Vaccine Development programme at the Gates Foundation. Aga Khan University alums are represented at the highest levels of our Foundation!

I also want to thank His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman Debas and the Board of Trustees, President Rasul and Provost Amrhein for inviting me today, and for their hard work in making Aga Khan University an exemplary institution.

From leading surveys on nutrition, and maternal and child health research in Pakistan and Kenya, to helping introduce multiple vaccines where they are so needed, Aga Khan University is not only a global resource – it is a transformative force for public health and women’s health.

So thank you to everyone who has worked to make AKU such a success – the administration, the faculty, and the many donors who have supported the University over the years.

Most of all, I want to congratulate today’s graduates on their impressive achievement, as well as the parents and relatives here today to share in this joyous occasion.

I particularly want to recognise the many who are the first in their family to earn a degree. Even though today is just one step in your journey, you have already accomplished an amazing feat.


And I’m especially delighted to see a graduating class that is more than 70 per cent women.

As graduates of AKU, you join a remarkable group of women and men who are changing lives for the better all over the world. And let me tell you: the world desperately needs your energy and your leadership.

We are nearly a year and a half into the biggest global public health crisis in a century. And even as vaccines roll out, the pandemic still threatens millions of families across the planet.

And along with sickness and death, COVID-19 has disrupted economies and has shattered livelihoods. So after years of declines, poverty and hunger are on the rise. Basic, life-saving fundamentals of good health have become even harder to come by. Childhood vaccination rates were set back 25 years in just 25 weeks.

And women, who make up 70 per cent of the global health workforce, are bearing the brunt of the economic pain unleashed by this pandemic. Their jobs and economic security have been disproportionately devastated, even as they continue to handle most of the child and family care.

So let me be clear: The only way the world will rebound is by putting women at the centre of recovery efforts. And we need more leaders everywhere to make that case and act.

And that’s why I’m so inspired to be here today. You, the graduating class of 2021, are the leaders we need.

Wherever you go and whatever you choose to do with your degree, I have tremendous faith that you will be the architects of a better, fairer, and more equitable world.

We’re proud of our partnership with AKU over the years, including eradicating polio and other infectious diseases, improving maternal and child health and nutrition, reducing stillbirths, and, most recently, helping nurses respond to COVID-19.

I can’t wait to see the positive change you’ll bring. Congratulations, graduates. Let’s go out and make a better world.

Thank you.


""أود أن أُهنئ خريجي اليوم على إنجازاتهم الرائعة، كما أُجّه التهنئة لأولياء الأمور والأقارب الموجودين هنا لمشاركتهم حضور هذه المناسبة السعيدة. وأرغب بشكلٍ خاصٍ بالتعرف على الكثيرين ممن كانوا أول من حصل على درجة علمية في عائلاتهم. ورغم أن هذا اليوم هو مجرد خطوة أولى خلال رحلتكم، إلا أنكم قمتم بالفعل بإنجازات مذهلة"".

","English" "The Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-firoz-rasul-r.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Friday, 21 May 2021","1621678500","Speech by President Firoz Rasul at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Pakistan","","2020s","","","","8941","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf3ltXkDeVw","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Education,Health,Aga Khan University","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aku-pakistan-2021-firoz-rasul-r.jpg","Aga Khan University","Aga Khan University (AKU)","Education,Health","

His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor of the University
Our Chief Guest Melinda French Gates
Chairman Haile Debas and members of the Board of Trustees;
Provost and Vice President, Academic Carl Amrhein
Faculty, staff, alumni, donors, partners, friends, and family members
And most importantly, our graduands:

Assalam-u-alaikum, hamjambo, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening.

Today is a historic day for the Aga Khan University. Thanks to the power of technology, we are conducting our first-ever global convocation ceremony simultaneously across 13 times zones. We are bringing together our graduands, their family members, and AKU’s faculty and staff in six countries, our trustees in nine countries, and our friends and well-wishers in countless locations across the world. Only a uniquely international institution like AKU could connect so many people across so many borders and boundaries. I am very grateful to the teams in several countries who made this possible.

An occasion like this deserves a chief guest with a truly global vision, influence, and reputation – and no one fits that description better than Melinda French Gates. We are extremely grateful for her participation, which I know will be an inspiration to our graduands.

This ceremony marks the end of the Class of 2020’s journey at AKU, and the beginning of its next adventure. And it punctuates a year unlike any other in the lives of the graduands or the University’s existence – a year of formidable challenges and momentous achievements.

The path the graduands walked was winding, steep, and strewn with obstacles. But they navigated it with the courage, agility, and perseverance that are the hallmarks of true AKU Leopards. 

Graduands, you passed the test of 2020 with flying colors. Nothing can stop you now.

This is a unique moment in the world’s history. It is an extraordinary time to be graduating. The pandemic has robbed millions of their lives and even more of their livelihoods. But it has also inspired unforgettable acts of sacrifice, solidarity, innovation, and ingenuity. And it has opened our eyes to the selfishness and inequity that continue to disfigure our world.

In exposing harsh realities to public view, the coronavirus has planted the seed of transformation in our midst. More and more people are asking themselves a simple, but profound question: What can I do to help? How can I make a difference?

Certainly, that question has been resonating in our thoughts here at AKU. Before I proceed, I would like you to hear how some of our faculty and staff are answering it.

Malnutrition, lack of education, gender inequality, chronic illness – these are daunting problems. As part of the Aga Khan Development Network, AKU is tackling all of them and many other issues with the fearlessness and creativity that have defined the University for the past 38 years.

And today, the 667 members of the Class of 2020 are joining the fight.

They are part of a new generation. The men and women of this generation are the most educated in history, with many being the first in their family to attend university. They possess the confidence that comes with their immense numbers, for in much of Asia and Africa, the young constitute a majority of the population. Born into the digital era, they are at home online and eager to make full use of technology’s potential.

Crucially, they know the remarkable feats and unity of purpose that a great undertaking can inspire. For in 2020 and 2021, they have risen to every occasion. And so has AKU. 

Day after day, our health professionals have masked up, donned their protective gear, and bravely served on the front lines. Even as I speak, they are doing so. All of us have worked by the light of their example, seeing in them models of compassion and dedication.

AKU’s researchers have helped to deliver new tools in the battle against the pandemic. Our genetic sequencing capabilities have put us at the forefront of testing and tracking new viral mutations. We contributed to multiple international clinical trials of drugs and vaccines, in partnership with leading universities and pharmaceutical companies. We met challenges with innovation, 3D-printing nasal swabs and building our own UV-light device to sterilize hospital spaces.

When lockdowns were imposed, our faculty and staff worked around the clock to ensure our students could continue learning online, including by providing connectivity and laptops where needed. And where circumstances allowed, we brought our students safely back to campus. 

When governments requested our help in training public-sector doctors and nurses in caring for COVID patients, we leapt at the opportunity. Our online courses have reached more than 22,000 individuals. And our hotline enables doctors at other hospitals to get AKU’s advice on caring for severely ill COVID patients. 

We are profoundly grateful to all those who made such achievements possible. In a time of endless strains and stresses, our faculty and staff continued to meet the highest standards. At every turn, our alumni, former staff, volunteers, and students asked: “How can we help?”

The support of our partners has been indispensable, including that of development agencies such as Global Affairs Canada, the German government’s BMZ and KfW, and AfD, the French Development Agency; organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dawood Foundation, the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; and universities such as Harvard, the University of Virginia, the University of California San Francisco, Columbia University, and Brown University.

Despite a worldwide recession, our donors have been selfless in their generosity. Their gifts have enabled AKU to provide its most disadvantaged patients with life-saving care, to offer scholarships to students, build new facilities, purchase vital equipment and PPE, and launch new academic and research programmes.

Of course, our foremost gratitude is to our founder, Chancellor, and chief benefactor, His Highness the Aga Khan. His wisdom continues to guide us, and his vision continues to inspire us, as they have since the University’s inception.

This is my last convocation as President of the Aga Khan University. Over the past 15 years, I have watched our remarkable graduates go on to make impactful contributions to education, science, healthcare, culture, society and governments around the world. I look back with great pride and satisfaction on what the University has achieved through the efforts of the outstanding people who are part of AKU. This team is my greatest legacy. I would like to welcome Sulaiman Shahbuddin as the incoming President who will inherit this great team.

I am extremely grateful to His Highness the Aga Khan for giving me and Saida the opportunity to serve AKU under his guidance and direction. I am grateful to the Chairman and Trustees for their sage counsel and advice. I am grateful to my colleagues at AKU for all the joint learning, discovery and knowledge; and for the compassion, commitment and courage, and for all the wonderful friendships.

Graduands, there are special generations in history. Those that won independence for Asia and Africa. That gave us the world’s first democracies. That laid the foundations of modern science. They are the ones to whom a great task is entrusted, and who respond with unquenchable enthusiasm. 

I believe your generation can be one of these, and that as members of the Aga Khan University Class of 2020, you can lead the way. You can be at the forefront in building the independent intellectual and scientific capacity that will enable Asia and Africa to tackle the biggest challenges facing them and the wider world.

The education you have received has prepared you to compete and collaborate with the world’s best. Throughout your time at AKU, you have awed us with your hunger for knowledge, your pioneering spirit, and your agility in the face of change.

Only one question remains for each of you to answer: What difference will I make?

I know I speak for everyone watching this ceremony around the world when I say that we cannot wait to learn your answers.

Thank you.



""أيها الخريجون، ثمة أجيال متميّزة في التاريخ، والتي أسهمت بحصول آسيا وإفريقيا على استقلالهما، ما قدّم لنا أولى الديمقراطيات في العالم ووضع أسس العلوم الحديثة. إنهم الأشخاص الذين أُوكلت إليهم مهماتٌ كبيرةٌ، والذين استجابوا لها بحماسٍ لا ينضب. أعتقد أن جيلكم يمكن أن يكون واحداً من هؤلاء، وبصفتكم أعضاء في دُفعة خريجي جامعة الآغا خان لعام 2020، يمكنكم أن تتولوا مهمة القيادة"".

","English" "Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-05-07-france-gouvieux-aku-speech-0431-r.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Friday, 21 May 2021","1621674900","Address by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Global Virtual Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","speech","Pakistan","","2020s","","","","6926","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj9IU9WVp0c","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Education,Health,Aga Khan University","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2021-05-07-france-gouvieux-aku-speech-0431-r.jpg","Aga Khan University","Aga Khan University (AKU)","Education,Health","


Our Chief Guest, Melinda French Gates
Chairman Haile Debas and the Members of the Board of Trustees
President Firoz Rasul
Provost, Deans, Faculty and Staff of the University
Generous donors and well wishers of the University from around the world
Distinguished guests
Parents, family members and Graduates

It is a great privilege to join you today in recognising and celebrating the Class of 2020.

I do so in circumstances unlike any the world has faced in my lifetime, reminding us all, how vital, how essential, nurses, doctors, researchers, and teachers are to our collective health and well-being.

And so, to our graduates, I begin by thanking as well as congratulating you.  Each of you has chosen a path of service to humanity that is admirable and necessary.

We are honoured on this occasion by the participation of Ms. Melinda French Gates.  Through her leadership, the Gates Foundation has helped improve human health, advance economic development, and empower women and girls across the globe.  The longstanding partnership between the agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Gates Foundation has featured collaboration in each of these areas, working together in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and East Africa.

In light of this special relationship, we are particularly pleased to welcome her to this Convocation.  

For decades, both the Aga Khan Development Network and the Gates Foundation have devoted significant effort to improving health and health systems.  Indeed, this university was founded upon the conviction that the quality of healthcare professionals is fundamental to any progress in these domains.  It therefore gives me great pride to see the response of AKU and its hospitals during this pandemic, undertaken with the generous support from the Gates Foundation and others.  I salute the courage of AKU’s health-care staff and administration, who have worked tirelessly through months of crisis, braving these difficult times with fortitude and resolve.

The University has made a critical difference – advising national governments, training public sector medical staff, working with teachers and schools, raising awareness through media and journalism, and doing everything possible to treat patients and to save lives. 

I would also like to recognise the resilience and agility of our University faculty and students.

In these challenging times, all of you have shown impressive adaptability, dedication and perseverance. Thank you.

AKU’s contributions represent another chapter in the long story of great universities that have helped guide the world through the turbulence of history.  The global pandemic response has been built on decades of earnest research, often conducted in relative obscurity, but making possible the development of new tests, tracing strategies, therapies, and vaccines.  While we should regret the unequal distribution of these achievements, we must also appreciate the intellectual triumph that their development represents.

Melinda French Gates and the Gates Foundation have played a crucial and catalytic role.  As you know, AKU researchers have also been part of this progress, identifying and tracking new Covid mutations, assessing vaccines and evaluating therapies.   

AKU aims to be as relevant for the next global health crisis as it has been for this one.  Today, AKU is building its capacity for cutting-edge research applicable to the distinctive health risks for populations in Asia and Africa.  It will seek to harness the enormous potential of advances in artificial intelligence, genomic medicine, and stem cell science to address tomorrow’s challenges, as well as today’s.

Translating this potential requires more than innovation.  It requires professionals capable of complex judgements in balance with the cultures and traditions of these regions.  This is why AKU is evolving into a comprehensive University, active in the humanities and social sciences.

As our thoughts turn to the future, and the bright potential of AKU and its graduates, I must pause to reflect on this moment of significant transition.

Today’s Convocation marks a meaningful juncture in our University’s history.  For only the third time since our founding in 1983, AKU will have a new President.

As you all know, President Rasul has asked to retire, and I have reluctantly agreed, understanding how important it will be for Firoz and Saida to spend the coming years with their children and grand-children in Canada.

Under Firoz’s leadership, our University has known remarkable growth in the past 15 years: new facilities, new campuses, new faculties and impressive new technologies.  The University has also grown as a leading academic and intellectual force.  AKU graduates are reaching the highest levels of qualification and accomplishment.  It is most gratifying to see that some of them are now returning to AKU as faculty and leaders.

These achievements are a source of great happiness for our Trustees and me.  President Rasul’s impressive accomplishments have given us the confidence to broaden our horizons and expand our aspirations of excellence.

With these aspirations in full view, I have appointed Sulaiman Shahabuddin as President of AKU.  Sulaiman, who began his career at AKU 35 years ago, is coming “home,” along with his wife, Zeenat, who is a graduate of the University and holds a PhD in nursing.

I have known Sulaiman for many years. He has been the Regional CEO of the Aga Khan Health Services in East Africa for a decade, and previously CEO of the Aga Khan Hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania.  I have been continually impressed by his commitment, his capacities as a leader, and his continuing dedication to learning.

Please join me in welcoming them both back to AKU.

I spoke earlier of transitions.  You came to this convocation as students.  At the end of today’s ceremonies, you will be graduates of the Aga Khan University, stepping into new roles and new responsibilities.   

I am confident that the Class of 2020 will walk in the footsteps of your fellow alumni, as leaders in the pursuit of excellence, wherever your paths may lead you.  

 As you start that journey, this is a day for all of us to renew our commitment to an ever more hopeful future, one that will be richer in the products of human ingenuity, more just in their distribution, and more abundant in respect and compassion for one another.

I offer you my sincerest congratulations.

Thank you. 


""إنني واثق من أنكم خريجو دُفعة عام 2020 ستسيرون على خطى زملائكم الخريجين كقادة خلال سعيكم لتحقيق التميّز حيثما تقودكم مساراتكم. في الوقت الذي تبدأون فيه رحلتكم، فإننا نستغل هذه المناسبة لنجدد التزامنا بمستقبل أكثر تفاؤلاً، مستقبل أكثر ثراءً بعناصر الابتكار والإبداع البشري، وأكثر عدلاً في توزيع تلك الابتكارات والإبداعات خدمةً للسكان، وأكثر وفرةً من خلال نشر الاحترام والتعاطف بين بعضنا البعض"".

","English" "2020 Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2020-11-24-afghanistan-conference-r.jpg","Geneva, Switzerland","Tuesday, 24 November 2020","1606212000","Statement by His Highness the Aga Khan at the 2020 Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan ","","speech","Afghanistan,Switzerland","","2020s","","","","6926","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PqQHh0DfWI","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture,Aga Khan Health Services,Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Aga Khan Foundation,Aga Khan Education Services,Agence Aga Khan pour l'habitat,Agriculture and food security,Civil society,Education,Financial inclusion,Habitat,Health,Historic Cities,Infrastructure development,Tourism Promotion,Switzerland","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2020-11-24-afghanistan-conference-r.jpg","Aga Khan Agency for Habitat,Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance,Aga Khan Education Services,Aga Khan Foundation,Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Aga Khan Health Services,Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Agriculture and food security,Civil society,Education,Financial inclusion,Habitat,Health,Historic Cities,Infrastructure development,Tourism Promotion","

Delivered by Ms. Sheherazade Hirji, AKDN ’s Diplomatic Representative to Afghanistan


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the Governments of Afghanistan and Finland and the United Nations for convening the international community at this special moment for Afghanistan and its peoples.

We join today with more hope than ever that peace is on the near horizon. But we are also all aware that this is a delicate moment in Afghan history.  

After almost two decades working together, we must all do everything possible to help seize this opportunity. The Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network reaffirm our deep and enduring commitment to the Afghan peoples, and to a peaceful, pluralist Afghanistan.

One of the lessons AKDN has learned from its work globally is that diversity and pluralism in our thinking are essential. Traditionally, differences have been seen as something that divides. We know they can also be a source of positive strength. As the Chairman of the Global Centre for Pluralism, founded in partnership with the Government of Canada, I firmly believe that the support of the Centre can be valuable to all stakeholders, as Afghans discuss how to create a lasting and enduring peace, reflecting all views and perspectives, recognising and respecting Afghanistan’s rich diversity.  I know that the Centre stands ready to support all the parties towards this goal.

As Afghanistan enters a new period of transition, it will need the contributions of all its people, men and women, in every part of the country, to address their common challenges: rising poverty, climate disruption, an unforgiving pandemic. It will need all their talents to build an inclusive future with more opportunities, requiring more education, more knowledge, more private initiative. In these endeavours, AKDN is, and will remain, a steadfast partner. 

Above all, we must ensure that our renewed pledges of support here are translated into tangible gains there, at the community level. Because it is by enabling people to work together purposefully, with visible results, that Afghans of all backgrounds will realise the power of peace to change their lives.

This is why AKDN will maintain the breadth of its work across the country. We will remain deeply engaged with the country’s education sector, where we have supported teachers and students, especially Afghan girls, in hundreds of schools. Our work to strengthen the health system spans our partnerships with Bamyan and Badakhshan, and the French Medical Institute for Children, with every AKDN agency contributing significantly to Afghanistan’s pandemic response. In culture, AKDN has restored some 150 heritage sites – symbols of the strength that came from Afghanistan’s connections to the rest of the world. The transformation of the Bala Hisar Citadel into an archaeological park is one of the latest examples of this work.

All of this must be underpinned by better economic opportunities for all Afghans. In this, AKDN has always insisted on the importance of Afghanistan’s neighbours for the country’s prosperity. AKDN has invested in regional connectivity and cooperation for decades, making gains in clean energy, financial services, infrastructure, and telecommunications, as these all enable livelihoods and underpin job creation. We are pleased to have been entrusted to take on the generation, transmission and delivery of energy through Badakhshon Energy, an innovative public-private partnership for Afghanistan, serving the entire province. We will also continue to help build human capacity throughout Central Asia, linking Afghanistan to its brothers and sisters through education, healthcare, and the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia.

During our twenty-five years in Afghanistan, AKDN has been guided by a fundamental belief that the key to the country’s future is in a vibrant, meritocratic, pluralistic civil society – in the Afghan people and in long-term institutions anchoring their contributions to the common good.  As I close today, I reaffirm our commitment to working through them, along with the Afghan government and all our international partners, to strive for an Afghanistan that is peaceful, diverse, and dynamic.   

Thank you.


","speech_253595","","English" " 2020 Afghanistan Conference","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2-aktc-afghanistan-3.1.1_noh_gunbad_d_02_r.jpg, https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aktc-afghanistan-babur_8.jpg, https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/akf-afghanistan-170806-r.jpg","Geneva, Switzerland","Tuesday, 24 November 2020","1606124700","Remarks by Michael Kocher, General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation, at the 2020 Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan","","speech","Afghanistan,Switzerland","","2020s","","","","253592","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu8lyieA49E","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture,Aga Khan Health Services,Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Aga Khan Foundation,Aga Khan Education Services,Agence Aga Khan pour l'habitat,Agriculture and food security,Civil society,Education,Financial inclusion,Habitat,Health,Historic Cities,Infrastructure development,Tourism Promotion,Switzerland","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2-aktc-afghanistan-3.1.1_noh_gunbad_d_02_r.jpg","Aga Khan Agency for Habitat,Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance,Aga Khan Education Services,Aga Khan Foundation,Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Aga Khan Health Services,Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Agriculture and food security,Civil society,Education,Financial inclusion,Habitat,Health,Historic Cities,Infrastructure development,Tourism Promotion","

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation, it is an honour to speak today on behalf of the Aga Khan Development Network, or AKDN, as we have invested in Afghanistan’s people and prospects for 25 years. We are committed to continued partnership with Afghanistan’s Government and the priorities it leads with great thought and resilience. 

We are one of the country’s earliest investors, operating both not-for-profit and for-profit institutions, engaging a broad range of partners in the process, but always with a singular goal: Afghanistan's development. We see great added value in unifying regional partnerships with Afghanistan’s neighbours, not only for better physical connectivity but also for strong social bonds that underpin not only economic progress but peace and stability. 

That is why we established Roshan Telecommunications, restored and run the Serena Hotel, founded the First Microfinance Bank of Afghanistan, and also the new public-private partnership – Badakhshon Energy (like Pamir Energy in Tajikistan) – all examples of flagship economic projects that feature innovative partnerships – in addition to AKDN's numerous education, healthcare, livelihoods, civil society and cultural programmes and institutions. 

I make today four points concerning partnership, economic development and aid effectiveness:

First, experience shows aid can and must address physical constraints – roads and bridges, telecommunications, energy and other infrastructure assets – for cities but also for remote and under-served areas. This comprehensive internal connectivity is as necessary as better links to external markets. Here we must not neglect rural Afghanistan, so critical to stability and growth. The partnership approach here is simple yet at times done too rarely – meaningful engagement with communities on what they need – be it a bridge, micro-hydel, access road or irrigation channel – at the village, district, provincial and even the cross-border level.

Second, progress demands broader multi-sector programmes. Partnering often with smallholder farmers, for example, AKDN’s agribusiness investments are further catalysts for economic objectives – so too the planned extension to Afghanistan of AKDN’s regional enterprise initiative, Accelerate Prosperity, supporting micro, small and medium enterprise. 

Further, there are projects that might be defined as “social” or “cultural”, but central to economic progress. Examples include: the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children, where we engage the Ministry of Health and the French Government; our work with a broad range of community groups and local government bodies through the Afghan Citizen’s Charter to underpin civil society; the development of the Bagh-e-Babur and Chihilsitoon gardens, and the Riverfront project in Kabul, where we partner with local artisans, urban planners and businesses toward enhancing quality of life and the local economy. 

The third key ingredient is consistency. Investors make decisions based upon predictability, the reliability of rules and regulations. Afghanistan and its international partners should continue creating clearer, consistent regulatory frameworks, guided by the rule of law and transparency. This applies as well to the governance and management of Afghanistan's many natural resources. Protecting its extraordinary natural environment – and combating climate change – are without question of utmost importance for sustainable, inclusive economic development. Community groups – civil society - must be at the table throughout.

The fourth and final key dimension is of course people, the country’s greatest resource. Major strides have been made in education across the past two decades, especially for women and girls, and this must continue. But the country needs more qualified professionals – teachers and administrators, engineers and accountants, nurses and doctors, entrepreneurs and managers.  

This is why we invest in skills development, executive and vocational training, and education. Greater investment in education – including education technology – at all levels is critical, from early childhood development to university post-graduate. As but one example during the pandemic, the Aga Khan Foundation has partnered with the Afghanistan Ministry of Education and Afghan radio and television stations to support public education in remote areas. We also partner with a range of private foundations in support of education in Afghanistan.

Across these points, smart community-driven aid, linked to local needs, enables the private sector. Given the importance of public-private partnerships, bilateral and multilateral partners must also remember that grants and blended financing encourage investments.

In conclusion, these four building blocks – investments in connectivity and infrastructure, multi-sector development, regulatory consistency and human capital – will spur growth and help the country look forward with confidence, and all the more so when a full range of viable partnerships is viewed strategically and expansively, in-country and regionally.

Linked to all these themes, fully including women – individually and through private associations, cooperatives and collectives – is essential. 

Similarly, enabling a vibrant civil society – alongside embracing purposefully the country’s remarkable pluralism – is key for economic development, aid effectiveness and self-reliance. Afghanistan requires an inclusive approach to civil society to reach its extraordinary potential.

Again, AKDN expresses its sincere thanks and appreciation for the Government of Afghanistan’s clear vision, rightfully bold ambitions, determined leadership and continued partnership. 

Thank you.

","speech_253593","","English" "16th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku_kenya_img_4442.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Wednesday, 12 February 2020","1581519600","Valedictorian speech by Faith Oneya at the 16th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya","","speech","Kenya","","2020s","","","","244151","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health,Media","

Chief Guest Dr Rashid Abid Aman,
Members of the Board of Trustees,
President Firoz Rasul,
Provost Carl Amrhein,
Members of Faculty,
My Fellow Graduates,
Our dear family members and friends present here today,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good Morning!

Nelson Mandela once said that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world and on this auspicious occasion, as we look back and celebrate the achievements of the graduates, it is my deep belief that each of us graduating today is gaining power to change the world.

I am proud to be part of an outstanding graduating class of 2019 who are drawn from the Medical College, School of Nursing and Midwifery, the Institute for Educational Development, and the latest addition to the growing Aga Khan University family, the Graduate School of Media and Communications. I am deeply honoured to be a pioneer member of the Master of Arts in Digital Journalism programme and extremely humbled to present this valedictory speech today.

That we are all graduating today is testament our hard work, commitment and the sacrifices we have all made over the last few years. I am convinced that the happiness radiating in the room today lies both in the joy of our academic achievements and the thrill of the collective effort to get here.

The titles of the courses we undertook may have been different but the academic toil was the same. Today, we leave behind a rigorous academic life. We leave behind the tough balancing act of work, family and school.

The greatest sacrifice for me was in the time I spent away from my family-especially my daughter-but what kept me going was that this was necessary pain and it has been worth it for me as I’m sure it has been for my fellow graduates. We expertly negotiated vicious traffic as we tried to make it on time for morning and evening classes. We have had sleepless nights, finishing up a steady stream of assignments, reading tough academic books and we have written even tougher exams. But we are here. We made it.

Writing an exam or academic paper, as we know, is a solitary endeavour. Can be quite a lonely affair. Yet the success of any graduate relies on the support of those around them.

I would like to say thank you to some of the people who have walked the academic journey with us.

First of all, I would like to extend a special thank you to His Highness the Aga Khan, The Chancellor of Aga Khan University for his visionary leadership and generous donations that support the existence of the university. It is his vision that has enabled us have access to quality education.

To our sponsors, thank you for believing in us and allowing us the privilege to chase our dreams through education. As a member of the pioneer class of the Graduate School of Media and Communications, I wish to extend special thanks to the German government through KfW and BMZ for providing scholarships to support our academic pursuit. Asanteni Sana.

To the members of faculty, thank you for pushing us to greater academic heights than we would have imagined possible. Thank you for relentlessly and tirelessly pushing us forward even when we pushed back or complained quit loudly sometimes. Your understanding nature and unwavering support was essential to our academic victory today.

To the school administration, librarians and all the staff at Aga Khan University who, in different ways, supported us in the pursuit of education, we say thank you.

We remain indebted to our family members and friends who have invested and sacrificed time, money and a lot more to get us to where we are today. All these accolades demonstrate that indeed it takes a village for one to succeed.

Ladies and gentlemen, please indulge me a little as I take you back to my initial interaction with Aga Khan University. As part of my application to join the Master of Arts in Digital Journalism Programme, one of the questions I had to answer was: Why did you choose Aga Khan University?

I will not tell you the answer I wrote, because it did nothing to capture the essence and uniqueness of Aga Khan University. But I will tell you what I should have written, for these are the things I treasured the most in my two-year academic journey.

One of the things that sets this university apart from the rest is the student-centred approach to education. If you are like me, who came from a background where the teacher was the law and
interaction between the teacher and students limited, then the Aga Khan University approach may have startled you too.

I was puzzled. What did they mean? Were not we coming to class to be lectured and instructed about what to do?

Let me put this in perspective. The lecturers were available to us whenever we needed them and their support cannot be overstated. The teaching format was also flexible, fun and very immersive. Which is not to say that the programmes were not extremely demanding or intellectually engaging. Learning too was very experiential. We were highly encouraged to voice our opinions and share feedback with the lecturers and in this way, we always felt valued as students. These are the things that made Aga Khan University extremely exceptional for me.

The Aga Khan University has not just been a place where we have built knowledge; we have also created wonderful networks that we will carry into the future. I know I am speaking for a lot of us when I say that our interpersonal and leadership skills were tested and sharpened through class discussions, group work and class projects.

To the doctors, nurses, teachers and journalists graduating today, I urge you to put a dent in the universe through the impact you create in your respective professions by putting your patients, students and audiences at the centre of everything you do.

As someone who believes in lifelong learning, I hope this is just the beginning for all of us. I draw from the wisdom of Kimani Maruge, the Guinness World Record holder for the oldest man to enrol in primary school at 84, who said that he would never stop learning until he had soil in his ears. May you never stop learning.

Congratulations Class of 2019.

God Bless Aga Khan University.



""لم تكن جامعة الآغا خان مجرد مكان اكتسبنا وعززنا فيه معرفتنا، فقد أنشأنا أيضاً شبكات رائعة سترافقنا نحو المستقبل. أعلم أنني أتحدث بلسان الكثير من زملائي الخريجين عندما أقول إن مهاراتنا الشخصية والقيادية قد تم اختبارها وشحذها من خلال المناقشات والمشاريع داخل الفصول، فضلاً عن العمل الجماعي"".

","English" "16th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku_kenya_mg_9264.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Wednesday, 12 February 2020","1581518700","Chief Guest remarks by Dr Rashid Aman at the 16th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya","","speech","Kenya","","2020s","","","","244146","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health,Media","

The President of Aga Khan University Firoz Rasul,
Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network Dr Azim Lakhani, Aga Khan University Trustees, the Provost,
Government representatives, members of the diplomatic corps, Deans, faculty and staff of the University,
Parents, and, most importantly, graduating students,

Salaam Aleikum and Good morning.

It gives me great pleasure to officiate this 16th convocation ceremony of the Aga Khan University. Today is a day of great celebration, not only for you graduands, but also for your parents, guardians, faculty and staff of the University, and indeed all of us.

I share the joy and pride of everyone associated with achievements of the 94 graduands before us, whom I am informed are from the University’s Medical College, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Graduate School of Media and Communications and the Institute for Educational Development.

Graduands, my warmest congratulations!

The University has prepared you to deal effectively with emerging issues and provide solutions to societal challenges as you step into the world of professional practice as physicians, nurses, researchers, educators and experts in digital journalism.

I would also like to extend my warmest congratulations to the Aga Khan Development Network for the sustained growth realised over the years. I note with pride that through the various institutions in the network, AKDN continues to contribute positively to the improvement of living conditions and opportunities in specific regions in the developing world. Especially in the areas ranging from the fields of health and education, to rural development and promotion of private sector enterprise. Indeed, your focus on excellence, humanity, justice, mercy and partnership has ensured your continued growth.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, education is the greatest means of transforming society. It enables society nurture young leadership with requisite ability to drive the development agenda with regard to generation of wealth, provision of healthcare, reversal of poverty, and sustainability of the environment.

I am aware that the Aga Khan Development Network is also building a multi-storey University Centre in Nairobi to provide state of the art research and learning facilities. And plan to add an array of new undergraduate and graduate degrees. I am aware too that your plans for the future include the construction of a children’s specialty hospital. To this end, the government assures AKU of our full support as you undergo this significant expansion.

Specialised healthcare and the need to opt and reverse the rise in non-communicable diseases especially cancer remains a key government concern, and we can never be complacent. Your expansion of molecular imaging and oncology services in the recent past, are of particular importance to government as they provide an opportunity to increase access to specialised healthcare in this region, making Kenya a medical tourism hub in line with the country’s vision 2030.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, as you are aware our country is at the threshold of unprecedented accelerated growth and transformation, thanks to His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda that includes universal health coverage, manufacturing, affordable housing and food security.

The Ministry of Health is committed to continue implementation of health systems and reforms to accelerate movement towards Universal Health Coverage. Our approach towards UHC is centered on three critical drivers that focus on i) expanding the population accessing basic health interventions, ii) improving the quality of healthcare services being provided, and iii) developing sustainable financing models for health and providing financial protection for those seeking healthcare.

We are grateful to note that AKDN is making tremendous contribution and collaborating with us in these areas of focus through the very work you’re doing in the 300-bed Aga Khan University Hospital, your 42 medical centres in Kenya and the free medical camps and Patient Welfare programme run by the network, and not to forget why we are here today, which is turning out the human resource for health that we need for UHC.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you know too well, resources are not limitless. The Ministry of Health and our county governments operate with resource-constrained budgets. Support, collaboration, and investments in healthcare from the private sector, development partners, and faith-based and non-governmental organisations, complements the mandate of government in the health sector and is well appreciated.

To accelerate attainment of UHC in Kenya, the Ministry will continue enhancing multi- stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaborative partnerships. Indeed we will soon be launching a partnership coordination framework that will entrench further regular engagement, support reporting and mutual accountability between various stakeholders in the health sector.

To you graduands, no effort has been spared in ensuring that you achieve the success you celebrate today. Always remember that true growth is as a result of hard work, dedication and focus. You’re entering into a world that is not only ready for you, but also testing for your creative solutions and service as professional givers of healthcare, education of skills and journalistic ethos. May you bring reason and hope to all of whom you touch in your professional and personal lives. May you find your future endeavours deeply rewarding.

Finally distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I take this opportunity to wish the University and indeed the entire network continued success in the years to come.

Thank you.



""بالنسبة لكم أيها الخريجون، لن ندخر أي جهد في ضمان مواصلة نجاحكم الذي تحتفلون به اليوم. تذكروا دائماً أن النمو الحقيقي هو ثمرة للعمل الجاد والتفاني والتركيز. إنكم تدخلون عالماً ليس جاهزاً لكم فحسب، بل يشكّل أيضاً اختباراً لحلولكم وخدماتكم الإبداعية كمقدمين محترفين في مجالات الرعاية الصحية ومهارات التعليم والأخلاقيات الصحفية. أتمنى أن تتحلوا دائماً بالمنطق وتجلبوا الأمل لجميع من تتواصلون معهم في حياتكم المهنية والشخصية، وأتمنى أيضاً أن تُتوج مساعيكم المستقبلية بالنجاح الكبير"".

","English" "16th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku_kenya_mg_9228.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Wednesday, 12 February 2020","1581517800","Welcome address by President Firoz Rasul at the 16th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya","","speech","Kenya","","2020s","","","","8941","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health,Media","

Our Chief Guest, Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman,
Aga Khan University Trustees Mr Yusuf Keshavjee and Professor Antonio Rendas, Members of Government,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Leaders, faculty, and staff of the University, Parents, alumni, partners, and supporters,
Distinguished guests,
And, most importantly, our graduands,

Hamjambo and karibuni. Welcome to the 16th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya.

Thank you all for joining us for the most important and the most joyous day on the University’s calendar. Convocation is the culmination of all our efforts. Today, we celebrate the success of our graduands and look forward to the impact they will have on the lives of their fellow Kenyans.

Before we proceed, I would like to pause to remember His Excellency President Daniel arap Moi. Yesterday, we saw the nation commemorate his service and his legacy as Kenya’s longest- serving President. On behalf of the Aga Khan University, I offer condolences to the family of Mzee Moi and the people of Kenya as they lay him to rest. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in observing a moment of silence.

Thank you.

Members of the Class of 2019, yours has been a remarkable journey.

You faced innumerable challenges, and you overcame them all – from implementing new pedagogies in the classroom, to completing action research projects in your clinics and hospitals, to making your first contribution to humanity’s storehouse of knowledge.

You forged relationships with classmates, colleagues, and faculty from across Kenya and beyond, learning first-hand how poorly stereotypes prepare us for the infinite complexity of our fellow humans.

You discovered how much there is to learn and how many profound questions remain unanswered, or even unasked.

Throughout your time at the Aga Khan University, we asked you to meet the highest standards. It was not easy, was it? But you did it.

You have earned your degrees and diplomas. You did so thanks to your love of learning, your hunger to develop your capacities, and your desire to help solve problems facing your communities and your country.

You make us proud. You and your family members should be proud of what you have achieved. You have the knowledge and skills to change the people’s lives for the better.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating the Class of 2019.

We have many people to thank for making today possible. Our faculty and staff are tireless in their dedication to our mission. That very much includes our Registrar, Mr. Lou Ariano. After raising the bar for the precision and decorum of our convocations for 11 years, this is Lou’s final convocation in East Africa. Thank you, Lou, for all your contributions to AKU.

We must recognise our alumni, whose achievements have burnished the name of the Aga Khan University across Kenya and East Africa and around the world.

And, of course, we must acknowledge the generosity of our donors. Every year, thousands of friends, alumni, current and former faculty and staff donate to the Aga Khan University. Their gifts make it possible for us to provide advanced facilities for learning, to offer scholarships, to conduct ground-breaking research, and much more – even in difficult economic times.

We also have many institutional supporters to thank. I would like to express our gratitude to the Aga Khan Foundation; the Johnson & Johnson Foundation; Global Affairs Canada; the French Development Agency, AFD; the German government’s BMZ, the German Development Bank, KfW; Deutsche Welle Akademie; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; ELMA Philanthropies; and numerous other organisations that support our work.

Our greatest debt of gratitude is to our founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, whose ongoing financial support, vision, and inspiration continue to drive our University to greater heights.

For example, the Aga Khan University was named in 2019, one of the top 100 universities in the world in clinical medicine by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities.

It is an amazing honour. Especially because there was no other university in East Africa on this list or Asia made the top 100.

Our ranking reflects the research prowess of our faculty. But it was our Chancellor who laid the groundwork by committing the University to the pursuit of world-class standards and excellence.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an extraordinary time in the history of the world. It is exciting, disorienting, and sometimes disturbing.

When the complexity of events breeds incomprehension and apprehension, the speed of change sows confusion, and partisans propagate disinformation – that is when universities prove just how indispensable they are. The combination of dispassionate clarity and bold innovation that the best universities offer has never been more valuable.

This is the Aga Khan University’s time to shine. And we are rising to the challenges and opportunities of this era.

One of the most important developments of our time is the emergence of new fields such as artificial intelligence, data science, genomics, stem cell science and regenerative medicine. They have enormous potential to extend and improve our lives and advance our understanding of the world we inhabit. I am proud to report that the Aga Khan University is working to fulfil the promise of these new fields.

With the support of the University of California, San Francisco, our Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research has begun to contribute to the global search for new treatments for chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, neurological diseases, and diabetes. The AKU researchers are also utilising data science and artificial intelligence to generate new insights into malnutrition, cardiac surgery outcomes for children, the increase in incidences of heart diseases in women – as well as to piece together and analyse the original versions of historic Arabic texts.

But advances like these also create a tremendous challenge. Namely, the challenge of making sure they benefit the whole world, and not just the fortunate few.

In the words of our Chancellor: “The populations of Asia and Africa cannot be isolated from the best simply because they have been born in countries outside the Western world.”

Therefore, the Aga Khan University is helping to build Africa’s and Asia’s capacity to deliver high-quality health care and education.

Here in Nairobi, we are launching three new master’s degrees, in nursing, midwifery, and media leadership and innovation. We are establishing a Centre for Cancer Research to develop treatments specifically for East Africa’s population, and will soon commence the construction of a Children’s Specialty Hospital to provide advanced paediatric care. Across the street, construction is underway on the twin towers of our University Centre, which will provide cutting-edge learning and research spaces for our students and faculty.

In Kilifi and Kisii counties, the Aga Khan University is supporting efforts to improve health for 135,000 women and children in partnership with the government and agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network.

Meanwhile, across Kenya, the professional development programmes of the University’s Institute for Educational Development have benefitted 900 educators and nearly 70,000 students.

In this global era, it is imperative that institutions collaborate across boundaries of all kinds to share and grow knowledge, and to increase cross-cultural understanding.

This is precisely what the Aga Khan University is doing. The number, depth, and diversity of our partnerships are greater than ever.

Last year alone, we signed or renewed partnership agreements with the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the United States, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary in Canada, and NOVA University of Lisbon in Portugal.

Our Graduate School of Media and Communications offers a joint course in adaptive leadership with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. And our Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London now offers a dual degree with Columbia University in New York.

These are some of the many ways that AKU is evolving to meet the demands of a changing world, and to deliver on its mission of improving the quality of life in Africa and Asia.

Ultimately, however, our most important contribution to the societies we serve is our graduates.

As of today, the number of Kenyans who have graduated from the Aga Khan University stands at more than 1,500. From Mombasa to Turkana to Nairobi, they are leading change – as educators, clinicians, entrepreneurs, advocates, public servants, and policymakers. And now, with the awarding of our first master’s degree in digital journalism, they will be making their mark in the media sector as well.

It is an amazing group of men and women. So amazing, in fact, that we felt that they deserved a mascot. And graduands, as I think you know, you now have one: the AKU leopard.

We chose the leopard as our symbol because we feel it represents three traits that are common to all our students and alumni – indeed to the entire the AKU community. These traits will serve you well in the years ahead.

The first trait is courage. The courage to embrace the new and attempt what you have never done before. The courage to stand up against unethical practices in the face of pressure to fall in line.

The second trait is perseverance. Inevitably, there will be times when, despite your best efforts, you will fall short. There is no shame in that: to never risk failure represents a failure of courage.

What matters is what you do next. Remember that those who survive disappointment with their determination intact, and learn the hard lessons it has to teach, are forces to be reckoned with.

The third trait is agility. Today, change happens in the blink of an eye. Technology is reshaping everything from work to relationships to attention spans. The world’s centre of gravity is shifting from the West to the East and from the North to the South. In Kenya, as in many other countries, young people are the majority of the population – and I do not need to tell you, they are impatient with the status quo.

To maintain your balance in such world, you need the agility of a leopard.

Stay agile, remain courageous, and continue to persevere – and you will surely achieve all that you are capable of.

In a few moments, you will officially become part of the Aga Khan University alumni community. You and your fellow graduates share formative experiences and foundational values. Connect with one another. Collaborate with one another. Together, you are a powerful force for change. Remember: you are all leopards.

Graduands, the world needs you. It needs the knowledge you have acquired, the confidence you have developed, and the discoveries you have made about yourselves, your fellow humans, and our world.

This is your time to shine. I know you that all of you will make the most of it. Thank you and Asanteni Sana.


","speech_244141","","English" "17th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Uganda","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-graduation-2020_gt20919_r.jpg","Kampala, Uganda","Monday, 10 February 2020","1581158700","Chief Guest remarks by Professor Francis Omaswa at the 17th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Uganda","","speech","Uganda","","2020s","","","","243911","","","1","","1","","","","Education,Uganda,Aga Khan University,Health","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-graduation-2020_gt20919_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

President Firoz Rasul,
Ambassador Amin Mawji,
Members of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University,
Members of Government and the Diplomatic Corps,
Faculty and staff of the University,
Distinguished guests,
And, above all, the graduating students today,

Good morning. It is a great pleasure to be here with you today to celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2019.

I am well aware of the outstanding reputation of the Aga Khan University here in Uganda, of its hospital in Nairobi and around the world. We look forward to the establishment of a new Aga Khan University Hospital in Kampala, and we see it is a most welcome development. It will surely help to raise the standard of care, to educate health care leaders, and to generate knowledge that is needed to address some of Uganda’s critical health challenges. And it will add to the choices of the people of Uganda in seeking healthcare.

My main remarks today are addressed to you happy graduands of today. I address you as you commence your respective journeys in the health profession here in Uganda, in Africa and globally. Imagine, where do you want to be twenty or thirty years from today? I am sure you have been thinking about the answer to this question. What I will do now is to share with you some thoughts from my own fifty years of walking this route.

I graduated as a medical doctor in 1969 – it is just over fifty years. So, medicine is just not my profession, it is also my passion. And what I am going to say today is not about praising myself but it is more about being able to inspire you graduands of today to perform even better than myself. Here are some suggestions for your consideration.

First and foremost, I encourage you to take good care of yourselves through personal self- discipline. Do not take for granted simple things like being clean, eating well, dressing smart, keeping good company. Keep company with those who will advance your career. Join professional associations and be active in them. That is where you will meet those who will not pull you down but lift you up.

Second, I would like to call upon you to pursue excellence in whatever you do. Everything you do must be done to the highest achievable standards taking into account your personal capability. This, therefore, includes big and small things, which you handle in life. Do keep in mind that what you are doing well today, you can even do better tomorrow. This is known as continuous quality improvement in the sphere of quality management. In this way, you will grow professionally and socially.

Third, you need to cultivate people skills – how to get around in a very complex world. When I was a schoolboy, I was introduced a book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. I found this book very useful and like to recommend it to young people. In your life, you are going to meet all types of people – those who are nice and friendly, and those who are nasty and aggressive. You will meet generous people, you will meet greedy and mean people, but you will have to manoeuvre your pursuit of excellence among all these characters and make sure that you succeed in the midst of all these challenges.

What I have personally found is that if you are positive, and you are helpful to all people, if you can help someone, why not do it? I have also found it helpful to work for the common good and not my own personal good. Once it is known that you are working for all the people, including yourself, you find that you are given more and more things to do on behalf of your community from which you will also benefit. And, this is the surest way to become a leader.

You must also be prepared and learn how to fight battles with people in your life because there will always be disagreement. If you are positive and working for the common good, your point of view will have strength, you will argue calmly with composure for the common good and most of the time, win the day.

Do not keep grudges and sulk, because it is you who will suffer from stress, blood pressure and not the one from whom you are keeping a grudge. If you do not keep grudges, and you work for the common good, even those who once did not agree with you will come back to you and work with you for the common good – that is how you consolidate your leadership and can confirm to you as my personal experience over decades.

Fourth, it is essential to cultivate a culture of integrity. This means doing the right thing, the right way, all the time. Whether people are watching you or nobody is watching you. You will be able to achieve this with the three characteristics in place, and those become your routine.

My friends, I must also warn you that even if you comply with these principles, things will still go wrong. You will make mistakes; there will be mistakes in your work, either caused by you directly or by those who work with you. Please do not allow such mistakes to cause you to lose your long-term vision. Acknowledge these mistakes, own those mistakes and learn from them. Even if the mistake is made by another person in your team, please take personal responsibility and ask yourself ‘What do I need to do next so that it does not happen again?’ This may mean a call for you to support the colleague who was responsible for the mistake so that in your team, it does not happen again. If you are a leader, you are responsible for everything, including the errors of those whom you lead. It is your job to make sure that the people you lead do not make those mistakes.

A few weeks ago, I gave a talk to the Rotary Club of Kampala with the title ‘The World is Watching’. The key message is that while we live our lives in public and private, what we do is being watched and being judged by all manner of people. It is this opinion that determines your destiny.

When you live your life pursuing those four pillars, there is every possibility that you will be judged positively. And good things will happen to you without you asking for them. And here are a few personal examples from my life.

Most of the positions I have held were by invitation. I completed my training as a cardiothoracic surgeon in the United Kingdom, and was permanently settled there with my family until the Government of Kenya sent a senior surgeon to my house to ask me to lead the open-heart surgical programme in Nairobi.

From Nairobi, there were still many problems in Kampala – there was a war in Uganda. I could have gone back to the UK as my permanent residency was still valid. However, together with the Association of Surgeons of East Africa, I went with my family to a small mission hospital to test how to provide quality services particularly in surgery to the rural poor. That is what I call working for the common good.

Later, when President Yoweri Museveni took over power, we were ordered to go to Kampala despite our desire to stay in the small mission hospital. My wife took charge of the anesthesia department at Mulago Hospital, and I joined Makerere University as the founding director of the Uganda Heart Institute. I got a number of appointments but the message is, if you work for the common good, you pursue excellence, all these things will be yours as they became mine.

Remember, the world is watching.

Finally, most of you are nurses and midwives. I want to particularly congratulate you all because the year 2020 has been declared by the World Health Assembly as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Your graduation this year makes it very special.

I am a member of the global Nursing Now campaign board, and the message from this campaign, is that nurses and midwives need to get to the front, be more visible in service delivery and in leadership as part of the movement to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage.

I am personally convinced that if this happens, with nurses and midwives leading integrated, people-centered primary healthcare here in Uganda, we will actually achieve UHC that leaves no one behind soonest, and with the currently available resources.

I have written a piece on this topic in the current issue of the Africa Health Journal on how nurses can achieve UHC through integrated primary healthcare, working with village health teams in Uganda. This people-centered primary health care is also part of a slogan commonly used when I was Director General of Health Services “Health is made at home and only repaired in health facilities when it breaks down.”

Graduands, I urge you to be uncompromising in your efforts to deliver the highest-quality care. To empower people to stand up for their right to good care. And to spread the message that health is made at home. If we do this, there will be another slogan, which will become a reality in Uganda: “This is Uganda. What do you expect? Only the best.”

Congratulations graduands and your families! I hope and pray that most of you will embrace some of these suggestions and in future, you will become global leaders.

Thank you.



أيها الخريجون، أحثكم على عدم التهاون في جهودكم لتقديم رعاية عالية الجودة، والعمل على تمكين الناس من الدفاع عن حقهم في الحصول على رعاية جيدة، فضلاً عن نشر رسالة مفادها أن الصحة أساسها المنزل. إذا فعلنا ذلك، سيكون هناك شعار آخر، وسيصبح حقيقة في أوغندا: ""هذه هي أوغندا. ماذا تتوقعون؟ إنها الأفضل.""

","English" "Uganda 2020 Convocation of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-graduation-2020_gt20869_r.jpg","Kampala, Uganda","Monday, 10 February 2020","1581157800","Welcome address by President Firoz Rasul at the AKU Uganda 2020 Convocation","","speech","Uganda","","2020s","","","","8941","","","1","","1","","","","Education,Uganda,Aga Khan University,Health","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-graduation-2020_gt20869_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

Our Chief Guest, Dr Francis Omaswa, Executive Director of the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation,
Aga Khan University Trustee Mr. Yusuf Keshavjee,
Ministers of Government,
Leaders, faculty, and staff of the University,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Parents, alumni, partners, and supporters,
Distinguished guests,
And, most importantly, graduands,

Hamjambo and karibuni. Welcome to the 17th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Uganda.

Thank you all for joining us for this most important and the most joyous day in the University’s calendar. Convocation is the culmination of all our efforts. Today, we celebrate the success of our 142 graduands and look forward to the impact that they will have on the lives of fellow Ugandans.

Graduands, yours has been a remarkable journey.

You have faced innumerable challenges, and you have overcame them all – from implementing new pedagogies in the classroom, to completing action research projects in your clinics and hospitals, to making your first contributions to humanity’s storehouse of knowledge.

You forged relationships with classmates, colleagues, and faculty from across Uganda and beyond, learning first-hand how poorly stereotypes prepare us for the infinite complexity of our fellow humans.

You discovered both how much there is to learn and how many profound questions remain unanswered, or even unasked.

Throughout your time at the Aga Khan University, we asked you to meet the highest standards. It was not easy, was it? But you did it.

You have earned your degrees and diplomas. You did so thanks to your love of learning, your hunger to develop your capacities, and your desire to help solve the problems facing your communities and your country.

You make us all very proud. You and your family members should be proud of what you have achieved. You have the knowledge and skills to change people’s lives for the better.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating the Class of 2019.

We have many people to thank for making today possible. Our faculty and staff, who are tireless in their dedication to our mission. Our alumni, whose achievements have burnished the name of the Aga Khan University across Uganda and East Africa and all over the world.

And, of course, our donors. Every year, thousands of friends, alumni, and current and former faculty and staff donate to the Aga Khan University. Their generosity makes it possible for us to provide advanced facilities for learning, to offer scholarships, to conduct ground-breaking research, and much more – all of this, even in difficult economic times.

We also have many institutional supporters to thank. I would like to express our gratitude to the Johnson & Johnson Foundation; Global Affairs Canada; the French Development Agency, AFD; the German government’s BMZ and the German Development Bank, KfW; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; ELMA Philanthropies; and numerous other organisations that support our work.

Yet our greatest debt of gratitude is to our founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, whose ongoing financial support, vision, and inspiration continue to drive our University to greater heights.

For example, last year, the Aga Khan University was named one of the top 100 universities in the world in clinical medicine by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities.

It is an amazing honour. Especially because no other university in East Africa or Asia made the top 100.

Our ranking reflects the research prowess of our faculty. But it is also our Chancellor who laid the groundwork by committing AKU to the pursuit of world-class standards and excellence.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an extraordinary time in the history of the world. It is exciting, disorienting, and sometimes disturbing.

But when the complexity of events breeds incomprehension and apprehension, the speed of change sows confusion, and partisans propagate disinformation – that is when universities prove just how indispensable they are. The combination of dispassionate clarity and bold innovation that the best universities offer has never been more valuable.

This is the Aga Khan University’s time to shine. And we are rising to the challenges and opportunities of this era.

One of the most important developments of our time is the emergence of new fields such as artificial intelligence, data science, genomics, stem cell science and regenerative medicine. They have enormous potential to extend and improve our lives and advance our understanding of the world we inhabit. I am proud to report that AKU is working to fulfil the promise of these new fields.

With the support of the University of California, San Francisco, our Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research has begun to contribute to the global search for new treatments for chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, neurological diseases and diabetes. Our researchers are also utilising data science and artificial intelligence to generate new insights into malnutrition, cardiac surgery outcomes for children, and the increase in the incidence of heart disease in women – as well as to piece together and analyse the original versions of historic Arabic texts.

But advances like these also create a tremendous challenge. Namely, the challenge of making sure they benefit the whole world, not just a fortunate few.

In the worlds of our Chancellor: “The populations of Asia and Africa cannot be isolated from the best simply because they have been born in countries outside the Western world.”

Therefore, the Aga Khan University is helping to build Africa’s and Asia’s capacity to deliver high-quality health care and education.

Our newest initiatives include: a Centre for Global Surgical Care to make life-saving surgery more accessible for low-income populations; a Centre for Cancer Research to develop treatments specifically for East Africa’s population; and a Centre of Excellence in Trauma and Emergency Response and Preparedness to strengthen the ability of public and private institutions to respond to disasters and emergencies.

Our Institute for Educational Development has equipped more than 2,000 Ugandan educators with new strategies for enhancing teaching and learning, benefitting hundreds of thousands of students. The Institute is also working to ensure Ugandan students acquire in-demand skills in collaboration with Ugandan teacher training institutions and the Belgian technical corporation organisation.

The Aga Khan University’s programme to encourage teaching excellence within the University was recently accredited by Advance HE in the United Kingdom. We are the first university in Africa to earn such an accreditation.

Most significantly of all for Uganda, we are working to build a new Aga Khan University Hospital in Kampala.

The Hospital is AKU’s largest capital project in East Africa. It will be a transformative force in Ugandan health care. It will deliver international-quality care in fields ranging from obstetrics to oncology. Its Patient Welfare Programme will enable access for low-income individuals. As a teaching hospital, it will educate outstanding health professionals. And it will support research that helps solve Uganda’s health challenges.

We will also construct an academic building and student housing, thanks to the generous support of BMZ, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and KfW, the German development bank, as well as numerous private donors from around the world. This will allow us to educate not only doctors, nurses, and midwives, but journalists, communicators, and teachers.

We are grateful for the strong support the Hospital has received from His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, the Right Honorable Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, and other Ministers of Government – all of whom view this project as a national strategic priority.

I have spoken of the advance of knowledge producing challenges, in addition to extraordinary benefits. In a similar fashion, the progress of global integration enriches our lives in countless ways, while also exposing societies to destabilising forces.

This is an age when all our fates are intertwined – when the ripple effects of an event on the other side of the globe have the power to reshape our lives. Just look at the impact of the new coronavirus.

In the global era, it is imperative that institutions collaborate across boundaries of all kinds to share and grow knowledge, and to increase cross-cultural understanding.

That is precisely what the Aga Khan University is doing. The number, depth, and diversity of our partnerships are greater than ever. Last year alone, we signed or renewed partnership agreements with the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary in Canada, the NOVA University of Lisbon in Portugal, and the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the United States.

Fred Hutch is well-known for its partnership with the Uganda Cancer Institute, and we will be working closely with them with an aim to improve cancer care in Uganda and across East Africa.

Our Graduate School of Media and Communications is partnering with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government to offer a joint course in adaptive leadership. The AKU Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London now offers a dual degree with Columbia University in New York. Both programmes are open to East Africans and we encourage them to apply.

These are some of the many ways that the Aga Khan University is evolving to meet the demands of a changing world, and to deliver on its mission of improving quality of life in Africa and Asia.

Ultimately, however, our most important contribution to the societies we serve is our graduates.

As of today, the number of Ugandans who have graduated from the Aga Khan University stands at more than 1,000. From Arua to Mbarara to Kampala, they are leading change – as educators, clinicians, entrepreneurs, advocates, public servants, and policymakers.

It is an amazing group of men and women. So amazing, in fact, that we felt they deserved a mascot. And graduands, as I think you know, you now have one which is the AKU leopard.

The students chose the leopard as our symbol because we feel it represents three traits that are common to all our students and alumni – indeed to the entire AKU community. These traits will serve you well in the years ahead.

The first trait is courage. The courage to embrace the new and attempt what you have never done before. The courage to stand up against unethical practices in the face of pressure to fall in line.

The second trait is perseverance. Inevitably, there will be times when, despite your best efforts, you will fall short. There is no shame in that: to never risk failure represents a failure of courage.

What matters is what you do next. Remember that those who survive disappointment with their determination intact, and learn the hard lessons it has to teach, are forces to be reckoned with.

The third trait is agility. Today, change happens in the blink of an eye. Technology is reshaping everything from work to relationships to attention spans. The world’s centre of gravity is shifting from the West to the East and from the North to the South. In Uganda, as in many other countries, young people are the majority of the population – and I do not need to tell you, they are eager to move ahead and are ambitious.

To maintain your balance in such world, you need the agility of a leopard.

Stay agile, remain courageous, and continue to persevere – and you will surely achieve all that you are capable of.

In a few moments, you will officially become part of the Aga Khan University alumni. You and your fellow graduates share formative experiences and foundational values. Connect with one another. Collaborate with one another. Together, you are a powerful force for change.
Remember: you are all leopards.

Graduands, the world needs you. It needs the knowledge you have acquired, and the confidence you have developed, and the discoveries you have made about yourselves, your fellow humans, and our world.

Thank you and asanteni sana.



""بلغ حالياً عدد خريجي جامعة الآغا خان في أوغندا حوالي 1000، وهم يقومون بدءاً من أروا إلى مبارارا إلى كمبالا، بقيادة عملية التغيير، وهم معلمون وأطباء ورواد أعمال ومحامون، إضافةً إلى الموظفين العموميين وواضعي السياسات"".

","English" "17th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Uganda","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-graduation-2020_gt21391_r.jpg","Kampala, Uganda","Monday, 10 February 2020","1581154200","Valedictorian Address by Ndawula Paddy at the 17th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Uganda","","speech","Uganda","","2020s","","","","243906","","","1","","1","","","","Uganda","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-uganda-graduation-2020_gt21391_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

The Chief Guest: Honourable Professor Francis Gervase Omaswa,
Members of the Board of Trustees,
President Firoz Rasul,
Distinguished Guests,
Members of the Faculty, Staff and Alumni,
Our sponsors and employers,
Our dear family members, friends and guardians,
And my fellow graduands.

It is with extreme privilege and indeed, I am profoundly honoured and exceedingly humbled to stand before you at an incredible moment in time in such a place before such an audience. I am forever grateful for the opportunity.

Let us start by paying respect to Aisha Namutebi, Alex Kinyera, and Kyakuwaire Sharon our classmates and our alumna the Commissioner Nursing Mrs. Petua Olobo Kiboko who passed away by observing a moment of silence.

I want to begin by expressing gratitude first by thanking God for being good because without Him this monumental success would not be possible. Secondly, and most profoundly, I want to thank His Highness the Aga Khan for his imaginative and visionary leadership through which this University exists and for his generous support that we have immensely benefitted from.

Next, I want to thank, the Aga Khan University leadership and administration that has designed a system and a structure that has made our stay in AKU a purely magical experience. We have seen the lives of our fellow alumni who have gone before us change and they inspired us to join this magnificent University and I authoritatively testify that we are now the true professionals to take up the mantle. We extend our cordial thanks and appreciation to our sponsors, Johnson and Johnson. Oh my God! The incredible work you have done is literally turning dreams into reality in our lives. The employers who sponsor their employees like the Uganda Cancer Institute, Mulago National Referral Hospital and other distinguished institutions for a strong partnership with the University.

The esteemed faculty that has constantly imparted us with knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences. For this nobility they are the pride of our nation and the glory of our republic and the academic pillars of the Aga Khan University. Why? Because they keep on supplying our health sector with well-trained professionals with fresh ideas. For lifelong friends we have got, I thank God for the blessing of knowing and loving you but most significantly the gift of experiencing our challenges and joys together. I would be remiss if I do not thank the non-teaching staff that have made our Aga Khan University environment safe to pursue our dreams and lastly but most importantly our beloved parents, spouses, children, guardians, brothers and sisters for being a constant source of support, encouragement and inspiration.

Convocation is every student’s dream. To be here today is a goal we have aspired for, and I proudly congratulate and thank you my fellow graduands for making this dream a reality. But, this is what Mike Tyson said “In order to be the greatest that has ever lived you need to beat everyone living”. But we all know that greatness is not given, it is earned. So, my brothers and sisters, I request you to join in the most fulfilling mission a person could have, the most profound contribution anyone can ever make that is to honour your profession by serving to improve the health of the people so that we can up lift our nation because nothing can be out of reach of a Nation with a healthy population.

With a treasured and shared history, nursing and midwifery have existed for about 100 years in Uganda and yet less than 10% of nurses and midwives have attained a bachelor’s degree and this is greatly attributed to the structural and systemic malaise of the administration and education system for nurses and midwives in Uganda. This has caused some nurses and midwives have poor standards of living, quit the profession and fail to reach their destined heights of professional and human achievements.

We have seen some nurses obtaining their master’s degree a few years to retirement. We are a body of about 65,000 nurses and midwives but surprisingly about 45,000 are employed and close to 20,000 are unemployed making it a 30% unemployment rate for nurses and midwives. It is in our mandate to design and create the future of nursing and our creation will be the inheritance of the next generation. In this era, we need to create education policies, systems and structures that are symbiotic and generic to our profession. Why? Because it is contingent upon us to prepare for the next generation and the future of nursing and healthcare in general so as to improve health of our people. Ladies and gentlemen, this mandate is our calling.

Nursing and education were founded on a rich reservoir of professional pride and a tremendous desire to love and serve without discrimination of any kind. These virtues are to be propagated and irrigated but not to be suppressed. We want to rediscover old truths, unravel old mysteries, and make thrilling breakthroughs by changing our perspective because human existence is paradoxically so frail and yet so powerful. Hooking into that power is what allows us to turn struggles into triumphs, bring visions into existence and dreams into reality by breathing new life into dying hope, the hope that sees the invisible, feels the intangible, believes the impossible and delivers the unimaginable.In order for nursing and education in Uganda to leave a towering legacy for every generation, we need to make success, prosperity and excellence of nurses, midwives and educationists not just a possibility but an absolute inevitability.

Thank you all. May God richly bless you all.


""أوجه الشكر أيضاً لقيادة وإدارة جامعة الآغا خان التي صممت نظاماً وهيكلاً جعل من إقامتنا في جامعة الآغا خان تجربةً سحريةً للغاية. لقد رأينا كيف تغيّرت حياة زملائنا الخريجين الذين تخرجوا قبلنا، وكانوا مصدر إلهام لنا لننضم إلى هذه الجامعة الرائعة، وإنني أشهد رسمياً بأننا أصبحنا الآن محترفين حقيقيين وجديرون بارتداء هذه العباءة"".

","English" "15th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Tanzania","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2020-02-tanzania-aku-86780.jpg","Dar es Salaam, Tanzania","Thursday, 6 February 2020","1580921100","Speech by Chief Guest H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa at the 15th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Tanzania","","speech","Tanzania","","2020s","","","","243806","","","0","","1","","","","Tanzania,Education,Health","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-2020-former_tanzania_president_h.e_benjamin_mkapa1_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

President Firoz Rasul,
Members of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University,
Members of Government and the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished guests,
And, most importantly, our graduating students,

It is wonderful to be here with you today to celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2019.

It is customary on occasions such as this for speakers to say they are honoured to have been invited. In my case, it is no mere platitude.

For five years, I served on the Aga Khan University’s Board of Trustees. I saw the passion of His Highness the Aga Khan and my fellow Board members for improving quality of life in Africa and Asia. When they say the four pillars of AKU are quality, impact, access, and relevance, they mean it. When they say they are committed to educating leaders who make a difference in the lives of others, they mean it. Furthermore, the expansion of the Aga Khan Hospital demonstrates just how committed His Highness the Aga Khan is to investing in Tanzania and its people.

So when I say it is an honour to be here, I mean it.

Graduands, it is my great pleasure to congratulate you on the completion of your degrees. I know your journey was not easy. But if the mountain were not steep, and the climb did not test your resolve, the view would not be such a revelation, or such an inspiration. Now you stand at the peak, and opportunity stretches out before you.

As President Rasul said, convocation is a day when we celebrate your success and look forward to the impact you will have on your students, your patients, your profession, and your country.

I have no doubt that you will positively impact thousands of lives over the course of your careers. I have confidence in your talent, your determination, and the quality of the education you have received.

Nevertheless, I cannot resist the temptation to offer you a few snippets of wisdom. There are qualities you can demonstrate, actions you can take, and attitudes you can adopt that I strongly believe will maximise your success as leaders in the years to come. So please indulge me as I share a few recommendations borne out of my own long experience.

Among the most important lessons I learned from the Father of our Nation is the importance of consulting widely and listening carefully before making decisions.

Whenever he faced a major issue, he sought a wide range of perspectives. He knew he did not have a monopoly on wisdom or virtue. However humble the person, whatever their faults or motives, he would always listen carefully to them, seeking the kernel of truth or insight they had to share.

I have always tried to follow his example in this regard, and my decision-making has undoubtedly been the better for it. We must put the monarchical style of leadership behind us. Its time has passed. Our country is diverse and pluralistic, and our world is even more so. It is only proper that we lead in a consultative manner.

At the same time, once one has listened carefully to the views of both the expert and the common person, the powerful and especially the powerless – then one must be decisive and resolute. One must articulate a course of action and communicate its rationale clearly, both to those who will execute it and those who will be affected by it.

Then comes the hardest part: following through and obtaining results. It is essential to be tenacious, to hold yourself and others accountable for achieving the desired outcome. Too often in my career, I have seen visions propounded, but little done to ensure their enactment. A leader must not be afraid to do the heavy lifting alongside his colleagues, or to do himself what he has asked or advocated others to do.

Early in my career, I was a strong proponent of national service. Yet some criticized me, saying I was asking others to do what I had not done myself. So I went ahead and volunteered for national service, leaving my job for several months to work alongside my fellow Tanzanians. I have always treasured that experience. To see illiterate farmers and university graduates working together was an inspiring reminder of the essential unity of our nation. My service quieted the sceptics. It showed that I was ready to act upon my convictions.

Yet one must not allow conviction to become stubbornness. The world is constantly changing, and when the facts change, we must reconsider our views. It was Mwalimu himself who advocated most strongly for the transition from a single-party state to a multi-party system. He had followed closely the agitation for change that was occurring in other countries, and could sense the early tremors of dissatisfaction in our own.
He said: “We must change ourselves or we will be changed…We will be swept along as if by waves.” As resolute as he was, he remained ready to continue learning, growing and changing with the times.

If there is one thing that I believe has defined my career both within government and outside it, it is concern for the common person. Nothing disturbs me more than to see those who have little victimised by those who have much. At Mwalimu’s memorial service, I said: “Our world is composed of givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better.” To be a giver is to always remember that one owes a duty to those one serves, however high one rises.

You are teachers and doctors. You have an awesome responsibility. The future of our country depends on the quality of the education you will provide to our youth. It depends on your ability to prevent needless suffering and to return the sick to health, happiness, and productivity. We need you to extend the benefits of science, knowledge, and technology to those who remain marginalised. Be a giver, not a taker.

As I look back on my career, I can see many turning points. Today, I will single out just one: the moment when Mwalimu called me to his home early in my career. I remember being in awe of him, wondering what business he could possibly have with me. To my great surprise, he asked me to become editor of the party newspaper. I knew next to nothing about running a newspaper. But I realised it was a challenge I could not refuse. I said yes. In many ways, that decision that shaped the rest of my life.

Graduands, do not shrink from a challenge. It is our response to the most difficult tasks that define us. It is the readiness to tackle them that makes a leader.

I would like to end with the quote that closes my memoir, which bears the title My Life, My Purpose. Its author is the Rabbi Harold Kushner. He says: ""Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so the world will at least be a little bit different for our having passed through it.""

Graduands, I wish you all the best in your lives and careers. May you live so that your lives matter, and may you make the world a better place for having passed through it.

Thank you.



عملت لمدة خمس سنوات في مجلس أمناء جامعة الآغا خان، ورأيت شغف سمو الآغا خان وزملائي أعضاء مجلس الإدارة في تحسين نوعية الحياة في إفريقيا وآسيا. عندما يقولون إن الركائز الأربع لجامعة الآغا خان هي النوعية والتأثير والوصول والأهمية، فهذه حقيقة. وعندما يقولون إنهم ملتزمون بتعليم قادة للمستقبل لإحداث فرقٍ في حياة الآخرين، فإنهم يعنون ذلك. علاوةً على ذلك، توضح عمليات التوسُّع التي تجري في مستشفى الآغا خان مدى التزام سمو الآغا خان بالاستثمار في تنزانيا وسكانها.

","English" "15th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Tanzania","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2020-02-tanzania-aku-86773.jpg","Dar es Salaam, Tanzania","Thursday, 6 February 2020","1580920200","Valedictorian Address by Dr. Masawa Klint at the 15th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Tanzania","","speech","Tanzania","","2020s","","","","243811","","","0","","1","","","","Health,Tanzania","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-2020-valedictorian_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

The Guest of Honour, Former president of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency William Mkapa,
Trustee Othman,
the President of the Aga Khan University, Firoz Rasul,
Provost, Vice-Provost, Deans, Associated Deans,
Esteemed faculty,
Alumni of the Aga Khan University,
Invited guests
and most importantly my fellow AKU graduands all protocols observed.

Good afternoon!

I would like to express my immense gratitude to God Almighty for guiding and leading us here, the faculty and all those who have mentored us and facilitated our growths, Our Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan, for his leadership, efforts and commitment towards poverty reduction, through the Aga Khan Development Network and its functions particularly in the low and middle income countries.

We are only here because of the resolute support and encouragement from our families, brothers, sisters, spouses and children, thank you.

I know it has been a difficult journey, and there were times when you and I wanted to give up, when we thought it was impossible, when the demands on our shoulders were more than we could carry, there were times when we had self-doubt, when we contemplated quitting- but we did not; we rose to the challenge, we re-invented ourselves, we became more resourceful, more thoughtful, more matured in our ways, we allowed ourselves to experience growth- and we grew, and today we are here, a testimony to ourselves and those around us of how far we have come and where we are going- and for that, my dear colleagues I salute us.

The Aga Khan University has equipped us with lifelong learning skills, has instilled in us critical thinking and analysis, self-reflection and we have become independent thinkers with the ability to appraise a challenge and to formulate solutions. This is true of the academics. We were exposed to learning skills that are so commonly taken for granted and that are critical for human interaction, the underpinning factor of professional and personal growth. The university purposefully instilled in us communication skills, leadership, ethics and morality so that we carry out our responsibilities with sanctity.

With our unique set of experiences, and achievements such as these; we are confronted with a local society that has existed in poverty with its associated limitations on the ability to progress and advance. Recently the rate of growth of some of these indicators like the GDP have been promising. However, despite this growth we continue to face enormous challenges and especially as it appertains to health and education. It is becoming increasingly evident that these challenges, coupled with competent leadership, provide fertile ground laden with opportunities to advance the development of our society.

We are part of this society with its opportunities, as we are witnesses of the limitation that poverty enforces on our people. Foremost, we must acknowledge that the challenges our people face are our own. This acknowledgment is not a display of naivetés; but a core human experience of
compassion. This perception is genuine, should be protected and nurtured; we cannot be indifferent to the suffering of others. This affirmation should be taken further, for only through this resistance to indifference and a resilient compassion, can we truly identify the challenges, their associated opportunities and begin to synthesise plausible and practicable solutions.

“Sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom” Nelson Mandela.

The outcomes of our intellectual achievement must extend beyond the self, beyond that one student we mentor, beyond that one patient we care for, beyond the teachers and educationalists that we lead and we must realise we have the potential to develop solutions for our unique societies.

Taking this responsibility requires the ethical and moral perspective that our faculty have worked very hard to inculcate amongst us, the compassion, the tenacity and the capabilities that all the graduands before you have displayed thus far to reaching this milestone. I want us all to understand as we go out there, we are bringing with us a fresh perspective, new ideas, and possible solutions. It is thus our obligation to take up leadership; to uphold moral ethics, to safeguard compassion and to aspire to be agents of positive change. I believe taking up these opportunities and challenges will lead to not just bountiful career satisfaction, exponential growths as professionals, but ultimately lead to fulfillment as individuals with wide scale positive impacts in our nations, our region and the world

Thus, my colleagues; ethical and compassionate leadership- I wish these on all of you in your future endeavors; It has been a privilege for us to grow together as friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters to this end.

Congratulations my fellow graduands. Thank you



في البداية، أحمد الله تعالى على رعايتنا وتوفيقنا إلى ما وصلنا إليه. كما أود أن أوجه الشكر إلى أعضاء هيئة التدريس وكل من قام بتوجيهنا وتسهيل عملية نموّنا، وإلى مستشارنا سمو الآغا خان، على قيادته وجهوده والتزامه بالحد من الفقر من خلال شبكة الآغا خان للتنمية وما تقوم به من أعمال، ولا سيّما في البلدان ذات الدخل المنخفض والمتوسط.

","English" "15th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Tanzania","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2020-02-tanzania-aku-86770.jpg","Dar es Salaam, Tanzania","Thursday, 6 February 2020","1580919300","Speech by Mr. Firoz Rasul at the 15th Convocation of the Aga Khan University, Tanzania","","speech","Tanzania","","2020s","","","","8941","","","0","","1","","","","Tanzania,Education,Aga Khan University,Health","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-2020-president_firoz_rasul_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

Our Chief Guest, His Excellency Benjamin William Mkapa, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania,
Aga Khan University Trustee former Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman; Members of Government,
Leaders, faculty, and staff of the University; Parents, partners, and supporters; Distinguished guests,
And, most importantly, graduands,

Hamjambo and karibuni. Welcome to the 15th Convocation of the Aga Khan University in Tanzania.

Thank you for joining us for the most important and the most joyous day on the University’s calendar. Convocation is the culmination of all our efforts. Today, we celebrate the success of our graduands and look forward to the impact they will have on the lives of their fellow Tanzanians.

I am extremely grateful to President Mkapa for consenting to grace this special occasion as the Chief Guest. Many of you are aware that His Excellency has previously served as a Trustee of the Aga Khan University, guiding us to develop quality education and health services in Tanzania. We have benefitted greatly from his insight, wisdom, and counsel. Your Excellency, your presence at the ceremony today is a source of great inspiration and happiness to our graduands and their parents.

Graduands, yours has been a remarkable journey.

You faced innumerable challenges, and you overcame them all – from implementing new pedagogies in the classroom, to delivering community-oriented primary care, to making your first contributions to humanity’s storehouse of knowledge.

You forged relationships with classmates, colleagues, and faculty from across Tanzania and beyond, learning first-hand how poorly stereotypes prepare us for the infinite complexity of our fellow humans.

You discovered both how much there is to learn and how many profound questions remain unanswered, or even unasked.
Throughout your time at AKU, we asked you to meet the highest standards. It wasn’t easy, was it? But you did it.

You have earned your degree. You did so thanks to your love of learning, your hunger to develop your capacities, and your desire to help solve the problems facing your communities and your country.

You make us proud. You and your family members should be proud of what you have achieved. You have the knowledge and skills to change people’s lives for the better.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating the Class of 2019.

We have many people to thank for making today possible. Our faculty and staff, who are tireless in their dedication to our mission. Our alumni, whose achievements have burnished the name of the Aga Khan University across Tanzania and East Africa and around the world.

And, of course, our donors. Every year, thousands of friends, alumni, and current and former faculty and staff donate to AKU. Their generosity makes it possible for us to provide high- quality facilities for learning, to offer scholarships, to conduct ground-breaking research, and much more – even in difficult economic times.

We also have many institutional supporters to thank. I would like to express our gratitude to the Johnson & Johnson Foundation; Global Affairs Canada; the French Development Agency, AFD; the German government’s BMZ and KfW; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; ELMA Philanthropies; and the numerous other organisations that support our work.

Yet our greatest debt of gratitude is to our founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, whose ongoing financial support, vision, and inspiration continue to drive our University to greater heights.

For example, last year, AKU was named one of the top 100 universities in the world in clinical medicine by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities.

It is an amazing honour. Especially because no other university in East Africa or Asia made the top 100.

Our ranking reflects the research prowess of our faculty. But it was our Chancellor who laid the groundwork by committing AKU to the pursuit of world-class standards and excellence.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an extraordinary time in the history of the world. It is exciting, disorienting, and sometimes disturbing.

But when the complexity of events breeds incomprehension and apprehension, the speed of change sows confusion, and partisans propagate disinformation – that is when universities prove just how indispensable they are. The combination of dispassionate clarity and bold innovation that the best universities offer has never been more valuable.

This is AKU’s time to shine. And we are rising to the challenges and opportunities of this era.

One of the most important developments of our time is the emergence of new fields such as artificial intelligence, genomics, stem cell science and regenerative medicine. They have enormous potential to extend and improve our lives and advance our understanding of the world we inhabit. I am proud to report that AKU is working to fulfil their promise.

With the support of the University of California, San Francisco, our Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research has begun to contribute to the global search for new treatments for chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, neurological diseases and diabetes. AKU researchers are also utilising data science and artificial intelligence to generate new insights into malnutrition, cardiac surgery outcomes for children, and the incidence of heart disease in women – as well as to piece together and analyse the original versions of historic Arabic texts.

But advances like these also create a tremendous challenge. Namely, the challenge of making sure they benefit the whole world, and not just the fortunate few.

In the worlds of our Chancellor: “The populations of Asia and Africa cannot be isolated from the best simply because they have been born in countries outside the Western world.”

Therefore, AKU is helping to build Africa’s and Asia’s capacity to deliver high-quality health care and education.

Our newest initiatives include a Centre for Global Surgical Care to make life-saving surgery more accessible for low-income populations. A Centre for Cancer Research to develop treatments specifically for East Africa’s population. And a Centre of Excellence in Trauma and Emergency Response and Preparedness to strengthen the ability of public and private institutions to respond to disasters and emergencies.

In Mwanza, AKU’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network are working with government to enhance reproductive, maternal, and newborn care in 80 public health facilities.

Here in Dar es Salaam, our sister agency the Aga Khan Health Services, Tanzania is expanding the Aga Khan Hospital and its network of outreach clinics. Thanks to a 192 billion shilling investment by AKDN and the French Development Agency, it will have the capacity to serve more than 1 million patients annually. With this expansion, AKU introduced new programmes, and today we are graduating our first specialists in surgery and internal medicine, along with specialists in family medicine.

Across Tanzania, AKU’s professional development programmes have equipped nearly 3,000 educators with new strategies for enhancing teaching and learning, benefitting well over 100,000 students.

Another momentous challenge the world faces is globalisation. This is an age when all our fates are intertwined – when the ripple effects of an event on the other side of the globe have the power to reshape our lives. Just look at the impact of the new coronavirus.

In the global era, it is imperative that institutions collaborate across boundaries of all kinds to share and grow knowledge, and to increase cross-cultural understanding.

That is precisely what AKU is doing. The number, depth, and diversity of our partnerships are greater than ever.

Last year alone, we signed or renewed partnership agreements with the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the United States, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary in Canada, and NOVA University of Lisbon in Portugal.

AKU’s Graduate School of Media and Communications offers a joint course in adaptive
leadership with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Our Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London now offers a dual degree with Columbia University, a top U.S. university. Both programmes are open to East Africans and we encourage them to apply.

These are some of the many ways that AKU is evolving to meet the demands of a changing world, and to deliver on its mission of improving quality of life in Africa and Asia.

Ultimately, however, our most important contribution to the societies we serve is our graduates. And for those of you wondering why we are not graduating our nursing students today, it is because in 2017 the Tanania Commission for Universities required all universities to align their undergraduate admissions dates. As a result, students in our Bachelor of Science in Nursing programme will be graduating in March and will receive their degrees at the next convocation.

As of today, almost 1,200 individuals have graduated from AKU in Tanzania. From Mtwara to Kagera to Dar es Salaam, they are leading change. They are educators, clinicians, entrepreneurs, advocates, public servants, and policymakers.

It is an amazing group of men and women. So amazing, in fact, that we felt they deserved a mascot. And graduands, as I think you know, you now have one: the AKU leopard.
We chose the leopard as our symbol because we feel it represents three traits that are common to our students and alumni – indeed to the entire AKU community. These traits will serve you well in the years ahead.

The first trait is courage. The courage to embrace the new and attempt what you have never done before. The courage to stand up against unethical practices in the face of pressure to fall in line.

The second trait is perseverance. Inevitably, there will be times when, despite your best efforts, you will fall short. There is no shame in that: to never risk failure represents a failure of courage.

What matters is what you do next. Remember that those who survive disappointment with their determination intact, and learn the hard lessons it has to teach, are forces to be reckoned with.

The third trait is agility. Today, change happens in the blink of an eye. Technology is reshaping everything from work to relationships to attention spans. The world’s centre of gravity is shifting from West to East and from North to South. In Tanzania, as in many other countries, young people are the majority of the population – and I do not need to tell you, they are impatient with the status quo.

To maintain your balance in such world, you need the agility of a leopard.

Stay agile, remain courageous, and continue to persevere – and you will surely achieve all that you are capable of.

In a few moments, you will officially become part of the AKU alumni community – a network of thousands of leaders that spans the globe. You and your fellow graduates share formative experiences and foundational values. Connect with one another. Collaborate with one another.

Together, you are a powerful force for change. Remember: you are all leopards.

Graduands, the world needs you. It needs the knowledge you have acquired, the confidence you have developed, and the discoveries you have made about yourselves, your fellow humans, and our world.

This is your time to shine. I know you will make the most of it. Thank you.



شكراً لانضمامكم إلينا في هذا اليوم المفعم بالأهمية والسعادة في تقويم الجامعة. يأتي حفل توزيع الشهادات تتويجاً لجميع جهودنا، وإننا نحتفل اليوم بنجاح خريجينا ونتطلع لرؤية التأثير الذي سيحدثونه على حياة إخوانهم التنزانيين.

","English" "Message from His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the Kusi Ideas Festival","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/people/official_portrait_of_his_highness_the_aga_khan/hishighnesstheagakhan-landscape_15.jpg","Kigali, Rwanda","Monday, 9 December 2019","1575804600","Message from His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the Kusi Ideas Festival","","speech","Rwanda","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development,Rwanda","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/people/official_portrait_of_his_highness_the_aga_khan/hishighnesstheagakhan-landscape_6.jpg","Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development","Nation Media Group (NMG)","","

Delivered on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan by Dr Azim Lakhani, AKDN Diplomatic Representative for Kenya

The story of Africa’s journey is inspirational. We see around us every day compelling evidence that Africa is today a continent of opportunity, of hope, and of confidence.

Africa’s strength has always been her peoples. Their resilience, sense of community and self-help, ingenuity and resourcefulness in innovating fresh solutions - often in the most difficult circumstances - is responsible for the continent’s progress and exciting prospects.

The fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa - many of them projected to grow above 5 percent per year. Here, there is also a growing youth population - an impressive 60 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 25 - a significantly higher proportion than in the West. The continent is also poised to provide a new market for goods and services at a time when the population in the West is diminishing. Imagine the opportunities for employment and investment in Africa!

My early childhood was in Kenya in the 1940’s. From the time I became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims in 1957, an integral part of my daily life and work has encompassed seeking to improve living conditions and opportunities in African countries.

Today, all of us engaged in Africa are witnessing a palpable new spirit of confidence. This is a reflection of the efforts of the African peoples coming together across borders and frontiers in thoughtful, impactful endeavours to improve their lives as well as their countries’ prospects.

I commend President Kagame’s leadership and insight for hosting this Conference and Heads of State present here today for their commitment to addressing the central issues and challenges of our time.

I am pleased that the Nation Media Group, which I founded in 1959, has been instrumental in initiating this Festival and conceptualising its thought leadership agenda - and that it has played a substantial role over decades in promoting responsible journalism and thoughtful discussion of issues and opportunities on the African continent. In keeping with this mission, this Festival brings together some of the best minds of Africa to take this agenda forward and, most importantly, implement many of the ideas and solutions that will be discussed here.

All of us recognise that there is much work to be done.

We have an opportunity - and responsibility - to assist people and communities to construct strong, resilient foundations, to ensure sustainable progress and lasting, positive change and to support and lift the hopeful voices of the continent’s youth. This can most readily be accomplished when government, the private sector and civil society institutions work together to create an enabling environment, where people can plan and build for their future and for future generations of their family.

Sound development rests on learning from, and working with, people at the grassroots to help them articulate and realise their aspirations. It requires good governance and forging a better appreciation of the importance of pluralism across all sectors of society. To this end, the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network are committed to expanding our efforts, in partnership with others, to improve the quality of life for all Africans.

I am confident that Africa will continue to be a leader, in drawing on its historical experience, in building resilient, pluralistic, economically-strong, and environmentally- sound communities, rooted in solid values and communal support structures that societies in the West and elsewhere will admire and emulate in years to come. The rest of the World has much to learn from Africa.


""Africa’s strength has always been her peoples. Their resilience, sense of community and self-help, ingenuity and resourcefulness in innovating fresh solutions - often in the most difficult circumstances - is responsible for the continent’s progress and exciting prospects.""

","English" "2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-11-canadaeb1_0052_r.jpg","Ottawa, Canada","Wednesday, 20 November 2019","1574272800","Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the 2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","Civil society,Canada","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-11-canadaeb1_0052_r.jpg","","Global Centre for Pluralism","Civil society","


The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean,
The Right Honorable Joe Clark,
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario,
Friends of the Global Centre for Pluralism,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you this evening to the second Global Pluralism Award ceremony.

Thank you, Meredith, for the warm introduction.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are delighted that you have joined the Centre as Secretary General.

This evening, we are honouring ten remarkable organisations and individuals.

Some have come from as far away as Myanmar, others are working right here in Canada.

Their areas of focus are diverse and include history education, music, political empowerment and virtual exchange.

Taken together, this outstanding group of recipients represents a new wave of leadership working around the world for a brighter future free of exclusion and division.

The Award should serve as a reminder that we can all take steps, in both our personal and professional lives, to foster a more positive and productive response to the changing diversity in our world.

A more inclusive, understanding approach to diversity is needed more than ever today. The Award offers examples to inspire how we take on that challenge.

This year’s recipients join the inaugural group of honourees from 2017, to form a growing global community of pluralism leaders.

Their stories and expertise are being shared in all parts of the globe, illustrating how pluralism can be put into practice even in the most intractable situations.

The three Award winners are receiving $50,000 each to further their endeavours. The Centre will collaborate closely with them over the next year to help amplify their important work.

By bringing their stories to an international audience, the Centre aims to help deepen awareness of their accomplishments and connect them to global partners. Shortly, we will have the opportunity to learn more about each of them.

But first, I would like to salute the international jury. The jurors had the very difficult task of selecting three winners and seven honourable mentions among a very impressive pool of submissions.

Their diligent work in selecting these ten from over 500 submissions, received from 74 countries, is very much appreciated.

I congratulate the jury’s skilful chair, former Canadian Prime Minister the Right Honourable Joe Clark, as well as its other distinguished members: Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur, Dr. Siva Kumari, Dr. Tarek Mitri, His Worship Naheed Nenshi, Ms. Ory Okolloh, and Ms. Pascale Thumerelle.

Finally, I would like to thank each and every one of you for joining us for what will certainly be a dynamic evening of celebration and storytelling. 

I invite you to sit back and let the achievements of the Global Pluralism Award honourees inspire you and move you.

Thank you.

","speech_240716","","English" "2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2019-11-canada-84448.jpg","Ottawa, Canada","Wednesday, 20 November 2019","1574271900","Opening remarks by Ms. Meredith Preston McGhie, GCP Secretary General, at the 2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","240706","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Global Centre for Pluralism","Civil society","

Your Highness,
Rt Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
Rt Honourable Michaelle Jean,
Rt Honourable Joe Clark,
Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario,
Excellencies, and
Friends of the Global Centre for Pluralism,

I am delighted to welcome you, on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan and the Board of Directors athe the Global Centre, to the second Global Pluralism Award. I would also like to take this opportunity to those viewers watching this live streamed online.

I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered here in Ottawa on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Peoples.

I am Meredith Preston McGhie and I am honoured to serve as the Global Centre for Pluralism’s new Secretary General.

My wonderful predecessor, John McNee, is with us tonight and so I wanted to begin by thanking John. John, I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for your exceptional leadership in steering the Centre from its infancy to the global reputation it enjoys today.

As many of you know, the Centre is a public-private partnership between His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Canada.

Avec le soutien de nos fondateurs, le Centre est un rassembleur. Nous réunissons des décideurs politiques, des éducateurs, des activistes et des universitaires, pour échanger des connaissances et apprendre comment bâtir des sociétés plus pacifiques, prospères et fructueuses dans lesquelles la diversité est respectée.

Ce soir nous pouvons apprécier les efforts du Centre à réunir tant de défenseurs du pluralisme.

(With the support of our founders, the Centre brings people together. We bring policymakers, educators, activists and academics together to share knowledge and learn how to build more peaceful, prosperous and successful societies in which diversity is respected.

This evening we celebrate the work of the Centre in bringing together so many advocates of pluralism.)

Since joining the Centre last month, I have had the profound privilege of learning more about the ten exceptional recipients of the Global Pluralism Award.

Chosen by an independent jury from among over 500 submissions, their dedication and passion are deeply inspiring.

But most of all, their initiatives offer us creative and positive solutions. These are ten concrete examples of exceptional individuals and organisations who envision a world where differences are valued and diverse societies prosper.  I believe that all of us in this room share that vision. We must all be concerned, however, that this vision is not shared in many societies in which our recipients are working.

We at the Centre are immensely proud to be able to support these recipients to continue to make the compelling cases they are making for pluralism in these challenging contexts.

The ten recipients are doing such varied work that they are difficult to summarise. But a number of common threads weave them together and I wanted to share a few of these with you tonight.

Several of the organisations stand out for the innovative ways they are approaching peace building and reconciliation in volatile contexts. 

In Myanmar, the Centre for Social Integrity is empowering ethnically-diverse youth from conflict-affected regions to be leaders for change. The conflict prevention and leadership training that they are providing to youth is unique in the country.

The ‘Learning History that is not yet History’ network in the Balkans has developed approaches to history education that help both teachers and students reconcile with the painful, controversial, traumatic history of the wars in their societies.

And in Bangladesh, despite challenges of discrimination and social unrest, Rupantar is mobilising vulnerable populations at the grassroots, especially women and youth, to advocate for their rights and fight for social change.

Empowering the next generation of leaders is another common theme throughout this group. And a theme that is particularly dear to our hearts.

Using virtual exchange, Soliya from the United States, is bringing together young people across cultures and continents in structured online dialogues to build empathy.

The Afghanistan National Institute of Music gives marginalised children and youth access to high quality music and academic education in a co-educational environment, supporting their full inclusion in Afghan society.

In France, SINGA supports a new generation of newcomers build lasting personal and professional relationships with their host communities through mutual interests.

Finally, Deborah Ahenkorah, from Ghana, is helping African youth see their own experiences, see themselves reflected in African children’s literature, contributing to their sense of belonging, wellbeing and pride.

A third theme is that of bridging divides and bringing together people who would not normally sit at the same table, something that is absolutely critical for our mission for pluralism. .

onBoard Canada is a particularly compelling example – their board governance training and matching programmes are giving underrepresented individuals opportunities to sit at the table with not-for-profit and public sector boards for the first time.

In Lebanon, Adyan Foundation, is breaking down religious barriers, connecting people with different beliefs to share experiences and develop trust and understanding.

And the Artemisszio Foundation in Hungary is tackling the social exclusion of Hungary’s most disadvantaged populations, by creating communities that welcome Roma, migrants and refugees.

Whether building peace, enabling youth or bridging divides, the Award recipients are all committed to pursuing pluralism every day. This work is challenging, sometimes dangerous, and too often goes unnoticed and unrewarded, but not tonight. 

A compelling example of this however is that just this week, one of our recipients has been unable to travel to Ottawa to join us here tonight, as he and his network of pluralism champions in Lebanon are working to support dialogue in the midst of the evolving situation there.  We are very pleased that one of his partner colleagues has been able to join to accept on their behalf.

But I would like to briefly quote from his views on the situation in Lebanon – a reminder to all of us about the positive and, solution oriented engagements of our recipients, and I quote: ""This dramatic situation also had its positive side, that it is bringing Lebanese from different communities and regions in solidarity with each other to claim a real change, facing corruption and populist and sectarian politics"" end quote.

This is why the Global Centre for Pluralism believes it is critical to continue supporting the work of the recipients’ work beyond this ceremony.

Over the past year, the Centre helped give international profile to the accomplishments of the 2017 winners. With Afro-Colombian victims’ rights activist, Leyner Palacios Asprilla, the Centre has co-sponsored the screenings in Colombia and Canada of a feature-length documentary about his work – it is a film that I believe should be required viewing for all peacemakers. This has helped increase visibility and support of his efforts to seek justice for victims of the Colombian conflict.

The Centre has also supported the production of a report on family reunification of refugees to Australia with 2017 winner Daniel Webb and will support a further launch in early 2020. Finally, 2017 winner, Alice Nderitu has developed and launched a manual for women community mediators in armed conflict in Africa and is currently training women in several African countries.

We look forward very much to working with the 2019 recipients over the next year and beyond to help broaden their reach, new partnerships and increase their impact of the incredible work they are doing. 

Finally, I would just like to say that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark for his leadership and to our distinguished jury represented also here by His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi, for the countless hours of thoughtful discussion and decision-making that have led us here, with these ten exceptional exceptional recipients.

On that note, I am now delighted to welcome another lifelong champion of pluralism to the podium. 

His Highness the Aga Khan,

Votre Altesse, bienvenue.
(Your Highness, welcome.)

","speech_240711","","English" "Donation ceremony of the Da Vinci Surgical System","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/portugal_aku_191108_32a7231.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Friday, 8 November 2019","1573230600","Speech by Mr. Firoz Rasul at the Donation ceremony of the Da Vinci Surgical System","","speech","Pakistan,Portugal","","2010s","","","","8941","","","1","","1","","","","Pakistan,Health,Aga Khan University,Portugal","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/portugal_aku_191108_32a7231.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Health","

Bismillah-ir Rahman ir Rahim

His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic,
His Highness the Aga Khan,
Minister of Health, Madame Marta Temido,
President of the Central Hospitals of Lisbon, Madame Rosa Valente Matos,
Diplomatic Representative of the Ismaili Imamat to the Portuguese Republic, Comendador, Nazim Ahmad,
Member of the Portuguese Delegation to the Seat Agreement’s Joint Committee, Mr. João Pedro Antunes,
Leaders of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamat,
Distinguished guests,

On behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan, I would like to welcome you to this inauguration ceremony.

We are especially honoured that the His Excellency, the President has joined us for this special occasion. Thank you, Your Excellency, not only for your presence, but for the gracious welcome and partnership that the Portuguese Republic has extended to the Ismaili Imamat.

We are here today to celebrate a milestone in the relationship between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic: the Ismaili Imamat’s donation of a Da Vinci surgical system to the Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, to be installed here, at the Curry Cabral Hospital. This is a cutting-edge, robotics-assisted technology for performing minimally invasive precision surgical procedures. It is the first such system in a public hospital in Portugal, and hence available to benefit the entire population of the country.

Yet while this technology is advanced and complicated, its impact is simple to state: it will expand access to high-quality surgical care for Portuguese suffering from a wide range of conditions, helping to ensure that they can lead healthy lives. As such, it will positively impact thousands of individuals and their loved ones. That is truly worth celebrating, and we are looking forward to seeing the evidence of this technology’s positive impact on quality of life through improved outcomes from difficult surgical procedures. 

The donation of the Da Vinci system is further evidence of the strengthening bond between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic, and of their joint commitment to improving quality of life in Portugal, in Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa, and beyond.

The relationship between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat is longstanding. We well remember the welcome this country showed to the Ismailis who left Mozambique in the 1970s. And since the government’s generous invitation to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat here in Lisbon in 2015, that connection has been steadily expanding and deepening.

For example, the Aga Khan Development Network and Portugal’s Foundation for Science and Technology have partnered on the Knowledge for Development Initiative. Under this initiative, researchers in Portugal, Portuguese-speaking Africa, and at agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network are working to develop solutions to crucial challenges facing Africa. The first call awarded grant funding to 16 research projects, and the scope ranged from developing crops that can cope with climate change to understanding rising levels of drug-resistant HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Today, we are witnessing one of the first fruits of the partnership between the Aga Khan University and the Ministry of Health, which is another dimension of our strong relationship.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Aga Khan University – or AKU, as we call ourselves – we were founded in 1983 by our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan. We were Pakistan’s first private, not-for-profit university. We now also have campuses, programmes, and hospitals in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom.

The Aga Khan University was recently named one of the top 100 universities worldwide in clinical medicine by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities – the only university in Asia to achieve that distinction. In 2019, the Aga Khan University and its fellow agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network will treat over 6 million patients, many in hospitals and outreach clinics accredited by organisations such as the US-based Joint Commission International and the College of American Pathologists. For those of you in the health business, you know these are the gold standards.

As president of the University, it is my pleasure to thank Minister Marta Temido and her predecessor, Professor Adalberto Campos Fernandes – who I am pleased to see here today – for their embrace of AKU as a partner. It was Professor Fernandes and the Curry Cabral’s renowned and recently retired surgical leader, Professor Eduardo Barroso, who identified the great need for a surgical robot in the national referral public hospital in Portugal – which ultimately led to today’s generous donation, which was finalised with Minister Marta Temido. 

The relationship between AKU and the Ministry holds great promise. Our Memorandum of Understanding envisions mutually beneficial collaborations in operating room management, emergency care, data analysis, research, and many other areas.

When Professor Eduardo Barroso visited AKU’s campus in Karachi, he proposed a collaboration on surgical specialties, including robot-assisted procedures. With the assistance of Professor Barroso and his team, AKU is working to begin commencing liver transplant operations at our hospitals in Karachi and Nairobi. This would be a major benefit to the people of Pakistan and East Africa.

At the same time, the Aga Khan University is assisting Portuguese medical schools in developing their capacity to train doctors and nurses using state-of-the-art simulation and virtual-reality tools. As a delegation from the Ministry of Health discovered during its visit to the Aga Khan University, our own Centre for Innovation in Medical Education is second-to-none in this field.

And there are still more linkages growing between Portuguese institutions and the institutions of the Ismaili Imamat. The Aga Khan University now has active partnerships with the Catholic University of Portugal and the NOVA University of Lisbon. In June of this year, AKU and NOVA co-hosted an international symposium in Lisbon on the ethics of stem-cell research and regenerative medicine, which is the next phase of medical advancement. That event brought together experts from seven countries and different faiths to discuss the latest issues in this rapidly advancing field, and to lay the groundwork for assisting low-income countries in developing their own legal and regulatory frameworks based on the ethics of these new discoveries.

The Aga Khan University and Catolica are working together to create an online database of tens of thousands of documents held at the Overseas Historical Archive in Lisbon – documents that cover Portuguese activity in the Indian Ocean region from the 16th to the 19th century. It is an exciting project that will enable scholars worldwide to deepen our understanding of centuries of cross-cultural interaction and the long reach and influence of Portugal in history.

I am pleased to say that AKU also has emerging relationships with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Champalimaud Foundation. Ultimately, what makes these partnerships possible is the values we all hold in common.

As the donation we are celebrating today demonstrates, we all believe that every person ought to have access to outstanding health care, regardless of where they were born or their financial resources. This is the vision of our Chancellor, of making sure access to the highest quality care is available to everyone, regardless of where they are from or their financial condition.

So, whether you live in Portugal, Mozambique, Kenya, or Pakistan – whether you are a patient in a public hospital or a private hospital – you should be able to benefit from the latest diagnostics, treatments, and technologies.

We all believe in the power of partnership to improve people’s lives and positively impact institutions and societies. Partnerships are two-way streets. Both parties must contribute to them and nurture them. Reciprocal benefits flow from collective commitments of time, funds, knowledge, expertise, or equipment. The donation of the Da Vinci system reflects our commitment to the partnership between the Ismaili Imamat and its institutions and Portugal.

It is given in the spirit of all true gifts – in recognition of all that we may have already received, in acknowledgement of all that we will gain, with a full heart and a sense of gratitude. And it is also given with optimism regarding the future, and our collective capacity to shape it for the better.

Thank you very much. 


""يمثل التبرع بنظام دافنشي دليلاً إضافياً على العلاقة القوية التي تربط بين الإمامة الإسماعيلية والجمهورية البرتغالية، والتزامهما المشترك بتحسين نوعية الحياة في البرتغال، وفي البلدان الناطقة بالبرتغالية في إفريقيا، وما وراءها.""

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As-salamu ‘alaykum, Peace be upon you

Your Excellency Mintimer Shaimiev,
Your Excellency Eleonora Mitrofanova,
Respected Members of the Government,
Distinguished Guests

What an enormous pleasure it is to welcome all of you to this ceremony.

We gather today with a group of extraordinary people, in an extraordinary place, and for an extraordinary purpose.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is organised around a series of three-year cycles - each one culminating in the recognition of our Award recipients.

Tonight we celebrate the outcomes of our Fourteenth Cycle. 

This is an extraordinary moment for me as I think back to our decision to launch this programme - more than four decades ago.

What led to that decision? - You may ask - as many have asked, then and since. Just why should the Ismaili Imamat become so deeply involved in the world of professional architecture?

The simple answer lies in my conviction that Architecture - more than any other art form - has a profound impact on the quality of human life. As it has often been said, we shape our built environment - and then our buildings shape us.

This close relationship of architecture to the quality of human experience has a particularly profound resonance in the developing world.  I believe that we all have a responsibility to improve the quality of life whenever and wherever that opportunity arises.  Our commitment to influencing the quality of architecture - intellectually and materially - grows directly out of our commitment to improving the quality of human life.

As you may know, over these four decades, we have recognised a vast array of architectural contributions, including over nine thousand nominated projects.

But the value of this programme goes far beyond recognising specific projects.

The Aga Khan Architectural Award is not simply a prize; it is a process.

This process involves a wide range of conversations - all across the world - that shape the selection process. 

The theme of the Cycle, which culminates today is: “Architecture in Dialogue”.  This theme, which emerged out of the deliberations of the Steering Committee and Master Jury, sees architecture as a robust interchange, one that can embrace a variety of diverse and even divergent perspectives.

A true dialogue requires not only that we articulate one perspective, but also that we listen – attentively - to other perspectives. More than that, it asks us not only to listen to one another, but also to learn from one another.

There are several ways in which architecture can blend different perspectives. Let me briefly describe just four of them, 

First of all, we must foster a healthy dialogue among the actual participants in the architectural process. I do not mean only the skilled architects themselves, but also those who collaborate with them - clients, community leaders, public officials, educators, and the builders, designers, and craftsmen who help realise their plans. Our Master Jury for this cycle paid close attention to this dimension, looking at qualities such as leadership, cooperation, and openness - qualities that help produce creative dialogue.

A second dialogue that advances the best in human architecture is an open dialogue between the past and the future. This means more than simply copying the past - or merely tacking some ancient arch or minaret or calligraphy onto a new building. On the other hand, it also means more than a heedless modernistic approach that ignores our rich heritage. Our realisation, more than 40 years ago, that architectural practice in Muslim societies had recently been forgetting its own history, helped us to shape the nature of this Award.

The dialogue we seek is one that will blend the inspiration of the past with the demands of the future. The demands are many: environmental, social, technological, and economic, not to mention the challenges of political polarisation. In all of these respects, looking back can help us look ahead - and vice versa.

A third dialogue that commands architectural attention is the dialogue between nature on the one hand and human creativity on the other. Both the natural world and the world of human capacities are divine gifts, but it is tempting sometimes to embrace one without thinking much about the other.

The Holy Quran asks Muslims not to be passive recipients of our Natural Habitat but instead to be faithful stewards of the divine creation; we need to expand our commitment in all directions. This means not merely conforming to the power of nature, but actively engaging with its challenges. At the same time we must be careful not to exaggerate the capacities for human mastery – trying to defy nature is counterproductive in many ways. A reflective dialogue between natural realities and human capabilities is also at the essence of architectural excellence.

Fourth and finally, I would emphasise the importance of intercultural dialogue in meeting the Architectural opportunities of our time. I have mentioned how this Award grew out of a concern with the deterioration - what some of us called the “hibernation” - of rich Muslim architectural traditions. But honouring one’s own historic identity, should not imply some sort of narrow isolation.

The rich architectural dialogue we seek to foster should include a renewed respect for the rich diversity of Islamic cultures themselves. As a way to exemplify this concern, we recently opened a new Aga Khan Centre in London in which seven Islamic gardens have been created, reflecting seven different Muslim traditions.

In addition, we should also be working to foster a rich dialogue with non-Islamic cultures - including diverse religious traditions. Architecture can lead the way in this effort - as we listen to one another and learn from one another across old divides.

Pluralism means more than merely tolerating a diversity of influences and ideas.  It also means welcoming the learning opportunities that diversity provides, finding ways to honour that which is unique in our individual traditions as well as those values that connect us to all of humankind.  

We must think of diversity itself as a divine gift, a blessing and not a burden.

I mentioned earlier that we are meeting today in a special place. Tatarstan has, for centuries, been a place of exceptional commitment to pluralistic values. The city of Kazan and the larger region have long been renowned for their rich mix of ethnicities, and cultures, including the impressive way in which their architectural heritage has been preserved and respected. 

It is striking to realise that nearby Bolgar, which I visited yesterday, became a Muslim religious centre as early as 922 - almost eleven hundred years ago. Through the centuries the spirit of pluralism in Tatarstan has known times of difficult challenge and times of inspiring renewal. But through everything, a commitment to inclusiveness has persisted. This spirit was encouraged under the pluralist leadership of several of the Muslim Khanates that governed the area in the 14th and 15th centuries, and also some later Russian rulers, such as Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. And it has been dramatically evident here in recent years. 

On my visits in Kazan, and in Bolgar, I have seen how committed people can honour the power both of cultural identity and cultural pluralism. It is striking to see how churches and mosques, for example, have been built and preserved right next to one another as powerful symbols of a profound intercultural Dialogue.

I would hope that we all can help point the rest of the world to the powerful pluralistic model of places like Kazan and Bolgar.

The world is in need of such examples. Human challenges seem to intensify at an accelerating pace these days - climate change, economic and technological inequalities, epidemics, political polarisation, population displacements and the daunting task of helping one another to live together in dignity.

I believe deeply in the potential of the architectural world to help inspire and enrich a creative dialogue in all four of the areas I have mentioned: a dialogue between creative architectural partners, a dialogue between past and future, a dialogue between natural reality and human creativity, and a dialogue among diverse cultures.

When I first anticipated this visit to Tatarstan - my thoughts went back to other Award presentations through these four decades. The very first presentations were held in Lahore in Pakistan and I remember expressing my hope that night that these Awards would not be seen as the end of a story but rather as a bold beginning - stimulating further discussion, insights, questions, debates, and “perhaps even more, some worries” – as I put it then - about our architectural future. And I must say today how pleased I am that my hopes I expressed in Lahore four decades ago have been fulfilled.

The fact that our theme today is built around the word “Dialogue” testifies to our continuing aspirations. My thanks go to all of you for being a part of this extraordinary celebration - as we reflect, gratefully, on both the inspiring gifts of the past and the rich possibilities of the future.

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Your Highness, esteemed Prince Karim Aga Khan
Distinguished participants of the ceremony
Dear friends

The capital of Tatarstan is hosting the ceremony of the world famous Aga Khan Award for Architecture, aimed at preservation and protection of historical monuments and landscape architecture. It is truly a landmark event for all of us.

First of all, please allow me to express my deepest gratitude on behalf of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and myself personally for the recognition given to the programme for the development of public spaces implemented by the Republic and the honour of hosting this ceremony in Kazan. Thank you very much.

The sustainably developing multinational Tatarstan is increasingly frequently becoming the host for large international forums held in the Russian Federation. This trend we believe is evidence of the fact that we are pursuing the right course of transformations taking place in the Republic for the benefit of the welfare of the people.

We build on the rich historical and cultural heritage of our people and their contribution to the common heritage of all mankind, and we proclaim it loudly. We pay special attention to the preservation of inter-ethnic and inter-confessional peace and harmony, the revival of spirituality. The Muslim shrines of the ancient Bolgar, the Orthodox sites of the island-town of Sviyazhsk, and the Kazan Kremlin are equally valuable and important for us. These three historical sites are inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. This work, as I have repeatedly stated, is Republic-wide done whole-heartedly “from soul to soul”.

Taking advantage of the fact that at tonight’s ceremony we have the pleasure of the company of the former UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and the Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, the former Permanent Representative of Russia to UNESCO, Eleanora Mitrofanova, I would like to thank them on behalf of the people of Tatarstan for their fruitful cooperation in reviving this historical heritage. Thank you very much. Today we also share constructive understanding with the new leadership of UNESCO and its institutions.

I want to note that the Republic “Revival” Foundation, of which I chair the Board of Trustees, this year completed a nine-year (2010-2018) project on the revival of historical monuments of the ancient city of Bolgar and the island-town of Sviyazhsk. Most recently, we embarked on a project to create multilingual educational complexes where children will be educated in three languages: Russian, Tatar and English.

We are very pleased to know that you, Your Highness, as a public figure and person who has founded many educational institutions around the world, feel strongly about these problems. Once you said: “We live in a knowledge society today where access to good quality education and research leads to sustainable development.” It is impossible to disagree with this. We fully share this thought. Moreover, you are implementing the largest charitable, educational and humanitarian projects, support proactive, creative people, regardless of nationality or confession. Your peacekeeping mission, your commitment to bringing civilisations closer and achieving unity in diversity are consonant with our goals, especially to mine, as the UNESCO Special Envoy for Intercultural Dialogue. The same ideas were highlighted during the high-profile and much publicised Kazan Forum, which we held in September last year.

Many projects implemented in Tatarstan are aimed at addressing the most relevant life problems of the population. These are the programmes focused on eradicating the problem of dilapidated housing, continuous gasification and IT development in the settlements and villages of the Republic, construction of roads and many other initiatives. When we travelled by helicopter in Bolgar yesterday, you could see what I'm talking about now. All of the settlements, even the most remote, have access to gas and roads are under construction. 

The 2015 initiative of the President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov to implement the Programme for the Development of Public Spaces became a valuable continuation of our aspirations. Now there are beautiful parks and squares in all major cities and most regions of the Republic. These are the places where everyone will find something to their liking, where the people would feel comfortable and safe.

It is a rather challenging and important work, which cannot be done without professionals. Therefore, we conduct ongoing training of specialists, work with local craftsmen, and businesses, which allows us to use resources more efficiently, develop the local economy and create new jobs. All this is done by a young ambitious team that works for the benefit of the Tatarstan people - and they feel it.

A lot has been accomplished over the period of five years. More than 330 embankments, boulevards, parks and squares were built, another 60 sites will be commissioned soon. Development of comfortable public spaces is, above all, our concern and care for people. It breeds love and respect for the native land.

Dear participants of the ceremony,

It is a great honour and pleasure for us to receive the Aga Khan Award for Architecture along with five other important projects from Bangladesh, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates, Senegal and Bahrain. We congratulate you from the bottom of our hearts for this achievement.

It gives us confidence that we are following the right path, and inspires us to develop. Currently, a new three-year project on landscaping the grounds around blocks of flats is being launched in the Republic, so that they also could become an oasis of cosiness and comfort, something that we lack in the metropolitan areas. We will invest about 50 billion rubbles for these purposes over the coming few years. It was announced during the successful election campaign. People made their opinion on how the project should be realised. It is the first time that we are engaging in a social project such as this.

Your Highness, we regard this Award as a high assessment of all the multifaceted activities carried out in the Republic in the interests of the people. Thank you very much! Bik zur rәkhmәt!

In conclusion, I want to say that we are open for cooperation with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. At present, scientists from the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Kazan Federal University are actively engaged in the scientific study of the Great Silk Road and Great Volga Route. Since the early 2000s, scientific conferences, seminars and round tables have been held on this topic. The theme of the Great Silk Road is also relevant for Tatarstan. Scientists have determined that the Volga, Caucasus and Siberian corridors are most important for the Russian Federation and we started active collaboration with the countries of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In 2018, our expert representative participated and made a presentation at the 5th meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the countries participating in the UNESCO Great Silk Road cross-border nomination, which brings together more than twelve countries. By the end of this year, a meeting of the 6th Coordinating Committee is scheduled in Iran.

Given the fact that Tatarstan has highly qualified specialists and  scholars, recognised experts of UNESCO institutes, Your Highness, we could take part in the joint work on the development of a project to study specific corridors of the Great Silk Road. I hope that we will find common ground in the implementation of a number of other projects aimed at realising our common noble goals.

Yesterday in Bolgar, we discussed how we could use your great knowledge of architecture. I would say that you very wisely interpreted the meaning of modern architecture in conjunction with nature, landscaping and the environment, so as to serve the needs of humankind. That's why the meeting with you  and your wonderful team encourages us to seek ways to collaborate on great new projects. Most importantly, as we say, develop and prosper. 

Thank you to all.

","speech_236281","","English" "Aga Khan Museum opens ""Seeing Through Babel"" exhibition in London","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-07-uk-shy_4402_r.jpg","London, United Kingdom","Friday, 5 July 2019","1562258700","Remarks by Henry S. Kim, Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum, at the exhibition ""Seeing Through Babel"" in London","","speech","United Kingdom","","2010s","","","","233291","","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture,United Kingdom,Culture","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-07-uk-shy_4402_r.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","Aga Khan Museum","Culture","

Good evening, and welcome all.

When the opportunity arose to bring an exhibition to London, to the Zamana Space in the Ismaili Centre, I was really intrigued by this possibility. London is after all such an important forum for contemporary art from across the Muslim world. With the work the Aga Khan Museum has undertaken in just under five years with contemporary artists, I felt it was imperative to bring something we have created, a process we have created to London to show the London audience what the Museum stands for. And that’s what exactly we have done today.

Before I introduce the artist, I would like to acknowledge a number of people who have helped to make this happen. And first of all, I’d like to acknowledge the President and Vice-President of the Ismaili Council of the United Kingdom, as well as their leads for outreach and community relations, and their project managers, all of whom are volunteers, for their leadership and support in realising this vision. Without your leadership, none of this would have happened. I would also like to thank the management and staff of the Ismaili Centre who have helped in so many ways to make this exhibition happen, from building scaffolding, to patiently listening to crazy ideas about hanging objects from their ceilings, straight through to dismantling things saying ‘we’ll put them back at some later point.’ I would like most of all to thank the many volunteers who will be part of the manning of this exhibition and the shop over the next six weeks, also for the dozen or so students from the University of the Arts London who assisted Kevork in developing his work. And of course I would like to thank our many supporters here in London. Our patrons, our director’s circle members, our donors, who have steadfastly supported the museum since opening. And I am very pleased to say that this Museum, from about three years ago, has a chapter of Patrons, based here in London, led by Faisal Lalji and our steering committee, and with this presence in London, we are able to offer programming about the arts of the Muslim world, about what happens in Toronto for people who live here in London. And for us, this is a very important point because the Aga Khan Museum, even though it is based in Toronto is a museum that has true international aspirations. We are a Museum that is present here in London, also Dubai, also in the States, also across Canada. And this is a very important point about what the Museum us all about, because we cannot simply talk about Islamic art just in one city, we need to be able to spread this message across all the cities we can. And so thank you very much for all of your help and support, because with it, we could not have created this exhibition in London right now.

Now I would like to introduce the man of the moment, the artist Kevork Mourad. Kevork is a remarkable artist who is Syrian, Armenian and American. And I think it is very interesting that Kevork views himself in a sense as a double refugee, as his family had to flee to Syria from Armenia back in the easier part of the 20th century. There has of course been Syrian refugees in the last seven or so years, and creating identity for oneself as you move from one country to another is very very important. How much of your past do you take with you? How much of your present do you now incorporate into your lives? And I think if an artist is the sum of all of his moments and all of his pasts, Kevork is a very good example of an artist who does look forwards as well as backwards. And so when you look at his work, not only look at the creativity that a contemporary artist brings to bear, but also look at this historic ideas that are in his mind that he transfers onto the medium in which he works.

Kevork has been involved with the Aga Khan Museum, with projects over the last three years, and this installation is his fourth project with us. In 2016 he performed with the clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, also a Syrian artist, to create a sound and visual performance in which the music of Kinan was combined with Kevork’s graphic art in a way that is very similar to what you are going to see in just a few moments. Based on that, we invited them back in 2017 to create the centrepiece of our exhibition called the Syrian Symphony, which broke new ground on how contemporary artists from Syria are responding to and expressing the thoughts of a nation and people gripped by years of civil war. This last February, Kevork returned as artist-in-residence in the Museum, creating a three dimensional work which was installed in February, and which I am pleased to say we re-installed just about 3 weeks ago.

His work is, I think, truly extraordinary. And I think you will agree with us when you see not only the process by which he creates, but also the work itself.

What I have found most pleasing about the interaction between Kevork and the Museum, is that we have seen real progression in his artistic practice over the course of the three years we have known each other. As a Museum, we are not simply keen to display the works of contemporary artists, instead we want to work collaboratively with them on the intellectual ideas of a work or display. Our chosen angles as a Museum are to explore the connections between cultures or the links between artistic practices of the past and the present. We have artists study objects in our collections, or work with local area students, or watch the performances that take place in our auditorium.  The more that we can integrate the various art forms together, whether music, visual arts, dance, poetry, the written word, the better. Because as we all know, the arts are not monolithic, they are truly diverse, and the more that we can find the links between the arts, the more creative I think the process will be.

With Kevork, we found an artist who has been intellectually curious, to explore themes of migration and displacement, or the links between the past and the present. His expression of these ideas were accompanied by changes in his creative process, as his graphic art began to move away from the two-dimensional into what you see today which is better described as a graphic sculpture, rather than simply a print or a drawing.

And so it is with great pleasure that I introduce Kevork Mourad, who will provide us with some idea of the way he creates the art that he does, because music is essential to his process. And as you’ve heard from those who spoke before, what is important about his work is that with Seeing Through Babel he explains the beginnings of diversity, and that is through the multiple languages that were created through the Tower of Babel, and this I think is an important theme in today’s day and age. So without further ado, Kevork Mourad.


عندما أُتيحت الفرصة لإقامة معرض في صالة ""زمانا"" في المركز الإسماعيلي في لندن، كنت مفتوناً حقاً بهذا الحدث، لأن لندن في النهاية منتدى مهم للفن المعاصر من جميع أنحاء العالم الإسلامي. عبر العمل الذي قام به متحف الآغا خان خلال أقل من خمس سنوات مع الفنانين المعاصرين، شعرت أنه من الضروري إحضار شيء قمنا بإنشائه إلى لندن لتمكين الجمهور هنا من رؤية ما يمثله المتحف، وهذا بالضبط ما فعلناه اليوم.

","English" "Aga Khan Museum opens “Seeing Through Babel” exhibition in London","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-07-uk-shy_4390_r.jpg","London, United Kingdom","Friday, 5 July 2019","1562255100","Remarks by Prince Amyn Aga Khan at the exhibition ""Seeing Through Babel"" in London","","speech","United Kingdom","","2010s","","","","227931","","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture,United Kingdom,Culture","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-07-uk-shy_4390_r.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","Aga Khan Museum","Culture","

Thank you very much, and it is with great pleasure that I open this exhibition.  

Your Worships,
My Lords,
Ladies, and Gentlemen,

I had to ask how to read this particular speech because I was not sure one could pluralise Worships and Councillors.

When the Ismaili Centre opened in 1985, it was designed with a purpose built space, called the Zamana Gallery. With its independent entrance on Cromwell Road, directly across from the V&A, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, it was designed to be part of this rich cultural corridor. Complementing the haute couture, Renaissance sculpture, dinosaurs, bees, cogs and computers of its neighbours, the intention was that Zamana would foster dialogue among communities about the art, society and culture of the Muslim world and that it would reflect the dialogue between cultures that has always existed as a result of man’s urge and need to travel, to discover, to conquer, or to sell his goods and buy others.

I had urged Sir Roy Strong, all those years ago, to use this gallery to show the V&A’s remarkable collection of works of art from the Muslim world, at the time largely kept in the Museum’s reserves and he had agreed in principle with the idea. However, nothing came of it. Later, I made the same suggestion to the then Minister of Culture. But again, nothing actually took place. So it was with some sadness that I saw this gallery go into hibernation those some twenty-five years ago. Since then, appreciation of the arts from the Muslim world has, I think, grown and flourished. Galleries have been created or re-developed at great museums such as the V&A and the British Museum.  Festivals have been created to showcase the arts from the Arab world, South Asia and the Muslim world in general. Many foundations have been created to support artistic practice. And artists have flocked to London, for its art-schools and opportunities to pursue their practices in the rich milieu of this city. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that during this time London has in many ways become a centre for both the historic and the contemporary arts of the Islamic Muslim world.

Which brings us to today, and the reopening of the Zamana Space. I am pleased that the Ismaili Centre chose to revive the space in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum, a museum based in Toronto, for which I serve as Chairman of its Board, for better or probably for worse. Although it is less than five years old, the Museum has begun to make a mark for itself as one of the leaders in the arts of the Muslim world. Its mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions that Muslim civilisations have made to world heritage, by showing their arts in their many and varied forms from across the world. Its exhibitions have begun to gain notoriety, mostly, I am happy to say, in the good sense of that word, including the current and successful exhibition on the Moon. And the Museum’s work with the artists, whether musicians, dancers or visual artists, has, I believe, begun to break new ground.  

I am very keen that the arts should speak to each other. The arts reflect our senses, and as our senses talk to each other, so the arts should talk to each other. It is in my view a mistake to show one art totally independent of all other arts. So as often as possible, I like to see a dialogue between the arts.

This gallery in the Ismaili Centre was one of the first locations where the Aga Khan Museum’s collection was displayed following the announcement of the building of the Museum in Toronto. In 2007, a dozen years ago, a selection of treasures of the Museum's collection was displayed in the Social Hall here, attracting 50,000 visitors during its run.

As you will have no doubt guessed, now that the Zamana is operating again, and we even have exhibition spaces available in the new Aga Khan Centre up in Kings Cross, it is my hope that the Aga Museum will be able to mount interesting temporary exhibitions with the V&A, and the other major British institutions having important places of works of art from, or related to, the Muslim world. Thus reinforcing, which I think is important, the message that culture unites rather than divides.

I will leave the introduction of the work you will see and the artist you will meet to the Director and CEO of the Museum, Henry Kim, and the artist Kevork Mourad. However, I will say that they have shown great imagination in how they have used the Space to create this exhibition of sound and visual art. I am also extremely pleased that the Space is not only the host to the exhibition, but also to a small retail shop from the Museum. This must be one of the few times when cultural dialogue and commercial dialogue actually get together. The shop is home to a unique collection of jewellery, fashion, ceramics, textiles and books that have been developed and sourced from traditional and contemporary artists from throughout the Muslim world, after long hours of searching and researching, that has been both fun, and in many ways inspiring.

The Shop too has its roots in cultural dialogue. So I hope that you will all enjoy the show, and I hope that inshallah we will meet again for the next show - nice and soon please Mr Kim.

Thank you.


""أتمنى أن يتمكن متحف الآغا خان من إقامة معارض مؤقتة مثيرة للاهتمام بالتعاون مع متحف ""فيكتوريا وألبرت"" وغيرها من المؤسسات البريطانية الرئيسية التي لديها أماكن مهمة فيما يتعلق بالأعمال الفنية، أو تلك ذات الصلة بالعالم الإسلامي، وبالتالي فإن تعزيز الرسالة، التي أعتقد أنها تشكل أهمية، تتمثل في توحيد الثقافة بدلاً من تقسيمها.""

","English" "Signing of MoU between the Nova University and the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-06-portugal-dsc_3301_r.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Tuesday, 18 June 2019","1560412800","Remarks by Mr. Firoz Rasul at the signing of MoU between the Nova University and the Aga Khan University","","speech","Pakistan","","2010s","","","","8941","","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan University,Pakistan,Education,Health","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-06-portugal-dsc_3301_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

Professor João Sàágua, Rector of the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa,
Aga Khan University Trustee Professor Antonio Rendas,
Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamat, Mr Nazim Ahmad,
Leaders, faculty, and staff of NOVA and Aga Khan University,
Distinguished guests,

Partnerships between institutions, like friendships between individuals, are built on shared values. And there can be no doubt that the Aga Khan University and the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa share important values.

Let me offer just one example: the mottos of our two universities. NOVA’s motto is taken from the New Testament: “Every city divided against itself shall not stand.” That of AKU, which you will find inscribed in the University’s seal, is taken from the Qur’an. It urges us: “Be not divided among yourselves…for God joined your hearts in love.”

Is that not remarkable? Here we have two universities, separated by 9,000 kilometres, citing two different holy scriptures to express their deepest values – and choosing verses that articulate an identical desire for unity.

Moreover, we both act upon these mottos in a similar fashion. We see them as a summons to reach across borders and boundaries to form partnerships and advance knowledge.  

AKU and NOVA are also lucky to share a great friend: Professor Antonio Rendas, former Rector of NOVA, and a member of AKU’s Board of Trustees. Thank you, Trustee Professor Rendas, for everything you have done to bring our institutions together and make the signing of this agreement possible.

I know I speak for everyone at AKU when I say: We are excited about this partnership. We believe it is full of promise, and we are eager to see it succeed, expand, and endure.

One reason for our enthusiasm is that our collaboration is off to a strong start. We have gathered an exceptional group of scientists and scholars for today’s inaugural Symposium on Stem Cell Science, Regenerative Medicine, Ethics, and Society. Our discussions are sure to stimulate fresh thinking. And they are sure to fuel further conversations about how AKU and NOVA can learn from one another and contribute to the progress of this extraordinarily important area of scientific inquiry.

As you know, AKU is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. The partnership between NOVA and AKU is part of the Network’s larger commitment to Portugal – a commitment that was sealed by the signing of the agreement between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic to establish the Seat, or Diwan, of the Imamat in Portugal.

As AKU’s founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, said in accepting an honorary doctorate from NOVA: “We hold an enduring affinity for Portugal and its institutions, its history, and its people.”

The signing of this agreement is yet another expression of that affinity, and its power to bring people together to pursue knowledge, improve quality of life around the world, and enhance understanding of the value of pluralism.

Thank you.




""تتشابه الشراكات بين المؤسسات مع الصداقات بين الأفراد، فهي مبنية على القيم المشتركة، وليس ثمة شك بأن جامعة الآغا خان وجامعة نوفا لشبونة تشتركان بالعديد من القيم الهامة.""

","English" "GCP Annual Pluralism Lecture 2019 ","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/your_image_126.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Tuesday, 11 June 2019","1560269700","Introductory remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the GCP Annual Pluralism Lecture 2019 ","","speech","Canada,Portugal","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","Canada","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/your_image_127.jpg","","Global Centre for Pluralism","","


Ms. Mohammed,
Your Excellency, the President of the Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you, on behalf of the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism, to the 2019 Pluralism Lecture here at the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon. 

I am delighted that this seventh annual Lecture is being delivered in Portugal. And I say that not only because this beautiful country is steeped in global history and culture, and usually drenched in sunshine. For those of us who believe in the bridge-building work of pluralism, Portugal has much to teach, even as it confronts its own challenges.

This country is blessed with a long history of productive co-existence among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The History of Al-Andalus was written here, on the Iberian Peninsula, between the 8thand 16thcenturies. This blending of cultures, religions and languages brought innovations in architecture, agriculture, medicine and even cuisine that are woven now into the very fabric of modern Portugal.

In July last year, the Global Peace Index ranked Portugal amongst the five most peaceful nations in the world. And for good reason. At a time of rising intolerance, this country has established some of the most welcoming policies for migrants in Europe. As populations in many Western countries are aging, and even dwindling, Portugal is among the few that recognise that newcomers are essential to secure the country’s future.

This welcoming attitude is one of the most strongly associated with pluralism, which is the core mission of the Global Centre for Pluralism. As a beacon of research, education and dialogue, the Centre is drawing lessons from the political, social and cultural dynamics in diverse and divided societies around the world. I encourage all of you to explore what the Centre has to offer. By learning from others’ successes, we may help our own societies to “inoculate” themselves against the temptation to set various people against one another – including the temptation to exclude marginalised populations.

Tonight’s speaker, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, has had an extraordinary life journey, and we are all privileged to be able to benefit from her insights. Thank you.

Ms. Mohammed’s active involvement with global development, and her passionate commitment to girls’ education – both go back almost twenty years, when she coordinated the Task Force on Gender and Education for the United Nations Millennium Project. In 2005, as Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals, she was charged with steering Nigeria’s debt relief funds toward achieving those Goals.  The MDGs, in shorthand, refer to the eight Goals that gave the world a blueprint for tackling its greatest social and economic challenges from 2000 to 2015.

Ms. Mohammed at first described herself as something of a sceptic about that project – how could one possibly reduce the worlds challenges to eight goals? – she asked. Nonetheless, she embraced the cause. With dogged persistence, she helped to ensure that some one billion dollars a year went where it was needed and intended − to reducing maternal mortality, giving communities safe water access, and providing good schools and teachers for Nigerian students. 

In 2012, Amina Mohammed took on another global role as Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the next stage of the United Nations Development Planning – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Her new challenge was to work with, a small number, 193 nations to replace the MDGs with a new overarching framework for global development up to 2030.

In characterising this new framework era, Ms. Mohammed has said and I quote:  “Development is no longer an issue of the Global South. It is an issue of the Global North, South, East and West.” Indeed, all member nations of the United Nations − including Canada, Portugal and Nigeria − and 190 other countries, have accepted the Goals as their own national objectives. Agenda 2030 calls for action by all countries for all people.

Ms. Mohammed then stepped from the conceptual stage at the United Nations back into the implementation area at home. As Federal Minister of Environment, she steered Nigeria’s action on climate change and resource conservation for sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed is an outspoken advocate for global action on climate change, for children’s education, and for the protection of human rights. Above all, she has described gender equality − Sustainable Development Goal number 5 − as the quote “docking station” for all the other Goals, an essential conduit for their achievement.

She has served as Director, Governor or Advisor on numerous Boards, including the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, and the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And she has received too many honours and awards for me to name, for I fear I will leave no time for her lecture.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my very great privilege to welcome our annual Pluralism Lecturer for 2019, Ms. Amina Mohammed.

Thank you.

","speech_232421","","English" "Global Centre for Pluralism’s Annual Pluralism Lecture 2019 ","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/your_image_141.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Tuesday, 11 June 2019","1560268800","Annual Pluralism Lecture by Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General","","speech","Canada,Portugal","","2010s","","","","232406","","","1","","1","","","","Canada","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/your_image_160.jpg","","Global Centre for Pluralism","","

Your Highness the Aga Khan, 
The President of the Assembly
Ladies and gentlemen,
And I see many friends in the audience as we came through this evening

It is really a great pleasure and a privilege to be here with you to talk about pluralism and its central place in the work of the United Nations and especially in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is also wonderful to be in this Centre, a really beautiful building and the gardens, the courtyards and the two research institutions helping us to bridge the gulf between Islam and western cultures. I thank the GCP and you know the event is full of acronyms so I am going to give you another one here but the Global Centre for Pluralism, and the Ismaili Imamat, for this opportunity, and for all the incredible work that you do to promote pluralism, diversity, inclusion, and a better and more peaceful world for all of us. 

The tension between unity and pluralism, between the whole and its constituent parts, has been debated by thinkers and philosophers for thousands of years. 

Two millennia ago, the Indian emperor Ashoka the Great called for harmonious relations between people of all religions and respect for each other's scriptures. 

And at the United Nations there is a magnificent carpet, a gift from the people of Iran, inscribed with the poem known as Bani Adam, the Children of Adam, by the great Persian poet Sa'adi. And part of it reads: 

""If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others,
You are unworthy to be called by the name of 'a Human'""

At this gathering last year, the religious scholar Karen Armstrong said that the first thing that appealed to her about Islam was its pluralism and the fact that the Holy Quran not only praised all the great prophets of the Abrahamic religions, but accepted them as prophets of Islam. Indeed, pluralism, respect for difference and the ethics of a shared common humanity are features of many of our different cultures and religions.  

My own continent Africa includes some of the most pluralist societies in the world, with a diversity of tribal, ethnic, cultural and religious groups, different traditions, and people that are divided along urban and rural realities. 

Pluralism is the DNA in the United Nations. The Charter, our founding document, refers to ""We the peoples"" of the United Nations, and says who are ""determined to practice tolerance and to live together in peace with one another as good neighbours"". 

Today, I will not add to the philosophical debate around pluralism. I believe the argument has largely been fought, and won - although we must always remain vigilant. 

But while the theoretical argument may be over, we still have a long way to go before we can say that our world is living up to this promise. In some cases, there are historical and cultural obstacles or a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding; in others, it is a question of political will and I may even say today the generation gap.

What I would like to talk about today is the gap between the words and the actions; between the ideal of pluralism, and the policies and strategies that will enable us to reap its benefits in our daily lives. 

I would like to link pluralism to the work of the UN on the ground, around the world, promoting human rights, inclusion and respect for diversity - the only way, I believe that we can leave no one behind and effectively address the global challenges we face and further peace and prosperity for everyone. 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

In the framework of the UN , and our current Global Agenda - the Sustainable Development Goals - we have embedded the principle of inclusion, a word that is largely synonymous with pluralism. In fact one of the 17 goals is dedicated to building peaceful and inclusive societies. I would say that the two are not separate, but the societies are more peaceful because they are inclusive. We have growing evidence that greater diversity and inclusion, particular in relation to the inclusion of women, is correlated with higher GDP, more responsive governments, better bottom lines, greater stability, and more sustainable peace and development. But if the business case for inclusion is clear, certainly today we would say that our actions fail to reflect this. 

While many leaders may pay lip service to inclusion, the fact is we are living the consequences of exclusion. Intolerance, exclusion, the need to dominate, a lack of respect for difference are deeply rooted in many of our policies and systems - political, economic and social. 

We have created a world in which, according to recent analysis, by 2030, the richest one percent of people could control two-thirds of the planet's wealth. Economic and, in many cases, political power is often concentrated in the hands of the few. The rights of women and girls, and of minorities and marginalised people of all kinds, are routinely disregarded. In many cases those in power hang on by any means for far too long, and often I believe out of fear of themselves being excluded.

Inequality is at extraordinary levels and is growing, both within and between our countries. After a decade of decline, the number of chronically hungry people in our world recently began to rise again - despite there being abundant food for everyone. 

We have created a world in which we define security as the enforcement of borders, exclusion of others, and amassing of weapons. We see this in the estimated $1.8 trillion in military spending just last year, a fraction of which would provide dignity and opportunity for the most vulnerable. 

We have created a world in which there is growing ethno-nationalism, intolerance, discrimination and violence that targets women, our mothers, our sisters, our grandmothers, minorities andmigrants, refugees and anyone that is perceived to be different or ""other"". Civic space is shrinking; basic rights are under attack; things we have often taken for granted; activists and journalists are targeted; misinformation campaigns and hate speech spread like wildfire on social media. 

Hate speech is moving into the mainstream in many countries and regions - liberal democracies and authoritarian states alike. Constitutions that are founded on pluralism and respect for difference are undermined as different groups and minorities are attacked. 

Access to information is curated individually, so that we are living atomised lives, in our own echo chambers, where news and advertising reflect and reinforce our presumed perspective of the world. Unless we ourselves choose to seek out others, we may not be exposed as we have been before to alternative viewpoints and arguments that challenge our beliefs. 

Attacks on places of worship are some of the most egregious examples of a lack of respect for each other and for our common humanity, and they are rising. In the past few months alone, we have seen horrific attacks in mosques in New Zealand, in churches in Sri Lanka and in synagogues in the United States. 

Record numbers of people are on the move around the world, fleeing conflict, drought, poverty and a lack of opportunity. At the same time, refugees and migrants are attacked both physically, and rhetorically, with false narratives that link them with terrorism and scapegoat them for many of society's ills. 

Millions of women and girls face insecurity and violations of their human rights every day. Violence is used to enforce patriarchy and gender inequality and police women's role in our society. Excluding half our population not only affects our mothers, daughters, and sisters; it affects every one of us and distorts our societies and economic systems. 

We have created economies that value sometimes dubious or even destructive activities, but place zero monetary value on the daily work that happens in our homes - where the very production and reproduction of the quality of our society occurs. 

We see the same devaluing of the foundations of society in our longstanding treatment of our natural environment, our homes. Trees are worth more as construction materials than they are standing in the forest. Deforestation, overfishing, climate change and pollution are causing unprecedented damage to our natural safety net, but they are driven by the logic of economic models and incentives. As a result, we now face an existential crisis as a species, and are directly responsible for the threat to one million other species who may be pushed to extinction in the next few years.

The climate crisis is wreaking havoc on some of the most vulnerable countries and regions, while others continue to burn fossil fuels and add to greenhouse gas emissions. No one would light a cigarette today in a room where a child is struggling to breathe, but developed countries are contributing to conditions that are causing droughts and floods halfway around the world, with complete disregard for the rights of others. We have lost sight of our common humanity and our interdependence - on each other, and on the planet that gives us life. 

I would like to stress that none of this has been an accident. It is the end result of systems that have been built by men--and I am going to underscore men here because if we had had women in charge we probably would not have been in the same mess--largely based on the basis of exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination; and of the prioritisation of short-term profits for a few over the long-term rights and interests of all future generations. 

It is clear that we need a fundamental reordering of our priorities, and a reorganisation of our economic, political and social systems, if we really are to reap the benefits of inclusion and save ourselves and our planet from further inhumanity and degradation. 

Excellencies, friends, ladies and gentlemen, 

We are living in troubled times, and many many headwinds. The news, however, is not all bad. There is plenty of evidence that global efforts have worked, and that further damage to societies and our planet can be prevented and reversed. After all, as I have said just a little earlier, it was, and is, manmade.  

As Stephen Pinker has argued, our world is getting better - but not as quickly as we might hope. So, much of the evidence that we see for progress is not catching up with the reality of the challenges and we are, in many cases, just flatlining. Violence has steadily declined over time and life expectancy is up, extreme poverty is declining, and literacy is at historically high levels. There is greater awareness of human rights, and in some countries at least, minorities of all kinds enjoy greater legal protection than ever before.

Let's take the Montreal Protocol on the ozone layer. This international treaty entered into force in 1989, after climatologists discovered a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. Since then, the hole has gradually started recovering and projections indicate that the ozone layer will return to 1980 levels between 2050 and 2070. This is global cooperation.

The Millennium Development Goals, and as His Highness reminded me I was not very pleased with them, but I, in the end, embraced them as the baseline and not the ceiling of where we wanted to go to. They were agreed by all countries in 2000. They created one of the most successful anti-poverty movements in history; at least in my country we benefited from a savings of a billion dollars a year that we were able to put into people's lives. They have helped to lift more than a billion people out of extreme poverty, to make inroads against hunger, to enable more girls to attend school than ever before, and to protect our planet. The MDGs generated new partnerships and galvanised public opinion, reshaping decision-making in developed and developing countries alike. 

Global pluralism, in the form of multilateralism, achieved these things. And I believe it can achieve so much more. 

Since the founding of the UN, there has been wide and growing recognition that major challenges cannot be solved by countries acting alone. As we face a growing number of issues that do not respect national borders, from climate change to spreading conflict and outbreaks of disease, we need regional and global institutions more than we have ever done before, and this I believe to strengthen our collective response.

But multilateralism may be a victim of its own success. We have stopped seeing it as a priority and an evolving challenge that we need to tend, promote and reinvigorate. We have started taking it for granted. We see this in societies and communities that are turning inward, forgetting the lessons of the past. Global institutions must hold the line for global values. And to do so in these institutions, as well as our partners, we need to transform. To be fit, as I would say, for purpose in the 21st century. 

His Holiness the Pope has spoken of the globalisation of indifference. And I believe that we must replace that with the globalisation of solidarity.

Four years ago in 2015, as we reached the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, the UN initiated and coordinated a global conversation about our priorities. All countries agreed that we needed to do better. 

This resulted in an agreement by all of our 193 countries of the United Nations to the 2030 Development Agenda - our transformational roadmap for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships over the next 15 years. Already we are four years into that. 

This shared agenda reflects an important paradigm shift. The Sustainable Development Goals are human-centred, they are interconnected. More importantly they are universal, integrated, inclusive and mutually reinforcing. No goal stands alone; each goal is inextricably linked with the rest for its full implementation. Although I must say I do take goal five and make that as the docking station for 16. It is so important to our humanity.

It does reflect the reality of development challenges on the ground, where people living in poverty and hunger are also the most likely to suffer from poor access to quality housing, education, healthcare, water and sanitation. A girl is less likely to attend school, for example, if her parents cannot afford to pay for school supplies, or if she does not have secure housing. 

The 2030 Agenda addresses these issues together, tackling the root causes in a much more holistic way. The Sustainable Development Goals were prepared by all countries, requiring contributions from all - including developed and developing countries - and we will improve the lives of all, so that in the end no one is left behind. 

The emphasis in the 2030 Agenda on inclusion and interdependence, as well as a moral obligation to the most vulnerable members of our society through the principle of ""leaving no one behind"" does offer a counterweight to the forces that are leading increased polarization, tribalism, social fragmentation. They are a conscious effort to build and replenish the world's democratic infrastructure, our relationship, social contract and obligation to each other. 

The ultimate ambition of the 2030 Agenda is a world that provides dignity for all, well-being and opportunity - qualities that do not come under the GDP measure that we have, but that are finally being recognised as critical measures of successful governance. The introduction of quality of life and wellbeing considerations into many budgets around the world and the country is one of those that we believe is an encouraging sign for our human family. 

The 2030 Agenda will require shifts in mindsets, to go beyond GDP to how we also measure our wellbeing. It will require a reprioritisation of economic systems so that they improve the lives and make them much more meaningful. The main requirement is the political will in the leadership to push through changes in the governance of our economies and trade systems to make them more inclusive and equitable. 

While the SDGs are global, they also reflect both universal values, local and traditional cultural institutions and traditions. To take one example, we can see the values of the Islamic faith, my own faith, reflected in many of the goals which stress environmental justice, nature and the interdependence of things. 

The UN itself is changing to support countries as they take this ambitious global project, being fit for purpose. We are reforming under the leadership of Antonio Guterres the Development System, and also the peace and security so that we are better-placed to help governments and accompany them in delivering on the 17 transformational goals and targets. From providing access to technical expertise to reaching global agreement on the financial arrangements that will be critical to success, the UN is at the heart of helping to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. 

We are reforming to ensure more diverse representation, a new gender parity strategy for recruiting and retaining women staff at all levels, particularly in leadership, that we have parity already in our management and greater efforts to ensure much more equitable geographic representation, meaning that all persons of the world should be part of the United Nations and be actively represented in the leadership at the country level. We are just months away from achieving parity in our senior leadership for the first time in seven decades. We will be 75 next year. We need to lead by example and demonstrate the importance of diversity and inclusion that reflect the reality of our world. 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends, 

That is the big picture. But it will only succeed if each and everyone of us, individually and collectively, would become a part of this effort. 

Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals must start from every space in which people connect: the family, the community, the workplace, schools and medical clinics, small businesses, media, academia.

It is here that we will need to make the radical shift needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda - a shift in mindsets away from accumulation by a few and exclusion of the many, to a paradigm based in interdependence with each other, and with our environment. A shift in policy solutions that are based on mutual gains rather than the zero-sum thinking, and from a definition of security that is based on an ever-increasing stock of weapons and stronger borders, to one that is based on resilient societies and mutual respect for each other and particularly our planet. 

This shift needs to start from our education systems. And as we discussed over the last two days, education is one place that we really need to rethink how that happens for us in our world today. We continue to build schools of bricks and mortar and to teach rote learning uncritically from outdated textbooks. We are preparing our young people for a world that has passed, rather than the use of technology, critical thinking skills, well-being, and the ethic of shared responsibility needed for the world of today and of tomorrow. 

While the 2030 Agenda is global and all-encompassing, it will require actions at every level. It particularly needs the leadership and the guidance of faith-based and philanthropic institutions who work with the local, national and regional levels but exist in many international levels, who can re-instill a sense of our common humanity. 

The philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah has written of membership of ""a family, a neighbourhood, a plurality of overlapping identity groups, spiraling out to encompass all humanity."" This concept asks us to be many things, he says, because we are just that many things. 

I am very familiar with these ideas. My personal story is one of multiple identities, from Nigeria to the United Kingdom and back again, from the private sector to government and the United Nations. 

I am an African mother and a grandmother, and I have to tell you that my children, Nigerian, British, Syrian, and it goes on, Brazilian grandchild, I am also a former government minister, one that I never thought I would be, I always wanted to go home and implement the SDGs, but to be given the ministry of Environment, which in my country was considered for want of a better word ""the dustbin lady"", it was really only about waste, but for within 18 months Nigeria producing for the continent the first national domestic green bond and I heard last week that we just had the second and again it was over subscribed, so the impossible can become possible. So, as a former government minister, a survivor of gender-based violence, a faithful Muslim, the granddaughter of a Presbyterian minister; and the second-highest international civil servant I am humbly in the world. I also received a basic education. And I think this is important because often we do not look back in history to see what is it that created the sense of insecurity that we have today, the conflict, the terrorists. But my basic education was in Neduguri. Neduguri is a town in the Northeast of Nigeria where today Boko Haram thrives. Where a chard hardly exists, for its shrinking and so we see the exacerbation of poverty, climate change.

While Anthony Appiah and I may be the poster children for pluralism, we all embody many different identities. The growth of DNA-testing proves this in the most literal way, but it is also true socially and culturally. There is no homogenous culture in our world; there are simply those that are more and less honest about their history. And I am happy to say that our hosts today, Portugal and Canada, are amongst the most honest and I congratulate you for that, this is the kind of leadership that we truly need today.

Portugal, the seat of the Ismaili Imamat, has made many significant contributions to openness, to diversity and pluralism in our world. Portugal's history of discovery, of reaching out and connecting, has a central place in its culture. The Iberian Peninsula was for many centuries a battleground between two of the world's three major religions, and this has left a legacy of interdependence and a deep respect for cultural difference. 

I cannot talk of course about Portugal without referencing our Secretary-General, my colleague, my friend Antonio Guterres, a proud Portuguese citizen, I can tell you that, who never fails to remind us of your country's special and unique qualities, and sometimes on a bad day at the UN its food! Wants to come home! But this is not just to him, I have to tell you that even I look for Nigerian food some days in the UN.

I would also like to mention Canada, host of the Global Centre for Pluralism, as a leader with respect for diversity, honoring the values of pluralism in its institutions, across the entire fabric of its culture. Canada's pluralist national identity is reflected in its approach to welcoming refugees and is fundamental to the relationship between Canada and His Highness the Aga Khan and of course, the Foundation. No society is perfect. Most, if not all, nations have forged their borders through war or conquer, leaving a set of historical injustices that really do challenge our identities. It is how these challenges are confronted that makes clear its values. 

Canada's efforts to address their own relationship with the indigenous First Nations people in a spirit of honesty and reconciliation, and difficult as that can be, is one example of this leadership. 

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the Aga Khan Development Network and the institutions, for its work on behalf of some of the poorest and most marginalised communities in the world. You combine a strong ethical foundation with respect for the environment and a commitment to supporting societies in which every citizen, every person, regardless of cultural, religious or ethnic differences, can reach his or her full potential, truly showing the strength in diversity

The approach to supporting all members of a community so that everyone is stronger as a result, exemplifies the words of His Highness the Aga Khan, who once said that pluralism is not simply an asset, or a prerequisite for development, but a vital necessity for our existence. And I agree wholeheartedly. You have been a consistent voice promoting pluralism, inclusion and respect for diversity over the decades. We need you now more than ever. So, if you were just thinking of retiring, no ...!

And I really do thank you for your commitment and look forward to working with you, the Foundation, the Global Centre for Pluralism, and for many of you that we already started with some very, very powerful partnerships who are in the room today and hope that we can broaden that base because there is never a time like now to try to make what seems incredibly impossible with the headwinds that we face. We need to face realities boldly with courage. We need to see the aspirations as doable because we have the means. And in the end we need to come together to close that gap and we need to continue to give hope to those many that today would be hopeless. It is possible, as Nelson Mandela said ""it becomes possible after you have addressed how impossible it is, you make it happen."" And I think we can make that happen. So thank you so much for giving me the honour to speak with you today. 

Thank you. 


""ما أود التحدث عنه اليوم يتمثل في الفجوة بين الكلمات والأفعال؛ بين المثل العليا للتعددية والسياسات والاستراتيجيات التي ستمكّننا من جني ثمارها في حياتنا اليومية"".

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Director of Academies, Salim Bhatia
Head of Academy, Dr Geoffrey Fisher
Distinguished guests
Good evening parents and Class of 2019

I am neither a celebrity nor a VIP, so I would like to start by listing my qualifications to give this talk. I grew up in south India when Indira Gandhi, Rahul’s grandmother, was in power. MGR, whose action films I loved as a boy, was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. I studied the miridungam.

I went to a residential school in India rather like yours. I was an ambitious young man and went to study literature in the United States. I then moved to Switzerland. Along the way, I worked in publishing, in marketing for the commercial sector and in communications for the Aga Khan Development Network. I published two books on the cultural history of Morocco. I had two sons. My first wife died. I suffered a heart attack. I remarried and added two more sons. I am almost 60 years old.

So this serendipitous but full life suggests I should have learned a variety of important things along the way and therefore have something to impart to you, as graduation speakers tend to do, something valuable – an approach to life that may speak to you.  

At this pivotal moment in your lives, I would like to impress upon you the importance of being ethical throughout your life. I have learned in my life that it is far better – for your own self and for society – to do the right thing, even when the right thing is hard to do.

Since many of you will now go on to higher education, I would like to start by talking about an experiment at Princeton Theological Seminary, in the United States, in the 1970s. The experiment is about the Good Samaritan story, which is about someone who is beaten up by thieves and left for dead. He is ignored by others, but then someone stops and tends to the beaten man. You might already know the story, as it has become a standard in many societies. There are laws that are, appropriately, named “Good Samaritan” laws…   But back to the Princeton story.

After telling everyone that they were to write an essay about the Good Samaritan, students in this particular class were told that they had to go over to the other side of the campus and present their essays. Some were told to hurry; others were told that there was plenty of time.

As they made their way across campus, a man who appeared to have been beaten up by thieves and possibly dying was placed in their path.  

The experiment was to see who would stop and help the man – who would be the proverbial “Good Samaritan”. The researchers found a correlation between the haste of the students and the percentage of people who helped the man. Students in a hurry did not stop often: Only 10% helped the man. 40% of the students who were not in a hurry helped the man.  

Perhaps most surprising is that 60% of the students who had time to help did not stop to do so.

The research begs the question: Is it more important to help another human being … or to help yourself?  I would argue that in the era that we now face, it is more important than ever to be the person who takes time for a stranger in need – the person who does the right thing. This is at the heart of being an ethical person.

So how exactly do we define what it means to be an ethical person?  My parents, a surgeon and a nurse, provided a quiet, humble example. The Golden Rule, which suggests that you  should treat others the way you would like to be treated, is another example. A guide that has attracted me is the ethical framework of the organisation I work for - the Aga Khan Development Network.

The first ethic contained within in it is Compassion. It says that the “poor, the deprived and those at the margin of existence have a moral right to society's compassion"". Think about that revolutionary principle: Poor people have a moral right to compassion. This principle applies to many places and things: Hospitals and schools, for example, as well as the conduct and work of government, of NGOs, of businesses.

The related conclusion is that compassion should be applied in ways that do not compromise a person’s dignity. We must respect a person’s dignity and avoid creating a culture of dependency by giving. I am reminded of Amartya Sen, who published “Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation” in 1981.

In studying the Bengal famine of 1943, during which 3 million people died, Sen felt that the famine did not occur only because there was a lack of food, but because of the inequalities of food distribution. It was a landmark contribution to the study of famine. It is important to note that after that famine, some people in the Indian government worked out these inequalities in distribution and saved many millions of lives in the process. There have been no GREAT famines like the Bengal famine in India since Independence.

Working out these solutions requires smart people – and I would count each one of you among that group. Be grateful for the intelligence that has got you to this point in life. Remember that being an ethical person includes taking care of your bright mind and your mental health. Many of you are going on to lives that will be important to all of us. Your brain is your gift to the world.

Your responsibility, as smart people, is also to be involved in the issues of the day. To do this effectively, you must have the leadership skills, the wisdom and the knowledge – not to mention a clear mind – to make the decisions that impact the lives of millions of people – in India, and around the world.

The Academy has been put here, I believe, for that purpose. Society is best served when it provides the space and the means for human beings to reach their fullest potential, regardless of their background. Education, and research, are the means by which individuals and societies reach that full potential. This school is therefore a means for you – and society at large – to reach both your – and its – full potential.

I should add that, in my experience, maximising everyone’s potential is best achieved in societies that welcome diversity – so we need to advocate for diversity. When we do not celebrate diversity, we are shutting out certain people who may contribute something vital to society. In the Upanishads, it says, “when he sees all creatures within his true Self, then jealousy, grief and hatred vanish.” In the Quran, it says that humankind has been created from a single soul, as male and female, communities and nations, so that people may know one another. The greatest commandment for Christians is to “love your neighbour as yourself”.   

A diverse and inclusive society also means one we can live in. Simply put, we should not ruin the planet. It is vital, now more than ever, to change our thinking about how our decisions impact the environment. I was pleased to run into kids from the junior school campaigning against the use of plastic.

If we want to save our home and leave your generation with a wholesome and sustainable social and physical environment, we need your help. Your solutions will help us get out of this mess. I am pleased to say that I met several students yesterday who I think can, and will.

And when we arrive in a position of power to do something – when we have the means to save our planet, or to have a positive impact on our world – it is our responsibility to not only act, but to be good trustees of resources that are meant for the benefit of others. We should be trustworthy and accountable.  

I think I have covered the ethical framework that guides our work.  

But back to the Good Samaritan story. People usually focus on the story, but they do not look into the person who helps. Did you know that Samaritans, who were once a fairly large group of people, were killed when they rebelled against the Byzantine Empire?   Conversion to Christianity and Islam reduced their numbers even more. By the 12th Century, their numbers had dwindled to less than 2000 worldwide.  

But their story of selflessness lives on. Think of the Good Samaritans of more modern times, like Ghandi, or Nelson Mandela. We are attracted to these people because they embody what it means to be ethical in life. They chose to do the right thing and made great sacrifices in the process …

They advanced the common good rather than in helping themselves. They did not choose what was easy; they chose what was right. It is that spirit, of giving generously of oneself, that will make our world a better place.

As His Highness the Aga Khan said over 40 years ago:

“We have all seen examples of God’s most wonderful creature, the person, whether in a government bureau, a business, or a private development agency, who is inspired to give generously of himself, to go beyond the mechanical requirements of a task. Such men and women, paid or unpaid, express the spirit of the volunteer, literally the will to make a product better, a school the best, a clinic more compassionate and effective. Their spirit, generating new ideas, resisting discouragement, and demanding results, animates the heart of every effective society.”

I think the messages in that quote are clear:

As I conclude these thoughts and congratulate you on your impressive achievements and bright futures, I thought I would connect you back to how I began this speech, which was a recitation of the ups and downs of my life. Most people will live lives that contain both good times and bad times. So I would like to leave you with a little Rumi, the great 13th century Persian poet. This is a poem I have sent to my own sons when they have faced challenges in life - when they did not get into a particular university, or failed at a job interview or were not getting along with their girlfriend – and I hope that it will inspire you, on both the good days and the bad, as you continue on your own path. It is called “The Guest House”:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(translation by Coleman Barks (The Essential Rumi))

Thank you.


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Distinguished Guests, families, colleagues and members of the Graduating Class of 2019,

This year, I have the privilege of congratulating our 159 graduates in Hyderabad and Mombasa, who will hopefully indulge me as I take advantage of this opportunity to share a few thoughts while they are still officially Academies’ students.

Before doing so though, I would like to recognise some of the very important people who have made this day possible for our graduates.

Clearly, that starts with His Highness the Aga Khan and his vision for this ambitious programme of an integrated network of Academies, launched just over fifteen years ago.

His Highness’ remarkable vision has enabled, and will continue to enable, meritorious students to access education of the highest international standard, regardless of their culture, religion, language or family’s financial circumstances.

I would like to recognise our Heads of Academy – Alison Hampshire in Mombasa for whom this is the first Academy graduation and Dr Geoff Fisher in Hyderabad for whom this is the fifth and last, as he goes on to pursue new adventures in the up-coming school year.

I would like to recognise our teachers, school leaders and support staff. Their work in our classrooms, on our playing fields, around the campus, in workshops and at meetings, all has one essential goal – to ensure that our Academies’ students receive the best education we can give you, including through the latest innovations in teaching and learning.

Beyond the Academy gates, we are grateful for the commitment our parents have made, not only to their own children’s minds and futures, but also to the betterment of the societies in which they live.

We also sincerely appreciate our alumni, our volunteers and other supporters here and across the globe whose generous gifts of time, knowledge and financial assistance for the Aga Khan Academies mean that we can realise His Highness’ vision to select and support talented students to attend our Academies, independent of their families’ means.

Please join me in thanking and applauding all of these people who have helped make today a reality for our 2019 graduates.

Today, at our Academy in Hyderabad or here in Mombasa, one of these 159 Academies’ graduates will be the one thousandth young person to receive an Aga Khan Academies’ diploma. I’m sure that you will agree that one thousand is a pretty impressive number, and one thousand graduates represents a significant achievement for our growing network.

Our culture recognises the value of one thousand as being more than simply a number change from three digits to four.

One thousand is considered a major milestone.

In time, we call it a ‘millennium’.

In money, we call it a ‘grand’.

In science, it even has its own prefix – ‘kilo’.

We say that a successful person is ‘batting a thousand’,

that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, and

that ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.

Of course, a favourite of both parents and teachers alike seems to be, “if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times...”

To be honest with you, I could have looked at our list of graduates in Hyderabad and in Mombasa, taken into account the precise timing of the graduation ceremonies, and figured out exactly which one of you is number one thousand.

However, I did not do that, because one thousand is not one of you, it’s all of you.

One thousand is not impressive because of the one that takes the number from 999 to one thousand but because of all of the individual ‘ones’ that built up to one thousand and the immensity it represents as a total quantity.

When thinking about our Academies’ graduates and this milestone in our development as a network, I couldn’t help but think of American author C.S. Lewis who first wrote the phrase a “thousand points of light”, which later re-emerged in popular culture in a speech by former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

In both instances, the “a thousand points of light” referred to the stars in the sky. A thousand points of light – it’s such a vivid image, and we can all picture in our minds the beauty of a starry night, with all those points of light, against the backdrop of the infinitely dark sky.

The more I thought about it though, and the more I thought about you, our graduates, the less I felt that those thousand points of light in a faraway night sky represented you.

While vivid and beautiful, when I stand here on the ground, the sky seems so far away. And when we study the sky in astronomy, we realise those points of light are even further away than we see with our eyes.

However, you, Academies’ graduates, are not far away. You are here.

Some of our previous graduates are also here with us today to celebrate this momentous occasion.

In all of you, I do not see far-off points of light but instead nearby beacons of hope.

You are not points of light that simply add beauty to the darkness but beacons of hope who possess a social conscience and lead by example.

You are beacons of hope who inspire, encourage and care.

Graduating in this Class of 2019, which includes the one thousandth Academies’ graduate, is especially exciting since the next big milestone like this will be 10,000 Academies’ alumni.

And, while that is closer than we think with Maputo and Dhaka soon graduating students, it still seems far away.

But, really, beyond being a big number, what does reaching one thousand Academies’ alumni really mean?

As His Highness the Aga Khan said at the 2013 inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad, “Our engagement in education has been a long, continuing story. It is a hopeful and exciting story, a story of expanding impact all around the world.”

If we look at one thousand Academies’ alumni with regards to expanding impact, this impressive number means that we visibly have a critical mass.

For those of you who have studied physics, you will recall that a critical mass is the minimum amount of material needed to maintain a nuclear chain reaction.

As you know, the business world has co-opted the phrase to refer to the minimum size required to maintain a venture.

For our network of Aga Khan Academies, a critical mass means that we now have enough alumni out in the world continuing in their tertiary studies or in employment, to diffuse and prove the concepts that first inspired His Highness the Aga Khan’s vision for our schools.

It means that you, our beacons of hope, are putting into practice what you have learned as members of the Aga Khan Academies about the values we hold dear, including pluralism, ethics and civic engagement.

Graduates, I conclude my remarks today by challenging you to take that social conscience that you have developed as an Academies’ student to wherever your path may take you.

Your parents, your teachers, your fellow classmates, as well as those who have come before you and those who will follow you – all of us, in fact – are counting on you.

You will shape the future of our society and world, and we all have great faith in your ability to rise to that challenge and make a positive impact on humanity.

You, members of the Class of 2019, give us hope. Congratulations to you all!

","speech_231741","","English" "Resilient Housing Challenge in Geneva, Switzerland","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/switzerland_phak_wrc4_130519_0004.jpg","Geneva, Switzerland","Wednesday, 15 May 2019","1557759600","Speech by Prince Hussain Aga Khan at the Resilient Housing Challenge in Geneva, Switzerland","","speech","Switzerland","","2010s","","","","9221","","","1","","1","","","","Habitat","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/switzerland_phak_wrc4_130519_0004.jpg","Aga Khan Agency for Habitat","","Habitat","

Friends and colleagues from the United Nations,
The World Bank,
and various other international organisations and NGOs,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here today and see the fantastic results of the Resilient Home Challenge.

At the Aga Khan Development Network we have worked for decades to respond to innumerable earthquakes, avalanches, floods, and landslides. The countries that fall in the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s remit have suffered 847 major disasters over the last 28 years, accounting for over 243,000 lives lost. As all of us know, these disasters often cause families to lose their most valuable asset: their home. Time and again we have worked to put people in tents in the response phase, then in shelters, to keep them warm and safe during winter. Each time we found that it was very difficult to find affordable and practical solutions to the logical next step: to put them in new homes so that they could resume their normal life.

As we all know, natural disasters are increasing in both frequency and severity because of climate change. They have become more devastating than in the past. Both in mountainous and coastal areas, effects are especially strong. While the coastal impact is well known, and gets lots of publicity, as was the case with Cyclone Fani just ten days ago, the same is not true of mountainous areas. Yet, the same hill a villager might have heard from his grandfather was the site of  a devastating avalanche or flood in the past, now seems to cause trouble every few years. And glaciers that were there forever, now pose immediate threats of glacial lake outburst floods that wipe away people’s homes and livelihoods. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat was created specifically to find ways to deal with these increasing threats. Its mission is to find innovative ways to address the threat of natural disaster and work to make communities resilient, building on the decades of experience of various AKDN agencies.

It was therefore an easy decision for us to partner with the World Bank and others in support of the Resilient Home Challenge. Creating contextual, affordable and easy-to-build home designs is one of many important steps toward a more effective approach to disaster preparedness, response and reconstruction.

I want to thank in particular my friend Saurabh Dani, who started the Challenge, as well as all those who contributed innovative designs, including those we can see here today. I also want to assure all of you that the AKDN, and in particular the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat is keen to develop future partnerships to help us meet the challenge of keeping communities resilient and as safe as possible from natural disasters.

Thank you very much.


""لذلك كان قراراً سهلاً بالنسبة لنا أن نتشارك مع البنك الدولي ومع آخرين لدعم التحدي في إنشاء منزل يتسم بالمرونة. يُعتبر إنشاء تصميمات منزلية ملائمة من حيث السعر، وسهلة البناء من الخطوات العديدة الهامة نحو اتباع نهج أكثر فاعلية في الاستعداد للكوارث والاستجابة لها وإعادة الإعمار"".

","English" "His Highness the Aga Khan conferred with the Keys to the City of Porto","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/_dsf7645.jpg","Porto, Portugal","Thursday, 2 May 2019","1556832600","Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan upon receiving the Keys to the City of Porto","","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","Portugal","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/_dsf7645.jpg","","","","

Your Worship the Mayor,
Honourable Guests,

I would like to begin my comments this afternoon by saying how touched I am by the recognition that you have given to me this afternoon.

In my work I look at peoples from all environments — cities, rural urban areas, deserts, industrialised areas — and I look at how people live, and I ask myself, “How can we improve the living conditions of people in all these environments?”

And we learn, all the time, from all our contacts in all the cities we work with, and Portugal has set an example of a pluralist society, which is remarkable, which should be honoured, which should be recognised, which should be copied. So I want to take this occasion to congratulate you for creating a functioning, happy, pluralist society.

The world over — Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America — there is not a geography in our world which would not benefit from learning from the Portuguese experience. It is a historical experience, it is not a new experience. It is something which Portugal has defended over the years in different parts of the world, establishing healthy premises for civil society and I want, on behalf of all of us who live in the developing world, to express to you our gratitude and our recognition for the exemplar leadership which you have been giving for decades here in Western Europe, but also in many other parts of the world.

We have inherited, in many parts of the world, from your leadership, and I am thinking in particular of a country where my community and I have done a lot of work and that is Mozambique. And the foundations that you have laid in Mozambique — the importance of discussion, of talking, of sharing thoughts, of discussing issues — is exemplar. So, I am happy to recognise that this afternoon, and thank you for setting that wonderful global example.

I also want to thank you for the keys of this magnificent city. This is an old, historic tradition that has existed in many countries in many parts of the world, but I am going to use these keys to open as many doors as possible. Doors to happiness, doors to peace, doors to unity, doors to human progress. So I thank you, and I treasure those keys very much indeed. And I will not make copies of them.


""إننا نتعلم طوال الوقت من تواصلنا مع كافة المدن التي نعمل معها، وقد قدمت البرتغال أنموذجاً عن المجتمع التعددي، وهو أمر رائع، يجب احترامه، والاعتراف به، كما علينا تعميمه كتجربة ناجحة. لذلك أود أن أغتنم هذه المناسبة لأهنئكم على ما قمتم به في سبيل خلق مجتمع فعال وسعيد وتعددي"".

","English" "Presentation of the Keys to the City of Porto to His Highness the Aga Khan","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/_dsc5702.jpg","Porto, Portugal","Thursday, 2 May 2019","1556832600","Address by Mayor of Porto Mr Rui Moreira upon presenting His Highness the Aga Khan with the Keys to the City of Porto","","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","230811","","","1","","1","","","","Portugal","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/_dsc5702.jpg","","","","

Your Highness, the Prince Aga Khan,
Prince Amyn Aga Khan,
President of the Porto Municipal Assembly,
Councillors, other elected representatives,
Commander Nazim Ahmad, Diplomatic Representative of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal,
All other members of the delegation of His Highness the Aga Khan,
Members of the Parliament of the Consular Corps, civil, military, and the religious authorities,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Your Highness, your presence today in the Porto city is, for us, a moment of joy, not only for us who are here gathered together, but for the city.

Of course it is a very meaningful, meaningful visit on the special occasion of the gift to the Soares dos Reis Museum of the painting, the presentation of the Virgin Mary, which we just witnessed, and we applaud, and we thank the Prince as well.

But obviously it’s much more than that. It is, for us, a moment of joy because we all respect very much what you have been doing for the world, for peace, for understanding, for tolerance. We believe, in this city, that tolerance is the key factor for the future. It is through tolerance that we will be able to live in a better planet, if at the same time we are able to look after it.

But all this is only possible through mutual understanding, we can’t do it by force. Trying to figure, force is certainly not the solution. The solution is through culture because it is through culture that we understand each other. Culture is undoubtedly the cement that unites people, that makes people — different people with different political views, with different religions, with different understanding — melt together. Culture is the ultimate cement that will bring us a better future, that will give us the possibility to look ahead and to leave something for our children and grandchildren of which we can be proud.

Your Highness, for generations we have appreciated your contribution, not only to Portugal, but also to Europe, to the world, because you have believed in the construction of a better society. That’s ultimately such an important goal that your presence here today is, for us, an extraordinary moment. It is clear that the gesture that you made today to the city is an opening for new channels of dialogue between us and we believe this will also help a lot of people understand that traditions and cultures are something that will develop the world. It is not a coincidence certainly that the painting we have just seen — it is in fact a religious painting — but it should be seen exactly as a sign of tolerance, as a sign of understanding, as a sign of the values that you have honoured so much during your life.

I must also leave a note to Prince Amyn Aga Khan because we know how much you have done for culture, how much you enjoy culture, how much you have cherished culture, and this is for us also a great moment to have you here. I’m announcing today that I will propose to the council of the City of Porto that in July, we will invite you to receive the Medal of Honour of the city for your extraordinary contribution to heritage in Europe, in the world, and because you’re a person of the arts and this is a city which values very much this heritage.

But today of course is a special day, we have here with us His Highness the Aga Khan and we have decided to award you the Keys of the City. This is a city that never surrenders. We are the invictus. So we are not surrendering the city to you, but we are honouring you with the city keys, which means, traditionally, that from today you are one of us, you are a citizen of Porto, so I hope that you will accept this gift of the city.

Thank you very much.


""سمو الآغا خان، إننا نقدّر على مر الأجيال مساهماتك، ليس فقط للبرتغال، ولكن لأوروبا والعالم أيضاً، لأنك آمنت ببناء مجتمع أفضل، وهذا يشكل هدفاً مهماً في النهاية، فوجودك هنا اليوم يمثّل لحظة غير عادية بالنسبة لنا.""

","English" "Dinner for the AKU Board of Trustees and their Portuguese partners","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-portugal-0413_aku_lisbon_hotel_da_lapa_js-1202_r.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Tuesday, 16 April 2019","1555173000","Keynote address by Mr Carlos Moedas at a dinner for the AKU Board of Trustees and their Portuguese partners","","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","230331","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTjlScK2v3k","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-portugal-0413_aku_lisbon_hotel_da_lapa_js-1202_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education","

Your Highness the Aga Khan, thank you very much
Princess Zahra Aga Khan
My dear friend, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Paulo Portas
Chairman Haile Debas
President Firoz Rasul, thank you for your introduction
My dear friend, Ambassador Nazim Ahmad, always a great friend for a long time and a great man
Honourable Trustees of the Aga Khan University
Dear Friends

Thank you so much for inviting me tonight. I have, let me tell you, a huge admiration, a huge admiration for your community, Your Highness, and for your leadership.

And I remember the conversations at the time when I was in the government with Nazim Ahmad and so many of your community, and there were two reasons I thought today, before coming here, why I respect so much your leadership. The first is that as a supra-national leader you have always been a bridge builder - I mean literally, you have built bridges - but you have really been one of these men that has built bridges to connect us all and we need that today. And as a religious leader, I think that you have also something that always inspired me, which is this link that you always make in between spirituality and the problems of today. Spirituality, and solving the problems that we have from climate change to inequality. And that’s extremely inspiring, and that’s why I thought about science as being the major tool that we have to solve those problems. To actually make it happen.

And you love science, I even heard that you were accepted to the MIT at some point in your life and you decided to go to Harvard, which I did too, the same mistake!

So tonight, I wanted to talk about what you asked me to, which is a little bit this link in between science and education. And impact of the policies that we have at the European level with science and what’s the impact on education.

And one day, in one of your speeches, you talked about your idea of education and you said that “Education is about equipping each generation to participate effectively,” you said, in what you called the “great conversation of our times.”

And so the question is that, what is that great conversation of our times? And the great conversation of our times is actually quite simple, it’s how do you face these problems that we have in the world, that are global, that are supra-national, in a world that is more and more fragmented?

And that discussion today, which seems to be discussing about multilateralism or discussing politics, is actually not about politics, it’s about education. And about education in a world that has changed so much but the educational systems didn’t change.

And you look at the world that we were born, a world where everything was basically streamlined.  Everything was about geography, about disciplines, about borders. And the world today is about intersections. And I think that that’s where education should be. And that’s where we haven’t really made the case and the discussion about these intersections.

And I thought that I would tell you about what those intersections, in my view, are, and the importance of those intersections.

First, I think we have this intersection in between disciplines and geographies.

And science is a great example of that because science was ahead of the curve. If you look at the new breakthroughs, they are all at the intersection. At the intersection of disciplines, at the intersection of countries, or religions.

Last week I had one of my best days of the European Commission. We had this amazing opportunity of announcing the first picture of a black hole. Imagine, I was there with the scientists announcing the first picture of something that we were never able to have a picture of: a black hole. And I thought about that, that day, because we had 6 press conferences all over the world at the same time. We were in Brussels, Francis Cordoba was in Washington, there was in the team more than 200 scientists and those scientists were from 40 different nationalities, from different countries, different religions, all working. But all working for what? To prove what one man, one man alone imagined 100 years ago. Einstein, alone, in 1915, he writes four papers, and he changes the world.

So if you really change and you want to change education, we need to change that, we need to change the way we teach. And we need to change the way we teach because we have to teach better the core of the disciplines so we have people at ease, navigating at the intersections. Every time I go to the Nobel Prize, I always see that. This year again, we had Frances Arnold. She is the fifth woman to get the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. She started studying Russian literature, then she was a mechanical engineer. By the age of 30, she kind of liked chemistry and she started, and she ended up bringing biology to chemistry. She basically uses evolution to transform plants into fuels for airplanes. I think this is an amazing story and shows how we are not dealing with today in most of the European countries and I think also in a lot of other parts of the world, these intersections. We don’t know yet how to deal with it, we had the first experience in Finland about teaching young students in secondary school, not just disciplines but also to look at events from different angles, like the Second World War. How do you look at it in terms of sociology, or in terms of anthropology, or mathematics? And so you really have to go in that direction.

The second intersection that I wanted to tell you about today is this intersection that I call the dream and the detail. You have to dream but then you have to focus your mind on the detail. I really came up with this idea from a good friend of mine who is the founder of SAP Jim Snabe, who wrote a book about it, about this other intersection. Because if you want to be very, very, very good at the intersections, you have to be very, very good at the core of the discipline. And to do that, you really have to focus your mind. If you want to have creative moments, you have to focus your mind every day.

And there’s a story that I thought about telling you that I love so much that is one of my preferred books. Walter Isaacson writes about Steve Jobs and he tells a very interesting story. When Steve Jobs was very young his father asked him to paint and fix the fence around the house. And Steve Jobs went there and he painted and fixed the whole thing and then he came and the father said look but there’s a part of the fence that you didn’t fix, you didn’t paint. And he said “No because that part is hidden behind that tree so nobody will ever see that.” And the father said, “Yes, nobody will see it. But you will know about it.” And years later, when he was launching the Macintosh, remember the Macintosh was like a big box, and he went there and he saw that the chip boards and the wires were all messed up. And so he looked at the engineers and he said “No, you can’t have this. Everything is messy.” And the engineers said, “Look, but, we don’t need to fix it because nobody will ever see it.” And he said: “But you will know about it.'' So he got the shipment stopped for 6 weeks, it was a lot of money, but then everybody was clean to the detail inside of that box.

The point is that if you don’t focus on the detail, there’s no creativity. Writers, every day they work and they write even if they don’t want to write, one thousand, two thousand words every morning. And I think that we lost that also in education because the dream is the inspiration, but the detail is really what you have to do every day, to make the dream happen. And we live in a world of technology where you tell your children that everything is very easy and you look at the screen but know you have the detail to get the detail right.

The third intersection that I wanted to tell you about, which has been one of my passions in the last five years, is about the intersection of the physical and the digital worlds. Because I think that today we have very good engineers that are very good at the physical side of engineering, then we have very good people in IT, that are very good at the digital, but nobody is good at the intersection.

And one of the stories that inspired me in these five years was two years ago I met a great woman, a great professor at the Aga Khan University called Marleen Temmerman. She’s an amazing woman. And we were giving this prize related to childbirth, maternity, that we do every year at the Commission, and there was a story that came out there with Marleen that I wanted to share with you. It was about a young man, Joshua Okello, he was born in Uganda and he has inspired your University also.

Joshua was a medical student and he soon realised a shocking reality: every minute, every minute, a mother dies from pregnancy or childbirth related complications and 99% of those who die are in sub-Saharan Africa. And so he said I have to do something about this. He was in medical school and he decided to help midwives. He went into the rural areas and he basically got to “What is the main instrument of the midwife in rural Africa?” And it’s something called a Pinard Horn. It’s a 19th century instrument. Imagine a hollow cone where you just put that on the abdomen of the pregnant woman and you just try to listen to the baby. But, you know, that takes a lot of training, so the very good midwives were quite good at it, they did it very well, but you need years of experience, I mean if you just try to hear, you don’t hear anything.

So, he said I’m going to drop out of medical school and he did it and his idea was simple, it was to connect the Pinard horn to a smartphone, and by doing that, he basically got untrained workers to put the Pinard horn with the telephone, the data will go to a cloud, and then to any doctor in any good hospital in the capital of the country. And I think that this is an amazing story because it shows that a young man felt that he was not being trained as a doctor on the parts that could help people, which is this intersection of the digital. I know that your University has been inspired by that because I read that you are developing a portable ultra-sound and it’s something I’d be very interested to talk with you about in the future.

This great example of Joshua, I think that is an example that you have to think as a university, what do you want to train people for? Is it for a profession that probably in 20 years will not exist?

I was at Carnegie Mellon and my friend Subra Suresh was telling me, “We’re changing everything. If you like music and physics, come to us, we’ll do you a degree in music and physics. If you like IT and medicine, you also do the same.”

So, this idea that universities are preparing you for a profession: Yes, but you have to have the freedom to build also around that in those intersections.

So I think that, Your Highness, ladies and gentlemen,

The great conversation of our time is exactly here. How, in a globalised world, with all this, can we retain somehow our humanity? And you ask questions about what you think your children will be, about what you’re going to teach and educate them, but the big question is how do you create purpose for them?

And I think that the answer to the question of purpose lies exactly in these intersections, because these intersections are what make us human. Because machines will do most of the rest. Machines can have all the numbers and we can digitise everything, but we will not be able to digitise at least to the point of singularity in the future, in our lives, these intersections. And I think that if we think about these intersections as a way of getting us to the future as better human beings that are complementary to machines and not something that machines will just replace you, then you have a vision.

And that’s the vision that we have put forward in Europe about this AI for humanity. Where AI helps you to be more humane and a better person. And I think that the challenge is that, in the future.

One of the speeches, Your Highness, and I would like to end with, is that your inspiration as a person, as a man, as a religious leader, in education says it all. I was reading something that you said and actually is what I think. You said: “The deficit of knowledge is in many areas which are not being offered in education […]. Because what have been inherited are curricula of the past, reflections of the past, attitudes of the past, rather than looking forward, asking what do future generations need to know.”

Thank you very much Your Highness for your inspiration and thank you very much to all of you here tonight.


""المحادثة الرائعة لعصرنا هي في الواقع بسيطة للغاية، وتتمثل في كيفية مواجهة هذه المشاكل التي لدينا في العالم، والتي هي عالمية تتجاوز المستوى الوطني، في عالم يزداد تجزيئاً أكثر فأكثر؟""

","English" "Dinner to mark the AKU Board of Trustees meeting in Lisbon","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-portugal-0413_aku_lisbon_hotel_da_lapa_js-1053_r.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Tuesday, 16 April 2019","1555170300","Address by Mr. Firoz Rasul at a dinner to mark the AKU Board of Trustees meeting in Lisbon","Education and knowledge society","speech","Pakistan,Portugal","","2010s","","","","8941","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKkI65SA5A0","","1","","1","","","","Portugal","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-portugal-0413_aku_lisbon_hotel_da_lapa_js-1053_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","education","Education","

His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor of the Aga Khan University
Mr Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
Dr Haile Debas, Chairman pro tem of the Board of Trustees
Mr Nazim Ahmad, Diplomatic Representative of the Ismaili Imamat
Trustees and Distinguished Guests

Good evening

Thank you all very much for joining us tonight. It is truly an honour to have you join us this evening. Due to unavoidable circumstances, His Excellency Marcelo de Sousa conveyed his regrets for not being able to join us today.

We feel especially fortunate to have Commissioner Moedas with us this evening, and we are very much looking forward to his remarks. Thank you, Commissioner for taking the time to be with us this evening.

Tonight, I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on the values that unite all of us in this room.

But first, I realise some of you may not be well acquainted with the Aga Khan University – even those who are familiar with our Founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, or with the work of the Aga Khan Foundation in Portugal and Mozambique. So I will offer a very brief introduction to Aga Khan University or AKU as we call ourselves.

AKU was founded in 1983 as Pakistan’s first private university. Beginning in 2000, we expanded to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, followed by Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. We have awarded over 15,000 degrees and diplomas and two-thirds of our graduates are women. We treat over two million patients per year in our hospitals and many of those who live in poverty.

At the heart of our work is the conviction that an outstanding university, based in the developing world, can improve quality of life for countless people. But to do so, we believe it must do two things simultaneously: it must strive to achieve international standards of excellence, and must address the problems that confront the societies in which we operate.

So that is what we try to do. And there is evidence that we have been successful on both fronts. Our alumni can be found at the world’s best hospitals and universities, as well as in remote schools and clinics in Asia and Africa. The health research of our faculty is internationally renowned, and has helped us save thousands of lives in disadvantaged communities.

Our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan and the members of the Board of Trustees set the strategic direction and guide the University to realise the ambitious vision set out by our Founder. We are extremely fortunate to have such distinguished board members. It includes seven university presidents, chancellors, rectors and deans; five chairmen and CEOs; and one chief justice. Together they represent 10 countries on four continents. Their wisdom provides us with an assurance of our success. The board meets three to four times a year, and this is the first time we have had the pleasure of convening in Lisbon. Our agenda at this meeting covers everything from AKU’s plans to develop into a liberal arts university to the application of data science and artificial intelligence to health care and the humanities.

But to return to my theme – ultimately, what brings us all together in this room, tonight, is the values that we share.

We all value pluralism. We see humanity’s diversity not as a threat but as an opportunity for learning, exchange and growth. We share the sense that every culture contributes something essential to humanity’s self-understanding – a sense that the great writer Miguel Torga captured as well as anyone when he wrote and I quote: “The universal is the local without walls.”

The welcome this country has shown to the Ismailis who left Mozambique in the 1970s is one unforgettable example of this spirit of pluralism. So is the government’s gracious invitation to establish the seat of the Ismaili Imamat here. I know that Portuguese hospitality left a lasting impression to over 40,000 Ismailis who celebrated His Highness’s Diamond Jubilee here in July last year. And two weeks ago, we saw the cosmopolitan ethic in action again at the Aga Khan Music Awards again here in Lisbon.

And we value this partnership. The Aga Khan University, the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamat are proud to have as our partners the Portuguese Republic; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education; the Ministry of Health, the Catholic University of Portugal; Nova University of Lisbon; and in the future, through our discussions, the Gulbenkian Foundation and Champalimaud Foundation.

I am pleased to say that many of these partnerships are beginning to bear fruit.

AKU and Catholica are working together to create an online database of 37,000 documents held at the Overseas Historical Archive in Lisbon – documents that cover Portuguese activity in the Indian Ocean region from the 16th to the 19th century. It is an exciting project that will enable scholars worldwide to deepen our understanding of centuries of cross-cultural interaction and the contribution that Portugal has made to the world.

In June, the Aga Khan University and NOVA will co-host an international symposium on the ethics of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. This is a high priority area for AKU, which has established one of the few centres in the developing world devoted to pursuing cutting edge research in stem cell sciences.

And meanwhile, the Knowledge for Development Initiative between the AKDN and the Portuguese Science Foundation has made possible numerous promising research projects in Portuguese-speaking Africa. The goals of these projects range from developing crops that can cope with climate change to understanding rising levels of drug-resistant HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

As His Highness the Aga Khan said in his speech to the Parliament of Portugal last year, all of this is evidence of the advancing momentum in the relationship between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat.

Last, but perhaps most importantly, like the legendary Portuguese explorers of the Age of Discovery, we are all participants in the greatest and most exciting human quest: the quest for knowledge.

In the 10th century, that quest led our Chancellor’s ancestors to found Al-Azhar University in Cairo. A thousand years later, it led to the establishment of the institutions represented here, including the youngest of them, the Champalimaud Foundation. And tonight, it has brought each of us to this room from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.

With values such as these in common, I am certain that we can help to increase understanding; reduce prejudice, poverty and disease; and expand access to opportunity. Let us all set sail together, and chart a course towards the better world we all wish to see.

Thank you very much.


يتمثل جوهر عملنا في الاقتناع بأن الجامعة المتميزة، التي يقع مقرها في العالم النامي، يمكنها أن تساهم في تحسين نوعية الحياة لعدد لا يحصى من الناس. ولكن للقيام بذلك، نعتقد أنه يتوجب علينا القيام بشيئين في وقت واحد: يجب أن نسعى جاهدين لتحقيق معايير التميّز الدولية، إضافةً إلى معالجة المشاكل التي تواجه المجتمعات التي نعمل فيها.

","English" "Aga Khan Music Awards prize-giving ceremony at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_music_initiative/aga_khan_music_awards/akma-lisbon-ceremony-ah-22561.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Sunday, 31 March 2019","1554068700","Remarks by President of the Republic, Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, at the AKMA prize-giving ceremony","","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","229446","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ByIwK7gs8","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_music_initiative/aga_khan_music_awards/akma-lisbon-ceremony-ah-22561.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","AKMA,Aga Khan Music Awards","Culture","

Your Highness, and a very dear host of this weekend – unforgettable weekend,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is so dangerous having to improvise after your speech that no President of the Republic is ready to do it. But anyway, I will say four short points.

The first one is to congratulate very warmly for this prize. It is a way of building bridges, of globalising in a very human way. Putting people together. A little bit what we Portuguese people think some way of being. A platform between cultures, civilisations, oceans and continents.

In a way, this prize is a start of a long journey together. You and us, thinking of peace in the world, multilateralism, dialogue, a common fight against intolerance, and for people -  and music is a good way of doing this.

Second, a word to salute the winners- they deserve this word because they are the best.

Third, to recall something that is very especially in our thoughts today, yours and our thoughts, which is Mozambique. The sorrow and solidarity towards the country and the society, most of us know very well. A love, and so, we are with them in this very difficult moment of their lives.

Fourth, Your Highness I think I can’t resist announcing, if you allow me, that His Highness is for several weeks, a Portuguese citizen. It is an honour and a pleasure for us. I am very proud of having you as a Portuguese citizen, together, with being as you are, a citizen of the world.


""تعتبر هذه الجائزة على نحو ما بداية لرحلة طويلة معاً. إننا جميعاً هنا نفكر بالسلام في العالم، وبالتعددية والحوار، والكفاح المشترك ضد التعصب، ومن أجل الناس، والموسيقى تعتبر أفضل وسيلة للقيام بذلك"".

","English" "Aga Khan Music Awards prize-giving ceremony at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_music_initiative/aga_khan_music_awards/akma-lisbon-ceremony-ah-22552.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Sunday, 31 March 2019","1554066000","Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Aga Khan Music Awards prize-giving ceremony at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation","","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","6926","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTkjuqIbcTs","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_music_initiative/aga_khan_music_awards/akma-lisbon-ceremony-ah-22552.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","AKMA,Aga Khan Music Awards","Culture,Music","


Your Excellency, President of the Republic, Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa,
Your Excellency, Vice-President of the Parliament, Mr. Jorge Lacão,
Madame Isabel Mota, President of the Gulbenkian Foundation,
Members of Government and of Parliament,
Diplomats, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure, and a great honour, to welcome all of you who have come to this exceptional venue tonight, on this extraordinary occasion.

As I welcome you, I do so on behalf of many others, all around the world, who have made this occasion possible.

I speak of course of those who are part of the Ismaili Jamat and the Aga Khan Development Network, but, more generally, all those who have helped to organise the Aga Khan Music Awards.  I salute them all - the nominators, the members of the Awards Steering Committee, the Master Jury, and the Awards Secretariat.  And of course, all the participants. I salute all the Awardees whose musical talents have so generously enriched today’s events. 

I am grateful, too, to those here in Lisbon who have helped to plan this inaugural programme, and to the Gulbenkian Foundation for their invaluable support.  This event is one that celebrates artistic talent and the sociological effects of artistic accomplishment in and from diverse places and cultures.  And this place, in my estimation, is the perfect location for doing that.  The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is respected across the world for its role in honouring the arts and the sciences, while Lisbon has long been one of the world’s most welcoming cities for people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, and Portugal itself has played a major role over the centuries in bringing to the countries of this continent the cultures of distant lands.  

The presence here tonight of the President of Portugal, the Vice-President of Parliament, the Minister of Culture, and so many other members of Government, speaks eloquently to the commitment of this country to pluralistic ideals in pursuit of a better tomorrow. We are deeply honoured to have you all with us. 

The musicians we recognise this weekend represent highly diverse forms of the Muslim musical heritage.  Now I know that in some parts of the world, the words “Muslim” and “music” are not often linked together in the public mind.  But they should be.  The cultural heritage of Islam has long embraced musical language as an elemental expression of human spirituality.  Listening to music, practicing music, sharing music, performing music - have long been an intimate part of life for Muslim communities across the world, as has been the chanting of devotional and historical or epic texts.

I learned at a young age about how my own ancestors, the Fatimids, cultivated music in the city of Cairo a thousand years ago.  And I also learned about how the Iberian region where we are now meeting, the territory known as al-Andalus, produced new forms of music and poetry in the late medieval period.  It was here in al-Andulus that Muslims, Jews, Christians, created together an exemplary culture of tolerance, fostering musical creativity that even included new types of musical instruments and pioneering approaches to music education. 

I also remember a visit I made to Tajikistan in 1995, during which I was deeply impressed by the richness of musical life among those whom I had visited.  I began to think even more about the ways in which music can be a strong cultural anchor, deepening a sense of community, identity and heritage, while simultaneously reaching out in powerful ways to people of different backgrounds.

I recall sharing these thoughts with my brother, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, whose guiding hand helped to lay the groundwork, in 2001, for what we called the Aga Khan Music Initiative.  And that programme has led directly to the Music Awards we inaugurate today. 

The initial focus of the Aga Khan Music Initiative was in the countries of Central Asia.  This mission was urgent, for the old Soviet Union, when it controlled these regions, had actively discouraged, or even suppressed, music linked to traditional ways of life.  The Music Initiative worked first to build a heightened awareness of their musical heritage in local communities themselves, to ensure that a new generation of musicians playing traditional instruments was formed, and then to introduce this music and these musicians to international audiences.  And it worked - on two levels.  It helped musicians, first of all, to earn a livelihood so that they could continue to develop their talents.  And, it also advanced a pluralistic understanding of Muslim cultures and inter-cultural sharing.

The initial success of this work in Central Asia led to the expansion of the Music Initiative beyond Central Asia’s borders to include countries in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.  In so doing, it reached beyond performance to new composition, to creation, and all of this work complemented our other efforts to advance economic and social development, contributing to more stable communities, nurturing a new sense of inspiration and hope, and building vectors of human connectivity across old divides.

One other point we learned to appreciate and to share is the remarkable diversity which exists within the world of Muslim music!  It comes in many styles, forms and classical repertoires.  It includes simple folk melodies, contemplative mystical music and driving dance rhythms; and it reflects the immense diversity of different Muslim cultures themselves, including musical traditions that have been carefully cultivated over the centuries within the Ismaili community.  

In creating the Music Awards, we now hope to expand the reach and impact of the original Music Initiative.  To this end, our Award winners will not only each receive a monetary prize, but will also be asked to collaborate with the Music Awards secretariat in broadening the impact of their creative work in dialoguing with each other.  The goal is not only to help today’s generation of artists, but also to inspire a new generation of young performers and composers in both the East and the West.    

In all of the performances that are taking place on this occasion, you will hear outstanding musicians expressing themselves in their own authentic artistic languages.  Here in Lisbon today - and across the world in the months and years to come - their voices will, we trust, continue to transcend old boundaries of time and place, reminding the world that every individual can respond to art and music, whether it emanates from a different culture or not. 

For, after all, art is a matter of humanity just as much as it is a matter of identity.  As the Islamic tradition has reminded us for many centuries, the Divine spark that bestows upon us our individuality also bonds individuals in a common human family. 

In this light, we learn to see our differences in a new way.  We can understand that cultural diversity is not a burden or a threat.  In fact, it is rather a Divine Gift, an opportunity to learn and to grow, an opportunity to understand and to appreciate the Identity of the Other and thereby one’s own essential identity.

The technological forces that are re-shaping our world now mean that neighbours who live on the other side of the planet are as close to us as our neighbours who live across the street.  In such a world, peace and progress require that we promote a pluralist agenda, that we invest in a Cosmopolitan ethic.  These Music Awards aim to be an investment in that promotion.

Thank you.


""إن القوى التكنولوجية التي تعيد تشكيل عالمنا تعني الآن أن الجيران الذين يعيشون على الجانب الآخر من الكوكب قريبون منا مثل جيراننا الذين يعيشون في الشارع. في مثل هذا العالم، يتطلب منا السلام والتقدم أن نعزز أجندة تعددية، وأن نستثمر في أخلاقيات عالمية. تهدف جوائز الموسيقى هذه إلى أن تكون استثماراً وترويجاً في هذا المجال.""

","English" "Inaugural event of the Aga Khan Music Awards","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/akbar_hakim-29906.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Saturday, 30 March 2019","1553891400","Remarks by Dr Isabel Mota, President of the Gulbenkian Foundation","Culture","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","229491","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","AKMA,Aga Khan Music Awards","Culture,Music","

Your Highness Karim Aga Khan,
Members of the Aga Khan Family,
Mr President of the Administrative Supreme Court,
Distinguished Members of the Government,
Doutor Jorge Sampaio (former President of the Portuguese Republic),
Dr Francisco Balsemão (former Prime Minister),
Distinguished guests,
Dear Colleague Teresa Gouveia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Board of Calouste Gulbenkian it’s my privilege to welcome Your Highness Karim Aga Khan and Family. 

Let me begin by stating the  great honour for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to co-host the first edition of the Aga Khan Music Awards, an initiative which I believe will be of paramount importance for the recognition of tradition-inspired contemporary music in cultures shaped by Islam but also for the intercultural dialogue. 

This is a time of great pressure. Once again in the history of humanity, we see religious and cultural identities being manipulated in order to foment violence and intolerance towards others and their cultural heritage. We need a world in which different identities and cultures are respected and where we can share an idea of common good.

The Aga Khan Development Network, through the Aga Khan Foundation in Portugal, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation have been strategic partners for decades, in different domains, especially in the social arena, but also in the arts and its ability to foster more inclusive and tolerant societies. 

Our institutions share a common agenda and common values. 

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is therefore thrilled to be a sponsor of such a relevant initiative, especially on the occasion of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of our Founder, himself an offspring of different cultures. Calouste Gulbenkian was an Armenian born in Istanbul, educated in France and in London, who became a British citizen and ended his lifetime in Portugal. Calouste Gulbenkian’s long path, from his childhood in Istanbul to the latter days of his life in Lisbon, shaped his personality and influenced the Foundation that he decided to create in Portugal as a Portuguese institution. Calouste Gulbenkian was a perfect example of the synthesis of the eastern culture of his birth and origins, and the western culture in which he was educated and lived. Naturally, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s activities reflect these characteristics of the Founder’s personality and aim to support efforts that foster the universal values of the human condition, the respect for diversity and difference and a culture of tolerance.

To finish, let me say a special word to my Colleague Teresa Gouveia and her team headed by Risto Nieminen, for their vision and commitment in making “Music Gulbenkian” a reason for all of us to be proud of.

Music is a language of tolerance and I am sure that these three days will be a demonstration of tolerance as well as artistic brilliance, as our friend Prince Amyn will explain in a few moments.

I wish you all an unforgettable evening. Prince Amyn, the floor is yours. Thank you.


""يسود في هذه اللحظات التوتر، إننا نشهد مرة أخرى في تاريخ البشرية كيف يتم التلاعب بالهويات الدينية والثقافية من أجل إثارة العنف والتعصب تجاه الآخرين ونحو تراثهم الثقافي. إننا بحاجة إلى عالم تحظى فيه الهويات والثقافات المختلفة بالإحترام، إضافةً إلى ضرورة مشاركة الأفكار التي تهم الصالح العام"".

","English" "Inaugural event of the Aga Khan Music Awards","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/akbar_hakim-29929.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Saturday, 30 March 2019","1553889600","Remarks by Prince Amyn Aga Khan at the Inaugural event of the Aga Khan Music Awards","Culture","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","7146","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/akbar_hakim-29929.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","AKMA,Aga Khan Music Awards","Culture,Music","

Madame President of the Gulbenkian Foundation, Ms. Isabel Mota,
Honourable members of the Government, of Parliament, State Authorities, and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This evening’s concert celebrates the inauguration of the Aga Khan Music Awards, established by my brother, His Highness the Aga Khan, to recognise exceptional creativity, promise, and enterprise in music performance, creation, education, preservation and revitalisation and in engendering social inclusion in societies across the world in which Muslims have a significant presence. Portugal is a shining example of a pluralistic society united while remaining conscious of its diversity, historical past and culture, and it is thus fitting that the first Awards and this first ceremony along with the related concerts and events should take place here. I am grateful indeed to the Government of Portugal for its support and to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for providing us their superb facilities for what I think is an exceptional occasion.

This happy event is particularly meaningful to me personally, as it represents the actualisation of an idea that I first broached to my brother almost two decades ago, when the Aga Khan Trust for Culture was taking its first steps toward the inclusion of music revitalisation in its cultural development portfolio. My idea was to establish a music prize that would aspire toward a level of worldwide visibility and impact in its field analogous to that of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.  Music has always been an art of special importance to me:  Its power of communication is special, enormous and universal; it binds people together and unites them.  

There is an old Sufi aphorism: “If you want to go north, go south.” And that more or less describes the circuitous path that has now led, finally, to the implementation of the Music Awards. It was back in 2001 that my brother launched in Central Asia the Aga Khan Music Initiative, as it was then called, with the aim of helping to preserve and revitalise traditional folk, classical and devotional music in the region. These preservation efforts were very much needed, for many of them had suffered neglect, or active suppression during the Soviet era.

As its first project, the Music Initiative created a network of music schools and centres in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, each supported by a workshop to fabricate high-quality musical instruments for students. In some cases, instruments that had survived only on old recordings or as museum objects had to be reconstructed and reintroduced into practice. In other cases, local musical instruments that had come to be regarded as old-fashioned and undesirable were rehabilitated and repopularised through the teaching and mentoring activities of outstanding master musicians. Little by little, the young musicians who spent their after-school hours learning to play these instruments in the Music Initiative’s schools and centres found themselves in demand as performers and teachers. In 2003, when the first schools opened, we committed ourselves to a long-term investment in educating and developing the careers of the next generation of musical and cultural leaders in Central Asia. That commitment was met with scepticism in some quarters, but 15 years later, when we evaluated the results of our interventions, we found compelling evidence that our strategy had led to the results we’d envisioned. In making, in playing music, the children learn how to learn.  The role in education that museums of musical instruments can play should not be under-estimated. 

The Aga Khan Music Awards are expected to fill a unique cultural role. Among the world’s many music prizes, none as far as I know currently focuses on the full spectrum of devotional music and poetry, indigenous classical music, traditional folk music, and tradition-inspired contemporary music which has flourished and which we would like to see continue to flourish in cultures shaped by Islam. These musical genres and styles remain important in today’s world as they embody music’s traditional role as a source of spiritual enlightenment, moral inspiration, and social cohesion.

At a time when strengthening tolerance and pluralism has become an acute worldwide priority, music is one of the arts, which offers a medium for reaching, involving and uniting global audiences by engendering emotions which we all share as human beings.  I once said that music is made of dreams and the echo of dreams and I believe mankind shares the same dreams in large measure.

Not only does this evening’s concert celebrate the inauguration of the Music Awards; it also marks the debut of a collaboration between the Gulbenkian Orchestra and the Master Musicians of the Aga Khan Music Initiative. Their programme, developed specifically for this occasion, showcases the eclectic creativity of the Master Musicians, a group of cosmopolitan performer-composer-improvisers whose lives and careers have zigzagged between continents and among engagements with classical, folk, jazz, and contemporary concert music from around the world.  I hope this music tonight will engage you emotionally and almost physically, as if you were attending a jam session.

The compositions by the Master Musicians that we will hear were arranged for the Gulbenkian Orchestra by Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, who lives in Tashkent in Uzbekistan and who is an admired composer in his own right, and who has been a long-time collaborator of the Aga Khan Music Initiative.

As we all know, orchestral representations of rhythms and melodies that were inspired by music and legends from the Middle East and Central Asia were present in much nineteenth-century music. One thinks of Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin for example. It was a time when orientalist painting also reflected new interest and the excitement caused by an increased presence of Westerners in the East and new discoveries. Tonight, however, we have musicians from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Syria forming an orchestra to play their compositions which come from their own upbringing and traditions and which are played on their own musical instruments. The movement has been reversed:  Instead of music which is trying to sound what the audience would think of as oriental, we are moving toward a music emanating directly from the East but including western elements and even in time with perhaps western instruments. From what risked being pastiche, we are moving toward a new, broader inclusive music that respects and includes different traditions, different sounds, different rhythms.  A new, inclusive language. Music is, by definition, an evolutionary art, and musical composition has always evolved. Men have always travelled and have always taken their music with them, modifying and transforming their traditional music as they heard the music of the people they met.  

This is the kind of adventurous artistic collaboration which reflects the pluralism that His Highness, together with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and our entire community, have worked and are working to build and support. It is our hope and aspiration for the Aga Khan Music Awards that they should serve as a catalyst for many future projects that draw on the rich tapestry of Muslim musical heritage while reaching across the boundaries of time, place, and culture, assimilating the traditions and characteristics of other heritages into a global pluralistic sound. Musicians are irrepressible innovators for they implicitly understand that music must evolve to remain alive and culturally relevant. The institutions that stimulate, curate, commission and manage the production and dissemination of music must, therefore, also evolve and change. Both our Aga Khan Music Initiative and the Music Awards are no doubt no exceptions. Both are works in progress in the best sense. I hope you will join me in wishing them long life and continued productivity in the years and decades ahead.


""لطالما كانت الموسيقى فناً ذا أهمية خاصة بالنسبة لي: إن قدرتها على التواصل مميزة وعظيمة وشاملة، فهي تربط بين الناس وتوحّدهم"".

","English" "Opening of the phase II expansion of the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/zr2_6232.jpg","Dar es Salaam, Tanzania","Thursday, 7 March 2019","1552124700","Address by Princess Zahra Aga Khan at the opening of the phase II expansion of the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam","","speech","Tanzania","","2010s","","","","8996","","","1","","1","","","","Aga Khan Health Services","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/zr2_6232.jpg","Aga Khan Health Services","","Health","

Your Excellency Honourable Kassim Majaliwa, Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania,
Honourable Ummy Ally Mwalimu, Hon. Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, the United Republic of Tanzania,

Your Excellency Frédéric Clavier, Ambassador of France to the United Republic of Tanzania,
Mr Christian Yoka, Regional Director, Agence Francaise de Developpement,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies, Gentlemen and Friends,

Today is indeed a momentous day for the Aga Khan Development Network as we celebrate the inauguration of the Phase II expansion of the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam.

Other pressing engagements have kept my father, His Highness the Aga Khan, away today but he asked me to carry with me his congratulations, his gratitude to President Magufuli, Prime Minister Majaliwa and to the Government of Tanzania for helping us to construct this state-of-the-art facility in Dar es Salaam.

The Aga Khan Development Network has now been in Tanzania for over 100 years and works in many sectors of economic and social and cultural development across the country. Indeed, the original building on this site was built in 1964. I think it’s a testimony to the long history of the Aga Khan Development Network and the long partnership between the Government of Tanzania and the institutions of the network.

Your Excellency, Prime Minister, thank you so much for accepting to be our guest of honour at today’s celebration. Thank you also Honourable Minister for all the wonderful support that your Ministry provides to the Aga Khan Health Service, Tanzania, which enables us to continue with our mandate of providing quality care and community health initiatives across 11 regions of the country.

We are delighted to have been able to construct this facility and to expand the Aga Khan Hospital, however, the real value lies in the project, in the clinical programmes. These will supplement the efforts of the Government of Tanzania, and working with the public health system will develop a robust capacity to see that many Tanzanians receive advanced trainings in this institution. In advance of this project, Aga Khan Health Services ensure that many of our colleagues and staff are trained overseas to be able to provide the technological complex health care, which is provided now in the Phase II building we are opening today. I am pleased to say, thanks to that, today, the Hospital employs some of the most qualified and competent human resources, supplemented by world-class technical expertise, and that this Hospital will offer specialised programmes in cardiology, oncology, neurosciences, advanced critical care diagnostics as well as responding to the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases in Tanzania.  These services come in addition to our traditional key focus areas of maternal, neonatal and child health, which have also been strengthened as a result of this expansion, the Phase II building. I am delighted that this advanced facility will allow all Tanzanians to receive world-class treatment at home and therefore reversing the need for medical tourism abroad and hopefully encouraging medical tourism within the region.

As you heard already, this Phase II expansion was part funded by Agence Française de Développement. A partnership between AFD and the Aga Khan Development Network which extends to many countries around the world and many sectors, and we remain extremely grateful to AFD for their extensive and continuous support. Please could I ask Mr. Christian Yoka on our behalf, to convey our appreciation to Mr. Remy Rioux the CEO of AFD who has been here and visited this project before it was inaugurated. 

The Aga Khan Development Network and Aga Khan Health Services are a leading not-for-profit health care operation working in 12 different countries, operating 20 hospitals and nearly 500 health centres that provide quality health care to more than five million patients a year, working closely with government and other institutions in areas of service delivery, population health, capacity building and cross cutting themes, medical and nursing education, digital health, health care financing and quality of care development.

This Hospital was internationally recognised in 2016 with the Joint Commission International, the first hospital in Tanzania and only the second one in East Africa, after the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, to get this distinction of quality of care.

With this quality assurance and in keeping with the growing need for specialised quality care in East Africa and Tanzania, AKHS embarked on this TZ Shillings 192 billion (equivalent to US$ 83.5 million) expansion of the Hospital, but, also as Mr. Yoka said, expansion of outreach centres that span across Tanzania.  We hope that this expansion, working with these outreach centres, government centres and government hospitals, training nurses and doctors for the country, will have an impact far outside Dar es Salaam.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who were involved in planning and constructing this ultra-modern hospital, especially the Project Team, the architects, the contractors, the engineers and all of the professionals who made this a reality.  Also, thanks to the staff who put up with the construction, to the patients who survived the noise and the dust and to all those who were involved in making this project a reality.

Asante Sana!


","speech_227286","","English" "Entretien de Son Altesse l'Aga Khan avec Henri Weill de La Cohorte","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/people/portrait-his-highness-the-aga-khan.jpg","Gouvieux, Chantilly","Wednesday, 6 March 2019","1552056300","His Highness the Aga Khan's interview with Henri Weill from La Cohorte","","interview","France","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","Civil society","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/people/portrait-his-highness-banner.jpg","","","Civil society","

(Interview on 29 January 2019)

In 1957, the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather as the leader of the Ismailis. He is the 49th Imam of a community estimated at between 12 and 15 million believers living in 25 countries. Prince Karim Al-Husseini (his birth name) created the Aga Khan Development network (AKDN), committed to development in the world, regardless of whether there is a community in the country in question. Grand Croix of the Legion of Honour, this discreet man, aged 82 years old, welcomed us for one of his rare French interviews in his property in Gouvieux, Oise.

Your Highness, you are a head of state, but a head of state without a State.
In fact, I am the Imam of an international community. As you know, there is no state that is totally Ismaili. The community is in South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, in Africa, and now in Europe, North America and Australia. A part of it was in the former Soviet Union, because there is a large community in Tajikistan. It has become internationalised since my grandfather died in 1957.

But how should we consider you internationally? As a Head of State?  A prince?  An Imam?
As an Imam.

What is the community for which you are the 49th Imam?
It is a Shia Muslim community which has been in existence for centuries with successive Imams and is probably now more international than ever. I think that is the major difference with the past. We have created institutions in countries, especially in the West in which we previously had no presence. We have universities, schools, financial institutions in a very large number of countries that serve both the community and the local population.

What is your goal? To reduce poverty?
It is to improve the quality of life and that indeed involves reducing poverty, but it also provides people with the means to improve their quality of life. That is the goal. For example, we try to eliminate disease when we can eliminate it, we want to build national or international institutions, such as universities, schools and hospitals which help the community and societies. It is therefore necessary for the community to be valued, recognised and its institutions must serve the countries in which they are based.

But isn’t it rather unusual for a spiritual leader to be involved in development?
Not in Islam. This is one of the major differences between Islam and many other religions. Here, the Imam is responsible for the quality of life of the men and women who look up to him. He gets involved in their daily life.

But there are many Islams. Are you representing the social side?
In Shia Islam, Imams have always been concerned with the community’s quality of life. In Sunni Islam, it is much more dispersed since there are many more Imams.

But are you not in fact, looking to show the religion in another light?
I think it is more a question of interpreting what you mean by religion. The 48th Imam had his own views and an enormous political career. Personally, I was not interested in a political career, but I have one through the community. It represents a large population in countries where there is a political life. And that is why we have set up national councils in twenty countries, made up of volunteers committed to improving quality of life.  

Do you also want to project a very ethical image?
Yes. I think that having a community that is committed to ethics, is very important and particularly in democratic countries.


Meeting with President Kennedy in the Oval Office at the White House in 1961.
Robert Knudsen
You just mentioned your predecessor (your grandfather). You are the 49th imam. And have been for over 60 years, now. What have you learned from these six decades?
There are certainly some things that stand out. In 1957, the Cold War was a major problem for Western governments, and the world in general. That Cold War had a significant impact on the Third World. The Cold War no longer exists. It has been replaced by other visions of what a State is, so now the core issue is one of good governance.

When we look at the world we are not moving towards this type of governance, on the contrary, it seems to me we are regressing?
I think it is a fluctuating, unstable situation. That is what makes planning quite difficult. The former Soviet countries came out of the orbit of the Soviet bloc, other countries, which had been colonised, decolonised themselves and became independent. Then there was a whole series of regional agreements that have played their role. Financial institutions have become very important and have an impact on Third World economies in particular. We are living in a totally different world. And the most important thing is to be able to predict change such that a community’s institutions can start anticipating and preparing themselves. And it's a very complex job, but it's fascinating and if it's well managed will produce excellent results.

Do you never have moments when you feel disillusioned?
Certainly, and moments when I am worried, because often disillusionment follows on from worrying. Firstly, we are concerned, then we start to feel forces that are not necessarily those we want and we try to anticipate. A big debate, which existed as far back as the 1960s and still goes on today is the role of the State in the life of its people.

Through your foundation, are you replacing the unsatisfactory roles of certain states?
We are indeed trying to get involved wherever we can play a positive role, and not just for Ismailis. We often have partners who work with us and even international partners such as the World Bank and other similar institutions.

Is that why you became a partner of the Peace Forum?
Yes, it is one of the things I have done. Peace is clearly something that we are trying to stabilise, and above all to strengthen. It's very complicated. However, it is very important to make dialogue a part of everyday political life. We're getting there, but it's slow.

You work through your foundation, AKDN, which is one of the largest private development organisations in the world...
When you look at the Third World, where the Ismaili community is particularly present, we have to ask ourselves about governments. And I have always taken the view that civil society must play a fundamental role in the future of all populations. So, we have to consolidate and strengthen it. And that means taking the most important institutions of civil society and giving them support and encouragement wherever we can perhaps help them do things differently from anything we have known up till now. Especially when it comes to decolonisation.

Do you want to embody a voice of reason?
Oh, I'm not sure that's the case, but I hope it's a voice of logic. The Imam's role is also to anticipate change, to help make positive changes. In the end, it is the strength and quality of civil society that determines people’s quality of life.

It seems that your message of peace, forged from logic and reason is one that is heard with decreasing regularity today.
Yes, that's right, but I think it's also because of the problems with governance and economic imbalances. Foreign influences also have a big role to play. We are faced with a world that is changing and trying to develop. I am optimistic yet cautious.

Do you only work in those countries who ask you to get involved or is it you who makes the request?
We work in countries where there is a community or in countries that ask us to get involved, even if there is no community. We have realised that regional phenomena are very important. Even if we are not present in a given country, if a neighbouring country has a large community, you try to build with that State.


The Aga Khan surrounded by the Prime Minister of Mali and the Imam of the Djingareyber Mosque of Timbuktu (Mali) in 2003. The conservation work of this 14th century UNESCO World Heritage monument was financed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
AKDN / Gary Otte
Do you consider yourself a benefactor of humanity?
Not a benefactor. Benefactor means that we are involved in philanthropy; I work within the framework of the institution of the Imamat. We certainly do philanthropy of course, but we also set up economic institutions, which have their own business life and are intended to last and grow.

In sixty years, you have built so much.
Yes, I have built things because circumstances demanded that I do so and that it was what the community needed; but this process of growth is an infinite process at the same time. So, what is important is to try and predict future developments in society and then create institutions that can contribute to positive growth. For example, it is important to reduce poverty as much as possible.

That is an uphill battle.
It is probably a battle that is limitless in time.  We try one direction. We don't necessarily know what will happen, but we know we are on the path. For example, in health or micro loans, we can measure progress in improving quality of life.

Do foreign heads of state often ask for your advice?
Yes, that is true. Especially in countries where there is a large Ismaili community or strong institutions. And it also works the other way. I talk to them because I need to know what their thoughts are on the future, what is the best academic or economic institution.

But by investing, you're not looking to proselytise?
No, we do not proselytise. We could, but we don't feel the need. There are certain religions where proselytising is recommended. We however, take the attitude that everyone should do whatever they want. If they want to become a Shia, they can become a Shia, if they want to become a Shia Ismaili, they can become a Shia  Ismaili.

What is the next major project that is really dear to your heart?
I believe that the civil society today is very influenced by large institutions, when they have been well founded, are stable and extend their influence to civil society. And this is what I am trying to support the Third World. For example, in education, we have universities in Central Asia, Pakistan and East Africa. They have an enormous influence. We are trying to create strong institutions to support society. Not only with universities but also with hospitals, banks, financial companies, etc.

You're not a businessman?
No, but I have had to learn what that is. We have our own institutions which are not at all limited to the Ismaili community. We start with microfinance and go as far as financing the largest companies. We are trying to support economic development. There are countries that have emerged out of poverty and wherever we find ourselves, we must contribute to this development and ensure that it is positive and stable. And these two things don't necessarily go together.


In Tajikistan, several thousand members of the Ismaili community came to hear their Prince and Imam speak.
AKDN / Gary Otte
Development programmes that include improving housing, for example.
I will tell you why.  When we studied the economic development of poor societies, we realised that when poor families manage to put money aside for the first time, they invest in their homes. Often it is a tin roof, running water or a sewerage system. In other words, human beings first look at everything that happens around them and their family. By working on people’s homes, we are working on basic needs and this then has an impact on several generations in the family.  It is often an asset which increases in value if the property is well managed. So, housing has an impact on many areas in a family's life and that's why I wanted to monitor the development and try to support institutions that help to drive change.

Culture is also a priority. You support architects as much as music. Even to the point of creating awards?
I am interested in music because we are trying to broaden the international reach of Third World cultures. If we can make them known and appreciated in the West, we can bring them stability as well as knowledge about the cultures in these countries. And often there are connections that are extraordinary, especially, for example, in ‘devotional’ music. For example, the music of  Central Asia.

Would you make a perfect head of state?
(Laughs…) No, no. Let’s say I work in many countries, so I learn. Then since I have been around for a while...

But that desire is still with you.
I was educated in a country where development is seen as a phenomenon of world life and so I observe as much as possible, I try to ensure that our institutions look to the future. Because in the end, anticipating is necessary in life, whether you are dirt poor or fabulously rich. You need to be able to anticipate intelligently.

Anticipate and think about others?
And build.

Are human beings at the centre of everything?
Clearly. And then, I have a conviction: poverty exists, but is not inevitable. We need the courage to analyse and understand it. A few years ago, we analysed Ismaili demographics and realised that the environment was the biggest contributor to poverty in poor communities. Some communities are born and live in a place in our world where the local economy cannot support human life. So, when we came to this conclusion, we recommended these communities to move and settle elsewhere. There are places on our planet where human life is unsustainable and if there are communities that, for historical reasons, live there, you know that there is no future for them. This is not subjective, it is an economic fact. We are duty bound to tell the people this, and then we try to develop the resources to help them move. There are countries where 50 years ago our community lived in really very difficult conditions and we told them, “Listen, take your time, it may not be possible for today's generation but perhaps for tomorrow's generation, but educate yourself, prepare yourself to go and settle elsewhere”.

It that a painful process?
Yes, and it is always difficult to move communities. It is a decision that you take unwillingly. The circumstances make it necessary. If the measurable evidence shows you that quality of life is impossible, you are obliged to draw such conclusions. So then, you prepare the younger generation with education, in other words with languages and technical knowledge. In this case, we are not being subjective, we must be rigorous and even quite hard sometimes. Because communities do not move alone. We have to prepare the place they will move to, create institutions, schools, financial institutions, etc. That is what we did in Tajikistan for example.

Your Highness, are you considered to be a good man?
That is the role of the Imam, but not only mine.

That is your vision.
I think that is the right vision for an Imam.

Why did you choose Portugal as the headquarters of your Imamat?
The Imamat is an institution that is originally from the East. And I wanted it to have a head office in a Western country that would recognise the Imamat as a religious institution. Portugal is a country that has signed the Concordat with Rome and therefore there was a precedent that allowed me to sign a Concordat with a Western state that was somewhat similar.


President Emmanuel Macron and His Highness the Aga Khan after their meeting at the Élysée Palace.
AKDN / Cécile Genest
Yet, you are deeply French, or at least you are a Francophile?
Yes… Many of my studies were in French and I live in France. We have extremely cordial relations with the State but there is not a Concordat such as we could have with Portugal.

You have embassies in many countries, but not in Paris.
No, but we have an agreement with the French government and our institutions operate in France under this agreement, which commits the Imamat.

You are also very committed in and for Chantilly. Why?
It's a tradition with us. In the past, many eminent figures in the history of the Imamat contributed to the quality of life in their place of residence... it's a tradition that I've applied here.

You are also known around the world for horses. You own 700 thoroughbreds?
I don't know what the actual number is right now, because it obviously varies depending on the time of year, but in fact it's a business that I inherited. It was my grandfather who started it, first in England and then in France. My father took it over, and upon his death, the family wondered if we wanted to continue this business or not. And we decided that yes, we wanted to try to continue this tradition. It is very common in the Muslim world. It a very enthralling sport.

Your jockeys wear green silks and red shoulder pads, why is that?
It's the family's colours. My grandfather used brown and green in England and red and green in France and I kept both.

Your father and grandfather hit the newspaper headlines more often than you do. You opt for a more discreet approach.
I believe that as a Muslim institution in the West, I can be more effective without constantly making headlines. There is no reason for me to be in the news. When there are problems I try to solve them discreetly. I don’t always manage, but in general, discretion has served me well.

You are a Grand Croix of the Legion of Honour. What does this distinction mean to you?
It is a recognition which is very dear to me. France welcomed my grandfather, my father, my brother, myself, my uncle. It is a country that is very dear to us.

Translated with the permission from La Cohorte

","speech_227196","","French" "AKU 15th Convocation ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-2019-02-convocation_2019_-10_r.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Thursday, 14 February 2019","1550052900","Speech by Dr. Amina Mohamed, Ministry of Education at the AKU Convocation ceremony in Nairobi","","speech","Kenya","","2010s","","","","226401","","","1","","1","","","","Kenya","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-2019-02-convocation_2019_-10_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

President, Aga Khan University, Mr. Firoz Rasul,
Member, Board of Trustees, Mr. Yusuf H Keshavjee,
Provost and Vice President, Academic, Dr. Carl Amrhein,
Members of Government and the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of Faculty, and staff of the University,
Alumni, Distinguished Guests,
Parents, Guardians,
Graduating Class of 2018,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be part of this 15th Convocation of the Aga Khan University. I congratulate the graduands - gathered here who have toiled hard in search of knowledge and excellence. Your hard work has finally paid off.

Today marks the beginning of a special phase in your lives: a moment of special personal accomplishment and deep society pride. Relish it and step into the world of work or management with the same dedication and zeal as you exhibited during your time here. I want to commend the Aga Khan University for preparing you well for the world of work. Please join me in appreciating the many contributions that His Highness the Aga Khan has made across the world, in East Africa and of course Kenya.

We do not say thank you enough. I urge you to do the University proud by being good and noble citizens that will contribute to our national development with integrity and commitment.

There is a consensus in cognitive psychology that it takes knowledge to gain knowledge and that the most educated people are not those who know everything, but those who know where to find information at a moment’s notice. This is the skill that you all take away from this institution today. Use it for the good of others, your communities and country. It has been said before that your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead. Lead well and with compassion and with dedication. Be ambitious and gracious, dream big it has been said before that if your dreams do not scare you they are not big enough. (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf former President of Liberia.)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Universities are the highest institutions of learning and research. As the level at which high-order skills are imparted, universities will continue to drive our national technological and industrial development agenda as well as the advancement of knowledge in all other fields of national endeavour. We are living in a complex skills-demand and supply paradigm that is unpredictable and highly competitive. We must therefore nurture an education system that focuses on the individual and prepares them adequately for the world of work.

Globally, the economic returns for higher education graduates are the highest in the entire educational system — an estimated 17 percent increase in earnings as compared with 10 percent for primary and 7 percent for secondary education (World Bank, 2017).

However, we continue to experience high levels of unemployment as a result of automation, training and industry needs mismatch, inadequate post-graduation preparation for young graduates, and increased skills supply compared to market demand. This has necessitated critical introspection by the sector and the inevitable need to reform university education to guarantee quality and relevance.

The soaring rate of youth unemployment and underemployment is of great concern. A study conducted by Dalberg in 2018 revealed that approximately 84% and 60% of the entire workforce comprised of young people between the ages of 15-35 who were either unemployed or underemployed. While the state of youth has been evaluated through the sole lens of unemployment, studies now show that underemployment is synonymous to unemployment. Most young graduates are classified as being employed while in fact, they are grossly underpaid (0.2 dollars a day) or not paid at all.

By the year 2023, Dalberg estimates that an additional 2.3 young people will join the workforce and estimated that 6.1 million young Kenyans will either be unemployed or underemployed by 2023. This number takes into account the expected creation of 8.5 new jobs. In light of the foregoing, the entire landscape of training for skills needs an urgent, practical and prioritised policy shift taking into consideration the effects of these changing dynamics.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In order to provide quality and relevant training, a systematic review of the constraints facing the higher education sector is necessary. These constraints include: curricula that is poorly aligned with the changing needs of the knowledge economy, declining quality of education, inadequate infrastructure to match curricula reforms and increased enrolment, which has overloaded lecturers and strained available infrastructure, moonlighting and inadequate student-lecture contact hours, declining standards and depth of research and shrinking liquidity.

To address these challenges, the Ministry has proposed and is implementing the following measures to streamline tertiary education:

  1. Increased the capital allocation dedicated to research and innovation.
  2. The Commission for University Education is reviewing the depth and substance of university programmes to eliminate unit duplication and shallow course content.
  3. To bridge the skills-industry mismatch, I launched the Office of Career services as a mandatory feature in all tertiary institutions. All institutions were directed to conform to this directive on or before 31 December 2018. To this end, I direct the State Departments for University Education and Vocational and Technical Training to carry out an audit in all Universities to ascertain that this directive has now been fully complied with.
  4. 75% of all government coordinated and offered scholarships will be reserved for university faculty with the aim of strengthening capacity and broadening expertise to deliver world class education.
  5. Universities should enhance enrolment into Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Agriculture and Fisheries (STEMAF) to build capacity to deliver the Big 4 Agenda. These courses will produce the competencies we need to transform Kenya into ‘a newly industrialising, middle-income economy.’ It is encouraging to note that we doubled the number of students enrolling into STEM subjects from 20 per cent to 44.8 per cent in the 2017/2018 in take.
  6. In addition to this, I launched the Out of School Science, Technology and Innovation (OSSTEI) Programme aimed at creating a culture of creativity, innovation, curiosity and productive entrepreneurship. I call upon tertiary institutions to partner with the programme champions in every county to provide space for lab development and experimentation as we roll out this programme nationally.
  7. To survive the tough economic times, we have banned university expansion through satellite campuses and are supporting ongoing austerity measures as universities rethink strategies to raise sustainable operations capital. Universities must also devise innovative ways to generate additional income to supplement government allocation.
  1. I initiated University Dialogues to personally engage with university students as a critical part of the sector players in reforming university education to suit the dictates of the future of work and to reaffirm the stature of students as present leaders. The next series will be held at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University in March 2019.
  2. Delays in releasing HELB loans to students are occasioned in part by bureaucracies of university administration. Starting September last year, all universities were directed to adopt and operationalise the HELB Smart card solution. In this regard, the Ministry will be directly engaging institutions yet to implement this directive for compliance.
  3. Starting last year, the trend of placements into universities and colleges has shifted from the top-university heavy model to an ideal inverted model where most candidates are placed into middle level colleges. This year, 90,744 candidates who attained a mean-grade of C+ and above qualified to join local universities. 121,288 who scored between C (plain) and C- (Minus) are eligible for placement in diploma courses in various TVET institutions. 244,436 who scored D and D+ are eligible for placement in craft certificate courses while 194,721 who scored between D and E qualified for selection to artisan courses in vocational institutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, let me urge all of you to support the Ministry’s last mile form one admission tracer campaign aimed at ensuring that we have, for the first time in our country, 100% transition from primary to secondary school. This policy priority championed by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta will fully meet Kenya’s commitment to the constitutional imperative on the right to education, reinforce the rights of all Kenyan children and give every young person a chance to acquire 12 Years of Quality Education. As at 12 February 2019, the transition rate was at 90%. We will continue with the push to account for all the candidates who sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination last year.

Let me conclude by sharing one of my favourite poems with all of you, especially the graduating class of 2018:

Don’t just learn, experience
Don't just read, absorb.
Don't just change, transform.
Don't just relate, advocate.
Don't just promise, prove.
Don't just criticize, encourage.
Don't just think, ponder.
Don't just take, give.
Don't just see, feel.
Don’t just dream, do.
Don't just hear, listen.
Don't just talk, act.
Don't just tell, show.
Don't just exist, live.”

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Thank you very much.



""أود أن أُثني على جامعة الآغا خان لإعدادكم بشكل جيد نحو عالم العمل، وأتمنى منكم أن تـنضموا إليّ في تقدير المساهمات العديدة التي قدمها سمو الآغا خان في جميع أنحاء العالم، في شرق إفريقيا وبالطبع في كينيا. إن كلمات الشكر تبدو غير كافية، وإنني أحثكم على أن تجعلوا الجامعة فخورة بكم لكونكم مواطنين صالحين ونبلاء يساهمون في عملية التنمية الوطنية بنزاهة والتزام"".

","English" "AKU 15th Convocation ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-2019-02-convocation_2019_-1_r.jpg","Nairobi, Kenya","Wednesday, 13 February 2019","1550070000","Speech by Mr. Firoz Rasul at the AKU 15th Convocation ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya","","speech","Kenya","","2010s","","","","8941","","","1","","1","","","","Kenya","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-kenya-2019-02-convocation_2019_-1_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

Our Chief Guest, the Honourable Ambassador Dr. Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Education;
Mr. Yusuf Keshavjee, Member of the Board of Trustees;
Provost Carl Amrhein;
Members of Government and the Diplomatic Corps;
Deans, faculty, and staff of the University;
Family members, partners, supporters, and distinguished guests;
And most importantly, our graduands:

Good morning. Hamjambo and karibuni.

Welcome to the 2019 convocation of the Aga Khan University in Kenya.

The moment you have all been waiting for – that you have been working towards has arrived. Today, we celebrate your graduation.

It’s been quite a journey, hasn’t it?

Your studies asked more of you than had ever been asked before. And, for many of you, studying was far from your sole responsibility. You had jobs that demanded the utmost attention. And you had families to care for.

Yet you were determined to further your education. And you have reaped the reward. You now have the knowledge and skills; the confidence and compassion; and the capacity for leadership needed to change people’s lives.

Everyone, please join me in congratulating the members of the Class of 2018.

Graduands, I know you will agree you could not have done it alone.

Your families made many sacrifices. Our faculty and staff were very demanding – but also supportive and encouraging. Your classmates inspired you to keep pushing yourselves.

You also benefitted from the extraordinary investments made in this University by our supporters and partners, including the Governments of Germany, France, and Canada. And many of you are here today because of the student financial assistance made possible by our many, many generous donors – and especially by our Founder and Chancellor of this university, His Highness the Aga Khan.

I also want to acknowledge the support we have received for our nursing students, from Johnson and Johnson.

To everyone who contributed to the success of our graduands – thank you.  

Today is the end of a journey. But it is also the beginning of a new chapter in your lives and careers. And there is every reason to believe it will be filled with remarkable achievements.

We are very pleased to have with us today two of your predecessors, who exemplify the power of an AKU education.

Elijah Ogoti Ongarora graduated from AKU’s Institute for Educational Development in Dar es Salaam in 2014. He teaches at Tartar Girls School in West Pokot County. And he is the recipient of Kenya’s 2018 Teacher of the Year Award.

Anthony Maina Gioko graduated from our Institute for Educational Development in Karachi in 2007. He is the Vice Principal for Professional Development and Outreach at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa. And out of 10,000 nominees in 179 countries, he was selected in December as one of just 50 finalists for the Varkey Foundation’s US$1 million Global Teacher Prize.

These are tremendous honours, and we will be further honouring both these leaders later in this ceremony. We are extremely proud that these two AKU graduates are recognised nationally and internationally as among the best in their field. They are clear evidence that our alumni are “a powerful light” – as our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, described our graduates three decades ago.

So graduands, you can follow in the footsteps of these leaders and the many other AKU graduates who are bringing change for the better in Kenya and around the world. How can you contribute to the great task of overcoming ignorance, disease, and poverty?

This is a question our Chancellor asked at AKU’s founding, and considered deeply with the help of eminent leaders and thinkers such as the president of Harvard University.

The answers the Chancellor elaborated form our founding vision. Today, I will ask you to join me in reflecting on that vision. Because I believe it can help you answer the all-important question: how can I make a difference?

First and foremost, His Highness the Aga Khan recognised that the growth and spread of knowledge drives improvement in human welfare. And he saw that this means universities, as generators of knowledge and educators of leaders, have incredible potential to change our world.

He concluded that what was needed was a new university rooted in the developing world and devoted to meeting international standards of excellence. Such a university could be a role model that would inspire other institutions to set their sights higher. It could point the way toward a future in which there might be hundreds of universities in the developing world, in his words, “on the frontiers of scientific and humanistic knowledge, radiating intelligence and confidence, research and graduates, into flourishing economies and progressive legal and political systems.”

This is a bold vision.

But His Highness the Aga Khan was not deterred. Today it is clear how right he was to persevere.

Every day, the Aga Khan University is working to improve quality of life for the people of Kenya, and to help the government to meet its health and education goals.

All told, we have now awarded more than 3,000 diplomas and degrees in East Africa, including more than 1,200 in Kenya.

Our professional development programmes have equipped another 900 Kenyan educators with new strategies for enhancing teaching and learning, which benefit over 67,000 students.  

Together with other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, our Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health is working with government to improve the health of 135,000 women and children in Kilifi and Kisii counties. The Centre is also contributing to a major international study designed to determine why more than one million women and children in Africa die from various pregnancy complications every year.

At the same time that we are building capacity and generating new knowledge, our health network is growing and evolving to meet Kenya’s changing needs.

The Aga Khan University Hospital and its 42 outreach medical centres now provide health care to more than 650,000 Kenyans every year.

We recently acquired the region’s first PET-CT scanner to enable advanced diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases. The Hospital’s clinical laboratory just became the first such lab in Africa to meet the rigorous quality standards of the College of American Pathologists. And we will be building a new Children’s Specialty Hospital to provide cutting-edge paediatric care.   

Graduands, several principles emerge from the history of AKU with special vividness.

First: Boldness is a Virtue. To make a lasting difference, you must be willing to swim against the tide. Great achievements are born from audacious ambition – the kind that brought this University into existence.

And second: Excellence Drives Impact. Rather than a luxury, excellence is a transformative force with the power to improve the life of everyone.

There is another pillar of the founding vision that I believe has special relevance to your lives today.

Around the world, we see efforts to stoke conflict by pitting different groups against each other.

By contrast, this University has always stood for the principle that everyone deserves access to opportunity, regardless of faith, race, tribe, nationality, gender, or socioeconomic status. Hence I urge you to focus not on that which separates one group from another, but on our common humanity. I urge you to work across borders and boundaries of all kinds to better people’s lives, especially those of the disadvantaged.

In other words: Be a Unifier, not a divider.

The final principle that I will mention was memorably stated by our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan.

Universities, he said, “must endeavor…to fly high and see beyond our present horizons.”

That is precisely what AKU is attempting to do. And what we see is a world where the issues are large, numerous and interconnected – a world that demands a truly multidisciplinary university equal to the scale and complexity of the problems that we face.

Hence, we have plans to establish a Faculty of Arts and Sciences to provide a wide-ranging undergraduate education that prepares students for leadership in multiple fields. We are educating journalists and communicators at our Graduate School of Media and Communications, the first of a number of new Graduate Professional Schools we are developing. Our East Africa Institute is delivering conversation-shaping insights on public policy issues. The Institute for Human Development is conducting research aimed at ensuring every child develops to their full potential.

Soon all our academic programmes will be housed in the 12-storey University Centre we are building across the street to provide our faculty and students with state-of-the-art teaching, learning and research facilities.  

Graduands, in a constantly evolving world, you too must endeavour to fly high and see beyond our present horizons. You must anticipate, adapt to, and shape the course of change.   

As you chart your unique course in life, I encourage you to look to your University’s founding vision for inspiration.

Be bold. Pursue excellence. Be a unifier. Look to tomorrow, and stand ready to act.   

Graduands, this is not goodbye. Today, you are joining the AKU alumni community – a network of thousands of change agents that spans the country, the region, and the world. Stay connected to your classmates and your University. Seek out your fellow alumni for advice and collaboration.

Your story is part of this University’s story, and our founding vision will find its fulfilment in your achievements.

We cannot wait to see how brightly your light will shine.

Thank you. Asanteni sana.



""نحن نساهم في إجراء دراسة دولية كبرى تهدف إلى تحديد سبب وفاة أكثر من مليون امرأة وطفل في إفريقيا بسبب مضاعفات الحمل المختلفة كل عام.

إلى جانب ذلك، دعمنا القدرات وإنتاج معارف جديدة، وهذا مؤشر إلى نمو شبكتنا الصحية وتطورها لتلبية احتياجات كينيا المتغيّرة"".

","English" "Aga Khan University's Convocation ceremony in Kampala","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku_uganda_2019_i0a4105_2_0.jpg","Kampala, Uganda","Monday, 11 February 2019","1549706400","Address by Mr. Firoz Rasul, President of the Aga Khan University, at AKU's 16th Convocation ceremony in Kampala","","speech","Uganda","","2010s","","","","8941","","","1","","1","","","","Uganda","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku_uganda_2019_i0a4105_2_0.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

Our Chief Guest, the Honourable Minister of State for Higher Education Dr. John C. Muyingo;
Mr. Yusuf Keshavjee, Member of the Board of Trustees;
Provost Dr Carl Amrhein;
Members of Government and the Diplomatic Corps;
Deans, faculty, staff of the University;
Parents, partners, supporters, and distinguished guests;
And most importantly, our graduands:

Welcome to the 2019 Convocation ceremony of the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Kampala.

Today, we celebrate your graduation. There is really no other day like convocation. There is so much optimism in the air. So much pride on so many faces. And finally, the day we have all been working toward has arrived.

An AKU education is a stern test. But it has brought out the best in you. You have the knowledge and skills; the confidence and compassion; and the capacity for leadership needed to make a difference in the lives of others. On behalf of the entire AKU community, I congratulate all of you today - congratulations!

This is a milestone in your lives. And it is also a milestone in the history of the Aga Khan University.

With the graduation of this year’s class, we will have awarded more than 3,000 degrees and diplomas in East Africa.

From rural clinics to Mulago National Hospital, your fellow alumni are providing the outstanding care people need to lead healthy and productive lives. They are elevating the quality of teaching from pre-primary to university level. In the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, they are formulating policies to accelerate Uganda’s development.

They are leading change in Kampala, in Arua, in Lira, in Amudat, and everywhere else in between.

That is truly cause for celebration. AKU graduates are indeed “a powerful light” – as our Founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, described them three decades ago.

It is also cause for giving thanks – and there are many to whom we are indebted.

Our donors, and especially our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, have made extraordinary investments in this University, enabling us to provide financial support for our students’ education. Our partners are helping us to achieve new levels of impact. Our faculty and staff have dedicated themselves to meeting rigorous international quality standards. And the family members of our graduands deserve very special recognition. I know you made many sacrifices so your loved one could be here today.  Thank you and we want to acknowledge your particular contribution in that.

We are also enormously grateful to our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, for founding this university 35 years ago and for guiding its evolution ever since. We hope he is proud of the impact that we are making, the quality we are achieving, the values we are upholding, and the reputation that we are earning.

Graduands – what an extraordinary moment this is in your lives. It is rich with possibility but also full of questions.

But I believe there is one question above all that confronts each of you today: How can I lead a consequential and rewarding life?

I mean a life that contributes to the great tasks of overcoming disease, poverty, and ignorance. A life that empowers others to pursue their dreams. A life that calls upon all the knowledge you have acquired, and challenges you to continue learning and growing.   

You are not alone in facing the question of how to make this a more just and prosperous world. It is one that we all wrestle with.

Indeed, it is one the Chancellor asked at AKU’s founding, and considered deeply with the help of eminent leaders and thinkers such as the president of Harvard University.

The answers the Chancellor elaborated form our founding vision. Today, I will ask you to join me in reflecting on that vision. Because I believe it can help you to answer the all-important question: how can I make a difference?

First and foremost, His Highness the Aga Khan recognised that the growth and spread of knowledge drives improvement in human welfare. And the Chancellor saw that this means universities, as generators of knowledge and educators of leaders, have incredible potential to change our world for the better.

He concluded that what was needed was a new university rooted in the developing world and devoted to meeting international standards of excellence.

Such a university could be a role model that would inspire other institutions to set their sights higher. It could point the way toward a future in which there might be hundreds of universities in the developing world, in his words, “on the frontiers of scientific and humanistic knowledge, radiating intelligence and confidence, research and graduates, into flourishing economies and progressive legal and political systems.”

This was a bold vision.

But His Highness the Aga Khan was not deterred. Today it is clear how right he was to persevere.

Every day, AKU is working to improve the quality of life for the people of Uganda, and to help the government to meet its health and education goals.

Our professional development programmes have equipped more than 900 Ugandan educators with new strategies for enhancing teaching and learning, and benefitting hundreds of thousands of students.  

Recently, we visited some of our 800 nursing and midwifery alumni in Uganda, and learned how their leadership is improving public health.

A principal nursing officer explained how she used the skills she learned at AKU to reduce neonatal infections in her hospital. We spoke to a head nurse who has transformed her hospital’s maternity unit, increasing fivefold the number of women who choose to deliver there.
The founder of a nursing school credited its rapid growth to her education. She said: “AKU made me what I am today and who I am. I got courage.”

And our most important contribution to Uganda is still to come.  

With the support of His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, and other members of government, we are hard at work on our largest project ever here: construction of a new Aga Khan University Hospital in Kampala.

The Hospital will be a transformative force in Ugandan health care. It will deliver international-quality care in fields ranging from obstetrics to oncology (cancer). Its Patient Welfare Programme will enable access for low-income individuals. As a teaching hospital, it will educate outstanding health professionals. And it will support research that helps solve Uganda’s health challenges.

Thanks to the generous support of KfW, an agency of the German government, as well as private donors, this project will feature student housing and an academic building that will allow us to educate not only doctors, nurses, and midwives, but also journalists, communicators and teachers. In this context, I would note that for the second time, an AKU alumnus has been named a finalist for the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize. This is an international competition that teachers from all over the world compete, and we are glad our alumnus won it.

Graduands, several principles emerge from the history of AKU with special vividness. I urge you to consider them closely.  

First: Boldness is a Virtue. To make a lasting difference, you must be willing to swim against the tide and into uncharted waters. Great achievements are born from audacious ambition – the kind that brought this University into existence.

Second: Excellence Drives Impact. Rather than a luxury, excellence is a transformative force with the power to improve life for everyone.

There is another pillar of the founding vision that I believe has special relevance to your lives today.

Around the world, we see efforts to stoke conflict by pitting different groups against each other.

By contrast, this University stands for the principle that everyone deserves access to opportunity, regardless of faith, race, tribe, nationality, gender, or socioeconomic status. That is why, for example, we provide financial assistance to those in need – so that students from the widest possible range of backgrounds can attend the Aga Khan University.

Hence I urge you to focus not on that which separates one group from another, but on our common humanity. I urge you to work across borders and boundaries of all kinds to better people’s lives, especially those of the disadvantaged.

In other words: Be a Unifier, not a divider.

The final principle that I will mention was memorably stated by our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, more than three decades ago.

Universities, he said, “must endeavor…to fly high and see beyond our present horizons.”

That is precisely what AKU is attempting to do. And what we see is a world where the issues are large, numerous and interconnected – a world that demands a truly multidisciplinary university equal to the scale and complexity of the problems that we face.

Hence, we have plans to establish a Faculty of Arts and Sciences to provide a wide-ranging undergraduate education that prepares students for leadership in multiple fields. We are educating journalists and communicators at our Graduate School of Media and Communications, the first of a number of new Graduate Professional Schools we are developing. Our East Africa Institute is delivering conversation-shaping insights on public policy issues.
The Institute for Human Development is conducting research aimed at ensuring every child develops to their full potential. And our Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health is strengthening health systems for East Africa’s most vulnerable women and children.

So graduands, in a constantly evolving world, you too must endeavour to fly high and see beyond our present horizons. You must anticipate, adapt to, and shape the course of change.   

As you chart your unique course in life, I encourage you to look to your University’s founding vision for inspiration.

Be bold. Pursue excellence. Be a unifier. Look to tomorrow, and stand ready to act.   

So graduands, this is not goodbye. Today, you are joining the AKU alumni community – a network of thousands of change agents that spans the country, the region, and the world. I urge you to stay connected to your classmates and your University, and to seek out your fellow alumni for advice and collaboration.

Your story is part of the University’s story, and our founding vision will find its fulfilment in your achievements.

We cannot wait to see how brightly your light will shine.

Thank you.



""بدءاً من العيادات الريفية وصولاً إلى مستشفى مولاغو الوطني، يقدم زملائكم الخرّيجون الرعاية الممتازة التي يحتاجها الناس ليعيشوا حياة صحية ومنتجة، فهم يرفعون مستوى التعليم بدءاً من مرحلة ما قبل الإبتدائي وصولاً إلى المرحلة الجامعية. وهم يقومون في وزارة الصحة ووزارة التعليم بصياغة سياسات ترمي للإسراع بعملية التنمية في أوغندا.""

","English" "AKU 16th Convocation ceremony in Kampala, Uganda","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku_uganda_2019_i0a4552.jpg","Kampala, Uganda","Monday, 11 February 2019","1549703700","Valedictory speech at the AKU Convocation ceremony in Kampala","","speech","Uganda","","2010s","","","","226161","","","1","","1","","","","Uganda","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku_uganda_2019_i0a4552.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

The Chief Guest: Dr. John. C. Muyingo, State Minister for Education,
Members of the Board of Trustees,
President Firoz Rasul,
Honoured Guests,
Members of the Faculty and Staff,
Alumni of the University,
Members of the Graduating Class,
Our Sponsors and employers,
Our dear family members and guardians,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to address you on this special day, together as we share the emotions filling this auditorium as we graduates close this chapter of the beginning of our life story.

Today, here we are after a challenging academic journey, which we have been able to complete successfully through hard work, diligence and determination. However, wading through the mighty waters of Aga Khan University until we have reached the dock has not been entirely easy. I, therefore, take this opportunity to first thank the almighty God for having seen us through.

Our beloved parents, husbands, wives, our beautiful family members and friends, we are very grateful for the endless support you have given us even when seemed like we were detached from you and we were on a different planet, you’ve always been there! Our employer, we are very grateful even when we have had excuses, you’ve always borne with us because you knew that we chose the right path.

Pure gold is refined with fire, our faculties and the entire staff of Aga Khan University you have always been there through thick and thin what more can we say? “We have balanced the boat.” Even when you became a little tough and tight, it was for this noble cause. All we can do is to pray to God to give more years and more wisdom like King Solomon. Faculty Grace Nakate you are the best mum we have met, not forget the beautiful story of the man who wanted to bury his horse but it kept shaking off the dust. Dr. Ekaete when you came in, you made us get the deeper insight of our profession. If it was music, then that was the voice missing to make the song sweeter. And I am sure my colleagues from the MEd programme by similar great faculty at IED, Dar-es-Salaam. You have reminded us that we often forget, or take for granted the most obvious things around us. Yet they matter so much and always create a difference and if we are to be nurses and midwives of difference, we have to take into account what is obvious. You have encouraged us to be prepared to leverage and maximise the advantages of whatever forms of diversity we find in our professional environments.

To my fellow graduates, we have all come from different programmes, masters of Education, Bachelors of Science in Midwifery and Nursing and Diploma in general nursing. The Aga Khan University joined us together as a mighty team, we have learnt a lot from each other and we are very grateful to God that we met. Challenges have been there but together as a team, we had to learn the group dynamics and it is what has made us reach this day as one.

The professions of nursing and education in Uganda are still at their infancy and we as a team, are being sent out to ensure we make this “child” grow through the knowledge we have acquired and not to be selfish but to address the ever increasing needs of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and our children in the community today. When we are out there, the community expects a lot from us and we pledge here today to give them our very best.

This is a kind request to president Rasul to convey our heartfelt message to the chancellor his Highness the Aga Khan for the special financial support to some of the less privileged students from Moroto and Ntungamo districts of Uganda, through the First Lady Janet Kataha Museveni. We are very grateful.

Johnson and Johnson Foundation; we do not even know how express our sincere gratitude. You have made us see this bright and wonderful day without fail and we have been able to reach out to the noble calling. There is a time when some of us felt giving up because everything had become too much, but it is the time you came in and you changed the game. You were heavenly sent. We are grateful.

Finally, today were are coming out as leaders because we are now professionals. We can only be the best care providers, best advocates and educators if we also see ourselves as leaders and we have to strive and demonstrate the required qualities of leadership at our places of work. We promise not to just be leaders but rather transformational leaders; applying evidence-based practice, embracing the increasing impact of technology, take on leadership positions at higher level and improve the quality of care provided to our clients in Uganda and beyond!

Once again, I thank you.

I salute you the class of 2018.

For God and my Country.


""تمكنّا اليوم من التخرج كقادة محترفين، وبإمكاننا أن نكون أفضل المقدمين للرعاية وأفضل المدافعين والمربين، وإذا تمكنّا من أن نكون قادة، فإننا سنسعى جاهدين لأن نظهر كافة المواصفات المطلوبة للقيادة في أماكن عملنا، وإننا نعدكم أن لا نكون قادة فقط بل قادة لإجراء التغيير، عبر قيامنا بتطبيق الممارسة القائمة على الأدلة، التي تتبنى التأثير المتزايد للتكنولوجيا، إضافة إلى تولي المناصب القيادية على مستوى أعلى، فضلاً عن إجراء تحسينات في جودة الرعاية المقدمة لعملائنا في أوغندا وخارجها.""

","English" "Aga Khan University 14th Convocation ceremony, Dar es Salaam","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-2019-02-4b4a7137_r.jpg","Dar es Salaam","Thursday, 7 February 2019","1549449900","Valedictory speech at the AKU Convocation ceremony in Dar es Salaam","","speech","Tanzania","","2010s","","","","226091","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-2019-02-4b4a7137_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

Valedictory speech presented by Abdallah Shaaban Hoza, AKU-IED, EA student.

Our Guest of Honour Prof Anne Makinda,
The President Aga Khan University, Firoz Rasul,
The Board of Trustees,
Director Aga Khan University,
Institute for Education Development, East Africa,
Prof. Joe Lugalla, Academic head school of nursing and midwifery, Aga Khan University,
Dr. Columba Mbekenga,
Alumni of the university,
Invited guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon!

It is with immense joy that I represent colleagues in the masters in education Class of 2018 and the BSCN Class of 2018. I am privileged to stand at the lectern today to mark the completion of our respective programmes at the Aga Khan University and to recognise those who have made today such a great celebration.
We have much to be thankful for today, for we had a great experience at AKU. It was an educational experience that was embedded with timeless values that moved us out of our comfort zones into a culture of inquiry that developed our skills and attitudes. This experience was made possible by our distinguished professors alongside a very caring and supportive administrative staff. Our dear faculty and staff, rest assured that we are very well packaged and prepared to surge forward and overcome whatever challenges we will have to face in our professional lives. Our time at AKU was well spent and we now have the much needed theoretical understanding of issues to enable us to make viable practical decisions offering the solutions required in our line of work, be it in the health or education sector.
Our Guest of honour, we met here at AKU having left our beloved families behind in the pursuit for further education. It was not an easy decision parting with loved ones and especially our children, but we were determined to study and make this very special day real for each one of us. We are therefore grateful to our Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan for the establishment of a University offering high quality education, scholarships and equal opportunities for women to access to tertiary education. We are grateful for the support we received enabling us to complete our programmes smoothly.
Fellow graduates, I know that we all realise what a great gift is to be as prepared as we are. We consider ourselves privileged to have been beneficiaries of the unique educational experience we had here. I want you to remember the competitive knowledge, skills and attitudes we were furnished with. We have got the most prestigious academic excellence, and if you intend to pursue further education or not, you will still benefit greatly from what you learned at AKU.
Many of us work in the public sector, mainly in the health and education sectors and we are grateful to our employers for release from duty. As you are aware, adult learners have many roles and responsibilities and so to be able to study as a full time or as a part time student is a great demonstration of the governments’ investment in our professional development. We appreciate all the three East African governments for the support given.
To our families, many of whom are seated here today, you are very special. Thank you parents and also husbands and wives who for a long time were both ‘mama’ and ‘baba’ as we burned the midnight oil studying. We appreciate your commitment. More thanks to our brothers and sisters who stepped in to support our families while we immersed ourselves in the rigor of learning. We thank God also for protecting our families.
Finally, fellow graduates and friends, this journey is over and we celebrate this milestone in our lives with joy and pride. But remember that, this is the beginning of another journey. We have been equipped so we have a responsibility to put into practice all that we have been taught in our places of work. Be the person that makes the difference in your office, be the person that people come for professional guidance. Be generous with your knowledge and skills. Let us be known for not only our competence but also our excellence. I urge us to be committed, responsible and diligent. As AKU’s Alumni, let us give back to the institution, which has given us so much, which will change our lives and of those around us forever.

Thank you. God bless you and let us celebrate our achievement this day.



","speech_226096","","English" "Aga Khan University 14th Convocation ceremony, Dar es Salaam","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-2019-02-aku_convocation_3_r.jpg","Dar es Salaam","Thursday, 7 February 2019","1549449900","Speech by Firoz Rasul, President of the Aga Khan University, at the Convocation ceremony in Dar es Salaam","","speech","Tanzania","","2010s","","","","8941","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_university/aku-tanzania-2019-02-aku_convocation_3_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

Our Chief Guest, the Honorable Anne Makinda, former Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania;
Chief Justice Mohammed Othman;
Members of the Board of Trustees;
Provost Carl Amrhein;
Members of Government and the Diplomatic Corps;
Deans, faculty, and staff of the University;
Parents, partners, supporters, donors, and distinguished guests;
And most importantly, our graduands:

Hamjambo and Karibuni. Welcome to the 2019 Convocation ceremony of the Aga Khan University.

Today, we celebrate your graduation. There is really no other day like convocation. There is so much optimism in the air. So much pride on so many faces. So much confidence in so many hearts. And, finally the day we have all been working toward has arrived.

Graduands, you sit here surrounded by your family and friends, your classmates and professors, ready to receive your reward for all those long hours of study, and ready to write the next chapter in your lives and careers.

An AKU education is a stern test. But it has brought out the best in you. You have the knowledge and skills; the confidence and compassion; and the capacity for leadership needed to make a difference in the lives of others. On behalf of the entire AKU community, I would like to congratulate all of you!

This is a milestone in your lives. And it is also a milestone in the history of the Aga Khan University.

With the graduation of this year’s class, we will have awarded more than 3,000 degrees and diplomas in East Africa.

From rural clinics to Muhimbili National Hospital, your fellow alumni are providing the outstanding care people need to lead healthy and productive lives. They are elevating the quality of teaching from the pre-primary to the university level. In the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, they are formulating policies to accelerate Tanzania’s development.

The alumni are leading change in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Arusha, Mtwara, the Southern Highlands and everywhere in between.

That is truly cause for celebration. It shows that AKU graduates are indeed and I quote “a powerful light” – as our Founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, described them three decades ago.
It is also cause for giving thanks – and there are many to whom we are grateful.

Our donors, and especially our Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan, have made extraordinary investments in this University, enabling us to provide financial support for our students’ education. Our partners are helping us to achieve new levels of impact. Our faculty and staff have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to meeting rigorous international quality standards. And the family members of our graduands deserve special recognition. I know you made many sacrifices so your loved one could be here today.  

And we are humbled to be the recipient of so much generosity, trust, and dedication.

We are also enormously grateful to our Chancellor for founding this university 35 years ago and for guiding its evolution ever since. We hope he is proud of the impact we are making, the services we are rendering, the quality we are achieving, the values we are upholding, and the reputation we are earning.

Graduands – what an extraordinary moment this is in your lives. It is rich with possibility and full of questions.

But I believe there is one question above all that confronts each of you today: And that question is how can I lead a consequential and rewarding life?

I mean a life that contributes to the great tasks of overcoming disease, poverty, and ignorance. A life that empowers others to pursue their dreams. A life that calls upon all the knowledge and skills you have acquired, and challenges you to continue learning and growing.   

You are not alone in facing the question of how to make this a more just and prosperous world. It is one we all wrestle with.

Indeed, it is one the Chancellor asked at AKU’s founding, and considered deeply with the help of eminent leaders and thinkers such as the president of the Harvard University.

The answers the Chancellor elaborated form our founding vision. Today, I will ask you graduands to join me in reflecting on that vision. Because I believe it can help you to answer the all-important question: how can I make a difference?

First and foremost, the Chancellor recognised that the growth and spread of knowledge drives improvements in human welfare. And he saw that this means universities, as generators of knowledge and educators of leaders, have incredible potential to change our world for the better. Yet at the time, with honoured exceptions, relatively few universities in the developing world were achieving all that they might.

He concluded that what was needed was a new university deeply rooted in the developing world and devoted to meeting international standards of excellence in teaching and research.

Such a university could be the seed of widespread change. It could be a role model that would inspire other institutions to set their sights higher. It could point the way toward a future in which there might be hundreds of universities in the developing world, and in his words, “on the frontiers of scientific and humanistic knowledge, radiating intelligence and confidence, research and graduates, into flourishing economies and progressive legal and political systems.”

This as he just articulated was a bold vision.

But the Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan was not deterred. Today it is clear how right he was to persevere.

Every day, AKU is improving quality of life for the people of Tanzania, and helping government to meet its health and education goals.

Our professional development programmes have equipped nearly 3,000 Tanzanian educators and teachers with new strategies for enhancing teaching and learning, benefitting well over 100,000 students. And we are working hard to develop a new Diploma in Education to support the government’s goal of upskilling primary school teachers.

In Mwanza, we are collaborating with government health facilities and fellow agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network to improve health for more than 700,000 women and children.

Recently, we visited dozens of our nursing alumni across the country, including many working in the public sector, and heard how their leadership is improving the health of their communities.

We spoke with a top nursing official, a nursing school principal, the director of nursing at a regional referral hospital, and many others. We heard how they have reduced hospital mortality, increased the number of women giving birth in health facilities, helped write new nursing regulations, and much more.

As one alumnus said and I quote, “We were taught to be courageous, to challenge things, and always ask what the outcome would be if we did things in a different way.”

I am pleased to report that the quality of an AKU education was confirmed by the recent news that a graduate of our Institute for Educational Development here in Dar es Salaam received Kenya’s 2018 Teacher of the Year Award. What’s more, is for the second time, an AKU alumnus has been named a finalist for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize. This is a source of great pride for us.

Graduands, several principles emerge from this history with special vividness. I urge you to consider them closely.  

First: Boldness is a Virtue. To make a lasting difference, you must be willing to swim against the tide and into uncharted waters. Great achievements are born from audacious ambition – the kind that brought this University into existence.

And second: Excellence Drives Impact. Rather than a luxury, excellence is a transformative force with the power to improve life for everyone.

There is another pillar of the founding vision that I believe has special relevance to your lives today.

Around the world, we see efforts to stoke conflict by pitting different groups against each another.

By contrast, this University has always stood for the principle that everyone deserves access to opportunity, regardless of faith, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or socioeconomic status. That is why, for example, we provide financial assistance to those in need – so that students from the widest possible range of backgrounds can attend AKU.

Hence I urge you to focus not on that which separates one group from one another, but on our common humanity. I urge you to work across borders and boundaries of all kinds to better people’s lives, especially those of the disadvantaged.

In other words: Be a Unifier, not a divider.

The final principle that I will mention was memorably stated by our Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan three decades ago.

Universities, he said, “must endeavour…to fly high and see beyond our present horizons.” They must “identify which current trends are likely to evolve into major changes, and to stimulate thinking about their implications in advance.”

Let me quote that again - “to fly high, and see beyond our present horizons.”

That is precisely what AKU is attempting to do. And what we see is a world where the issues are large, numerous and interconnected – a world that demands a truly multidisciplinary university equal to the scale and complexity of the problems it faces.

Hence, we have plans to establish a Faculty of Arts and Sciences to provide a wide-ranging undergraduate education that prepares students for leadership in multiple fields. We are educating journalists and communicators at our Graduate School of Media and Communications, the first of a number of new Graduate Professional Schools we are developing. Our East Africa Institute is delivering conversation-shaping insights on public policy issues. The Institute for Human Development is conducting research aimed at ensuring every child develops to their full potential. Our Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health is strengthening health systems for East Africa’s most vulnerable women and children.

Graduands, in a constantly evolving world, you too must endeavour to fly high and see far. You must anticipate, adapt to, and shape the course of change.   

As you chart your unique course in life, I encourage you to look to our founding vision for inspiration.

Be bold. Pursue excellence. Be a unifier. Look to tomorrow, and stand ready to act.   

Graduands, this is not goodbye. Today, you are joining the AKU alumni community – a network of thousands of change agents that spans the country, the region, and the world. I urge you to stay connected to your classmates and your University, and to seek out your fellow alumni for advice and collaboration.

Your story is part of the University’s story, and our founding vision will find its fulfilment in your achievements.

We cannot wait to see how brightly your light shines in the world today.

Thank you and Asanteni sana.



"" لقد ساعدنا للحد من معدل الوفيات في المستشفات، وزاد عدد النساء اللواتي يلدن في المرافق الصحية، وساعدنا في وضع قوانين جديدة في التمريض، إضافةً إلى أمور كثيرة.

وكما ذكر أحد خريجي جامعتنا، وأقتبس كلامه: ""لقد تعلمنا أن نكون شجعاناً، وأن نتحدى الأشياء، وأن نسأل دائماً ما ستكون النتيجة إذا فعلنا الأشياء بطريقة مختلفة"".

","English" "KfW ""Weiterdenken"" (""Thinking Ahead"") event","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-01-germany-011519_1492.jpg","Berlin, Germany","Monday, 14 January 2019","1547569800","Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the KfW ""Weiterdenken"" (""Thinking Ahead"") event","","speech","Afghanistan,Germany","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2019/2019-01-germany-011519_1492.jpg","","partnerships","","


Minister of State, Mr. Niels Annen,
Professor Dr. Joachim Nagel,
Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to celebrate here today the special partnership between Germany and the Aga Khan Development Network, or AKDN. Over the past 25 years, we have implemented almost € 600 million of programmes together in Asia and in Africa - spanning clean energy and infrastructure, water supply and sanitation, financial services and tourism, as well as education, health and civil society.

In all of this work, our relationship with the KfW Development Bank and DEG remains vital. And while AKDN has also cooperated with most of Germany’s development actors, I should especially thank the Federal Foreign Office and the Ministry of Development, or BMZ, for their key support.

Tonight, we gather to recognise our shared commitments and achievements in Afghanistan, and reflect on lessons that might apply towards other contexts of fragility and crisis.

The breadth of AKDN’s global partnership with Germany is reflected in extensive cooperation in Afghanistan. Together our institutions have strengthened regional connectivity through cross-border infrastructure; improved health through public-private partnerships; and restored Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage at the Bagh-e-Babur and Chihilsitoon Gardens, and now the Kabul riverfront project.  

We have also used an innovative programme of small, community-led infrastructure projects to encourage local people to take charge of their development. This Stabilisation Programme for Northern Afghanistan was the springboard for today’s conference and tonight’s dialogue. Over € 100 million has been programmed through community consultations into 430 projects, responding to the needs identified by local people as most important to them. These build more than infrastructure: they also build trust, they enhance government legitimacy and civic engagement.

Those are vital ingredients for stability within any country, but especially for fragile regions. These are hallmarks of AKDN’s approach, developed in places such as Northern Pakistan, post-conflict Tajikistan or Afghanistan, as well as Syria, Mali, Mozambique and elsewhere.

From this experience in stabilisation, we would emphasise three crucial elements:

The first key lesson is to concentrate at the local level. Wherever the national conditions are unfavourable - in fragile or conflict situations they rarely are favourable - meaningful changes often start fastest locally, quickly building credibility and confidence.

The second lesson is that commitment to pluralism is essential. The consultations must be wide, and everyone in the community must benefit. I have learnt this lesson during my more than 60 years as the Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, responsible for the spiritual and physical well-being of my Jamat and - most crucially in this context - for those with whom they live, whatever their faith or creed.

Finally, we would insist on the critical importance of civil society, which we refer to as private organisations designed to serve public goals. Such institutions are stabilising factors and points of continuity where security is fragile and politics are volatile. Consequently, investing in them, alongside the state, remains critical.

I look forward to the rest of tonight’s discussion and reflection on these important topics.

The world needs Germany’s principled and pragmatic leadership role - now more than ever. As Germany reflects on the future of its commitment in Afghanistan and the nature of its engagement in other parts of the world, I hope that it will draw on these principles that have guided our cooperation together over such a long time - emphasising local participation, promoting pluralism and strengthening the institutions of civil society.

Thank you very much.


إنه لمن دواعي سروري الاحتفال هنا اليوم بالشراكة الخاصة التي تجمع ألمانيا وشبكة الآغا خان للتنمية. نفّذنا سويّاً خلال الـ25 سنة الماضية برامج في آسيا وإفريقيا بلغت قيمتها ما يقارب الـ600 مليون يورو، وتشمل مجالات الطاقة النظيفة، البنية التحتية، إمدادات المياه والصرف الصحي، والخدمات المالية والسياحة، إضافةً إلى التعليم والصحة والمجتمع المدني.

","English" "1980 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-master-jury-1980.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","332521200","1980 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","1980s","","","","223486","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture","

As members of the Master jury, we have carefully considered the nominations for the first Aga Khan Award for Architecture during our meetings in Geneva from June 30th to July 5th, 1980. Our deliberations were greatly facilitated by the thoroughness and technical competence of the nomination, review, and evaluation process conducted under the supervision of the Steering Committee for the Award over the last two years, and by the high level of discussion in the five seminars on architectural concepts and designs.

In our task, we were guided by the terms of reference for the Award which stress recognition of those projects ""which demonstrate architectural excellence at all levels""; which respond to their ""social, economic, technical, physical, and environmental challenges""; which nurture ""a heightened awareness of the roots and essence of Muslim culture""; and which ""have the potential to stimulate related developments elsewhere in the Muslim world.""

We found our task a difficult one. The difficulty arose from the prevailing reality that Muslim culture is slowly emerging from a long period of subjugation and neglect in which it had virtually lost its identity, its self-confidence, its very language - those characteristics which, after all, are what relevant architecture does and should express. The present is a period of transition - a period when traditional heritage is being rediscovered, when new experiments are being made to combine modern technology with cultural continuity in both richer and poorer countries, and when there is urgent search for socially responsive forms of architecture for the poor majority.

Considering the fact that this is the first time that an award of this kind has been instituted, the sustained effort and imagination that went into the nomination, review, and evaluation process were remarkably thorough. An impressive effort was made to review projects in as many as thirty countries. However, there was a somewhat restricted coverage in the projects we reviewed, and certain areas of architecture were not fully represented, such as educational buildings, mosques, community centres, and public offices. We hope that a much larger sample of projects will be made available to future juries once the objectives of the Award are better understood and firmly established. Thus, the projects presented to us reflected the present stage of transition, experimentation, and continued search in Muslim societies.

In most instances they represented not the ultimate in architectural excellence, but steps in a process of discovery, still an incomplete voyage towards many promising frontiers. Although we have selected some of the projects for their excellence in architecture, many of them stand as accomplishments in this continuing search for relevant forms and designs that has already started and which must be supported. For this reason we have deliberately chosen a fairly broad sample of projects for the Award, rather than up to only five projects, since few projects really meet all the criteria for a creative and socially responsive Islamic architecture, though each presents an important facet of the ongoing search for an ideal. For this reason too, we have allocated the prize money with the intention of striking a balance between need and encouragement, keeping in mind the use to which this money can be put by those receiving it.

In the process of our independent review and selection of projects for this Award, we have become deeply conscious of the need for future evolution of Islamic architecture to meet the urgent needs of the impatient masses. The search for appropriate forms of low-cost housing is one such area of urgent crisis in many Muslim societies. A good deal of intensive research and analysis is needed to identify cost-effective, indigenous, and innovative solutions to the architectural forms which are most suitable for the economic, cultural, and technological needs of the Muslim world. No responsible architect can ever afford to ignore the socio-economic environment in his legitimate pursuit of excellence of design, nor is it necessary to sacrifice architectural excellence in finding socially responsive solutions to the difficult problems of these societies. We faced this dilemma time and time again in our discussions, but on closer examination the dilemma proved to be a false one. What is really needed is a redefinition of architectural excellence in a socio-economic context.

We believe that it is necessary to support continued research on appropriate forms of architecture for Muslim societies when only limited financing is available. The study of architecture should be encouraged in schools as part of a broad movement to train future generations for practising and disseminating relevant concepts. We urge that special efforts be made to provide adequate financing for research and training in this area.

We would like to place on record our deep appreciation for the visionary initiative taken by His Highness the Aga Khan. We also value highly the major role played by the Steering Committee in piloting the entire process for the Award, the high calibre of technical review, and the substantive organisation by the Convenor and her staff. The Award has started a new dynamic process towards a contemporary architecture that meets the evolving needs of Muslim societies.

","speech_223541","","English" "1983 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-master-jury-1983.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","427129200","1983 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","1980s","","","","223481","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture","

As members of the Master Jury we have carefully considered the 216 nominations for the second Aga Khan Award for Architecture in two separate meetings in Geneva, January 24-28 and June 20-24, 1983. At the first meeting, thirty-six projects were selected for detailed technical review in situ. In the second meeting we selected the eleven winners. Our deliberations in both meetings were considerably facilitated by the thoroughness and technical competence of those who prepared the project dossiers and undertook the detailed technical reviews, as well as by the outstanding support given to us by the Award office, the Award staff, and the secretary general.

In our task, we were guided by the terms of reference for the Awards, which stress recognition of those projects that ""demonstrate architectural excellence at all levels""; that respond to their ""social, economic, technical, physical and environmental challenges""; that nurture ""a heightened awareness of the roots and essence of Muslim culture""; and that ""have the potential to stimulate related developments elsewhere in the Muslim world."" We have also tried to respond to the felt need for reducing the numbers of winners to enhance the importance bestowed by the Award on the projects selected. It proved difficult largely because of the diversity of viewpoints among the jury members, and for some because of the breadth and variety of the projects considered, which reflect the scope and diversity of the Muslim world with its myriad challenges as well as the many different responses that imaginative individuals and groups have made to these challenges.

The eleven schemes premiated were retained by the jury, which was satisfied that they, in addition to their individual merit, collectively represented a sampling of the geographical range of Islam, from Mali to Malaysia, the problems of rural and urban populations, and of widely varying incomes in very different environments. The jury was in agreement that the projects, eleven from nine countries, fairly (though of course not completely) represent the richness and variety of the cultures of Islam. Here the agreement ended: no one on the jury saw the projects as equal in accomplishment, merit, or importance. The most widely held sympathies, probably, were for the three restoration projects. The Hajj Terminal, almost everyone felt, is in a class by itself, its structure a magnificent achievement of twentieth-century technology.

At the other end of the spectrum between the familiar and the surprising, even more controversially, lies the mud mosque in Niono, Mali, the work of a master mason building in the rich tradition of his country. Some jury members felt strongly that in spite of its elegance and beauty, it was not in a class with the architecture of more sophisticated societies, that it represents the last efforts of a traditional culture that cannot survive for long; other jurors saw it in its continuity and poetry as representing a major source of continuing inspiration.

In between these two comes the ""white flower,"" as one juror put it, Sherefudin's White Mosque, probably the most widely (though certainly not universally) admired of all eleven, full of originality and innovation (though with an undeniable debt to Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamp) laden with the architect's thought and spirit, shared richly with the community, connecting with the future and the past.

The same spirit has gone more humbly into the Ramses Wissa Wassef Arts Centre, a traditional mud-brick building with a casual though learned plan, in which the great glory is the light, falling on a collection of sculptures.

The other four entries are housing; they represent on the one hand the central importance housing has to our world and on the other the compromises and miscarriages that diminish the clarity of housing design and increase directly with the inhabitants' number, and inversely with their wealth.

The easiest housing problem then and the most elegant solution can be expected to be for a private house. The jury premiated an airy and handsome house on the Turkish coast, finely crafted in the local tradition. Another problem that promises achievable elegance is the tourist hotel: the jury picked two, in Malaysia and Tunisia. More difficult to confront is urban housing for middle- and lower-income inhabitants. The Hafsia quarter of Tunis is an important effort to deal with the problem, though flawed in execution and detail.

The jurors believe the projects should not be seen as equivalent in social importance or sophistication or elegance or technological innovation or depth of poetic feeling, but rather, as the 1980 Master Jury put it, as reflecting ""the present stage of transition, experimentation, and continued search in Muslim societies. In most instances they represented not the ultimate in architectural excellence, but steps in a process of discovery, still an incomplete voyage toward many promising frontiers."" As they did, we in 1983 also have selected some of the projects for their excellence in architecture but recognize that most of them ""stand as accomplishments in this continuing search for relevant forms and designs that has already started and that must be supported.""

Finally, we would like to salute the generous and continuing support His Highness the Aga Khan is giving to this most important search.

","speech_223536","","English" "1986 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-master-jury-1989.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","521822700","1986 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","1980s","","","","223496","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","

As members of the Master jury we have carefully considered the 213 nominations for the third Aga Khan Award for Architecture in two separate meetings in Geneva, in January and in June, 1986. At the first meeting, 25 projects were selected for detailed technical review. In the second meeting we selected the six Award winners. Both meetings were consistently well organised by the Secretariat staff. Without the thoroughness and technical competence of those who prepared the project dossiers and undertook the detailed technical reviews, and the outstanding support given to us by the Award office, the Award staff and the Secretary-General, our deliberations would have been more difficult and protracted.

The three-year period since the last awards has seen the culmination of a remarkable change in the climate of architectural opinion. In the Western world there have been emerging doubts that the earlier assurance of the Modern Movement was justified; at the same time nations in the Third World have begun to feel the need for architectures which express their own goals and identities.

In common with both these situations have been a number of significant developments. The accelerating urban growth has drawn attention to the plight of large sections of the population for whom adequate housing cannot possibly be provided by existing procedures. The decay of the historic centres has led to uncontrolled and unprincipled destruction and rebuilding. The deprivation and alienation experienced by the moving populations has been matched by the increasing validity given by designers to sociological issues and contextualism. Functionalism has been reassessed to include visual meaning and symbolism; human values balance technical values; a new critical spirit is reassessing the past.

In this third cycle of the Award, it is perhaps not surprising that the field was felt by the jry to be somewhat reduced, and few projects excited any passions. The difficulties experienced by the jury in agreeing on more than a small number of works of quality may also reflect the issues of doubt and reassessment mentioned above, and are an indication of a crisis in creativity and innovation.

The award of prizes is only part of the exercise of the jury. Concern for vitality and quality have led us to look carefully at the reasons for the rejection of projects in the first round - and after this to reflect on problems that might be addressed by architects and clients in the Islamic world. The jury has been only too aware of the difficult choices to be made and dilemmas to be faced by architects of the Islamic world over a wide spectrum of issues.

Many of the new buildings reflect the contradictory preferences that exist in countries of the Islamic world which are in a process of transformation or transition. There is no single sense of direction in which tastes are evolving, either with the general public or with the client or the architect. The distortion produced by external influences may interfere with cultural continuity, producing characteristics that are vulgar or ugly, but they can also be positive and enriching. The least we felt that we could do, as a jury, was to examine the submissions looking for works which illuminate the issues with genuine content and an absence of arrogance.

Public Awareness In so doing, we felt that there was a great need for public debate about architecture within Islamic societies. The programmes of buildings and developments ought not to be left to public officials or powerful architectural firms to determine. A plea must be made for subjecting to public scrutiny all such proposals. The evolution of taste in societies that are transforming themselves should be a public affair, something of concern to every member of the community, about which the community should be able to speak: it should not be the sole prerogative of those in power, whether on the architectural side or on the client's side. A gestation period should also be built into the submission of such proposals to allow for public reaction and participation. Confusion of judgement and a breakdown of aesthetic standards are phenomena of transitional societies to which architects are as much subject as anyone else. By raising these issues, the Award jury hopes to draw the attention of the architectural and non-professional communities to one process out of which a better design culture might begin to crystallise.

The reassessment of traditional values in modern contexts and in ways that respond to modern challenges is something that goes beyond questions of architectural aesthetics and functions, and becomes a key role in the professional ethics of the architect.

Cultural Continuity To the above is related the important factor of cultural continuity. The whole crisis in Asia and Africa shows that when a nation loses its sense of identity, and therefore its pride in itself, it is deprived of creative genius; for this reason, it is essential that some sense of continuity is retained. Buildings may challenge this continuity, but they should not break with it completely, for then alienation sets in and antagonistic processes may result.

Two dangers threaten continuity. On the one hand, there are possibilities of distortion through the processes of reinterpretation and re-evaluation of cultures in the face of new challenges and opportunities, and of undue external influences, the latter sometimes introduced through such agencies as misdirected foreign aid. On the other hand, there is the extreme severity and urgency of the urban expansion in the Third World, so that architects have a new responsibility in their handling of socially oriented projects. Housing may now be the most important of the problems that architects in Islamic societies have to face: it challenges them not simply to emulate the standards by which professionals in the First World operate in working for the modern sector, but forces them to be critical of influences from the industrial world, and to face the issue of dealing with indigenous materials, the indigenous capacity for creativity and the special values of traditional societies. There is also the new ecological responsibility that the architect has to assume towards the countryside. Rural villages have grown so fast that urban responses are required; we have to search for new types of rural cities in the Third World capable of being viable at a very low level of income. These are new challenges to the architect which are expanding his ethics and his ethos and which are arising from a specific crisis in the Third World.

Education Architectural education has a special role to play in preparing architects to deal with these new and major issues, especially, but not only, those of the Third World. The jury has been only too aware of the dilemmas and of the difficult choices that Islamic architects will have to make across a wide spectrum of issues. It is to be hoped that the awards that we have recommended together with the recommendations of this report may help to draw attention to some of the categories now assuming such importance.

The Work of the Award Jury

In all these ways, architecture and urban design in the Islamic world are clearly in a state of transition. In recommending the awards the jury has been considering signs of trends which might prove to be most useful or most desirable; these criteria have been carefully selected bearing in mind the diversity of Islamic cultures.

As a working method, the submitted projects were grouped under five headings and an endeavour was made to find at least one project which was judged worthy of an award in each group: mosques; public, commercial and industrial buildings; human settlements; rehabilitation and improvement; housing; and lastly conservation and adaptive re-use.

In the course of its task, the Award jury was guided by the terms of reference for the Award which stress recognition of those projects ""which demonstrate architectural excellence at all levels""; which respond to ""social, economic, technical, physical and environmental challenges""; which nurture ""a heightened awareness of the roots and essence of Muslim Culture""; which are concerned with the challenges of the future; and which have the potential to ""stimulate related developments elsewhere in the Islamic world"".

At the same time the Award Jury was aware that schemes might justify an award for quite different reasons. For instance, by serving as an example of the evolutionary process, or alternatively by serving as an example of a revolutionary process when appropriate. Throughout, the jury placed emphasis in making its assessments on basic, elemental architectural qualities, as opposed to the over-simplistic, bombastic, or ideological qualities that are sometimes lauded in contemporary and ""vernacular"" architecture alike. In making its judgement the jury was concerned to note conflicting philosophies between the approach of the ""Modern Movement"", which is often concerned with the search for a logical language of clarity and unity which might be universally applied, and the results of the continuing evolutionary process, which are frequently more concerned with diversity and vitality, with joy and engagement with the users.

In the judgement of the Award jury its function was to assess not only the value and quality of a building complex but also its contextual significance. At this time in the Islamic world there is an important new category of buildings, those which are sophisticated and highly technical, but this fact should not lead to the neglect of their impact on the societies in which they are placed.

Nor should the development of new building types and technologies lead to the undervaluing of buildings which belong to the traditions of the people and have a naive vitality that is uniquely their own. A lively community has many levels of expression, and the creative vitality of craftsmen in society should be encouraged.

The Award Jury wishes to recognise in making the awards that the contributions of the client and the user were often of the greatest importance to the design process. When the process of design and building is correctly put in train, a true balance of contribution between the client, the user, the architects and the craftsmen is achieved. Such a framework allows the growth of a spontaneous vitality and creative energy. The process of designing constructions and the process of evolving communal action have to combine to generate projects which are within a framework for active use by the population.

In considering the category of sophisticated and highly technical buildings, the jury observed with regret that few of the projects appeared to possess true inner conviction, let alone a vision for the future of architecture in the Islamic world. In selecting from the buildings nominated the jury was keenly aware that its choice would be interpreted as ""sending a message"" of directions which architects in Islamic societies ought to follow. Few of the nominated projects could perform this role. In the final analysis, the most important criteria were felt to be:

  • To what extent is the building expressive of a new vitality in the architecture of the Islamic world?
  • Could the building stimulate local creativity, even if it is the work of a foreign architect, and thus point to new directions in architectural design?
  • Will the solution adopted have a stimulating effect on identity formation?
  • Does the building reveal a sense of purpose, social responsibility and conviction underlying its design?
  • Is the claim that it is a functional solution truly sustainable?
  • Is the attempt of the architecture to respond to the Islamic environment merely pompous and self-conscious?
  • Is the building in scale with its environment, or does the handling of elements within the building produce a character that is arrogant and insensitive to the context in which it is placed?
  • Is the building likely to induce alienation because of the difference between the image of the architecture and the expectations of the inhabitants of the area about their environment?

The relatively small number of buildings short-listed in this category is a reflection of the crisis in modern architecture in the Islamic world today and particularly in the contextual significance, or lack of it, in many of the approaches to architectural design being adopted by the profession. Nevertheless, the jury would like to affirm its identification with the contemporary architectural efforts being made by many of the most sincere and committed designers.

The other side of the coin is that, in traditional societies, age-old architectural forms have reached such a state of high sophistication that even as they may slowly degenerate they remain more expressive and sympathetic to the aspirations of the people than all but the most perceptive of contemporary designs. Particularly in the hands of local craftsmen, the expressions of these surviving traditions sometimes have a vigour and conviction which truly celebrate devotion, contemplation or commemoration. The jury felt that the success of these creations should be an object lesson to all interested in the art of architecture and the maintenance of a sense of identity, and that in a few important cases, the work of these humble designers reached a level of inspired expression, sensitivity and occasionally innovation, which merited recognition and encouragement with an award.

The Award jury felt that the quality of the awards might be enhanced by producing a wide-ranging list of recommendations that takes into account the vitality of the ""popular"" movement in architecture. There is an architecture which is expressive beyond our rational logical understanding. One of the responsibilities of the Award jury was not to impose but to be alert and observant to what is there. Given the range of achievements in the world it is important for everyone to learn to adjust his values in order to be able to experience the full benefits of creative variety in each country and region.

One of the aspects of ""popular"" architecture that irritates sophisticated people is that it frequently takes elements and uses them in the ""wrong ways"", but history is full of examples in which such a process has led to important new developments, aesthetic and symbolic; ""popular"" art can be a source for ""high"" art and often has been in the history of art.

Architecture has a central role in creating and keeping alive a high level of taste. But this ""popular"" taste which is kept alive by the ingenuous craftsman may have equal significance for future vitality in the creative arts. In other words, there is a dualistic element of creativity in indigenous societies in the Third World that has tended to be eliminated by its Western-oriented component. Diversity is a necessary element for regeneration, reinterpretation and creation.

If we are called upon to find a direction that might be developed into a viable role for architects in the Islamic world, these divergent directions must be examined seriously. They possess pride and joy and essential, elemental qualities. It is a direction that is not always ""nice"" but it has this element of vitality.

The Award jury was aware of the danger of bringing to its task a uniformity of approach and taste.

There should not be an imposition of middle-class tastes and styles all over the world but rather the acknowledgement of divergent tastes and styles, a situation which has existed in all creative periods.

The concern of the jury with some projects for conservation is understandable in the light of the need to preserve and recover the past, particularly in the present state of rapid change in the Islamic world. In a global sense, much of what is happening in Islamic societies today is conservation or restoration in one sense or another. This is not a matter of nostalgia or sentiment, it is an intelligent assessment of the state of a civilisation.

Yet a number of the problems confronting the architect have only developed within recent times, so that precedent is no help in solving them. Nor can all questions be reduced to regional questions.

The jury has felt the need to consider these issues in recommending projects. However, the Award jury, while recognising the importance of awarding excellence and encouraging architects, was careful not to compromise the standard of its recommendations for excellence, for the sake of encouragement.

At this point, the jury wishes to say explicitly that the apparent lack of balance in the range of its awards results, in its opinion, from the particular quality of the submissions and not from any bias on its part: social housing, and public and building types exhibiting modern architectural expression are especially relevant categories to be encouraged in the Islamic world and represented with a quality appropriate to their importance.

Six other aspects of the contemporary architectural situation in the Islamic world particularly attracted the attention of the Master Jury:

Tourism The jury felt that it had to acknowledge that there were different tastes among different cultures. While emphasising in its deliberations the importance of giving pre-eminence to the protection of the local cultures and the indigenous people from pollution by foreign tourism, and always considering domestic tourism as more important than tourism from outside, the Award jury considered that the provision of tourist amenities did have important educational, culture-bridging and economic benefits.

The design of buildings for tourism was felt to involve quite different criteria from those involved in assessing any other architectures. One member of the Jury expressed this well during the deliberations: ""Tourist architecture is scenic architecture, creating a scenic mood. Disney showed us the way. People escape, they play a role. We should be tolerant and show an understanding of this type of building ...""

The jury therefore gave particularly careful consideration to the problem of designing architecture for tourism.

While mentioning tourism the Award jury wished to praise the commendable conservation achievements of the Touring and Automobile Association of Turkey in undertaking the repair and adaptive re-use of a large number of important buildings, large and small, in and around Istanbul for the use of visitors and the public. One of the most noteworthy of the projects undertaken is the conservation and refitting of the Khedive Palace at Cubuklu for use as a hotel. The President of the Association has, by his driving force, achieved this remarkable programme which continues to engage ever more ambitious conservation projects and, at the same time, to serve the people of his country and tourism.

Airports Airports were considered by the jury to be of great importance to any nation. Apart from their functionality, they act as symbols of the society to strangers from abroad; they are gateways to the region they serve; they create images in the same way as the great railway stations in the cities of the nineteenth century.

These aspects were paramount in the minds of the jury as they considered the nominated projects in this category which was felt to be a category of great importance in contemporary terms.

Industrial Architecture The Award jury resolved to place on record its view that architects in the Islamic world might pay more attention to the architectural design of industrial buildings. The jury regretted that only one of the submitted industrial buildings was short-listed for the final round of the jury. However, it was encouraging to note that this was of high merit.

Housing The jury noted with regret a detailed report on the failure of one well intentioned mass-housing project, initiated by agencies operating from abroad, due primarily to misjudgement of the priorities of the local population. In particular, the introduction of alien forms and materials of construction was a major cause of the rejection of the scheme by the people, because of adverse formal associations; they felt that the houses produced had nothing to do with their culture.

There was also a failure on the part of the architects to test, in the field, preliminary climatic studies. A further reason given for the cessation of the scheme was an unfortunate breakdown of communication among the agencies of external financing, the architects and urbanists, and national officials who combined some incompetence with some resistance to co-operation.

Such histories on the intervention of outsiders are unfortunately only too common, and the jury recommends that they be studied carefully by architects and international agencies, and that the practice of making case studies available for assessment be introduced, in the hope that the likelihood of such failures may be significantly reduced in future.

Human Settlements, Rehabilitation and Improvement Throughout the Third World the booming expansion of cities is one of the most worrying prospects: at the present rate of growth, the urban poor of the Third World will form the majority of the world's population within 15 years.

In this situation the Award jury gave the highest priority to making an award in the area of human settlements and rehabilitation. A number of projects were examined, and while the jury noted with satisfaction that in some cases earlier awards had clearly encouraged further efforts along the same lines, their interventions were mainly of an infrastructural type. Schemes exhibiting the intervention of the skills of the architect to devise strategies by which the urban poor might be better served with housing and environmental amenities - other than those which are the normal responsibility of an efficient municipality - were felt to be in some cases flawed, and, in at least one case, of too recent a date for the jury to be in a position to assess it. Such schemes are endeavouring to provide permanence to human settlements: it has become clear that title to property in some form is an essential precondition of any successful scheme for revitalisation.

At the same time the economic implications of such an approach have to be fully worked out, and the long-term effects on the quality of life and social stability have to be clearly understood.

It was therefore with great regret the jury felt that no award could be given in this category in this cycle. Nevertheless the Jury wish to stress their conclusion that this area of activity is one to which architectural schools and practitioners ought to be increasingly paying more attention, because of its urgency and its significance.

National Symbols and Patriotic Monuments The Jury felt that any monuments which have a national patriotic meaning or symbolism, particularly mausoleums of recent leaders or martyrs, should be excluded from the competition. Whatever the decision of the Award jury, whether positive or negative, it is bound to arouse feelings with respect to the Award. These symbols are so laden with emotions that any attempt to engage in judgement of them by the Award may lead to some misunderstanding; architectural judgements are only a minute part of the judgements that will eventually be made on the approval or rejection of such emotive monuments.

Before going on to list the citations of the Award, the jury would like to comment on one project for which it is recommended that consideration for an award be postponed to the next cycle.

Sher-E-Bangla Nagar Capitol Complex, Dhaka The Award Jury concluded that the time is not ripe to make an assessment on the Capitol Complex because the building has not so far been used fully enough to be tested socially and functionally. There is now some likelihood that this situation will be rectified soon, with the election of a new parliament. For this reason it was decided to recommend that the Complex be re-assessed by the next Award Jury.

The jury's opinions have been sharply divided by its assessment of the significance of the project. Some members of the jury agonised through a period of days over the dilemmas that they felt confronted by in these buildings. Since so much time was devoted to this task, it was felt worthwhile to record both the positive and negative conclusions of these deliberations.

Louis Kahn is one of the leading figures of our century; the complex is acknowledged to have outstanding quality and originality in many ways, to be most creative in its handling of scale, in the layering of space and in its original use of openings in walls. But it is also apparent that the Dhaka design contains some problems that are inherent to it; yet the problems were felt to be of a type that is almost inevitable in buildings that are so innovative - the sweat stains of struggle show.

Some jury members did question certain qualities in the design: a tendency to over-formalism, a lack of connection with indigenous traditions and symbolism, a lack of connection to the city in which it is placed and finally the enormous expense in a country with very few resources and very low income levels. However, allowance ought also to be made for the great change that has taken place in the emphasis given to these factors in the twenty years since the building was designed. In addition, Kahn's architecture has entered the cycle of decline in prestige that almost inevitably follows a decade after an architect's death. A longer time-frame will undoubtedly rectify this to some extent. On the positive side, the building has made an invaluable contribution in the attention paid to the process of design and construction using rather simple materials yet achieving a design solution of high visual quality.

Dissenting Reports

Mehmet Doruk Pamir, Member of the 1986 Master Jury The majority position of the jury is a pre-meditated and clearly articulated defence of a severely limited set of options within the entire spectrum of possibilities which the Award might recognise. There is a romantic bias toward traditionalism, historicism and the vernacular. This reflects at least one dominant strain within the architectural discourse in Europe and America during the last decade. But the obvious question arises as to whether or not this one-dimensional message is a sufficient response to the complexities facing architects in the developing world. Most notably lacking is recognition of those projects which engage in the search for answers to the kind of technological issues which still face architects in regions where modern technical development cannot be taken for granted. Also curious was the tendency to suppress the creative hand of the architect through the predominance of awards to projects which involved a minimum of ""design"" concerns, at least in the strictest sense of self-conscious creative endeavour. Indeed, the projects seem to suppress these issues, relying on craft, folk-art and historic replication or preservation for aesthetic interest. For the large-scale projects, which are also well represented, the lumpen aesthetics of the marketplace or ""kitsch"" predominates. This is not to discount the sociological interest inherent to these projects, but again, for the architect as a professional there is a conspicuous absence of an aesthetic realm which one would hope is as important in the developing world as it is everywhere else.

The bias of the jury did not accrue from a lack of endeavour. Projects were rejected which even by global standards represent major advances in high-rise design, for example, or in industrial prefabrication, or which involved creative transformation of regional building imperatives, while aspiring toward technological development. Beyond the polemical nature of the jury's criteria lay a kind of professional discourse which is irrelevant to the high purpose of the Award. That the Sher-E-Bangla Nagar Capitol Complex in Dhaka should be excluded based on insufficient user evaluation does not succeed in overshadowing the less overt criteria, having to do, among other things, with the ""prestige"" of fashion. That the project is a masterpiece in the eyes of world architects can hardly be changed by the jury's decision. But its exclusion does raise questions about the jury's criteria which unfortunately are destined to remain obscure. The minority representation can take some reassurance from the hope that the next Award cycle will address some of the problems of balance and avoid fluctuations from one polemic to another, rather than aspiring to an even range of criteria within all cycles.

Hans Hollein, Member of the 1986 Master Jury The result of the judging does not reflect the opinion of a specific minority of jury members. It is clearly accepted that, in a democratic process, the majority wins. However, pluralistic tendencies are manifested in the fact that not one but several awards are attributed. An outsider would assume that the distribution to many diverse projects would reflect these pluralistic tendencies. The appointment of jurors of different persuasion seems to take care of having advocates for various opinions and secure such honouring of projects of different attitudes. This was not the case. Projects of unquestionable superior architectural merit and quality - such as the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Capitol Complex in Dhaka - have been voted out because of a constant bias of the majority of the jury. In the light of history this judgement will be reversed. To the aims of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, a judgement against architecture is a disservice.

","speech_223531","","English" "1989 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-master-jury1989.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","616430700","1989 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","1980s","","","","223476","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture","

The Master Jury for the 1989 Aga Khan Award for Architecture met twice. In January, it considered the 241 projects submitted by the Award's Nominators, and selected thirty-two to be studied in depth by Technical Reviewers. Then, at the end of June, the thirty-two finalists were reviewed on their own merits and in terms of the issues they reflect, the questions they pose, and the messages they send. The decisions which follow are unanimous, because the jury agreed to make it so, but unanimity was not reached for every project and sharp differences remained to the end on projects which are premiated and on some which are not. Throughout its deliberations, the jury sought to listen to all views and to feel respectful of the projects nominated as well of its own very varied opinions. Furthermore, as it discussed the nominations, the jury became aware of needs and opportunities for the architecture affecting Muslims everywhere which had not been as fully visible in previous Awards. The differences within the jury and the new sense of a universal Muslim community have been incorporated in four statements the jury wishes to make before presenting the Awards themselves.

As in the past, the jury congratulates the staff of the Award whose dedication, enthusiasm, humour, kindness and efficiency made the jury's labour a pleasure. It also congratulates the Technical Reviewers, all of whom undertook their uniquely responsible tasks with creative enthusiasm. They have all contributed to the richness and sophistication of the information available to the jury and stored in the offices of the Award. No segment of contemporary architecture anywhere is so wealthy in data and so well cared for.

The overall dimensions of the architecture affecting Muslims have changed enormously since the Award was created twelve years ago, partly perhaps under the impact of the Award itself. Five aspects of these new dimensions struck the jury: better quality of the final products and of the processes leading to them; complexity of the physical, social and economic components of social and community building; fuller coverage of contiguous Muslim regions; awareness of the large Muslim communities within non-Muslim worlds and the enormous increase in the quantity and quality of nominated projects built by Muslims. Each one of these aspects deserves its own lengthy elaboration. We only wish to stress two points. One is that the appearance of several nominations from the Central Asian Republics of the Soviet Union (one of these nominations was short-listed for Technical Review) allows the Award to consider itself now as the only cultural organism which truly reflects all the sub-cultures of the Muslim world. This is a welcome event indeed with considerable long-range importance for the Award. The second point is that the proper evaluation of some of the new schemes and projects for housing upgrading requires longer use than that needed to evaluate single buildings. As a result, we specifically recommend that the next Jury consider anew the East Wahdat scheme in Amman and the Incremental Development Scheme in Hyderabad. Both seemed to the Jury to have considerable merits which need a few more years to be properly appraised, since socially related architecture requires a flexible time frame for the determination of success or failure.

The Jury's decisions reward several of the directions visible in today's architecture in the Muslim world. These decisions should not be seen as an endorsement of all the implications of the projects involved, nor do they imply the rejection of values expressed in projects which were not premiated. Two examples illustrate our point. We discussed at great length the issue of revivalism as a fully thought-out recasting of forms created and used in the past or in vernacular traditions. The premiated projects include only some examples of that particular point of view, and it behoves the Award to acknowledge additional searches for a genuine, intelligent and tasteful revivalism whose mechanisms and values are not yet fully understood in an Islamic context. Thus, this jury salutes the efforts of Nader Ardalan with Iranian architecture and of Sergo Sutyagin with Central Asian architecture who are or have been involved with an interpretation of formal values which should enlighten our understanding of the past and shape the forms of the future.

The second example of novelty lies in the efforts of individual patrons and of non-governmental organisations in premiated projects and in many that are not. We want to emphasise how much these efforts are a welcome component in the mosaic of contemporary architecture which, especially in its social aspect, was dominated by government or international bureaucracies. We are aware, of course, of the dangers of speculation and profiteering associated with some of these private activities, and this is why we add a note of caution to our satisfaction, but the new enthusiasm of the private sector for improving society is most heart-warming. Finally, we wish to add that the message our decisions sends is not one of contradictions, but of simultaneous and parallel activities which identify some, certainly not all, of the aspirations and built forms of Muslim communities. These communities are in so many places and with so many hopes and ambitions that the solutions to their needs are bound to be different from each other.A jury's decision is a judgement of their quality, not necessarily of the ideologies they imply.

","speech_223526","","English" "1992 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-master-jury-1992.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","711125100","1992 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","1990s","","","","223471","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture","

In this, the fifth cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, nine projects have been premiated. They were selected from an initial group of two hundred and fifty-nine nominations and a list of twenty-seven finalists that were visited on-site by a team of eleven technical reviewers.

The Jury feels that they have discovered exemplary projects whose essence, directness and modesty have lessons for the world at large. The Jury notes the growth and maturing of cultural and architectural awareness in what hitherto have been regarded as marginal areas. It applauds the successful and imaginative solutions which enhance urban environments. It rejoices in the competence of local professional cadres who have used their architectural and planning skills to create places of dignity and to generate new architectural languages. The awarded projects are viable solutions which address issues of limited and diminishing resources and problems of the underprivileged in decaying neighbourhoods.

The Jury believes that these economically sustainable, humanistic solutions are relevant for the developed countries as well as the developing world.

","speech_223521","","English" "1995 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-1995-master-jury_0.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","805733100","1995 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","1990s","","","","223466","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture","

Critical Discourse for Creative Transformations The Master Jury for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture met three times, October 3-5, 1994; January 25-27, 1995; and June 5-9, 1995. We reviewed 442 projects, twenty-two of which were reviewed in situ by technical reviewers. The jury deliberations led to a consensus that we should bring a more critical dimension to the message of the Awards. We became convinced that the Award, having well established its pluralistic message, must move to a sharper critique of the architectural and social problematic confronting the Muslim world. Such a critique, we believe, will have relevance beyond the Muslim world and will make a contribution to the international architectural and social discourse on the eve of the third millennium.

From the 442 nominations, we selected twelve projects and grouped them in relation to three themes:

Projects that address a critical social discourse

Projects that address a critical architectural and urbanistic discourse

Projects that introduce innovative concepts worthy of attention

It is our belief that these projects illustrate an important message for the Muslim societies of today. More importantly, we feel that these messages are of universal relevance and constitute an important contribution that the architecture of the Muslim societies of today can make to the architectural and social discourse of the world. The jury wants to highlight not only the specificity of the solutions, but also their generic contributions and replicability.

We see the role of a new critical discourse as being projective rather than retrospective and so have introduced the category 'innovative concepts', explicitly geared to encourage risk taking by future aspirants to the Award. Only thus will imaginations be unleashed to generate new ideas; and through ideas, even now, we are inventing the future.

","speech_223516","","English" "1998 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-master-jury-1998.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","900081000","1998 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","1990s","","","","223461","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture","

The nine members of the Master Jury for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture met three times to select the winners from the 424 projects that were presented. Out of these, 24 projects were reviewed on site by a team of 12 distinguished reviewers whose presentations brought to the Jury the many complex aspects of each project.

From the beginning of its deliberations, the Jury was concerned with recognising projects that had a wider global context and meaning, as well as with identifying those projects that had regional relevance. It was also concerned not to duplicate messages conveyed through selections by earlier juries, so that the absence of certain types of work needs to be understood in that spirit.

The Jury searched for projects which respond creatively to the new crisis situations in the world in general today and in the Muslim world in particular: demographic pressure, environmental degradation, globalisation, standardisation, ethnic tensions, crisis of the nation state and the struggle for democracy and human rights, and the like. This search was related to community rebuilding, on the one hand, and to the development of vital vernacular modern styles on the other. The Jury recognised that major social, economic and political changes are taking place in the world today, and that the countries of the Islamic world are being profoundly affected by these changes. They are developing new life styles, cultural values, symbols and aspirations. The relationships between classes and groups are changing, as well as those between governments and the people at large. Except for social projects, an architecture that reflects these new realities has yet to be recognised and the Award as a result of its history is an ideal position to initiate this discourse.

Seven projects were selected for the Award. Two were seen to have qualities that could be of relevance to a larger world-wide (global) context: The Hebron Conservation effort as well as the Indore Slum networking project were considered exceptional in ways that are a departure from the conventional approach to upgrading. Both shared the idea of reclaiming community space from growing social and physical environmental degradation. In the case of Hebron, the project was initiated and managed by a community under siege.

Two projects were seen to respond in an exceptional way to specific social and environmental conditions. The Salinger house, an example of excellent architecture, uses local materials and skills to create a spatial vocabulary which is contemporary and yet not alienated from its specific cultural context. The Lepers Hospital, on the other hand, is sensitively designed to respond to the needs of the outcasts of society, providing them with shelter and hope while using minimum resources. Its architectural form is unpretentious to the extreme. Its proportions and concepts are, however, of the highest order.

Three projects, the Tuwaiq Palace, the Alhamra Arts Council, and the Vidhan Bhavan, were important and large-scale public buildings. Their form and context, within the Islamic world, was regarded by the Jury as very significant in the continuous process of evolving a contemporary architectural vocabulary. Their public functions and the relatively large scale of their volumes inevitably added to their importance as social catalysts within their societies.

","speech_223511","","English" "2001 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-2001-master-jury.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","994775400","2001 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","2000s","","","","223456","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture","

The nine members of the Master Jury for the 2001 Aga Khan Award for Architecture met twice to select the winners from the 427 projects presented. Of these, thirty-five were reviewed on site by a team of sixteen distinguished experts, whose presentations brought the many complex aspects of each project to the Jury's attention.

As it pursued its deliberations, the Jury found that a key concern was architecture that could be considered as design dedicated to enhancing conditions of life within diverse communities and groups in Muslim societies. Issues of environmental sustainability, social equality, cultural and historical identity and human dignity also informed the Jury's decisions.

Some of the projects are organized to encourage disadvantaged communities to advance their conditions by increasing productivity, improving their built environment and sharing access to modern culture and communication. Joint efforts by people who benefit from the modern economy and those who have remained in rural conditions have made it possible to reverse the constant flow of migration and the concomitant depletion of local human resources and deterioration of environmental and living conditions. Some projects respond to educational needs, such as preserving the life and culture of an ancient civilization, while others provide instruction in techniques of animal production to enrich diet and nutrition.

The Jury also considered the positive role of tourism in modern economies in the context of architecture that respects the environment and introduces local culture within the built work. Projects that secure the future of superb historical buildings within towns and that create new parks for urban communities also represent important inclusions in the Jury's decisions. Public, industrial and religious buildings, as well as conservation projects, were also considered, but none met the standard expected of this Award.

","speech_223506","","English" "2004 Cycle Master Jury statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-master-jury-2004_0.jpg","","Friday, 4 January 2019","1073746800","2004 Cycle Master Jury statement","","writing","","","2000s","","","","223451","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture","

The Jury met for the first time in January 2004 and started by reviewing 378 projects that had been nominated for the Ninth Cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. After vigorous and concentrated discussions, the Jury shortlisted twenty-three projects that were proposed for On-Site Project Review. During the second meeting, in June 2004, the Reviewers presented to the Jury their detailed reports and, after discussions, the Jury selected seven projects to receive the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

From the outset, the Jury agreed that they would need to seek out a comprehensive approach in order to discover, understand and explain the challenges of architecture in the Muslim world as it confronts modernity in all its diversity. Four areas of social meaning came to the fore, and the Jury expressed these as a series of questions.

The first question raises the issue of how the complexity of history and of historical memory can be expressed in architecture. Because restoration deals with history in architectural terms, it tends, pragmatically, not simply to freeze the past as it may have existed at a given moment. Instead, restoration increasingly responds to the needs of present-day groups and individuals, who often use historic buildings for new purposes. By accommodating historical meaning and contemporary needs, a building retains social meaning rather than becoming simply an object of tourism.

Secondly, the Jury considered the question of how private initiatives are integrated into the emerging public sphere. The Jury believes that the development of a pluralist public realm is one of the most important issues facing many Muslim countries. Today, more and more private initiatives in the public realm empower societies and address their needs, be it in the fields of education, sanitation or other social requirements. Architecture plays an important role in manifesting these endeavours, and the Jury especially appreciated a balanced relationship between the social content of an initiative and its architectural representation.

The winning projects also address the question of how to express individuality in complex social settings. In modernity, architecture expresses individuality, permitting a poetical interpretation of the self. The Jury recognized the growing awareness and appreciation of individuality in the Muslim world. On the one hand, this individuality counters the idea that Muslim societies emphasize collective identities, and on the other hand it reveals the plurality of Muslim traditions.

The fourth question the Jury considered was the issue of how power and authority in the global domains of technology, culture and economics might be addressed through architecture. The Jury paid special attention to the responsibility of architecture in the Muslim world and to projects that show understanding of the worldwide exchange of technological, cultural and economic knowledge in local contexts. The translation of global identities into architecture - which can occur in the technology used in buildings or in the potential functions of buildings - was considered by the Jury to be of great importance for many parts of the Muslim world.

The Jury also analysed how these four issues have been transferred to architecture. It is common sense that the way structure and design are used in a project should always be adequate to the issue addressed. Adequacy, however, does not mean simply assigning a form to a problem and updating traditional architectural solutions. It means adopting a critical perspective on the problem and addressing it by means of architectural techniques. The Jury recognized this by giving importance to projects that raise the standards of excellence.

Finally, the Jury focused on the social, cultural and environmental impact of the projects, analysing the balance between intention and realization, meaning and material, and functionality and use. The integration of projects within the environment and the criticism of tradition were also factors in assessing projects.

Architecture in the Muslim world partakes of all the features of modernity in architecture. However, it often also tries to incorporate specific Islamic meanings, and it is only in such deliberate instances that architecture can be labelled ‘Islamic’. When ‘Islamic’ traditions are followed instinctively, the result is simply architecture in a Muslim cultural context. This means that there is a difference between architecture in the Muslim world and what is defined in discourse as ‘Islamic architecture’. The plurality of architecture in the Muslim world is evident at many levels: in varied discourses on architecture; in architecture that deals with restoration in ways that re-establish the generic pluralism of Muslim culture; and in the multiplicity of forms produced by a variety of social, cultural and economic environments. The Jury was particularly aware of the complexity of the plurality of the Muslim world and was critical of those projects that tried to establish a cultural normativity that could threaten that plurality.

The Jury believes that all seven projects selected for the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture meet with the foregoing criteria.

","speech_223501","","English" "Aga Khan University convocation 2000 in Karachi","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2000/00_f282_r65_n24a_r.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Monday, 17 December 2018","972129600","Speech of His Highness the Aga Khan at the Aga Khan University convocation","","speech","Pakistan","","2000s","","","","6926","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","


Your Excellency General Pervez Musharraf
Your Excellency the Governor of Sindh
Chairman and Members of the Board of Trustees
President Kassim-Lakha
Rector Vellani
Faculty Members
Distinguished Guests
Proud Parents of the Class of the year 2000
Graduating Students of the Aga Khan University
Ladies and Gentlemen


I would like to add my welcome to all of you, here to the family and friends of the Aga Khan University! It is an honour and a particular pleasure to have His Excellency General Pervez Musharraf here with us today.

Convocations are occasions for summing up, for stock taking, for congratulations, for celebration and for looking forward. They are a time for individuals, for families, for the components that make up a university and for the institution itself. As Chancellor I would like to speak to all of the audience, and to the future, as well as the present.

First I would like to speak to the students who are graduating today. I am sure that many of you feel that this is “your day”. This is understandable and justifiable – it is your day. Obtaining entrance to the Aga Khan University was a very significant measure of your merit and potential. The successful completion of your academic programmes is a second such measure, as represented by the degree or diploma that will be presented to you by the University. I offer congratulations to you personally and on behalf of the Board of Trustees.

In addition I would like to leave two thoughts with you. First, I anticipate that the professional qualification you receive today will not be the last one that a number of you, many I hope, will receive in the course of your careers. Education in this fast changing world has become a life-long affair. It is not too early to set new goals, to develop your vision. Second, this institution lives and grows on generosity. I urge you to be the very best ambassadors of that generosity towards society, throughout and in all the dimensions of your lives.

Let us turn now to another very important factor in the success of the young people we celebrate today – their families, their relatives and their friends. It takes a great deal for a student to succeed in a rigorous academic programme. Support from loved ones in many forms -- support to meet the costs and other material needs of an education, support in adjusting to new surroundings and new demands, support at times of stress, and sharing times of celebration, are all critically important. My congratulations and thank you.

I would like to take this occasion to speak about the many new developments in which AKU is engaged, in the city of Karachi, in Pakistan, and around the world as it moves to fulfil its mission as established in its Charter. Watching institutions evolve over time is very interesting. At first glance they seem to grow in fits and starts, with no major developments in some years, and then a rush of new activities, programmes, and accomplishments in a short space of time. This impression is valid in some measure. No institution has the time and resources to be in a constant mode of innovation and creation, even if the broader environment in which it operates is highly favorable. But in another sense it is misleading because major new developments take years for study and planning, for securing the required funding to ensure that no new undertaking draws resources away from the existing ones, and for the recruitment of new personnel and the construction of facilities. As the amount of time required for these essential steps varies, and some things move faster than others, it is often difficult to spread them out evenly over time. As I believe that you will soon appreciate, the last twelve to eighteen months have been one of those bursts of activity for the Aga Khan University.

My congratulations for an important job done, very well done.

Yesterday three new buildings were inaugurated that bring much needed facilities to the campus, the Juma Building which contains a Biological Safety Level Laboratory, the first of its kind in Pakistan, and the Ibn Ridwan Building. The new AKU Sports and Rehabilitation Centre contains facilities that will have an important impact on the quality of life of everyone in AKU and in the wider community. The Rehabilitation facilities are a very important addition to the Hospital’s other facilities for patient care. The foundation stone for the new Nazerali-Walji building was also laid yesterday. It is the first phase of new ambulatory care services at AKU in response to the increasing number of outpatients and gives them greater access to various medical services. Those at AKU responsible for supervising their construction deserve our thanks.

Universities are by their very nature, loss making operations. This is particularly the case for institutions involved in research. This is therefore an appropriate moment to say something about the critical importance of donors to the development of this remarkable institution.

Earlier this week, in Islamabad, I participated in a conference on Indigenous Philanthropy in Pakistan, which was graced by their Excellencies President Rafiq Tarar, and General Pervez Musharraf, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The meeting had several goals. One was to present findings of original research on current levels of giving and volunteering in this country, which showed much higher levels than many would have thought. Another was to recommend steps that could be taken to increase philanthropic activity and its application to institutions engaged in human resource and social development as well as to traditional charitable and religious activities.

AKU was cited as one of the models of effective development of philanthropic resources and of their use in Pakistan. Indeed as we gather here today, it is impossible not to be impressed with what the power of giving and volunteering can accomplish. I extend my sincere thanks to the donors who have made the new facilities possible. Looking more broadly at its fundraising, I would also observe that the University is now clearly a national institution whose spectrum of philanthropic support has steadily increased in breadth. We are grateful to all donors of funds, professional services and time who make this institution what it is today, and what it dreams to be tomorrow.

In addition to the development of these fine new facilities, steps are underway towards the establishment of a major new dimension of AKU that will extend its expression as a university. In keeping with the recommendations of the Chancellor’s Commission, the University has launched a feasibility study for the establishment of a College of Arts and Sciences in Karachi. In its initial phase, the new College will start at the undergraduate level and then progress to postgraduate studies. The undergraduate programme will follow the “liberal arts” model, and aims to develop the skills of critical thinking and analysis, a high order of proficiency in verbal and written communication, and the mastery of a particular academic discipline. An emphasis on ethics, especially of Muslim societies, and on community service, will infuse all of its programmes. The latest information and communication technologies will support the education programme, and their mastery will be one of its required outcomes.

I am happy that a senior member of the Board of Trustees, has agreed to assume a leadership position, and will be joined by a group of national and international experts to do a careful study of existing institutions and needs in Pakistan, and in the developing world, with special reference to the Ummah. The survey will form the basis for development of a specific plan for a College of Arts and Sciences that meets those needs in the most imaginative and effective manner. This process will take time, since the study group’s recommendations will lay the foundation which will need to be pursued diligently and consistently, over an extended period, to ensure the long-term internal integrity of the institution and its external results.

I am pleased to announce that the Government of Sindh and the Aga Khan University have agreed on the purchase of an 400-acre site for the College of Arts and Sciences on concessional terms. The new campus will be located at Deh Chohar on the link road between the Super Highway opposite the Sindh Madrassa. I am grateful for this concrete sign of support from the Government. As a reflection of the importance I attach to the development of this new expression of the Aga Khan University, I would like to announce a donation of $ 20 million to launch its funding.

Another recent development relates to AKU’s mission to reach out from its base in Karachi and become directly engaged in addressing problems at the local and regional levels. When the Aga Khan University was first conceived the Harvard University-led feasibility study recommended that AKU should begin its service to its constituencies by being a problem-oriented university. It should focus on the critical national demands for the delivery of social services to the country’s population, and especially to the most isolated and impoverished communities of Pakistan. Over the years, it has become evident that to impact health and education services in remote settings or in the katchi abadis in cities effectively, another type of institution is needed to form a bridge between them and the University.

Two days ago I had the pleasure of inaugurating a new Professional Development Centre in Gilgit designed to improve the quality of primary and secondary schools in the Northern Areas. The idea of establishing it originated in the realisation that students from schools there performed well below national averages year after year. This was true even for the better students from the better schools in the region, meaning that it was virtually impossible for students to secure places in the country’s leading universities and professional schools on the basis of merit. To break this cycle, the only solution was to find a way to upgrade the quality of the schools across the region.

The Centre will bring the programmes and experience of AKU’s Institute of Educational Development to the Northern Areas, to provide teachers with opportunities to enhance their effectiveness, and enable communities to look to their schools to attain higher standards of student achievement, and better use of scarce resources. The PDC will serve all schools in the catchment area; government schools as well as those operated by non-government organisations. Trainees at the Professional Development Centre will be taught by members of IED’s faculty and will receive certificates from the AKU-IED. AKU- IED’s involvement with the Centre is a critical form of outreach and also furthers its efforts to contribute to the development of women professionals. I have made a commitment to develop a hospital in Gilgit that will perform similar bridging functions between the Faculty of Health Sciences, the University Hospital and rural health centres with the assistance of the Aga Khan Health Services. I am convinced that this new pattern will magnify the impact of the resources of AKU throughout important regions of the country.

I would like to add a few additional comments about two new initiatives outside of Pakistan mentioned by Rector Vellani. The Advanced Nursing Programme, developed in response to the invitation of the three governments in East Africa – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – is the University’s first academic programme abroad. It is significant that it is an example of South-South, technical assistance, with a Pakistani institution providing assistance to other developing countries. I congratulate the School of Nursing for the progress that has been achieved on this new venture. I also salute the School for successfully completing twenty years of service to improving the delivery of health care and the development of women professionals in Pakistan.

The Institute of Islamic Civilisations in London will give expression to our University’s Islamic character, in an international context. Its programmes are quite distinctive. IIC will create an index of published works on Islamic civilisations in various languages, write abstracts and translate them into the major scholarly languages, and distribute the abstracts globally on the World Wide Web. This unique facility, will enable many experts around the world to access each other’s work for the first time.

The second activity involves the engagement of scholars and thinkers in thematic research on issues that affect contemporary societies that have escaped systematic attention in Muslim environments. Participants trained in both traditional and contemporary intellectual traditions, would take part in a given project through periods of residence at IIC and over the Internet, and results will be made available on the World Wide Web.

An education programme in Islamic civilisations would be the third area of activity. It would develop materials and curricula for the various units of AKU, other institutions in the Aga Khan Development Network, and a broad range of institutions from schools to higher education, in Muslim and other societies. IIC will also organise short courses and seminars around themes, or for specialised groups such as diplomats, journalists, and businessmen. A more formal post graduate programme designed to engender a critical humanistic approach to the study of Islamic civilisations will follow.

Reflecting on this long list of new and impending developments yields several conclusions. The first is that AKU has become a genuinely national institution. It is engaged in addressing national needs by developing high quality human resources in the fields of health and education, engaging in problem oriented research, working with government on policy issues, and reaching out to become directly involved in upgrading the delivery of critical social services at the local and regional levels. The second is that, with the decision to establish the College of Arts and Sciences, AKU will take the major step of moving beyond professional education toward becoming a comprehensive university in its classical form. The third is that the establishment of the Advanced Nursing Programme in Eastern Africa, and of the Institute of Islamic Civilisations in London, give life to the University as a Pakistani institution with an international mandate, reaching out as an expression of Pakistan into the international community.

The question before this institution at this moment in time is to ensure that it can maintain quality and integrity as it takes on many new activities. What are the specific parameters which should concern us? We cannot take the time this afternoon to formulate all of them, but I would suggest a few as a basis for further consideration:

The quality of the university’s graduates and their contributions towards improving social services in Pakistan.

The institution’s performance in reaching isolated and impoverished communities with quality professional services.

The fulfilment of the School of Nursing's special role to produce graduates who are sophisticated women professionals making a direct impact in their field, but also acting as role models for women in Pakistani society more generally.

A research programme that is beginning to push the boundaries of knowledge, particularly with respect to human development needs in Pakistan and the developing world.

The University ensures three important attributes, or goals, are in constant view as it reviews existing programmes and adds new ones: quality, relevance and impact.

I would like to take a few more minutes to inform the Aga Khan University community of one other new initiative of great significance to the work of the Aga Khan Development Network and to me. It is not another programme or division of AKU - let me be very clear about that. People have whispered in my ear: ‘does this mean resources are going to go elsewhere?’ It is the addition of a younger sibling of the Aga Khan institutions, and like any younger brother or sister, it will need the help of its elders.

In late August I travelled to Central Asia to sign an International Treaty between the Presidents of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan and the Ismaili Imamat, to create a new institution of higher education. The University of Central Asia will be dedicated to developing teaching and research programmes focussed on the problems and potentials of the thirty million people, and the mountains in which they live at the convergence of the highest mountain ranges in the world.

The legal formulation of the University of Central Asia is unique. It is the first to be created as a single organisation under international law, signed at the highest level of government, and encompassing a number of states in a particular region. Its main campus will be located in Khorog on the Panj River, in Tajikistan, with programmes and facilities in the mountainous regions of Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The Undergraduate Division will offer courses of study in engineering sciences, the natural sciences, the social sciences, and cultural studies, but all students will be required to take courses across the curriculum, and courses in market economics, field research methods, and institutions of civil societies.

The Graduate Division will offer an interdisciplinary degree in mountain studies. Over time, concentrations in particular fields such as environmental management, cultural protection and enhancement, and tourism will be developed.

The Continuing Education Division will offer a variety of independent, non-degree courses in general education, skills, and retooling for mid-career professionals in government, non-government organisations, and the private sector, and special topics of particular interest making full use of the methods of distance education.

Faculty and staff and students will be openly recruited throughout the region, and selected on the basis of merit. Special programmes will be provided to enable faculty and students to acquire expertise in English and the use of communication and information technologies.

This University will be a new, freestanding institution within the Aga Khan Development Network. While it will not be part of the Aga Khan University, it will certainly look to AKU for its experience and expertise on a wide range of policies and practical matters. Indeed many at AKU have been deeply involved in the study, planning and negotiating to bring the University of Central Asia to its current stage of development. President Kassim-Lakha served as the Co-Chair of the Organisation Commission that undertook the feasibility study, and many of his colleagues contributed to the work of its committees. Here is an example of Pakistan’s first private university, playing a leadership role in creating a new university in a region of enduring interest to this country, and thereby, establishing a timeless opportunity for intellectual, academic and other interchanges between Pakistan and the countries of Central Asia.

I have taken a great deal of time to outline the many endeavours in which the Aga Khan University will be engaged in the coming years. Progress on them will be dependent on the context and conditions in Pakistan. It is a source of confidence and hope that His Excellency General Musharraf is here today, as the direction he will give to Pakistan’s social and economic development and international relations will have a significant impact on all Pakistani institutions. This is particularly the case for universities given their responsibility to educate the nation’s future intelligentsia and leadership and to project the country to the outside world through their work.

May Allah bless us all in this endeavour

Thank you.


","speech_220141","","English" "Inauguration of the Professional Development Centre in Northern Areas","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2000/2000-10-pakistan/2000-10-pakistan-24392.jpg","Northern Areas, Pakistan","Monday, 17 December 2018","971956800","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the inauguration of the Professional Development Centre in Northern Areas","Education and knowledge society;","speech","Pakistan","","2000s","","","","6926","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","


Your Excellency Mr. Abbas Sarfaraz Khan, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas,
Your Excellency Mr. Kurt Juul, Administrator & Head of delegation of the European Union,
Your Excellency Mr. Yannick Gerard, Ambassador of France
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


This is a special moment for the cause of education in the Northern Areas. I am aware that some of the programmes of the Professional Development Centre have been in operation for over a year. But the inauguration of this fine new facility is highly symbolic. It signifies the dawn, inshallah, of a new era in the quest to bring quality education to the children of this region.

Organisations such as the Aga Khan Education Services have been involved in this quest for many decades. But the opening of this Centre today represents a giant step forward. Its programmes will provide teachers with opportunities to enhance their effectiveness and advance their careers. And it will enable communities to look to their schools to attain higher standards of student achievement, and better use of scarce resources. Trainees will receive certificates from the Aga Khan University’s Institute of Educational Development on completion of their courses, which will be conducted by members of the Institute’s faculty. I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in bringing this important endeavor to fruition. I would especially like to thank the European Commission for providing funding for the construction of the Center’s facilities and its core programmes for the first ten years of existence. Thank you very very much indeed.

I would add an adlib comment here, which is to say that you can builds new buildings but if you cannot find quality men and women to implement the programmes and to give them the confidence that their programmes will be able to continue and grow in the future you’ve achieved nothing. So the grant from the European Commission enables us to have that confidence for ten years into the future and that is enormously important. Thank you again.

I would like to go beyond thanking the European Commission for providing the funding that made the development of the Centre possible. I want to commend the Commission for its commitment to addressing development problems that remain crucial in much of the developing world, even though they have disappeared in most of Europe. I would take your time for a minute to explain the background to this PDC.

We have been working in Pakistan for many years and Pakistan fortunately like many other developing countries is moving to what we call a merit based educational system. This is good for the country. But we found that the children from the Northern Areas were being increasingly marginalised in a merit based educational system because the quality of teaching throughout the Northern Areas was insufficient to allow young boys and girls to compete in a National merit based educational system. This was a regional issue. It had nothing to do whether the schools were private schools or public schools, how long they had been in existence. It was a regional problem.

Secondly, it was not specific to Pakistan. There are a number of countries, such as the countries of eastern Africa, where for historic or other reasons communities, have failed to develop educational systems that allow them to maintain their position in a merit based educational system. So the problem that we were seeking to address is this. What could be done for education in the Northern Areas that would improve the quality of education right across the Northern Areas so that the young men and young women of this part of Pakistan would be able to develop their futures, sustain their opportunities in a merit based educational system?  That was the problem. And the answer is behind me.

The problems facing isolated rural communities in countries like Pakistan are almost overwhelming. The logistical difficulties of providing social services in such settings are themselves staggering. Serving remote and dispersed populations poses challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified staff, maintaining morale, providing necessary material on a timely basis, and adjusting programmes to suit local conditions and requirements. If one then adds to address the issues of quality and continuous improvement, you add to that need, the necessity of quality, the degree of difficulty is multiplied several times over, because the goal is not simply to provide education, its to provide quality education so that the young boys and girls can succeed in a merit  based system.

The mission of the Professional Development Centre is to do precisely this for the primary and secondary schools in the Northern Areas. The Commission’s willingness to make a major investment near a small town in the region to be served, rather than a major city somewhere else in the country, is both perceptive and farsighted. The existence of a well designed and well-equipped Centre will add to the status of teaching as an important and modern profession amongst the local population, thereby helping the recruitment from the region itself. The location will actually reduce the time and travel that trainees will have to undertake to participate in the Centre’s programme. An example is that in the past quality teachers had to leave this area to improve their professional knowledge in order to serve better the populations of the Northern Areas. Equally important, it will eliminate the need for them to confront the social and cultural differences between rural people and city dwellers, between uplanders and lowlanders that are found everywhere in the world. The location will make it easier for women, particularly for those with family responsibilities, to make full use of the Centre’s opportunities for training and professional advancement. It will also increase the potential return on research programmes because faculty and trainees live in or near their “laboratories”, rather than having to make extensive field trips to visit them. And here again I would emphasise the notion of research. The peoples of Pakistan are very diversified. The areas in which they live are very different and unless research is carried out it will be impossible to focus education in curriculum training on the particularities and the idiosyncrasies of the needs of education in various parts of the country

Without the establishment of institutions like the Professional Development Centre, rural populations have no hope of succeeding in this world of increasingly rapid change. Many observers have expressed concern that the gap that has always existed between villagers and city dwellers, will actually be exacerbated in the new globalising economy. Without a solid education at the primary and secondary level, young people will be deprived of any hope of choosing new futures. Where there is no hope, disenchantment and alienation often follow. If the PDC is successful, it should help schools in the Northern Areas close the gap for at least some of the young people of the region.

It is a source of great satisfaction, even pride, that the Commission has chosen two Pakistani institutions, the Aga Khan Education Services (or AKES as we insiders call it) working in close association with the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development (or AKU-IED) to undertake this important mission. AKES has had decades of work, as you have heard, in the Northern Areas. AKU-IED, that’s the Institute of Educational Development, has operated highly innovative and successful teacher training programmes since 1993. AKU-IED, that’s the institute, is also the beneficiary of major grants from the European Commission, including a new grant covering the period 2001 to 2006 following a very positive evaluation. I would like again to repeat my gratitude to the European Commission, because in giving the university this grant they are sustaining the Resource Centre – The Professional Resource Centre – to which the PDC here and, inshallah, maybe other PDCs in Pakistan at some future time will relate for professional competence. The AKU and its Institute’s involvement with the Professional Development Centre presents a wonderful opportunity for them to fulfill their obligations of outreach and their mission to focus especially on the development of women professionals. But the Commission’s choice of AKES and AKU-IED to launch the Professional Development Centre also places a heavy responsibility on them. I suggest that they should assume that many sympathetic but watchful eyes will be upon them.

I think that the Professional Development Centre has a genuine potential to make a significant and lasting impact. In terms of human resource development, investing in teacher training has the potential for greater returns than any other social sector initiative. The ripple effect that a teacher can have as he or she touches the lives of hundreds of students over the years provides a multiplier that even the sharpest businessman would envy. The structure and focus of the PDC’s programme provides a further multiplier. The training of teacher educators will ensure that other teachers in their schools or nearby schools will benefit. The training of educational managers and instructional leaders will address the need to make the best use of available resources. In addition, a “Whole School Improvement Programme” has been especially developed for the Northern Areas, which will have teams moving from valley to valley to reach all schools, government and private, in a comprehensive manner.
Let me emphasise again, so that it is clearly and widely understood that the Centre will serve the needs of government schools as well as those operated by non-government organisations. This is a distinctive and positive feature. It breaks down the traditional divide between the public and private actors. This divide has existed for too long, and actually has been a burden on all round improvement of education in the country. The goal is to enable and reward teachers, to stimulate new thinking about what they are teaching and why, about teaching materials and the delivery of the contents of curricula, and to make the best use of personnel and facilities through improvement and management across all the schools in the region.

I need not remind this audience that Islam places special importance on the value of education. Learning is ennobling. Teaching is one of the most valued professions because it opens minds to greater self-awareness as well as to the knowledge that gives learners greater control over their destinies. In addition to what the Processional Development Centre should do for the quality of teaching in it is catchment area, it introduces teachers, and by example others, to an experience with life-long education with all its potential for potential development and satisfaction.

I convey my best wishes for the success and further development of the Centre and its programmes to everyone involved in its oversight, management and programmes. You have been given the very best facilities and support with which to work. If you are successful, as inshallah you will be, your work will have a major impact on the quality of education and the status of the teaching profession in the Northern Areas.

Thank you.


","speech_220136","","English" "Aga Khan University convocation 1996 in Karachi","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/1996/96_f214_r15_n13a_r.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Monday, 17 December 2018","848753100","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the convocation of the Aga Khan University","Education and knowledge society;","speech","Pakistan","","1990s","","","","6926","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan University,University of Central Asia","","Education,Health","


Your Excellency the Governor of Sindh,
President Kassim-Lakha,
Rector Camer Vellani,
Chairman & Members of the Board of Trustees,
Faculty Members,
Distinguished Guests,
Proud Parents of the Class of 1996,
Graduating Students of the Aga Khan University,


This graduation ceremony, for the class of 1996 from the Faculty of Health Sciences, is a day of distinction which you and we will always remember.

You are to be commended, heartily, on your academic achievement. You have proven your excellence after being tested by a rigorous curriculum and exacting clinical standards. You are ready to take the next steps of working and learning, side by side, with your professional colleagues in bringing better clinical and preventive health care to urban and rural areas of our global community. We are all…parents, faculty, administration and supporters…proud of your accomplishments.

To your distinguished parents, I convey my personal congratulations for their untiring dedication to sustain your studies on an academic journey that began early in childhood. Your life long belief in the importance of education has made the work of AKU much more successful.

Since my visit in 1994, the city of Karachi has suffered from considerable social disruption and law and order problems. I want to take this occasion to express my deep admiration for everyone at AKU whose commitment to the University ensured that the quality of education it imparts did not suffer.

All of us, most closely associated with the Aga Khan University, may have concerns about the magnitude of development challenges which confront us, as our university moves towards the twenty first century. In responding to our Charter, the academic and social responsibilities that we enthusiastically undertake, appear to be significantly affected by the economic, demographic and political complexities of the developing, and the Islamic worlds. Our task is unusual and without precedent because the Muslim world as well as the other areas of Asia and Africa have been let loose from the iron grip of the Cold War. Experimentation in statehood and uncertainty in economic direction, including the reversal of long held dogmas, have confronted new efforts for major social progress. New initiatives are delayed, sometimes even frustrated by resistance to the pace of technical and policy change which is required to meet the increasing reality of competitive globalised economies and information availability.

Because of these complexities, it appears increasingly evident that for institutions such as AKU to succeed, the notion of volatility and change must no longer be viewed with surprise, but with the realism that it is going to be a characteristic of our future environments. In this context, we must develop a University for students and society that is clear and stable in its goals of imparting knowledge and practical skills to solve problems, and to improve the quality of life even if this must occur in a kaleidoscopically changing world. Our institutional purpose must be lucid, our work ordered and purposeful.

When AKU received its Charter in 1983 higher education in the Muslim world, indeed in most of Asia and Africa, was on an established path of decline. Most, if not all of the centres of higher learning, were in the public sector. Many were being driven by the dynamics of national or international politics, and were seriously under-funded. The quality of their education was at best mediocre. But there was more. The curricula they taught were often inherited from a colonial past and had little or no relationship with the cultures of the peoples they served. Many universities educated away from, rather than towards, the needs of our new pluralistic world, in which multi-party democracy in government, and the free market credo have become so powerful that they can even condition countries’ access to international development resources.

This was a sad state of affairs. It was compounded by convictions, in the Third World and in major international development agencies, that universities were elitist and would consume inordinate resources that could more properly be devoted to universal primary education.

Set against this background, however, was, and still is, the reality of human history. Few, if any, of our world’s great civilisations have developed without the benefit of outstanding intellects, concentrated in institutions which very early on were recognised as foci of knowledge, or universities.

There can be no doubt that the apogee of many great civilisations – Chinese, Christian, Muslim – was attained when their societies had given birth to, or were benefiting from, unique centres of learning. For more than 700 years, Muslim leaders ensured the development of world class universities that flourished on the cutting edge of research and vast libraries. The spread of knowledge was profound in scale and scope. It was a priority focus which energetically occupied the highest leadership elements of the Muslim Empires from the Omayyads, to the Abbasids, the Fatimids, but also the Nasrids in Spain, the Almoravids in Morocco, the Western African Kingdoms…. And the expansive territories of the Mughals, Safavids, Ottomans, the Khanates of Central Asia and the Sultanates of Malaysia and Indonesia. The Muslim world was richly rewarded by these centres of learning which cradled the flourishing of Islamic civilisations and formed the crucible for an explosion of creativity and scholarship in medicine, science, art, literature and philosophy and architecture.

It is against this background of historical greatness, recent academic decline and urgent social need that the Aga Khan University was conceived. We exist because there is a strong logic that we should. The political and economic environment in Pakistan and other Third World countries of Asia and Africa where AKU will be present may change, or generate other formidable challenges, but there must be no wavering in the University’s firm dedication to the purposes for which it was created.

Our Charter commits our University, faculty and students to contribute to the resolution of the foreseeable needs of developing countries and the Muslim world through the promotion and dissemination of knowledge and technology by, and I quote “appropriate means, setting the highest standards possible whether in teaching, research or service.”

After thoroughly examining a wide range of alternatives, the University focused on development concepts which emphasised offering educational programmes of excellence to students who are likely to make significant contributions to their societies. It stressed the need to develop more insightful research on critical issues, and to set examples of high quality education that could exert a constructive influence on other centres of learning within and beyond, the Muslim world.

In summary, if our University is to be useful to Pakistan and the developing world, we must not simply do things which are done well elsewhere. We must, rather, focus on what needs to be improved, and resolve to do it better than before, indeed, better if possible than in most other institutions.

To fulfil its role, and remain true to its Charter, the University must continue to grow. It must continue to improve its capabilities to impart knowledge and solve complex problems which increasingly have their roots in global issues. It must increase its capability to operate on a world scale in order to be effective at a community level. It must not be time bound if it is to stay ahead of the rapid pace of global technological change.

Today, we are entering a stimulating new phase of growth with expanded academic quality and more sophisticated service capability in our teaching hospital.

The Faculty of Health Sciences is the University’s oldest and most advanced endeavour. It is appropriate, therefore, that many new accomplishments and initiatives are focused within that Faculty. The Rufayda School of Nursing building, and the Hadi Radiology building, have been successfully completed and inaugurated yesterday. Planning is at an advanced stage for new buildings to house the Community Health Sciences, and research programmes. Foundation stones as you know were laid yesterday for those buildings.

A Task Force has recently validated the operational soundness of the Institute of Educational Development’s programmes and has identified steps for strengthening their programmes as well as their further development.

Significant geographic outreach is occurring with the training of students from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Bangladesh, and with the planned establishment of a Professional Development Centre in the Northern Areas of Pakistan.

And the University continues to expand, effectively, in other areas as well:

The School of Nursing is involved in planning an Institute of Advanced Nursing Studies to be located in East Africa and to offer post-basic training degrees for nurses. Its degrees will be recognised in East Africa.

A second potential overseas programme now is in planning which is the Institute of Islamic Civilisations, under consideration for location in London. This programme, recommended by the Chancellor’s Commission, will focus on the compelling relevance of Islam, as a world religion and a diversity of cultures, in efforts to address global development issues and promote international understanding. The experience of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, of establishing highly effective and influential Islamic centres of learning in architecture, in the West itself, at Harvard and MIT, has demonstrated that a powerful “multiplier effect” can be achieved by catalysing the skills of East and West and speaking together on issues of critical development importance to the Islamic world.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a dynamic group of Muslim countries has emerged onto the world’s centre stage. While they have enormous potential for the future, their economic transition has had a harsh impact on the quality of life of large segments of those populations. As part of an Agreement of Cooperation between the Aga Khan Development Network, and the Government of Tajikistan, AKU has formed a joint Commission to consider the establishment of a Central Asian regional university specialising in high mountain studies in Khorog.

Clearly, AKU is effectively seeking to meet its intended role to serve the developing and Muslim worlds. In so doing, it is establishing crucial bridges of trust and co-operation for future regional collaboration and peaceful development, in other areas of Asia, and in Africa.

Reviewing recent achievements of AKU provides a vivid reminder of how proud we are of the accomplishments realised through the continued generosity of our donors. You have our most sincere gratitude. Your unwavering support repeated over the years, for scholarships, for capital investments and the care of indigent patients has ensured the sustainability and growth of AKU programmes.

Great peoples, nations and institutions live with what you in the medical sciences call bumps, bruises and major system failures, yet they continue to demonstrate resilience in meeting future challenges. Great peoples and nations and institutions continue towards greatness because they have determination, rationality of thought, resourcefulness and an inspiring vision of the future. With the devoted efforts of many generous and talented people, AKU has begun to create a meaningful community and global resource for the developing and Muslim worlds. It may be a new model of achievement and relevance. It must be our laser, instead of our candle, as we chart an optimal course into an uncertain future.

My good wishes and prayers are with you – the faculty, staff, graduates, students, and friends of AKU – as you go forward on your careers of service and education.

Thank You.


","speech_220131","","English" "Aga Khan University’s tenth anniversary, Karachi","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/1994/1994-11-pakistan-40591.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Monday, 17 December 2018","785246400","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the convocation address on the Aga Khan University’s tenth anniversary","Education and knowledge society;","speech","Pakistan","","1990s","","","","6926","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","


Your Excellency the Prime Minister,
Your Excellency the Governor of Sindh,
Honourable Chief Minister of Sindh,
Dr. Geraldine Kenney-Wallace, President of McMaster University,
Honourable Ministers,
Your Excellencies,
Faculty Members,
Distinguished Guests,
and Graduating Students,


The University is honoured this morning by the presence of two women of very considerable distinction. With our Chief Guest, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, I gladly share an alma mater and a devotion to the advancement of this country. With our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Kenney-Wallace, we share a continuing collaboration of committed universities.

We are gathered here today in celebration -- celebration of the success of the graduates who have completed their rigorous courses of study and of a university that has survived its own early challenges and, like the graduates, shows promise of important future work. That celebration should be both joyful and reflective -- joyful because of success and promise, reflective in the search for a deeper understanding both of the needs of the people of the Muslim world and the developing world and the role of institutions like this university in meeting those needs.

The university can be a distinctly powerful institution. By its very design, it brings together the most advanced knowledge and adds to that knowledge. It trains the next generation of leaders of a society. The university builds on, but goes beyond, other important institutions. It adds to the education that a child has received in the family, formalising the educational process and providing the student access to expertise in the various disciplines. It adds to the education provided in schools, advancing the level of sophistication through an erudite faculty and adding the critical element of research.
It enriches the potential of libraries, adding to those repositories of existing knowledge a community of scholars engaged in the public process of advancing knowledge.

An institution dedicated to proceeding beyond known limits must be committed to independent thinking. In a university scholars engage both orthodox and unorthodox ideas, seeking truth and understanding wherever they may be found. That process is often facilitated by an independent governance structure, which serves to ensure that the university adheres to its fundamental mission and is not pressurised to compromise its work for short-term advantage. For a Muslim university it is appropriate to see learning and knowledge as a continuing acknowledgement of Allah's magnificence.

As one looks back over the history of learning and of advancement, one sees time and again that centres of learning flourished in strong, outward-looking cultures. Great universities and libraries benefited from the nurturing conditions provided by self-confident civilisations and in turn gave back to those civilisations the useful products of scholarship. The strong university was not a sign of government's weakness, but rather of its aspirations and its strength. In the great expansion of the Muslim culture from the 8th through the 11th century, centres of learning flourished from Persia to Andalusia.

I do not have to tell this audience about the glories of Al-Azhar established 1000 years ago by the Fatimids. This audience knows full well about the foresight of al Ma'mun and the Timurid Empire in taking knowledge from all quarters and using it to benefit their society. As Ibn Khaldun wrote, and I quote ""the Muslims desired to learn the sciences of foreign nations. They made them their own through translations. They pressed them into the mould of their own views. They took them over in their own language from the non-Arab languages and surpassed the achievements of the non-Arabs in them.""

We see today in North America and Europe the benefits of strong and independent universities that can harness the horses of knowledge, from whatever country, to the chariot of progress. The host country is not threatened by ideas from abroad. Far from it. The benefits that accrue from exposure to new knowledge and from the fullest training of the new generation dwarf the little inconveniences that may arise from time to time from the independence that must be accorded those institutions to enable them to function effectively.

All universities may do good, but some may do more good than others. At its best, the university is linked to the welfare of the society in which it is based. While taking knowledge from all quarters, such a university applies that knowledge to the solution of the pressing problems of the world, both at home and abroad.

Pakistan, like other countries in the developing world, does well to consider the contribution that universities can make to the development of the country. One often hears the argument these days that, in the developing world, universities are either luxuries that serve the elite or of such low quality that they serve no one. Some agencies champion the view that elementary schools are far more cost-effective than universities, and so have urged governments to shift resources away from higher education. The thoughtful policy maker must consider whether this is the enlightened path towards national development. The path, indeed, has some things to recommend it. Elementary education is very important, for general citizenship and good parenting, not to mention preparation for university. It must be universal and effective, not compromised by shifting of funds to universities. And indeed, many universities in the developing world neither provide a good education nor forward research of quality or relevance to the developing world. But the present shortcomings of some universities are a very different matter from the need for, and potential of, universities generally. The policy maker must look beyond the present to envision the desired future, and then, consider how to get from here to there.

If in the desired future Pakistan were to be a leader in higher education, a generator of knowledge, a country of well developed human capital, just how might one get to that future goal without exceeding the resources of a poor country? One way would be to seed the field with examples of excellence in higher education. If those examples could be created with limited cost to the state, so much the better. The private university can serve as just such seed corn. Private universities are freer than their public counterparts to experiment, to take chances, to explore new ways of reaching the full potential of the university in a country in great need of having that potential fulfilled. The state is not asked to risk much, because the capital and the bulk of the operating expenses of such institutions are put up by private well-wishers. The state is only asked to create a fiscal and policy environment that enables the innovation to take place -- to prepare the soil and provide a bit of the nourishment.

The Aga Khan University is the earliest of these innovations in Pakistan. The trial is only ten years old, so it may be too early to draw firm conclusions about the results. But we should consider whether the early evidence is promising, because, if it is, one might conclude that more innovation should be encouraged. We might consider whether giving to the university the right to set its own standards of admission has enhanced the quality of the student body. We might consider whether the protections so kindly granted by the government of Pakistan to the university in its Charter have shielded it from undue interference. We might consider whether the independence and international character of the governing board of the university have strengthened its educational programmes and the constancy with which it pursues its mission. We might consider whether access to private sources of funding has enabled the university to mount more effective programmes of research and education that target the problems of Pakistan and the rest of the developing world. It is not for me to answer these questions for you, but for each of us -- policy maker and citizen -- to answer these questions for her or himself, for it is in that process of examination and reflection that a country builds good citizenship and good policy. It is in that process that the country's educational programmes can be matched to national needs.

This process of identifying needs and matching educational programmes to them is not a task for national government only. It is a critical task for this university. Two years ago I asked a group of thoughtful people to look seriously at the directions in which the Aga Khan University might develop over the next 25 years -- the important problems that need to be addressed, the comparative advantages that a private, international university might have in addressing them, the lessons that should be learned from the university's first ten years. This group, named the Chancellors Commission and chaired by His Excellency Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan, has recently given me its report.

At the time that I gave the charge to the Chancellor’s Commission, I did not know the extraordinary outpouring of support that the university's current fund raising campaign would release. I am deeply moved by the generosity of the friends of the university, many of whom are here today. You combine in overflowing measure the fine Muslim traditions of love of education and readiness to help others.

I should like to tell you some of the Chancellor’s Commission's thoughts, for I think that its members have shown real insight into the role that a university like this can play in addressing the needs of the Muslim world and the developing world.

Looking broadly at the state of higher education and research, the Commission struck several themes. It advised that in the overcrowded field of university education, the Aga Khan University could only justify its worth through distinctive quality. With growing concern about poor quality elsewhere, however, AKU had an increasing opportunity to influence practice through adherence to the highest standards of education and management.

The Aga Khan University has established itself as an autonomous university with a particular focus in health sciences. Recently it has extended into education, with the opening of the Institute of Educational Development. The thrust of AKU's work in its first decade has been on professional education. Elsewhere in the world many institutions of higher education have not grown beyond one or two professional faculties. Without denigrating their utility and accomplishments, it must be said that universities of high distinction have broader concerns. In the modern world, the sciences have come to have a particular importance. It is doubtful that any university can now be genuinely distinguished without being strong in the sciences, and this of course means that they must be strong in scientific research. The weakness of research in the developing and Muslim worlds is well documented. AKU has made important early steps toward the creation of a strong research programme. In the future development of AKU, however, a concentration on graduate study and research would further its ambition to be an international university of wide consequence for the developing and Muslim worlds.

Events both within and outside the Muslim world in the last decade have meant that AKU faces a more challenging vocation as a Muslim university than it did at its founding. Activist Islamic movements have voiced their principled opposition to the Western world, its values and personal behaviour. The antipathy of militant Islamic movements to forms of government in Muslim countries built on Western models has likewise been profound. These reactions seem related to frustrations over failures, and disappointments at the benefits, brought by modern secular knowledge and institutions. The force of religious ideas is welcome and can be expected throughout the world in the coming decades. But the need for enlightened expression of what it means to be Muslim in the 21st century will be, if anything increased. A Muslim university could usefully counter some of the stymieing tendencies that have appeared in the last years by emphasising more enlightened and tolerant conceptions that from our beginning have been mainsprings of Muslim culture and world outlook. AKU, as a Muslim university, could be a useful model for those seeking to combine secular education with Islam.

The Commission suggests that this goal might well be met by the creation of an Institute for Islamic Civilizations located in Europe. Is it not by locating such a faculty in the Western world that we can best affect the Western world's view of us? Such an institute would be the locus not just of education in the accomplishments of Muslim societies in regards to the arts and humanities, but also research and analysis of many matters that now gravely concern the Muslim world and the world at large. Such matters as the building of civil societies in Islamic contexts, the special problems of governance in Muslim societies, or the relationship of Islamic values to economic, scientific and technical performances which are of fundamental importance. They have not received as thoughtful and persistent attention from within the Muslim world as they must. The utility of this Institute ought not be confined to the Muslim world and its own problems. There is the potential in the Islamic heritage to help modern societies cope with the confusions, the disillusionments and moral vagaries that afflict them.

The Commission outlines other academic disciplines that the university might in time take on: economic growth, human development, the liberal arts, architecture. They will be the stuff of good discussions within the faculty and with the Board of Trustees in the coming months. But I do wish to emphasize some important themes that cut across the specific disciplinary boundaries.

The Commission reaffirms the importance of addressing the challenge of development in each of the specific areas of its activities. The problems of development will not soon disappear from the countries of Asia and Africa in which AKU has particular interest, so these problems will continue to be worthy objects of dedicated work. The Commission points out the need for the university to take full advantage of the potential of modern communications and information handling in developing this institution in the coming years. As the university develops programs in other countries, the need to be on modern ""information highways"" will be all the more evident. The university must also avail itself of modern technology and understanding of learning methods so as to develop superior educational support in the institution. Finally the university must continue its vigorous commitment to improve the professional opportunities and status of women and understanding of their situation and problems in contemporary societies. The School of Nursing has been a leader in Pakistan and the developing world in this regard, but we must ensure that the problems of women and the wisdom of women permeate the work of all parts of the university.

We are building here on a great tradition of Muslim education and engaged in important work. Those many of you who have contributed of your labour and your intellect and your substance to this effort can take some considerable satisfaction in what has been accomplished to date. Indeed I want to emphasize my deep thanks for that dedication and generosity, just as I want to congratulate today's graduates. But a distinguished university is not built in a decade, nor indeed in a generation. The task of educating the next generation is never over. The solution of one set of society's problems only opens the possibility of solving the next. The ongoing nature of the challenge is a sign not of failure but of success. We should celebrate today, and reflect, using the time of reflection to gather our energy for the great but worthy task ahead.

Thank you

","speech_220126","","English" "Aga Khan University convocation 1989 in Karachi","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/1989/1989-pakistan-23080.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Monday, 17 December 2018","606398400","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the first convocation of the Medical College","Education and knowledge society;","speech","Pakistan","","1980s","","","","6926","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","


Your Excellency, the President,
Your Excellency, the Governor of Sindh,
Honourable Chief Minister of Sindh,
Dr Halfdan Mahler, Director-General Emeritus of the World Health Organisation

Honourable Ministers, Your Excellencies,
Faculty Members,
Distinguished Guests, and
Graduating students of the Aga Khan University,


Many days in a lifetime are unremarkable, some are notable, few are unforgettable. In the truest sense only one can be unique. The longer one’s life, the more the relativity of a unique day is measured against time gone by. Despite all this, for me, having lived over half a century, this is indeed a unique day.

Years of thought and hope are in front of me this 20th of March 1989 to esteem and applaud, in the form of the first class of graduating students from the Faculty of Health Sciences’ School of Medicine at the Aga Khan University. These young men and women represent much more, however, than my own vision. They are the personification of the Government of Pakistan’s courageous decision to authorise for the first time a private, fully independent institution of higher education; of faculty from all over the world who have committed their lives and knowledge to educating in this University; of donors who have contributed in unprecedented generosity to secure this institution’s future; and of Trustees whose time and wisdom have directed us with immense clarity of foresight.

Mr President, I can say with confidence this morning that the University is meeting its pledge to the people of Pakistan and to its supporters around the world. Al Azhar, Oxford, Heidelberg, and Harvard are in its bloodlines, but it is strongly influenced by its times and its location. It is these intellectual, spiritual, and contextual fields of force that are beginning to define the central ethic of the University.

We are reminded of the University’s humane mission: its imperative to respond to the needs of common man. The faculty, I believe, in taking our students to the katchi abadis not only instruct them in the techniques of primary health care for the poor, but also expose them to deeper truths – our common humanity and worth, humility before great suffering, and recognition of dignity and wisdom among simple people. This is an ethical education that must underpin the life of a physician.

But the University must also express vigorous intellectual enquiry – the imperative not merely to apply knowledge, or to confine research to that which is immediately useful. It must embody the fact that knowledge is constantly changing, must endlessly be challenged and extended. This conviction, this buoyant but disciplined impatience, is what makes modern science a metaphor for modern civilisation. Concerned as they are about practical problems of health, faculty must also be encouraged and assisted to work on the frontiers of scientific and medical knowledge. Uncompromising excellence is also an ethical principle. In working on the leading edge of knowledge, here and in the far reaches of the health network, the University participates in the great world of scientific thought; it will help throw off the bonds of dependency, the habits of learning only what is already known, that have stunted progress in the developing world.

In accepting the Charter of the University, I noted that there was no weakness in the model of the university; there was only the terrible weakness of universities having resources too limited for their task. An aspect of this institution which gives me great joy is the outpouring of generosity and commitment that members of my Community and others have shown to the University over the past five years. International aid agencies have contributed, with great sensitivity and wonderful effect, to the establishment of its programmes. It is individual donors, families and corporations, however, who have created the University’s endowment – the corpus fund that produces a vital portion of the income that pays faculty salaries, contributes to student costs, and makes sure that the University’s daily needs are met.

The private university has freedom, but freedom has its price. That price is courageous leadership, integrity in selecting students and faculty, and creative, disciplined thought in tackling the most pressing problems of mankind. If the Aga Khan University meets that price, if it continues to introduce salient new programmes in Pakistan and other countries of the developing world, I believe it will hold the loyalty of its donors and its graduates and catch the imagination of the world.

Finally, and of very great importance, the University is being drawn toward the field of research and training in health policy and management: the study of health economics, epidemiology, and the management sciences that will be of value to the policy maker as well as to the future manager of health programmes and institutions. This University must aim to produce the leaders in health policy as well as in medicine.

In reflecting on the future, however, my thoughts return constantly to you, our new graduates. To me, as a Muslim, proud of my faith, of its culture, of its humanism and its compassion, you the graduates represent a powerful light: you have been educated by men and women of all beliefs; you are yourselves of different persuasions, you have blossomed in a university which stands for intellectual freedom and expansive enquiry; you have studied the most modern medical curriculum, with all that that means in addressing the moral and ethical questions of life and death in our times. You are the antithesis of the angry face of obscurantism. In this you symbolise, I am certain, the hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of Muslims around the world.

Many of us will not be here to follow to the end your careers of care and help to the sick, the wounded, or the maimed that shamefully our generation will leave behind. Happily today, of one thing we can all be convinced: you will acquit yourselves well, justifying the faith that we have placed in you, and in the principles on which this young university has been built.

If time confirms and consolidates your belief in these principles too, it is my request that you should sustain and defend them as we have done for you.

I pray that Allah may bless and guide you throughout your service to mankind.

Thank you

","speech_220121","","English" "Acceptance of the Charter of the Aga Khan University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/1983/1983-03-pakistan-22332.jpg","Karachi, Pakistan","Monday, 17 December 2018","416684700","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan upon the acceptance of the Charter of the Aga Khan University","Education and knowledge society;","speech","Pakistan","","1980s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/1983/1983-pakistan-aku-22332.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education,Health","

Your Excellency, The President
Your Excellency, The Governor of Sindh
Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished Guests,

In this Silver Jubilee year, celebrating my twenty-fifth anniversary to the accession to the Imamat of the Ismaili Muslims. I have been called upon to make many speeches on many subjects, in countries as diverse as Portugal, Singapore and Tanzania. But important and happy as these Jubilee occasions have been, this is the event which can with the greatest certainty be called historic. Modern communications, the radio, the newspapers, all the media, urge us to believe that each day brings momentous events. Happily this is not so, or we would be producing far more history than we can comfortably consume. Today, however, is historic in the true sense. The Charter which His Excellency the President has been gracious enough to grant the new Aga Khan University creates the first university inspired by my family since Al Azhar was founded enterprise, in which individual endeavour is encouraged and in which citizens can feel secure and confident of improvements in their future prospects.

When the principles of the Aga Khan University were presented to Your Excellency, you espoused them and made them your own. You have always listened to proposals, both on this and other subjects, with great open-mindedness. No one could have been more willing not simply to find mutually acceptable solutions to problems, but also to implement agreements promptly. In so far as the creation of the Aga Khan Medical College and the transformation of that college into the Aga Khan University were concerned, Your Excellency has epitomised how the enabling environment can be created. Without your understanding and encouragement we would not be assembled here today.

Although this University is new, it will draw inspiration from the great traditions of Islamic civilisation and learning to which Your Excellency has referred.

At the height of this civilisation, academies of higher learning reached from Spain to India, from North Africa to Afghanistan. One of the first and greatest research centres, the Bayt-al-Hikmah established in Baghdad in 830, led Islam in translating philosophical and scientific works from Greek, Roman, Persian and Indian classics. By the art of translation learning was assimilated from other civilisations. It was then advanced further and in new directions by scholarship in such institutions as the Dar Al Ilm, the Houses of Science, which during the 9th and 10th centuries spread to many cities; through colleges like those of Al Azhar in Cairo; Qarawiyin at Fez in Morocco; Zaytouna in Tunis; and the eminent Spanish centre of Cordoba, founded between 929 and 961.

Everywhere, whether in the simplest mosque schools or in universities, teaching was regarded as a mission undertaken for the service of God. Revenue from endowments provided students with stipends and no time limit was set for the acquisition of knowledge. Above all, following the guidance of the Holy Quran, there was freedom of enquiry and research. The result was a magnificent flowering of artistic and intellectual activity throughout the Umma.

Muslim scholars reached pinnacles of achievement in astronomy, geography, physics, philosophy, mathematics and especially in medicine. The great British scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, remarked that if he was able to see further than his predecessors, it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants. Among those giants, who made possible the scientific revolution in Europe, were Ibn Sina, whose ‘Canon of Medicine’ was a standard text for 500 years; Al-Idrisi, the geographer; Ibn Rushd, the philosopher, and a host of other Muslim scientists who had produced the notion of specific gravity, refined Euclid’s theories, perfected solid geometry, evolved trigonometry and algebra, and made modern mathematics possible by developing Indian numerals and the concept of the zero as a numeral of no place , an invention crucial to every aspect of technology from that time onwards to the present day. Their Socratic principles of education, so sympathetic to Muslims and so characteristic of the great Islamic teaching institutions of the golden age, are still – and are likely to remain – universally accepted practices of advanced teaching.

It is no exaggeration to say that the original Christian universities of the Latin West, at Paris, Bologna and Oxford, indeed the whole European Renaissance, received a vital influx of new knowledge from Islam: an influx from which the later Western colleges and universities, including those of North America, were to benefit in turn. It is therefore most fitting that Harvard, McGill and McMaster Universities should today be associated with the Medical College which is the first faculty of the Aga Khan University, and that President Bok and other members of the Harvard faculty are advising us on the development of the University as a whole. Making wisdom available from one country to another is truly in the finest tradition of Islamic learning.

Your Excellency has paid tribute to the contribution which my grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan, made to the University of Aligarh. Aligarh’s achievement rested on engendering true Muslim values, in particular the maintenance of a balance between the spiritual and the material in all matters. In Islamic belief knowledge is twofold. There is that revealed through the Holy Prophet (Salla’llahu Alayhi Wa Aliyi Wa Sallam) and that which man discovers by virtue of his own intellect. Nor do these two involve any contradiction, provided man remembers that his own mind is itself the creation of God. Without this humility, no balance is possible. With it, there are no barriers. Indeed one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of his creation. For many of my generation the greatest technological miracle of this century has been sending men into space and a remark by an astronaut on one of the first flights in space has always remained in my mind. Looking down upon the earth he had just left he said emotionally ‘It’s one world’. He was not a Muslim. But his remark substantiated two fundamental aspects of our Faith: the limitlessness of God’s power and the brotherhood of man.

This is the inspiration which guided the great Islamic centres of learning in the past and which must guide the Aga Khan University in the future.

This vital point established, what form should a Muslim Third World University take? What considerations should shape its role? Are historical precedents valid?

At various times and various places in history there have emerged societies which have combined impressive tangible achievements with broad and coherent visions of the meaning and purpose of the world and of humanity. In these periods great universities have appeared and flourished. That they have both risen and fallen with civilisations is because they are expressions of the purpose of those civilisations. However they have not been solely concerned with the ultimate philosophical and theological questions underpinning civilisation. They have characteristically been the training ground for the many professions serving the day-to-day needs of mankind. The importance of this function has been one of the major reasons for the Third World’s rapid creation of new Universities in recent decades.

Indeed, during the second half of the twentieth century universities have been internationally recognised as influential to an extent unparalleled since the fourteenth century. They have become focal points of national expectation, especially in the Third World, where political leaders, eager to reinforce independence with locally-based economic growth, have looked to them to provide the necessary professional manpower. Equally, ordinary citizens have seen universities as the direct route to advancement for their children.

The result has been a vast expansion in institutions of higher learning. Third World enrolment in them rose on average ten percent a year during the 1960s and even faster during the 1970s, though here in Asia the rate of expansion has moderated. Worldwide, the pressures which have ensued have proved inexorable and, in many cases, uncontrollable. Universities have consumed a heavy proportion of national expenditure. The supply of qualified teachers has fallen short, while secondary schools have often put forward students who are insufficiently prepared for the higher intellectual demands of a University.

Above all, most Third World Universities have found themselves face to face with a fundamental problem: how to reconcile local needs with loyalty to international standards.

All too often they have failed on both counts. They have allowed students to pursue arts or law degrees irrespective of either long-term national requirements or immediate job opportunities. At the same time academic standards have declined under the weight of numbers, cost and poor tuition.

Today disillusion has set in. Courses are disrupted by student unrest; academic criteria are challenged; failure is attributed to modern Western models of Universities being inappropriate to developing countries with additional blame being thrown on Western materialism for corrupting values. Where does the truth lie?

The truth, as the famous Islamic scholars repeatedly told their students, is that the spirit of disciplined, objective enquiry is the property of no single culture, but of all humanity. To quote the great physician and philosopher, Ibn Sina:

‘My profession is to be forever journeying,  to travel about the universe so that I may know all its conditions.’

It is these journeys of the mind which our students must make, for what is the study of science but man’s endeavour to comprehend the universe of God’s creation, the immediate world around him and himself? The laws of science are not bounded by cultures, nor should there be any basic conflict between loyalty to high academic standards and service to practical development needs. A good doctor, lawyer, economist, manager or engineer is not simply a person committed to social good; he or she must have acquired the searching curiosity and the disciplined habits of mind which enthusiasm and commitment cannot alone supply, but which the modern university can. There is no weakness in principle with the university as it has evolved today. The weaknesses lie rather in universities having resources too limited for their task, in the kind of faculties they have established, in the curricula they have offered, above all in the standards they have set themselves.

The overall aim of the Aga Khan University will be to make clear and rational judgements as to which foreseeable future needs of the developing countries require new educational programmes and, having identified those openings, to address them by the appropriate means, setting the highest standards possible, whether in teaching, in research or in service.

The progress of the School of Nursing has already been mentioned. Its concept illustrates our aims and methods. The school derived from the serious shortage of qualified nurses in Pakistan, a shortage partly attributable to their low standing. The architectural quality of the school’s buildings is a visible affirmation of the inspiration of Islamic design and of the importance we attach to the nursing profession. The training programmes have been evolved with generous aid from Canada. Thus we have drawn successfully on the human and technical resources of both East and West. We hope next to introduce something which has never before been available in Pakistan, namely a degree in nursing. So the school is fulfilling precisely those aspirations which I have outlined for the University. It is meeting a carefully identified requirement, raising standards and introducing new concepts.

Having decided upon the curricula, our approach to learning will be in the high traditions of intellectual enquiry I have already described, teaching students not simply to memorise factual knowledge, but to use that knowledge to identify and to solve problems. We hope that the habit of applying logical and disciplined thought to questions and the appreciation of research will remain with our graduates throughout their lives.

The Charter which His Excellency the President has granted us establishes a number of important principles. The Aga Khan University will be open to all-comers regardless of colour, creed, race or class and my wish is that the only criteria which will count for admission will be merit and potential for leadership. The Charter further lays down that the purpose of the Aga Khan University will be the promotion and dissemination of knowledge and technology and that it will be a fully autonomous corporate body with freedom to govern its academic functions and the right to grant degrees.

Academic freedom is in the truest spirit of Islam. Without it excellence cannot be achieved. From the start of my grandfather’s association with the Muslim University of Aligarh he insisted that it should ‘preach the gospel of free enquiry, of large hearted toleration and of pure morality.’ That ideal will never lose its validity and I commend it to the Trustees of the Aga Khan University.

However, academic freedom also imposes responsibilities, both to the University’s defined academic mission and to society. Freedom must not be allowed to degenerate into licence, whether in universities or in society as a whole. When it has so degenerated it has invariably destroyed the very civilisations which gave it birth.

Throughout man’s history there have been periods when political stability and seemingly assured economic growth have tempted educational institutions to stray from their true academic tasks, and give rein to political involvement, social ambition or moral indulgence: in other words to allow freedom to lapse into licence. To maintain one’s own integrity at such times may be difficult and unpopular, but only by maintaining it can an institution of this kind justify the privileges it has been given and the faith placed in it by its founders.

The Aga Khan University has a number of constituencies to which the Charter encourages it to respond and with which it must keep faith: the Pakistan nation; the Islamic Umma; including my own Community; the Third World countries of Asia and Africa. As I have already indicated it must address itself to subjects relevant to the development and civilisations of these constituencies, if possible responding to challenges in an international context.

This is why the Charter specifically allows the University to establish faculties abroad. Whilst it is too early to say where these might be, it is my wish that this should become an international university, able to mobilise resources from other countries, to coordinate international research and to encourage the exchange of ideas between nations. We may find it appropriate to teach or research such subjects as the administration of social institutions; education, rural development; communications, in all its aspects; and architecture. Equally, we may wish to assist men and women who have successfully established themselves in politics, in government, in business or in the social services and who want to return to an academic institution briefly for advanced courses in political theory, public administration or any other of the many subjects directly related to improving their capability in the senior positions they occupy.

Such possibilities make it essential for the faculties and the curricula to be flexible. Accordingly the Charter permits the University to expand as need arises.

I have spoken of new initiatives and present deficiencies. Inevitably priorities will alter as the years and time and history unfold, and the University must be able to adapt itself to change. But one thing will remain constant: the mission of preparing graduates, men and women, to play constructive, worthwhile and responsible roles in society.

Your Excellency, it is with great emotion and pride that I have today accepted the Charter of the Aga Khan University from you. My hope is that this institution will bring credit upon the country which has given it birth and the men and women who have made it possible, first among them Your Excellency.

In everything we do we must look to the future, seeking always to think creatively, to innovate and to improve. I urge all those who are involved with the Aga Khan University now or in the years to come, whether they be Trustees, Faculty staff or students, never to forget that the future is in their hands. IT will be upon them that the performance and reputation of this University will depend and it will be through them that the University will, or will not, achieve the position among the world’s institutions of higher learning which its founders have envisaged. With their help let us pray that we should develop a guiding light, a light to be added to those many others which seek to illuminate the path to a better life for Pakistan for the peoples of the Umma and of the Third World.

Thank you.

","speech_220116","","English" "2007 Award Cycle Master Jury Statement","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/institutions/aga_khan_trust_for_culture/aga_khan_award_for_architecture/aktc-akaa-2007-master-jury-60972.jpg","","Tuesday, 11 December 2018","1189091700","2007 Award Cycle Master Jury Statement","","writing","","","2000s","","","","223491","","","0","2007 Cycle","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA)","Architecture","

The 2007 Aga Khan Award Master Jury recognises how architecture and the built environment define the diverse and divergent paths that lead to the capacious lifeworlds of contemporary Muslim societies. Our challenge was to judge the complex negotiation that architecture represents between, on the one hand, the sense of satisfaction and belonging that a building - a home - provides and, on the other, worldly ambitions and affiliations that are unconstrained by the retaining wall, village boundary or national frontier. Of 343 nominations, we shortlisted 27 projects for on-site review, and from these selected nine projects for recognition.

Rather than grouping these projects under a common theme, or attempting to weigh them against a strict measure of quality, we proposed a set of curatorial principles to inform and guide us. We saw ourselves as curators who, by placing these diverse projects next to one another, hoped to convey a sense of their specific attributes, their locality, while also giving them a collective meaning.

Here are some of the curatorial principles with which we attempted to transform the expectations associated with the Award.

Muslim Societies/Muslim Realities: It was our privilege to be faced with architectural projects that raised important issues about an umma that is democratic and dialogical. Many of the projects occupied the problematic terrain between traditional homes and diasporic movements, recognising that Muslim realities have come to be rooted in historical and social circumstances beyond their usual national or traditional settings. This is not a repudiation of values and traditions but rather an opportunity for cultural revision and intercultural communication. Change and challenging circumstances are part of both worlds, but the composition of contemporaneity, the speed of transformation, the conflict of values and the contingencies of identity and solidarity may well be different. How, then, should we evaluate a new housing scheme whose disposition of spaces harmoniously and homogeneously accommodates a community that is governed by patriarchal power and authority? Does architectural excellence allow us to judge what may or may not be considered, among different communities, to be the good life? Such a dialogic inquiry, posed with a remarkable concreteness and visibility, might provide an alternative to the futile clash of civilisation.

Restoration, Conservation and Contemporaneity: In the past the Award has been associated with the conservation and restoration of great Muslim monuments. The actual performance of juries belies this perception. Our discussions asked: Are techniques of conservation and repair antithetical to claims of contemporaneity? How should we weigh architectural practice and performance? Conservation and restoration need not be part of the impulse to preserve the past in the vitrines of time and memory - antiquities set in aspic! The lifespan of the materials that constitute ancient monuments argues against preservation, because as materials decay they have to be recreated. Technological skills must be relearned and re-taught to new generations of craftsmen, new chemicals and engineering techniques have to be invented in relation to past techniques and technologies. Restoration is a work in progress or, in the preferred words of the Jury, a work in process.

Scale and Variety: Contemporary Muslim reality is not merely diverse or transitional, as the clichés of globalisation have it. As a Jury we were challenged to adjust our critical and conceptual lenses as we moved across the landscape of the umma and its architectural artefacts and practices. Scale is not merely a problem internal to architectural knowledge or practice. The scale of the contemporary umma reveals profound differences in sites and localities - rural communities, small towns, industrial cities, private homes, public institutions - that demand imagination and material, practical interventions. Scale is an architectural intervention that responds to site-specificity while at the same time creating or constructing a sense of locality. In that sense, scale is an ethical issue.

Sustainability: Sustainability pits the grandiosity of our ambitions against the available and appropriate scale of natural resources. How high should we build? How suitable are our schemes for this particular landscape, climate, need or human interest? Sustainability, as a scale of aesthetic, ethical and political judgement, creates an architecture that is not just about building or buildings, but about creating an environment for survival and well-being, shared expression and solidarity, that is intolerant of authoritarian and exclusive claims to sovereignty.

Our sense of architectural excellence demanded a scrutiny of the singularity of each project - its materials, its design solutions, its conceptual and physical realisation, its functional attributes - while creating a larger aspectual narrative that revealed different faces which related to and reflected off one another. As curators we chose projects to be placed beside each other, juxtaposed so as to convey specificity, locality and something more - a shared community of excellence.

Homi K. Bhabha, Okwui Enwezor, Homa Farjadi, Sahel Al-Hiyari, Shirazeh Houshiary, Rashid Khalidi, Brigitte Shim, Han Témertekin, Kenneth Yeang (Geneva, June 2007)

","speech_219926","","English" "Transcript of a conversation between His Highness the Aga Khan and Synergos Founder Peggy Dulany at the Synergos University for a Night Event","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2012/2012-10-uk/2012-10-uk131.jpg","London, UK","Tuesday, 11 December 2018","1350909900","Transcript of a conversation between His Highness the Aga Khan and Synergos Founder Peggy Dulany at the Synergos University for a Night Event","","interview","","","2010s","","","","6926","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Civil society","

Robert Dunn: My name is Bob Dunn and I have the privilege of serving as the President of the Synergos Institute.

This is our first University for a Night in Europe, although we have held similar events for more than a decade in New York and quite recently in Johannesburg. It’s really wonderful to see some old friends and some new ones, new faces, and we are, of course, especially honoured to have with us His Highness the Aga Khan and also that we are joined by his daughter and son, Princess Zahra and Prince Rahim.

This is part of the Synergos 25th anniversary celebration and from its creation, Synergos has worked to establish a world that is just and fair and free of poverty. We work collaboratively with philanthropists and foundations, community leaders and corporations, governments and global entities. With them we tackle issues such as education, food security, health, nutrition, chronic isolation, social entrepreneurship and community economic development.

We do this work in every part of the world where we have an invitation to lend a hand. We are not however, subject-matter experts. We are instead a bridging organisation, helping to make it possible for people to come together across divides, build trusting relationships and join together to implement systems changing innovations.

Support for the event this evening makes it possible for us to do this work, and I want to particularly thank our wonderful sponsors this evening. The Hashoo Foundation and the Hashwani family, the Shell Corporation, Kim Samuel Johnson, all of whom are represented here this evening, and David Rockefeller who couldn’t be with us this evening because he is recuperating from a recent surgery and happily doing very well. Special thanks also to the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation who have really been our hosts in London throughout the course of this week.

University for a Night brings together an extraordinary collection of change makers and provides an opportunity for them to identify common interests, share experiences and discover new partnership possibilities. We also use these occasions to honour individuals who exemplify the values we hold in our hearts and that we believe are vital in achieving the transformation of our global society. We are fortunate to have two previous honourees with us in the room tonight, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and Mo Ibrahim. Thank you very much for joining us.

And now I would like to turn this over to Peggy Dulany, our beloved founder. Peggy’s open heartedness and clear headedness have guided Synergos from its very inception and it’s a treat for me to present her to you – my dear friend.

Peggy Dulany: Thank you Bob. Good evening everyone. It’s very delightful to see you all here.

We’re gathered this evening in the spirit of partnership which is a principle and a practice that Synergos tries to embody in all of our relationships with local groups, all the way up to national and global groups. We hold a shared vision of improving the lives of people in our own communities and countries and around the world.

But tonight, we’re here to recognise and honour the work of an extraordinary leader who has done so much toward those goals: His Highness the Aga Khan, leader of the worldwide Shia Ismaili Community.

The award we are presenting has a long name: The David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award. It’s named after my father, a friend of His Highness and a long-time supporter of Synergos and, at least for me, a model of a business leader using his influence and ideas to address major social and political challenges. As Bob mentioned, my father couldn’t be with us tonight. This is the first time – well this year is the first time – that he hasn’t been at our awards. However, he wrote a letter, that I’m going to present to you that if you don’t mind I’d like to read to the group.

He’s taken advantage of the friendship to address you as Karim.

“It is my privilege to congratulate you on receiving the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award. I am pleased and proud to see the honour bestowed on such an extraordinary individual. Through the Aga Khan Development Network, you have leveraged the social conscience of Islam in ways that benefit people of all faiths, promoting tolerance, pluralism, and broad-based development. From initiatives on the environment to health, food security and economic opportunity, your agencies are having a momentous impact on the lives of people in Africa and Asia. I also want to commend you for your support of education at all levels, from basic education to institutions of higher learning that are helping transform these societies. In the cultural sphere, you are helping to preserve and to share traditional music, architecture and art in both the developing and developed world. Using investments in tourism and other endeavours to create jobs and infrastructure and channelling profits back into development programmes is an invaluable model which I hope might be expanded throughout the world.

Thank you for your leadership and vision.

With great respect and admiration.

David Rockerfeller.”

So the kinds of bridging actions that we’re talking about: reaching out across divides and differences and outlook and political orientation, sectors of society, religious beliefs and other things that divide us, are what we at Synergos call “bridging leadership” and after which we have named this award.

And as my father said in his letter, His Highness represents all of those things. Pluralism and inclusion underlies these efforts while the motivation for this work comes from the social conscience of Islam, the network that he represents is non-denominational, working with and benefitting people of many faiths and origins. He would have it no other way – that is bridging.

The Aga Khan and his networks are innovative as well, using for profit businesses to fund development programmes and helping kick start broad economic development with critical business investments. The results are tangible improvements in the lives of people in more than 30 countries. For your work and the example that you set, I thank you.

And your Highness would you please join me so that I can present the award.

H.H. the Aga Khan: Thank you.

Peggy, dear guests, I would like to say how grateful and honoured I am by this prize that you have given me this evening. For many decades I have admired the work that your family has done in sustaining development in the United States and elsewhere. And for many of us in this domain, you and your family have been an example that we have learnt from and that we have tried to emulate.

As I have done my work over the past decades, I have concluded that one of the most important forces in development is civil society. If you think about the countries around the world which have had fragile governments but which have still made progress, there are umpteen examples of countries which have made progress because they have had strong civil society. And civil society means mobilising all the forces that can be mobilised in support of human development, and that is why I am so happy and gratified by the prize that you have given me, because you are bringing these forces together in the most remarkable way.

Thank you.

Peggy Dulany:
So now I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to ask His Highness a few questions that I’m sure are questions that all of us are interested in the answers to and from which we’ll undoubtedly learn a lot.

So I’d like to begin with a question about pluralism and tolerance. In a world that we live in today, those are becoming in some ways increasingly rare, rare, features and I would really love your comments, as a leader in that field, as to how one can promote pluralism and tolerance and your own experience in that sphere.

H.H the Aga Khan: Well, I should start by saying that when I inherited my grandfather’s role, the Ismaili community was distributed in many different countries around the world. The world was still divided by the Cold War. The Soviet Union was still in place. Many countries were still colonised and therefore the community as an international community of faith, did not have a strong dialogue, a strong international dialogue.

As a result, creating a sense of identity, a sense of common purpose, a sense of common values became a very, very complex exercise. And we started by seeking to know or to learn what we didn’t know. And that was a long exercise in listening.

It was, for example, an exercise in recording oral tradition in rural communities; finding historic documents that had been hidden for years and years and trying to learn what made up the identity of these communities and how the faith had changed in various parts of the world, and to recognise the changes and then bring them together around a common value system.

And that, I think, was possible through a very, very strong effort in education, and we developed an educational system – our primary education curriculum took 7 years to develop. The secondary curriculum will take 15 years to develop, but I hope that at the end of that, there will be a sense of legitimacy of the pluralism of human society.

Now, that was within the community. Then we looked outside, and we found that through much of Africa, through much of Asia there was rejection of pluralism, there was competition, there was no common purpose and it was, I think, anchored in poverty. It was fighting to fight poverty. It was not fighting to fight for hope, for aspiration, for common purpose. It was fighting poverty. I think we were able to turn that around by working on the basis that there is a common human denominator which is the aspiration for a quality life. And if you can find that notion of a cosmopolitan ethic and you can bring people together around the definition of a cosmopolitan ethic, then I think you have the sound foundation on which to build pluralism.

Peggy Dulany:
That’s a wonderful answer, thank you, and I’d just like to call out a couple of qualities that were mentioned and one that wasn’t, which to us, in promoting the style of leadership for which we are honouring you, are fundamental.

So you mentioned the importance of listening. You demonstrated in your response, humility, which we also find essential. And you highlighted the importance of human dignity and the importance in helping people achieve dignity, of reducing poverty, particularly the sort that robs people of their dignity. These are certainly principles which we agree with and feel very strongly about, so thank you for that answer.

I’m going to skip around to different subjects and the next one really has to do with cross-generational transfer of values. This is something that we talk about in my own family with regard to philanthropy and its larger meaning which is really the love of humanity and I wonder if you would be willing to comment in your family tradition, what are some of the ways in which you have also passed on over the generations your values and how you received them from your grandfather?

H.H the Aga Khan:
Well I think the change in our lives has been when my grandfather moved to the western world and so my grandfather established himself in the western world and my brother and I were educated in Switzerland and then the United States.

But we kept a very, very strong family tradition, and in fact my grandfather was very much the senior figure in the family as it was appropriate. And his values, which he had kept very much alive during his life, were evident in every day of his life and therefore he became not only the head of the family but a role model for the family, and in that sense that continuity of tradition has been very, very strong indeed.

Peggy Dulany: And perhaps it’s awkward to talk about this with two of your children here but would you have any comments or would you like them to comment on how that is now getting passed down?

H.H. the Aga Khan: I think if they would like to comment that would be very welcome but I would simply say that they have taken on board, I think, the value systems that we have in the family and they are actively engaged in what we are doing and they are bridging the younger generations in the community and elsewhere, and bridging also the gender difference because the gender difference in many parts of our world in 1957 when I succeeded my grandfather was very, very acute indeed.

Peggy Dulany:
I know that in my own family if, as I think back, a lot of the transmission of values happened around the dinner table. Would you say that it was similarly [the case] – in family interactions?

H.H the Aga Khan: I think that we exchanged ideas and thoughts when we were doing sport together, when we were going to common events, there was no set pattern. Every opportunity was good.

Peggy Dulany: Yes, thank you. So now I wonder if you would comment a little bit on the relationship between philanthropy and development, which is certainly a principle that I share, and maybe some of the lessons learned through the network [AKDN] and also lessons that some of the people in this room could take advantage of, whether they are business people or philanthropists or NGOs.

H.H. the Aga Khan:
Well I think that this is a really central question for everybody who is engaged in development and I would start by saying that every decade, maybe a little bit less often than that, we talk about new formulae to sustain development, and those new formulae started some decades ago with risk investment.

Then they went to microcredit, now they are going to impact investment, and every decade there’s a new formula that comes up and that you live with and you try to interpret it.

But the fact is that ultimately you are looking at how society changes. What are the forces that enable it to change? And every decade I have found that there has been the absence of financial vehicles which enable you to address the issues that come up on the radar screen.

To me, today the big gap is between enterprise, only for-profit, and social development, only for social development. There is a massive gap in that area which is now being described as impact investment. I believe that impact investment is one of the most important concepts that I can recollect in the last 50 years. And the reason is that it harnesses social ethic to economic purpose.

And the harnessing of social ethic to economic purpose enables you to do things which you could never do otherwise because what you’re talking about is a double dividend. You’re talking about a reasonable dividend on the investment and you are talking about a reasonable dividend in social development.

Both of those can be measured and therefore those who make an investment in the impact domain can know what they’re achieving with that impact investment. How many children go to school? How many poor people have access to tertiary care? How many people can improve their habitat? How many people can flee from fear? Fear is one of the most dominant forces in developing societies that I know.

So these are all aspects of improving the quality of life of people which I consider absolutely essential and it is only achievable I think, through this combination of ethical purpose in economic development and ethical purpose in social development.

To be practical, education is costing more and more every year. Peoples’ incomes are not growing with the increasing cost in education. Therefore families are finding it more and more difficult to pay for their education, particularly if they have numerous children.

In tertiary [health]care; non-communicable disease is becoming the dominant force, the dominant type of sickness in the developing world. It’s expensive. How do people access that? I believe that impact investment can respond to many, many of these issues by giving a new domain of resource that can be harnessed both to the social and economic purpose.

Peggy Dulany:
I wish you had been in the room this afternoon when we hosted a gathering for some people working with large corporations, many of whom are here tonight and the theme was social entrepreneurs and I wonder if you could relate the importance of social entrepreneurship to impact investing.

H.H. the Aga Khan:
Well I think the reality is that because of the fact that the Ismaili community is an international community, we are particularly well placed for what I would call “gap analysis” and therefore we are able to, I think, get a good sense of where there are disequilibria occurring in education, in healthcare, in access to credit, in rural development etc.

And one of the critical things that we are looking at is how you close those gaps. Where things have been miscalculated or where I would call the capacity to project has not been analysed properly, you have major dysfunctions in society. And if you think about what you see in Africa and Asia you see dysfunctional education relations. Not enough investment in early childhood development, tertiary education which is all over the place. You have an incongruous educational system. That’s where social entrepreneurship should come in, I think, and help develop these institutions.

Peggy Dulany: To introduce it into the education system …

H.H. the Aga Khan: To introduce it into the education system because governments don’t do it.

Peggy Dulany:
And I believe that’s what your organisation is trying to do in Central Asia in the universities that you are building.

H.H. the Aga Khan: Exactly, exactly. In Africa, in Central Asia we have sensed a massive insufficiency of commitment to tertiary education and to what I would call a research university, because just giving university degrees is one thing.

Keeping universities alive in the competitive global inter-world of intellect is a completely different exercise.

Peggy Dulany: Thank you.

Probably some people in this room are very familiar and others might not be as familiar with the traditions of social conscience within Islam and I wonder if you could enlighten us both about the thinking and also how you have translated that into practice.

H.H. the Aga Khan: What Islam says about supporting people in society is perhaps somewhat different from other communities and other faiths. The premise that Islam works on is not just helping but helping to render the individual capable of governing his or her destiny.

You are not just helping them away from poverty; you are giving them the means to propel themselves and their families into their future, in ways which they control. And therefore when you educate, when you help in healthcare, when you give access to credit, you are not looking at just helping the individual survive, you are trying to reposition the individual and the family in society. That is the basic premise of social support that I believe is the correct interpretation of Islam.

Peggy Dulany: It’s a great answer and it reminds me of the first time that I came across your network and I think it was about 1991 led by Rajesh Tandon who is over here.

We did a series of case studies of successful partnerships in Asia. They were quite difficult to find in 1991 but one was the Orangi pilot project in Pakistan in which the amazing unique aspect of it was that the community members had decided for themselves how to handle their own sanitation issues and together with the network and UNICEF had made a huge difference in other health and wellbeing of the community. So it goes way back, that value system, I can see.

I have one final question: you mentioned earlier the devastating impact of fear and I think all of us are aware that in today’s world there are many things to be fearful of and in my thinking and, sounds like yours too, fear is almost the opposite of love. What can we all collectively do to begin to reduce the fear and transform the way of being into a way of loving rather than fearing?

H.H. the Aga Khan: I’ve often asked myself how far interfaith dialogue could carry human development and I concluded that there will always be limits. I have not concluded that there are limits in defining society’s wish to improve its quality of life.

And I think that the common denominator amongst all peoples is to improve the quality of life.
That is a basic fact and I have seen communities that have conflictual relationships over decades change their whole philosophy of life because they had come together around a common purpose that they had defined. Not our agencies. They had defined. They had told us in their societies, in their organisations, what were the priorities they wanted.

Our role was to come in and support them and once that happened, hatred disappeared. So what you call love was a consequence of people coming together and saying, we will share the burden of life in such a way that we make it an opportunity for a new future.

Peggy Dulany: And would you say that in doing that – because often the communities that you support are very poor and probably somewhat isolated – that the safety that you were able to create, the sense of safety, was an important piece of the giving up some of the fear, beginning to feel a sense of hope and then being able to live out of the heart?

H.H. the Aga Khan: Absolutely.

People coming together around a common purpose are much stronger, for example, in eliminating corruption. When an individual faces corruption, that’s a problem. When a village community faces corruption it’s a totally different issue.

And in fact, corruption in civil society is probably one of the most damaging forces that we are trying to deal with everyday. It’s not only corruption at the level of government, it’s corruption in education, it’s corruption in healthcare, it’s corruption in financial institutions, it’s corruption in rural support, in distribution of goods.

So the lack of ethics in civil society is one of the really very, very great issues that we have to deal with. And what we’ve found is that community organisations, when they come together, what do they look at? It’s very exciting. Their whole basis of hope is built around best practice. They reject all the things that have damaged them individually and they come together and say we want a new future built around new people whom we choose because we trust them.

Peggy Dulany: Thank you. That’s a wonderful note on which to end our discussion.


","speech_219876","","English" "Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/geneva_conf_afghanistan_jlr3187.jpg","Geneva, Switzerland","Wednesday, 28 November 2018","1543401900","Statement by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan","","speech","Afghanistan","","2010s","","","","6926","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbfUfUXmLRE","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/geneva_conf_afghanistan_jlr3184.jpg","","","","


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations for bringing the international community together to reaffirm our commitment to Afghanistan, and, most importantly, to its people.

Two years ago, many of us gathered in Brussels for a similar purpose. And there have been several such gatherings over the past some seventeen years. Commitments have been made, challenges overcome, hopes raised and sometimes dashed.

It would seem at times that hope is difficult to sustain. The challenges of building security, alleviating poverty, addressing the impact of climate change, and the complexities of pursuing reconciliation are a few of the cross-cutting areas that dominate our thinking. 

I would suggest that we should be guided equally by acknowledging and supporting the resilience of the Afghan people. They have recently voted in record numbers, often at great personal risk. And their spontaneous reactions during this year’s brief ceasefire gave us all a glimpse of the country that could be: people from every region and background unified in their desire for peace.

The National Unity Government also deserves our recognition and support for its efforts to implement critical reforms and advance Afghanistan on the road to self-reliance.

Two years ago, in Brussels, we promised to deepen our commitment in three critical areas: building human capital; strengthening institutions and civil society; and promoting regional development.

I have always maintained that my institutions would make a permanent commitment to the country. Therefore, on behalf of the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network, I underline, once again, our enduring commitment to Afghanistan and to its peoples.

As we come together to support the National Unity Government, investing in civil society - encouraging private organisations designed to serve public goals - deserves equal attention. Such institutions can be stabilising factors and points of continuity. That is why AKDN supports the full spectrum of civil society, devoting special attention to health, education, culture, community governance, and public-private partnerships to deliver other services.

Therefore, since our last meeting, working in cooperation with our partners, we have opened the Bamyan Provincial Hospital, and the Mothers’ Wing of the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children in Kabul. We have expanded our work with Afghanistan’s education system to improve the quality of learning and to help over 150,000 girls to go to school. In the coming years, we intend to build a full-service tertiary research hospital in Kabul linked to the Aga Khan University, to deepen our work in primary and secondary education, and to expand activities of the regional University of Central Asia.

In the area of civil society, our ongoing commitment to Afghanistan’s diverse culture was marked by the recently-completed Chihilsitoon Palace and Gardens, joining over 140 other heritage sites around the country restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture with the strong support of the Afghan government and international partners. This year, we have together launched an ambitious plan to rejuvenate the Kabul Riverfront. We are also working directly to harness the power of people coming together: through the Aga Khan Foundation, we have helped thousands of community groups and district authorities deliver the government’s vital Citizen’s Charter and promote more inclusive development in remote areas. 

To foster regional integration, we have expanded the transmission lines of Pamir Energy from Tajikistan into Northern Afghanistan, providing some villages with power for the first time. We will soon start work on a sixth cross-border bridge and market between those countries, and are in advanced discussions to increase substantially electrification from the border to Faizabad.

Mr Chairman, the experience of the past seventeen years has strongly reinforced my conviction that the path to sustainable peace in Afghanistan depends heavily on two key principles – regional cooperation, which is key for national development and stability; and a commitment to pluralism – the country’s diversity must be cultivated as a source of strength.  Everyone in all regions should benefit from investment that creates hope for the future. This is a guiding principle of our investment in Afghanistan. I hope that these are principles on which we can all work together, and to which we remain committed in Afghanistan. 

Thank you.


""لقد حرصتُ على الدوام بأن تبدي مؤسساتي التزاماً دائماً بهذه الدولة. ولهذا السبب، اسمحوا لي أن أعاود التأكيد على التزامنا الدائم بأفغانستان وبشعبها بالنيابة عن الإمامة الإسماعيلية وشبكة الآغا خان للتنمية"".

","English" "Citation for His Highness the Aga Khan by Professor Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor of Simon Fraser University","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/aziz_dhamani_3911.jpg","Vancouver, Canada","Saturday, 20 October 2018","1539955800","Citation for His Highness the Aga Khan by Professor Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor of Simon Fraser University","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","216391","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","

Thank you.

President Ono,
Your Highness,
Your Honour,
Madam Chancellor,

As with UBC, Simon Fraser University is committed to the values of education, pluralism and global citizenship as drivers of social betterment. But SFU’s association with the example of His Highness the Aga Khan also relates to two other dimensions.

First, SFU aspires to be Canada’s most community-engaged research university, for the benefit of our students and of the communities we serve. And I can think of no better demonstration of the value of community engagement than that exemplified by the Aga Khan Development Network.

Second, we at SFU have committed ourselves to marshalling university resources to build social capital and to promote community betterment – goals that has been evident in the Aga Khan’s priorities for more than half a century.

The advancement of education by the Aga Khan Development Network (or AKDN) is, perhaps, the most obvious illustration of this priority. The AKDN engages more than two million learners a year, including 750,000 in early childhood development and more than a million at the elementary and high school levels through the Aga Khan Schools and Aga Khan Academies.

At the post-secondary level, the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia proudly claim 15,000 alumni, including doctors, nurses, teachers and school managers who are raising standards and playing leading roles in their fields and communities.

In the area of health, the AKDN supports a network of hospitals, including the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, considered to be one of the best on the continent of Africa. The AKDN is also a leading supporter of health research, especially in areas such as tuberculosis that affect vulnerable populations.

In support of civil society, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programmes have embodied and employed grassroots democracy, participatory governance and pluralism as the springboards for improving the conditions of more than 8 million people living in poor, rural areas. And the AKDN supplies agricultural aid to more than 100,000 cotton farmers, while its social programmes offer microfinance, education, health and sanitation support.

In the category of humanitarian assistance, the AKDN is often one of the first on-the-ground responders after a natural or human-caused disaster, and one of the last to leave, working on long-term redevelopment for the benefit of all those affected. It frequently applies that same focus in remote and fragile geographies, working to reduce poverty, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and their families. 

Also in the realm of social infrastructure, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has shown how culture can be a catalyst for improving the quality of life. The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme conducts complex restoration and conservation projects. It creates parks and gardens, and it plans and operates cultural assets from Afghanistan to Zanzibar. Indeed, His Highness earlier this week inaugurated the Aga Khan Garden in Edmonton, bringing to Canada some of the extraordinary cultural legacies of Muslim civilisations.

In an area where culture, education and social infrastructure intersect, the Aga Khan supports the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Since 1977, this has been one of the world’s pre-eminent architectural awards, focused on everything from village planning to environmental sanitation.

In addition to a vast array of not-for-profit initiatives, the Aga Khan has also established the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, which invests in ethically run, self-sustaining companies that create employment, provide essential goods and services, and promote economic development.

The Fund underwrites entrepreneurs and development, from an award-winning mobile phone company in Afghanistan to hydroelectric plants that provide half the electricity to Uganda – a country, by the way, that ejected its Ismaili population in 1972.

This is a leader who has much to teach us about truth and reconciliation.

And so we say, in looking to this remarkable record, and in celebrating the alignment of our values, it is clear that His Highness the Aga Khan is richly deserving of the honours we bestow today.

We, in turn, are profoundly honoured to be in association with His Highness and the honours that we provide to our two institutions.

","speech_216401","","English" "Citation for His Highness the Aga Khan by Professor Santa Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/asif_bhalesha-8222.jpg","Vancouver, Canada","Saturday, 20 October 2018","1539955800","Citation for His Highness the Aga Khan by Professor Santa Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","216386","","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","honorary degree","","

Your Highness,
Your Honour,
Madam Chancellor,
And Governors and Senators of UBC and SFU,
Friends of our two universities,
And of the Ismaili community,

I am deeply honoured today, with my esteemed colleague, SFU President Andrew Petter, to welcome and present His Highness the Aga Khan IV, Imam of the world’s Shia Ismaili Muslims. We are gathered today to confer honour upon His Highness. Specifically – and for the first time in our two institutions’ history – we are here to confer honorary degrees from both of our universities.

The honorary degree is the highest honour that a university can bestow, one that recognises the accomplishments and contributions of an exceptional individual. In honouring a candidate of eminence and excellence, we also offer a public illustration of our own values and ambitions. We do so to inspire our graduates and our community. To this end, I can think of no candidate who so deserves this unprecedented joint recognition than His Highness the Aga Khan.

Speaking from the perspective of my own university, UBC has defined its purpose as:

“Pursuing excellence in research, learning and engagement to foster global citizenship and to advance a sustainable and just society across British Columbia, Canada and the world.” Related to that pursuit, our vision is: “Inspiring people, ideas and actions for a better world.”

Who, in that regard, could be a better exemplar than His Highness the Aga Khan? The Aga Khan Development Network – the AKDN – works in more than 30 countries. Operating roughly 1,000 programmes and institutions, it employs more than 80,000 people and invests more than US$1 billion, every year, in non-profit development activities.

This is a profound example of global citizenship, and one that is inclusive of race and ideology. The AKDN is guided by the ethical principles of Islam, particularly consultation, solidarity with those less fortunate, self-reliance and human dignity. But the Aga Khan’s leadership is not restricted to a particular community, country or region. Rather, the AKDN focuses on the poor and vulnerable – although, as many UBC students and graduates can attest, it also supports programmes in Europe and here in North America. Working with every religion, race, ethnicity and gender, pluralism is a central pillar of the AKDN’s ethical framework. We are all, again, inspired by his example.

His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims. In that role, he is the spiritual leader of the 15 million Ismailis, a multi-ethnic community dispersed among more than 25 countries, including South and Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe and North America. There are more than 100,000 Ismailis in Canada alone.

Renowned for the good works of the AKDN, the Aga Khan has demurred when people call him a philanthropist. He says, rather, that his mandate requires that he use the office of the Ismaili Imamat, which he inherited to improve the quality of life for the world’s most vulnerable. He presents his work not as an act of generosity but as the exercise of his responsibility. If we all took the same view in our own lives, it would be such a better world.

Born Prince Karim Aga Khan, in Geneva, Switzerland, on December 13, 1936, the Aga Khan is the eldest son of Prince Aly Khan and his first wife, the Princess Tajuddawlah. It is believed that the Aga Khan is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, through the Prophet’s daughter Fatima az-Zahra and her husband, and Muhammad’s cousin, Ali, who was the first Imam in Shia Islam.

The Aga Khan spent his early years in Nairobi, Kenya, where he began his education under private tutelage before returning to Switzerland and boarding school at the Institut le Rosey. He then studied Islamic history at Harvard University, where he graduated 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts and a varsity H for soccer. As an athlete of accomplishment, he also competed on behalf of Iran as a downhill skier in the 1964 Olympics.

On July 11, 1957, at just 20 years of age, the young prince was elevated to the role of Imam. The prince’s grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan III, who had served as Imam for the previous 72 years, said he was designating his grandson because, and here I quote from the late Imam’s will itself:

“I am convinced that it is in the best interest of the Shia Ismaili Muslim Community that I should be succeeded by a young man who has been brought up and developed during recent years and in the midst of the new age and who brings a new outlook on life to his office as Imam.”

In more than 60 years of service, His Highness the Aga Khan has proved the wisdom of his grandfather’s choice.

I would now like to invite my colleague, SFU President Andrew Petter, to continue the Citation.

","speech_216396","","English" "Inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden, Edmonton","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2018-10-canada-add_3453_r.jpg","Edmonton, Alberta, Canada","Friday, 19 October 2018","1539696600","Speech by Hon. Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta at the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","216286","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2018-10-canada-add_3453_r.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture,Culture","

Well thank you very much and welcome everyone.

I’d like to begin by joining President Turpin and Her Honour, by acknowledging that we are all here on the traditional territory of Treaty Six and also to recognize the Metis people of Alberta who share a very deep connection with Islam that we are very, very, effectively celebrating here today.

It is a great honour to welcome you, your Highness, back to Alberta. It is wonderful to see you again and it’s a pleasure to be here with so many other distinguished guests including Their Honours, President Turpin and our many distinguished guests in the audience today, as we celebrate this exceptionally generous gift.

Years of hard, thoughtful work have produced extraordinary results and as this garden matures, it will become more beautiful with every passing year, if you can imagine that, because it is already rather stunning and jaw-dropping really.

You can say the same thing, quite frankly, about this region, and our province. There is a trend at work. The capital region is steadily becoming an even better place for people to work, to live and play, bringing new jobs, businesses and family attractions.

The Royal Alberta Museum, the biggest museum in Western Canada, just opened its doors and it will bring exhibits and visitors from around the world. On a slightly different track, in a few weeks we will be hosting the Grey Cup. And those are just a few of the fun things to name that are exciting, that are happening here in this area.

But now, we have one of the most elegant and beautiful gardens in Canada, and I would suggest, maybe the world. It is a tremendous addition to one of the country’s best universities. The University of Alberta already has a great research space and the Botanic Garden is a gorgeous oasis that educates and inspires visitors. Anyone considering a trip to the region just got yet another big reason to come here.

This garden is also a sign of Alberta’s welcome to the world. This is a living testament to a province where differences are valued and diversity thrives. And Alberta is genuinely a stronger place because of those differences. In Alberta, we don’t care who you love, where you worship or what the colour of your skin is. We respect and we celebrate our differences.

Alberta’s Ismaili community is a great example of that. Take for instance the celebrations for Ismaili CIVIC Day, which kick-started a whole year of volunteering and philanthropy among Ismailis, Canada-wide. It’s more evidence of this community turning beliefs into action.

We want all newcomers to Alberta to find the same success and we are helping them to do that. One way is by standing alongside people of all backgrounds to fight against racism. And after conversations across the province, we are creating an anti-racism advisory council, which will do a number of things. But one of the key things that it will do, is work with diverse communities to ensure that our school curriculum reflects the full tapestry of the cultures that make up our province and provides cross-cultural understanding and awareness that will support an inclusive and welcoming society.

And I have to say that I have this great vision of children who have this now built into their curriculum, or increasingly built into this curriculum, coming to this garden to learn about Islam, to learn about the Ismaili community, to learn about what this garden has to offer. And it’s a tremendously wonderful alignment of our values and we are able to come together to build that even more welcoming and more dynamic province.

So in closing I just want to offer my thanks as well and on behalf of the Province of Alberta, my thanks to everyone who has been involved in making this beautiful space happen.

Your Highness thank you again for your leadership and for your incredible, incredible generosity. It’s a beautiful gift to Alberta, to its people, and its economy. Everyone from families who have been here for generations, to recently arrived immigrants, will find moments of peace and calm, reflection and joy. And I am delighted that the people of Alberta can count on you, your Highness, as a true friend. And I am proud to say that we stand with you as we work together to build a fairer, more inclusive world.

So thank you very much.



","speech_216281","","English" "Inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2018-10-canada-add_3420_r.jpg","Edmonton, Alberta, Canada","Thursday, 18 October 2018","1539677700","Speech by Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lt Governor of Alberta, at the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","216131","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2018-10-canada-add_3420_r.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture,Culture","

A very good afternoon to you all.

What a beautiful Alberta day. We couldn’t have had this event at a better time and we are so pleased that we could have a day like this to welcome you.

To begin with, I won’t go over how eloquently David expressed about being on Treaty 6 territory, but suffice it to say that I do acknowledge that we are on the Treaty 6 territory of the lands of the First Nation and Metis people.

As Her Majesty the Queen’s representative in Alberta, it is my very great pleasure to welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to our province for this very special Inauguration Ceremony. I had the privilege of welcoming you on May 7, so that’s when we first met, with many of your wonderful colleagues.

I would also like to extend a sincere thank you to His Highness for sharing the amazing gift of this beautiful garden with all of Albertans and in fact Canada. I know that people from around the world are going to want to come see this.

This wonderful Aga Khan Garden is an expression of the concepts of peace and cultural understanding. What I love about the garden is that it allows us to experience peace and tolerance in a truly immersive way.

We may come from a wide range of cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds but when we experience the sights, the sounds and the harmony of nature, it reminds us of our common humanity. The fact that this new addition is a unique coming together of a traditional Islamic garden in Alberta’s northern climate is further reminder, as David said, that we can use our differences to create something beautiful and something lasting.

I trust that everyone who visits the Aga Khan Garden will come away with a deeper appreciation and a stronger understanding of all that we can achieve through peace and cooperation.

I know that visitors will be also inspired by this remarkable example that His Highness offers us all. He mentioned what he really wanted was for this to be a place of communication, and I think that’s a wonderful goal. The architect also expressed that the Aga Khan wanted it to be whimsical. Who doesn’t love those little animals all over? How special is that?

You have encouraged countless people throughout our province and around the world, to share their energy and compassion with people in need and to create welcoming and inclusive communities. Thank you very much. That’s the spirit of our new Aga Khan Garden, and we are so proud and honoured to have here it in Alberta.

Thank you as well to everyone at the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and members of the Alberta Ismaili community for your ongoing contributions to our province.

I’d also like to recognise Premier Notley for the important contributions that the Alberta Government has made to these botanical gardens.

Thank you to all of the staff, including Lee who gave me a wonderful tour of this garden about six weeks ago. Thank you as well to the many leaders, especially David Turpin, President of the University of Alberta.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this great project and enjoy this very special day of celebration.


","speech_216126","","English" "Inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2018-10-canada-dsc03931_r.jpg","Edmonton, Alberta, Canada","Wednesday, 17 October 2018","1539702000","Address by University of Alberta President David Turpin at the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","216046","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2018-10-canada-dsc03931_r.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Architecture,Culture","

Thank-you all for coming to the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden. I am your host, David Turpin, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Alberta, and I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the official inauguration of this very special place.

I want to start by acknowledging with respect that we stand on Treaty 6 territory, and that the histories, languages and cultures of First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and all First Peoples of Canada, continue to enrich our vibrant community.

I would like to welcome our esteemed dignitaries today: Her Honour, the Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta; the Honourable Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta and His Highness the Aga Khan.

I would also like to acknowledge a few, just a few, of the many dignitaries joining us today:

From the University of Alberta, Chancellor Douglas Stollery and Board Chair Michael Phair. From the Aga Khan University, President Firoz Rasul and Malik Talib, President of the Aga Khan Council for Canada.

We are also joined by our Chancellors and Board Chairs Emeritus, Ministers from the Government of Alberta, the Mayors of Devon, Spruce Grove and Edmonton, as well as other dignitaries – and, of course, all of you – our friends and alumni and supporters. Thank you all for being here.

I would also like to take just a moment to thank our university alumni and the members of our broader community who have made this event possible through their generous support.

This spectacular garden is intended to foster greater understanding between people of different cultures. It is aptly placed here among other culturally significant gardens, including the Indigenous Garden — the first Native Peoples Garden at a botanic garden in Canada — and the Kurimoto Japanese Garden, named after the first Japanese national to graduate from the University of Alberta.

This day has been more than 10 years in the making. It is the outcome of a very special relationship between the University of Alberta and the Aga Khan University that was formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2006 and renewed again in 2009 and again in 2017. The deep-rooted partnership between the two universities is marked by a longevity and sustainability that has transcended time and leadership transitions on both sides.

Together, we have collaborated in numerous teaching, learning and training initiatives in undergraduate programs, postgraduate studies, and internships in a wide variety of fields around the world.

Together, we have created knowledge networks that foster innovation through discussion, interaction and an emphasis on finding solutions to some of the most challenging problems facing communities everywhere in the world today.

Our partnership has transformed lives and communities through improvements and capacity-building in areas such as cardiology, nursing education and research, women’s health and empowerment, copyright law, teacher education, and dental hygiene. We have fostered cultural understanding with collaborations in Islamic music, art, architecture, and literature.

In 2009, in recognition of this collaboration, and for his work to advance global humanitarianism, pluralism and social justice, the University of Alberta conferred an honorary degree on His Highness the Aga Khan.

In his speech to graduates, His Highness announced that he was giving the university a garden to mark the University of Alberta’s 100th anniversary and his own golden jubilee, and to celebrate our growing partnership. Not just any garden, but a garden that would foster cultural  understanding, academic research and teaching, provide economic benefit and facilitate social interaction.

A garden that would be one of just 11 other gardens of its type around the world. A place that would be a special symbol of our shared values and beliefs, most especially of the value of education and its ability to uplift society and to bring people together towards shared understanding.

His Highness said he hoped this garden would be a space of (and I quote) “educational and aesthetic value, a setting for learning more about Muslim culture and design, as well as a place for public reflection.”

It was to be a contemporary interpretation of Islamic landscape architecture integrated into its northern location. Indeed, the northernmost Islamic Garden in the world, it bridges cultures, distances and time.

This summer, we opened the Aga Khan Garden to the public for the first time, and it has had an immediate impact. It has become a must-see destination for people to visit, and enjoy its beauty.

Everyone who experiences the garden feels the effect of this magnificent, transformative space. Our hard-working botanic garden staff have witnessed the garden come into being over the last year. The volunteer docents have learned about the culture, history and traditions of the great civilizations that built gardens like this in the past.

Everyone who visits the garden is struck by its precision and forethought - the intricacies of the fixtures, the specificity of the plants. They marvel at the way the garden so delicately blends architecture inspired by Mughal tradition with shrubs, trees, perennials, annuals and wetland plants that were selected to suit and reflect Alberta’s climate.

The experience of the garden — not only its beauty and its serenity, but its cultural gravity … the way it brings together our shared meanings, pleasures and identities — cannot be understated.

This garden is a fitting and beautiful representation of the collaboration between the University of Alberta and the Aga Khan University and our shared commitment to education, research and cultural understanding.

I want to thank His Highness the Aga Khan, for honouring us with this tremendous garden, which is one of only two in North America. It will be a space for reflection, education and leisure, for generations to come.

Your Highness, thank you.

","speech_216041","","English" "Citation for His Highness the Aga Khan by Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, President of the University of Calgary","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2018-10-canada-asif_bhalesha-7905_r.jpg","Calgary, Canada","Wednesday, 17 October 2018","1539765000","Citation for His Highness the Aga Khan by Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, President of the University of Calgary","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","216136","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2018-10-canada-asif_bhalesha-7905_r.jpg","","honorary degree","","

Your Highness,

The University of Calgary is honoured today to recognise the friendship, partnership, and the spiritual example of His Highness the Aga Khan, the Imam of the Shia Ismaili community.

His Highness is the beloved leader of fifteen million Ismailis, a global community representing the abundant traditions and values of a people who have enriched culture and pluralism in more than twenty-five nations.

Here in Canada, Ismaili Muslims contribute enormously to the fabric of diversity that we cherish so much. Their superb intellectual and educational background and their integrative cosmopolitanism, are outstanding. Their ethos of working to relieve hardship, pain, and ignorance shapes their social conscience, but extends to all around them.

His Highness’ concern for the arts, science, and economic development illuminates Ismaili tradition. He leads this resilient and altruistic community who believe that faith is demonstrated by contributing to the general welfare and doing good for all. The Ismaili presence in our radiantly diverse and youthful city has greatly benefitted Calgarians.

We tend, in our secular time, to relegate the spiritual to a separate sphere, as if it has no bearing on the daily challenges presented by all that is sublunary.  His Highness teaches by example that these elements are not divergent, but related, parallel passions that can fruitfully interact in the worldly world. His contemporary interpretation of the faith of Islam, through changing contexts, has been a superior guide to maintaining a balance between metaphysical wellbeing and individual quality of life. His respect for ethical connection, responsibility and trust nevertheless embraces evolving beliefs.

His Highness is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon Him. Born in Geneva, His Highness spent his childhood in Nairobi, Kenya, attended school in Switzerland and graduated from Harvard University.

These seem small details, but they sparked His Highness’ many humanitarian and educational initiatives, all of which model an extraordinary ideal of stewardship for this leader’s sophisticated awareness of our changing planet.

Most of all, His Highness apprehends the intricacies of a sometimes turbulent era with engaging grace. In that spirit, the entire world looks to his generous and constructive éminence with respect and admiration. In these disquieting times, His Highness has undertaken to grapple with challenges. His work seeks to better material conditions for those less fortunate, but also to deploy strategic resources at a time when sudden changes and unexpected developments discourage progress. His concern for health and education goes far beyond mere aspiration. He is a meaningful force in international development, reshaping the horizon of hope and ethically pragmatic progress.

His Highness’s effective vitality as a leader is evidenced in the Aga Khan Development Network, which includes among its many agencies two universities -  the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia.  Those organisations are both foundational nuclei for health, education, development, protection of the environment, and cultural and economic revitalisation. Most important, they advance the ideal of a civil society, so fiercely necessary at this time, in this current climate of division and disrespect.  His Highness is a living manifestation of how we must work together to support human advancement, at home and around the world.

As founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of international agencies dedicated to uplifting quality of life in the areas of health care, education, social services, architecture, cultural preservation and restoration, economic development, rural development, urban development and civil society, he builds bridges and creates opportunities for increasing prosperity to all locally and internationally.

The Aga Khan Development Network’s agencies include Health Services, Education Services, Academies, and Microfinance, as well as the Aga Khan Foundation, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture co-ordinates multiple cultural activities, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Historic Cities Programme, Aga Khan Music Initiative, Aga Khan Museum, and Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard and MIT.

Here, in Canada, we have benefitted from unique initiatives that the Imamat has spawned, including the Aga Khan Museum and the Global Centre for Pluralism, and of course, the Aga Khan Garden of Alberta which His Highness inaugurated in Edmonton yesterday.

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development is dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and economic enterprise in the developing world, often in countries with a need for outside investment. The health network supports 325 centres in multiple countries; and educational strategies include 240 schools determined to dismantle obstacles to educational access and achievement.

This Network is His Highness' tangible way of bringing together faith and action, diligently seeking solutions to hunger, poverty, illiteracy and ill-health. His Highness has been instrumental in forging universal ideals and aspirations, promoting pluralism, compassion, cultural amplitude, and human dignity. His measure is that of a significant figure in international development, one who has literally reshaped its landscape.

Here at the University of Calgary, we too have benefitted from a generative relationship with His Highness’ visionary reticulations. Positive connections with our Faculties of Graduate Studies, Nursing, Arts, and the Werklund School of Education, have focused on the essential work of education, international development, health and wellness, and social and human rights.

This collaboration has informed the evolution of the Faculty of Arts’ Arabic Languages and Culture program, which engages students in learning about Muslim civilisations, languages and cultures. Events like the celebration of Milad-un-Nabi provide a unique opportunity for our students to gain deeper cultural understanding and knowledge surrounding Islamic civilisations.

Our collaboration is rich and varied. We have engaged with the Aga Khan University through the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholars and Advanced Scholars Programs participating in research opportunities at AKU campuses in Pakistan, Kenya and Uganda, and we have welcomed their international researchers here.

The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Nursing develops through this project, future leaders in global citizenship in the areas of child and maternal health, neo-natal child health and perinatal mental health. Students from the Faculty of Arts and the Werklund School of Education participate in placements at AKU. And the Cumming School of Medicine will, in coming years, partner with the Aga Khan University on research and practice in cardiac sciences.

There, in that word - cardiac - resides a crucial evocation.  Heart is the kernel of what His Highness embodies: heart, a passion to inspire, not only through words, but with actions. Our Ismaili students, faculty, and staff share this passion and volunteer selflessly to advance the principles he models.

In the great chain of thinkers, those who encapsulate the poetry and vision of human reason, His Highness has fostered social justice as a dream that all yearn to achieve. He stands as a living legend, a model for every conscience.  

We Canadians share that dream with His Highness, who is an honorary Canadian citizen.

And apparently, this city, Calgary, shares with His Highness a love of fast horses. From its earliest days, Calgary was known as “horse town,” and equine speed has resonated from the long history of our indigenous peoples to the present. Here, on the rolling prairie and the incipient foothills, horses symbolise our landscape and our aspiration, and we hope that His Highness will continue to share those dreams of freedom, beauty and action.

Our laudation does only small justice to His Highness’ example and his urgent message that we build bridges, make friendships, and find common ground with all faiths. He commissions everyone to reflect on those who have contributed to our lives, and to remember the importance of contributing to the lives of others.

We are today, grateful to be in His presence, and honoured that He has accepted our tribute.


","speech_215961","","English" "Inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2018/dsc03959.jpg","Edmonton, Canada","Tuesday, 16 October 2018","1539685800","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2018/dsc03959.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Culture","


Your Honour Lois Mitchell,
The Honourable Rachel Notley,
Honourable Ministers,
Your Worships,
Chancellor Stollery,
President Turpin,
Distinguished Guests,

It is always a great pleasure to greet old friends and welcome new friends at a celebration like this.  But today’s inauguration stands out for me as particularly joyous.

For one thing, the old friendships we renew today are especially meaningful.  We look back, of course, to the welcome in Alberta of members of the Ismaili community who settled here almost a half century ago, often in very difficult circumstances.  And those bonds of welcome have been continually renewed through the years, especially through our rewarding partnerships with the University of Alberta.

One of the special gifts that old friends offer is introducing us to wonderful new friends, and that has also happened here.  The project we celebrate today – the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden – is a particularly happy example.

I think all of you have had the pleasure – in your personal life or your professional life – of seeing a fascinating story develop happily from beginning to end.  We recall the excitement of a new beginning – as well as that deep sense of grateful satisfaction when the planning works – when the hope is realised, and the vision is achieved.

Well that is exactly how I feel today. I was fortunate to have been part of this project’s conception – and I feel fortunate to be here today to help mark its realisation.

I remember well my visits to the University of Alberta during my Golden Jubilee year – in 2008, and again for the graduation ceremonies in 2009.  That was when we first discussed this dream of creating here, together, a new Islamic garden.  I paid my first visit to the proposed garden site at that time, wondering, even then, just how this dream might come true in practice.  

It seemed like an unlikely dream to many.  After all, the great tradition of Islamic gardens has its roots in very different times and places.  The symbol of the garden as a spiritual symbol goes back to the Holy Qur’an itself - where the garden ideal is mentioned many times.  Down through many centuries, Islamic culture has continued to see the garden as a very special place, where the human meets further proof of the divine.

The development of the garden as a symbol of Islamic ideals flourished most magnificently some 500 to 600 years ago – and that happened, of course, in the warmer climates of Southern Asia.  And yet, there we were in Edmonton a decade ago, proposing to extend that lovely eastern and southern tradition, at the start of the 21st Century, to the unique natural environment of northern and western Canada.  This proposed new garden, to be precise, would be the northern-most Islamic garden ever created.

Over the past nine years I have been able to watch the dream come true – as we agreed on the configuration of the site, assembled a Steering Committee, chose an architectural firm, and reviewed development plans.  And then, with the planning completed, the building process took just some 18 months – finishing “on time and on budget,” as planners like to point out!

As I look out at this garden today, what I think about – above all – are the people who made it possible - their dedication, their talent, and their remarkable energy.  I want them all to know that in celebrating this new garden today – we are also celebrating them.  Theirs is a highly valued gift to the generations to come, who also must be privileged by experiencing the spirituality and harmony of multiple life forms.

They include construction workers and gardeners, planners and administrators, artists and scholars, architects and designers – including the landscape design firm of Nelson Byrd Woltz.  They include dedicated members of the Ismaili and other Muslim communities in Alberta – and other parts of Canada, the remarkable family of the University of Alberta, governmental officials at all levels, and those who serve the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Aga Khan Development Network.

At the heart of their efforts, of course, was the inspiring power of the Islamic garden itself.  For a central part of the garden tradition is the high calling of human stewardship, our responsibility to honour, to protect, and to share the gifts of the natural world.

Gardens in this context can be seen not as imitations of nature but as humanity’s interpretations of nature, their geometric structures providing a human framework in which we can experience – in this case – the magnificent fluctuations of the Albertan landscape. 

The garden of Islamic tradition is also a place where the flow of refreshing water reminds us of divine blessing.  It is a place for meditation, and quiet renewal.  But I would likewise emphasise that the garden, through history, has also been seen as a social space – a place for learning, for sharing, for romance, for diplomacy, for reflection on the destiny of the human race.  And even as we share the garden experience with one another, we can feel a connection with those who walked through similar gardens in the past.   

I would also mention one additional aspect of the particular garden we inaugurate today.  It symbolises not only the creative blending of the natural and the human – but also the beauty of multiple inter-cultural cooperation.  

One of the great questions facing humanity today is how we can honour what is distinctive about our separate identities – and, at the same time, welcome a diversity of identities as positive elements in our lives.   

This city and this country have been among the world leaders in providing positive answers to that ancient question.  The project we inaugurate today is a beautiful extension of that Canadian tradition.

In Canada and in many other places, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has made a major commitment to creating and renewing important green spaces in recent years.  We can look back on ten recent successes in places ranging from Cairo to Zanzibar, from Toronto to Kabul, from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Bamako in Mali.  In 2018 alone, I helped to inaugurate three such garden projects – in London, in Delhi, and now here in Alberta.

But the story does not end here.  In fact, the story of Canadian Islamic gardens itself is not yet completed.  Our plans are now advancing, in fact, for a new park to be developed a few hundred miles southwest of here, in Burnaby, British Columbia. 

Yes – to be sure – it will surpass Edmonton as the western-most Islamic garden.  But, of course, we can be rest assured, that Edmonton’s garden will still have a lasting claim as the northern-most! 

I have talked about the past, today, but I would close by emphasising the future.  It is wonderful at a moment like this to think of all those who will visit here in the years to come.  Our work now is to sustain this space, to create new experiences and to meet new challenges.  

As you walk through these Gardens, you will see evidence of the ways in which future generations will be able to make the most of this site.  It is our hope and expectation on this special day that the Aga Khan Garden here at the University of Alberta will truly be a gift that keeps on giving.

Thank you.


For a central part of the Garden tradition is the high calling of human stewardship, our responsibility to honor, to protect, and to share the gifts of the natural world.

","English" "Remise des Insignes de Grand-Croix de la Légion d’Honneur à Son Altesse l’Aga Khan","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/1w0a3490.jpg","Paris, France","Monday, 15 October 2018","1537362900","Speech by Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian when awarding His Highness the Aga Khan the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour","","speech","France","","2010s","","","","215726","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/1w0a3490.jpg","","HH awards,awards","","

Your Highness,

This evening we are celebrating your sixty years at the head of the Ismaili community. Sixty years also of commitment to the most vulnerable people wherever they are. Sixty years devoted to bringing different peoples closer together, to promoting dialogue between cultures and religions. Sixty years spent working to achieve tolerance and peace.

And on this occasion, the President of the Republic wants to elevate you the rank of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour in order to pay tribute to your special character, which is recognised by all.  

The vision that you embody, of a pluralist, open and modern Islam, shows you are a man of peace, a genuine symbol of the role that Ismailis can play in the reconciliation of their opposing brothers and in the fight against radicalisation. We know the extent to which we still value your help in every place where extremism infiltrates minds and causes terrible tragedies. Syria and Afghanistan in particular come to mind.

Your commitment to peace is also evident in the international activities you lead via your Network and your Foundation and its many agencies. The Aga Khan Development Network has a reputation for excellence that is universally recognised in the fields of health, education and culture. Your Network represents a truly stabilising and healing force.

Since France signed the partnership agreement with your Foundation ten years ago, our collaboration has gone from strength to strength, finding concrete expression in the development of some fifty projects, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia - which we mentioned just a moment ago - and the Middle East. This partnership is a source of pride and I am looking forward to the future initiatives that we can work on together. By choosing to settle in France, Your Highness, you have shown yourself willing to promote the influence of France's heritage abroad, so please accept our thanks once again this evening. I hail especially the work done by your Foundation to Protect and Develop the Chantilly Region, which has to a large extent helped make the region a shining example in the global cultural landscape, as can be confirmed by David Darcos, whom I greet this evening. We are also grateful to you for the constant support given by your Trust for Culture to the work of the French archaeological delegation in Afghanistan. Last but not least, we acknowledge the value of the support you have given to the Académie Diplomatique Internationale, and in the presence of Hubert Védrine whom I also greet, I want to thank you for that. As you can imagine, this is an institution that this Ministry holds dear. We greatly appreciate the commitment you have shown to promoting the prestige of this institution over many years.

Your Highness, you are a man who is loyal to his commitments, a man of his word and a man of peace. And for everything that you have accomplished in your life for our country, and for stability in the world, France, this evening, would like to warmly express its gratitude by bestowing on you the honour of the Grand Cross in the Order of the Legion of Honour.

Your Highness, on behalf of the President of the Republic, and by virtue of the powers vested in me, we have the privilege to award you the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour.



""Nous célébrons ce soir vos 60 années à la tête de la communauté ismaélienne. 60 années d'engagement aussi envers les populations les plus vulnérables où qu'elles se trouvent. 60 années consacrées au rapprochement des peuples, au dialogue entre les cultures et les religions. 60 années enfin passées au service de la tolérance et de la paix. Et à cette occasion, le Président de la République a souhaité vous élever dans la dignité de Grand-Croix de la Légion d'Honneur pour rendre hommage à la personnalité d'exception que tous s'accordent à reconnaitre en vous.""

","French" "Remise des Insignes de Grand-Croix de la Légion d'Honneur","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/1w0a3584.jpg","Paris, France","Monday, 15 October 2018","1537362000","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan upon receipt of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour","","speech","France","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2018/1w0a3584_1.jpg","","HH awards,awards","","

Dear Friends,

I don’t have a prepared speech. Which means I am going to talk to you from the heart and share with you my sense of enormous gratitude, deep friendship, and partnership with France, at this important moment in my life.

For years, we have worked together in different fields, in France and abroad, always in close partnership, sharing common perspectives and goals, with respect, above all, for the great values of France. For me this partnership is particularly important. It's a partnership built on historical values. And these historical values have proven their worth the world over. They are values that originated in France, but are now universal.

My institution and my community are committed to defending, developing and promoting these values. We seek to educate the institutions in the countries where we work to include these values in their own philosophy and educational programmes so that it is no longer something new, but an integral part of the quality of civil society in the countries where the Ismaili community lives.

I want to thank France today for its wise counsel and the examples you have set. I have witnessed their implementation, especially in Africa where there are political regimes that have learned a great deal from France; thanks to what they have learned from you, today these regimes demonstrate a high level of management quality.

Thank you for the award you have given me. I am extremely touched. I hope that, in the years I have left, I will be able to make myself even worthier of this honour.

Thank you.


""Et c'est à ces valeurs que mon institution et ma communauté se sont engagées à défendre, à développer, à encourager, à essayer d'instruire les institutions des pays où nous travaillons à inclure ces valeurs dans leur propre philosophie, dans leur propre éducation, d'une manière à ce que ce ne soit plus quelque chose de nouveau, de manière à ce que ce soit quelque chose qui fasse partie de la qualité de la société civile dans les pays où la communauté ismailie vit.""

","French" "GCP Annual Pluralism Lecture 2018","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2018/2018-10-04_akc-annual_pluralism_lecture-nayyir_damani-5886c_r.jpg","London, UK","Friday, 5 October 2018","1538639100","Introductory remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the GCP Annual Pluralism Lecture 2018","Pluralism","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2018/2018-10-04_akc-annual_pluralism_lecture-nayyir_damani-5886c_r.jpg","","Global Centre for Pluralism,pluralism","","


Your Excellencies,  
Ms. Armstrong,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you, on behalf of the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism, to the 2018 Pluralism Lecture at the new Aga Khan Centre here in London.  

At the outset, I should like to remark on the passing of our fellow Director, the late Kofi Annan.  

I was privileged to know and work with Mr. Annan for many years.  He made an enormous contribution to the Global Centre for Pluralism, just one of his many remarkable contributions to humanity.  He will be greatly missed.  Our thoughts are with Mrs Annan at this difficult time.  It is gratifying that the important work of the Kofi Annan Foundation for a fairer, more peaceful world is continuing.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me a moment to speak of this beautiful building and the transformative power of architecture.  I hope you will have the opportunity to explore the building and especially to visit its unique series of gardens, courtyards and terraces, each one inspired by a different region of the Islamic world.  

The building also stands as a testament to the value of education: it is the new home for two educational institutions - the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

Through research and learning, they will contribute to increased understanding of the rich history and varied traditions of different Muslim civilisations.  In so doing, they should help bridge the gulf of ignorance that has characterised Islamic-Western relations for far too long.  

Tonight’s speaker, Karen Armstrong, is a person who has contributed in a remarkable way to illuminating Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and indeed, understanding all of the great religious traditions.

One of the world’s most respected and prolific historians of religion, Ms. Armstrong has written more than 20 books, translated into 45 languages.  Notably, in Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, she challenged the view that religion has been the cause of many of history’s violent conflicts, and argued convincingly that in many cases, religion has been the pretext.  An original thinker and activist, her work has resonated well beyond the realm of theologians and philosophers.  

A graduate from the University of Oxford with a degree in literature, Ms Armstrong went on to teach, and in 1982 she had become a freelance writer and broadcaster.   After being retained to work on a documentary on St Paul, she spent time in the Middle East.  She was inspired by the time she spent there. She learnt and she reflected on the great religions, and found her vocation as a writer exploring the commonalities shared by the faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity - commonalities such as the Golden Rule - behave towards others how you would like them to behave towards you.

In February 2008, Ms. Armstrong was invited to participate in the TED speaker series where she made the case for the creation of a Charter for Compassion.  Her talk had a great impact and led to her winning the coveted TED prize which allowed her to implement the beginnings of the Charter for Compassion.

A year and a half later, the final Charter for Compassion was released.  The process of its creation included the contributions of more than 150,000 people from around the world, who submitted their thoughts online.  Their ideas were then refined into a final draft by a panel of leading theologians.  

This idea of compassion resonates with people.  When Amin Hashwani, a business executive and activist in Pakistan, heard Ms. Armstrong’s TED Talk, it affected him deeply.  In 2011, Amin Hashwani founded the Compassionate School Network, a programme to train schools and educators to build student skills in compassion, which is still operating with great success.

The momentum and excitement behind this global initiative led to another remarkable book by Ms Armstrong:  Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.   

Ladies and Gentlemen, looking into the future, I think that one of the greatest challenges for the entire world will be finding ways in which we can all achieve a deeper understanding of the other, and what makes each of us distinct, as human beings and as communities.

To achieve this vital goal, reflective, creative and empathetic thinkers and writers will be critically important.

Tonight, we are privileged to hear from one of their most respected voices, Karen Armstrong.

Thank you.


","speech_209671","","English" "2015 Annual pluralism lecture of the Global Centre for Pluralism","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2015/1_2015-05-canada2246.jpg","Toronto, Canada","Wednesday, 19 October 2016","1432807200","Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin's lecture at 2015 Annual pluralism Lecture of GCP","","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","209596","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/chief_justice_beverley_mclachlin_delivers_annual_pluralism_lecture_2015","","0","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","","Global Centre for Pluralism,pluralism","","
Reconciling Unity and Diversity in the Modern Era: Tolerance and Intolerance

Tolerance: the willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not agree with. (Oxford English Dictionary)

Canada is a diverse, multi-cultural state. With that comes a plethora of diverse religions, opinions and behaviors.

History shows there are two ways societies can deal with diversity of opinion and behavior. The first is to confine, minimize or eject those who have different views and behaviors. This is the response of segregation and the ghetto; of marginalizing discrimination; in extreme cases, of exile and genocide.

The second approach is to adopt an attitude of tolerance – a willingness to live with people who are different from us – what Jean-Paul Sartre called “the other” – and to co-exist with the opinions and behaviors one does not agree with.

Most modern multi-cultural nations have – sometimes after great struggle and trauma – adopted the second approach of tolerance.   They have rejected the responses of segregation, discrimination and exile – these cause too much pain and in the end, history teaches, do not work. The only way forward, these societies believe, is to move forward together. Citizens may not agree with the behaviors and opinions voiced by some of those with whom they share their communal space. But they are willing to allow them to voice those opinions or act as their particular religion or values dictate. This is what his Highness the Aga Khan has called the “cosmopolitan ethic”.1

In a modern democratic society, tolerance must be the norm. It is the point of departure, the default position. But tolerance, most people would agree, has its limits. There are some things that cannot and should not be tolerated in a civilized society, because they harm individuals or the body politic.  Sometimes it is right to be intolerant.

This brings us to one of the great debate of the modern, multi-cultural society – the debate between tolerance and intolerance. It is not a question of either tolerance or intolerance; as I have said, in a democracy tolerance is the default position, the norm. It is rather a question of where we draw the line between behaviors and opinions that should be tolerated – the vast majority – and behaviors or opinions that are so nefarious that they cannot be accepted in civilized society.  Where to draw the line in a particular situation may not be easy or obvious.

Today, I would like to explore the interface between tolerance and intolerance in Canadian society. I will begin by placing tolerance within a broader context – the philosophical and Canadian historical context which shapes the debate. I will then turn to the limits on tolerance, using examples drawn from cases that have come before Canadian courts. I will conclude by describing three conditions that I believe are essential to maintaining the norm of tolerance: first, insisting on respect for the human dignity of each person; second, fostering inclusive institutions and cultural attitudes in civil society; and third, maintaining the rule of law.

1. Tolerance: the Philosophical and Historical Context

A perusal of the works of John Milton, John Stuart Mill, John Dewey and John Rawls indicates that tolerance is a cornerstone of democratic societies. It is a necessary condition of peace in a pluralistic society. This said, scholars are quick to point out that tolerance is not the ideal, nor the highest expression of how diverse peoples can live together. As one scholar writes, it is a term for interaction “anchored too much in the old idea of mutual indulgence and not enough in the more constructive idea of active embrace.”2 Tolerance, without more, suggests that it is enough for us to merely put up with one another.

Tolerance requires that we behave with dignity and consideration toward one another, but it leaves room for us to internally retain our biases and our inclinations to make culturally centric judgments.  Tolerance demands that we do a certain amount of important and positive external work, but it does not necessarily insist that we do our internal work.3

Ideally, what is needed is not mere tolerance, but the embrace of the validity of other people’s experiences, cultures and orientations. Only by embrace and the active acceptance, these critics argue, can we fulfil our moral obligation to understand that all lives are qualitatively equal.

Yet, while we acknowledge the ideal of embrace and active acceptance and strive toward it, the hard reality of day-to-day life is that citizens living in a diverse, multi-cultural society – even those who consider themselves fair-minded and unbiased – are sometimes confronted with beliefs and practices with which they do not agree – indeed, which they may abhor.

The question then becomes, what should be tolerated. Whether we like it or not, we are forced to draw lines between what we can accept – the basic norm of tolerance – and what we cannot accept.

This brings me to Canada’s experience with tolerance – the historical context in which the Canadian tolerance – intolerance debate is embedded.

Canada sees itself and is seen by others as a nation of tolerance. We are a peaceful multi- cultural country. A Canadian, John Humphreys, was a principle drafter of the United Nations Declarations of Human Rights. In 1982, we adopted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, constitutionalizing our commitment to freedom of religion, equality and a multi-cultural society. As the Supreme Court of Canada stated in 2007:

Canada rightly prides itself on its evolutionary tolerance for diversity and pluralism. This journey has included a growing appreciation for multiculturalism, including the recognition that ethnic, religious or cultural differences will be acknowledged and respected. Endorsed in legal instruments ranging from the statutory protections found in human rights codes to their constitutional enshrinement in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the right to integrate into Canada’s mainstream based on and notwithstanding these differences has become a defining part of our national character.4

Canada, we like to boast, is founded on the coming together of three peoples – our First Nations, the French and the English.5  It is built on successive waves of immigration – a tradition it maintains to this day. We accept refugees and immigrants from all parts of the world and from all cultures. When the Ismaili community in east Africa faced expulsion, we opened our doors to them. A decade later, we once again opened our doors to fleeing Vietnamese refugees. In the years that have followed, many thousands of people fleeing war and persecution around the globe have found homes in Canada. Canada has been enormously enriched by the presence in its midst of these people and by their contributions.

Yet while celebrating our inclusionary historical record, we should not forget its blemishes.

In the 19th century, we welcomed Chinese men to build our railroads – dangerous and arduous work – but denied them the right to bring their wives and families unless they paid a head tax – a tax which remained on the books until 1923.6 When Jews fleeing the Holocaust in 1939 aboard the St. Louis sought refuge in Canada, we turned them away. Denied entry here and the United States, they returned to Europe, where many of them perished. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbour in World War II, we dispossessed the Japanese population of British Columbia of their homes and businesses and locked them up in concentration camps. Slavery was not unknown in our country in the 18th  and 19th centuries, and black people suffered systemic exclusion throughout much of the 20th century.

The most glaring blemish on the Canadian historic record relates to our treatment of the First Nations that lived here at the time of colonization. An initial period of cooperative inter- reliance grounded in norms of equality and mutual dependence (described eloquently by John Raulston Saul in his book, A Fair Country), was supplanted in the nineteenth century by the ethos of exclusion and cultural annihilation. Early laws forbad treaty Indians from leaving allocated reservations. Starvation and disease were rampant. Indians were denied the right to vote. Religious and social traditions, like the Potlach and the Sun Dance, were outlawed. Children were taken from their parents and sent away to residential schools, where they were forbidden to speak their native languages, forced to wear white-man’s clothing, forced to observe Christian religious practices, and not infrequently subjected to sexual abuse. The objective was to “take the Indian out of the child”, and thus to solve what John A. Macdonald referred to as the “Indian problem”. “Indianness” was not to be tolerated; rather it must be eliminated. In the buzz-word of the day, assimilation; in the language of the 21st century, cultural genocide.

We now understand that the policy of assimilation was wrong and that the only way forward is acknowledgement and acceptance of the distinct values, traditions and religions of the descendants of the original inhabitants of the land we call Canada. In a moving ceremony in Parliament in 2008, the Prime Minister formally apologized to Canada’s First Nation people for the abuses of the residential school system.  A truth and reconciliation commission, whose report is about to be released, was established. Yet the legacy of intolerance lives on in the lives of First Nation people and their children – a legacy of too much poverty, too little education, and over-representation of aboriginal people in our courts.

Three lessons emerge from the Canadian experience with tolerance and intolerance. First, intolerance – the marginalization of difference – doesn’t work. It may seem to provide a solution in the short term. But in the long run it is bound to fail. Second, intolerance imposes inhumane and unacceptable costs in terms of human suffering and lost human and economic potential. Third, the way forward is not to use intolerance to eliminate difference, but embrace tolerance in the spirit of reconciliation.

These lessons from the Canadian experience are replicated wherever intolerance has been systemically imposed – from the Nazi attempts to eliminate Jews, gypsies and homosexuals, to the apartheid of South Africa, to the genocide of Rwanda. Intolerance doesn’t work and imposes enormous and unacceptable costs. Ultimately, the only way forward is the way of tolerance.

2. The limits of Tolerance

For a society made up of a people who share different cultures, religions, practices and opinions – which means virtually every society in the modern world – tolerance is the only way forward .  But even tolerance has its limits.

It is one thing to accept the right of others to beliefs and practices that one does not agree with. It is another thing to stand by and allow these beliefs and practices to be used in a way that imposes harm on innocent individuals and groups.

The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada accepts that some things cannot be tolerated. In Big M v. The Queen,7 the Court held that freedom of religion does not extend to practices that harm others. The state is therefore permitted to ban religious practices that harm others – to say that these practices will not be tolerated. Similarly, in R. v. Keegstra,8 the Court held that hate speech is not protected by the guarantee of freedom of expression because of the harm which such speech may produce.

Tolerance stops where harm begins; this much seems clear. The difficulty, however,  lies in defining harm. Religious zealots throughout history have claimed that in forcing assimilation they are in fact benefitting their victims, by encouraging them to repent and accept the true religion. As the priests of the inquisition stoked the flames of their fires of execution, they prayed for the souls of the departed, just as 21st century jihadists claim their elimination of the infidel purges their sin and purifies the state. We are not doing harm, but good, they contend. No one in Canada would accept these arguments, but that is not the point. The point is rather that views on whether a practice is harmful may differ. Even if the harm threshold is set in a generous and tolerant fashion, as it is in Canada, people may argue about what constitutes harm and hence a permissible limit on the basic ethic of tolerance.

For example, France it is an offence for a woman to wear a niqab that covers the face, on the ground that to permit this harms women by fostering inequality.9 In other western states, including Canada, the harm threshold is set higher, and women are generally allowed to wear face coverings. However, in a recent case in the Supreme Court of Canada, the majority of the Court ruled that in some cases, allowing a witness to wear a face covering could harm the accused’s right to make full answer and defence.10 A dissenting Justice took the view that this harm would never suffice to prevent a witness from wearing a face covering required by her sincere religious belief. And not long ago, the Province of Quebec found itself engaged in a debate on what limits the state could impose on religious practices of people engaged in the provision of public services surrounding a proposed Charter of Values.

The simple point is this – what constitutes harm, and when that harm will justify a decision not to tolerate a particular practice, may be neither clear nor easy to decide.

Still, in a society based on tolerance, the lines must sometimes be drawn. How is this to be done? The first avenue is civil debate. When issues like those I have been discussing arise, they find themselves discussed and debated – in coffee shops, living rooms and newspapers; on television and on chat lines. At best, this civil debate may produce some sort of consensus. Failing that, it will provide the context for the legislatures and the courts, if called upon, to draw the necessary lines between tolerance and intolerance.

3. Maintaining a Tolerant Society

I have suggested that absolute tolerance is not possible; in some cases, limits must be imposed, whether by civil society, the legislatures, or the courts. I have also suggested that, in a modern multi-cultural democratic state, tolerance must be the norm. Respect for difference is the essential glue that binds such a society together and allows it to function and move forward in constructive harmony. In this, the final part of my talk, I turn to the question of how a society can maintain the basic norm of tolerance.

Three things, I believe, are essential to maintaining the norm of tolerance: acceptance of the inherent human dignity of every person; inclusive institutions and cultural attitudes in civil society; and the rule of law.  Allow me to say a few words about each.

Acceptance of the Human Dignity of each Person

The idea that each person is possessed of innate worth and dignity is deeply rooted in western religion and thought. The great religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam saw man as created in the image of God. Cicero, in De Officiis, spoke of the dignity of human beings qua humans.11 In the holy Quran we read, “O mankind Be careful of your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul ... [and] joined your hearts in love”. Kant asserted in profound philosophical terms the unconditional, absolute value of the moral law inherent in human beings, and drew from it the necessity for each person to treat others not as means, but as ends in themselves.12

In the aftermath of the Holocaust and World War II the concept of human dignity moved beyond the domains of theology and philosophy and entered the discourse of legal rights. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 set out in clear and ringing terms the intrinsic worth and value of every human life. In the half century that followed the precept was ensconced in seminal constitutional documents around the world.13

The principle of the innate human dignity of each person may be seen as fundamental to all other human rights. Thus Justice Bertha Wilson, the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada, wrote:

The idea of human dignity finds expression in almost every right and freedom guaranteed by the Charter. Individuals are afforded the right to choose their own religion and their own philosophy of life, the right to choose with whom they will associate and how they will express themselves, the right to choose where they will live and what occupation they will pursue.14

To read Justice Wilson’s words is to understand how important the concept of human dignity is to a tolerant society. If individuals, by virtue of their innate human dignity, have the right to choose their own religion and philosophy of life, that choice must be respected. No individual or group of individuals has the right to impose their beliefs, practices or choices on another individual.

To be sure, the right to the choices human dignity affirms is not absolute. Sometimes human dignity conflicts with other values, requiring us to balance the two.15 How a society defines the core content of human dignity may evolve.16 And care must be taken to ensure meaningful and realistic content to the idea of human dignity, lest it become, as philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer warned, “the shibboleth of ...perplexed and empty-headed moralists ...”17

Despite these qualifications, the concept of human dignity – that every person has innate value and worth and hence the right to make fundamental life choices – remains the fundamental underpinning of the basic attitude of tolerance in a diverse, multi-cultural society.

Inclusive Institutions and Cultural Habits

In 2010, His Highness the Aga Khan presented the 10th Annual Lafontaine-Baldwin Lecture in Toronto. His subject was pluralism. Quoting Adrienne Clarkson in her 2007 Lecture, he cautioned that “we cannot count on the power of ‘love’ to solve our problems”, and stated that “learning to live with people we may not particularly like ... will require concerted, deliberate efforts to build social institutions and cultural habits which take account of difference, which see

diversity as an opportunity rather than as a burden”.18

Federal arrangements, laws and courts can help us live together in an ethic of tolerance.

But, the Aga khan counselled, we need to go further.

We need independent educational institutions, he stated. On this front, it is reassuring that a number of Canadian provinces now require teaching of the world’s major religions as a mandatory part of the curriculum for public and private schools. It is also reassuring that “Canada . . . is recognized as a leader in coping with the challenges of a diverse and polyglot student body” in a recent report of the UN Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development19. We also need inclusive institutions of civil society – institutions that focus on bringing people of diverse backgrounds together, on bridging divides instead of deepening them. We need – and fortunately in Canada we possess – an independent press prepared to report not only on conflict but on the stories that celebrate difference and the enrichment it brings to our lives. Above, all, we need, in all our institutions, religious and secular, leaders who understand the richness pluralism brings, and the basic ethic of tolerance that it requires.

Inclusive institutions are supported by and in turn promote a social mindset that sustains pluralism. As his Highness put it, “institutional reforms will have lasting meaning only when there is a social mindset to sustain them.”20   He stated:

There is a profound reciprocal relationship between institutional and cultural variables. How we think shapes our institutions. And then our institutions shape us.21

He went on:

As societies come to think in pluralistic ways, I believe they can learn ... [a] lesson from the Canadian experience, the importance of resisting both assimilation and homogenization – the subordination and dilution of minority cultures on the one hand, or an attempt to create some new, transcendent blend of identities, one the other.22

The Rule of Law

One of the essential tasks of a multi-cultural society is to maintain respect for the human dignity of each person and the individual life choices of the person, even where these choices differ from those of the majority – in a word, to maintain a society where tolerance is the norm. This cannot be done without the rule of law – a system of laws backed by an independent judiciary.

In a diverse, multi-cultural society, the law is the guarantor of the right to hold opinions and follow practices that diverge from the norm. Without the law there is no check on the power of the majority to check beliefs and practices they do not agree with. The confidence of the citizen that her human dignity and right to choose to be different will be respected and enforced through the rule of law is the bedrock upon which civilized intercourse in a diverse society rests. Fear and hatred of the other in our midst is a disease that can destroy social peace. The best antidote to this fear is the assurance that everyone’s basic right to hold their own beliefs and follow their own practices – provided they do not harm others – is the assurance of protection by the legal system. This requires that citizens must have access to the legal system, and that the legal system responds with integrity, even in the face of overweening pressure from the majority that sees the belief or practice as aberrant and wrong. It also requires commitment to a culture of legality – a culture that encourages debate about particular decisions, while maintaining respect for the principles and processes of the law and the Constitution.


Let me conclude. The debate between tolerance and intolerance is one of the great debates of our times. Canada, like most other countries around the world, is a pluralistic, multi- cultural nation. It can move forward only by respecting the norm of tolerance. That does not mean that everything must be tolerated – a civilized society has no choice but to condemn practices that cause harm to others and injure citizens or undermine the fabric of peaceful co- existence. But it means the basic rule must be tolerance.  Preserving that tolerance is grounded in respect for the innate human dignity of each person. It compels us to cultivate and sustain inclusive institutions and attitudes. And it demands an unwavering commitment to the rule of law.

Living together in the ethic of tolerance is not easy. But it is worth the effort.


1 Lecture by His Highness the Aga Khan: The LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture (Toronto, Canada) 15 October 2010.
2 Bruce A. Jacobs, Race Manners for the 21st Century: Navigating the Minefield Between Black and White Americans in an Age of Fear (New York: Arcade Publishing, Inc., 2006) at 202.
3 Ibid. at 202
4 Bruker v. Marcovitz, 2007 SCC 54 at para. 1.
5 John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada (Toronto: Viking Canada, 2008) at 3.
6 In addition, in 1923, Parliament passed the Chinese Immigration Act, known today as the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned most forms of Chinese immigration to Canada. This act remained in place until 1947.
7 R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295.
8 R. v. Keegstra, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 697.
9 Loi interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l'espace public, Loi n° 2010-1192 du 11 octobre 2010.
10 R. v. N.S., 2012 SCC 72, [2012] 3 S.C.R. 726.
11 See Michael Rosen, Dignity: Its History and Meaning (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012) at 11.
12 Ibid. at 30.
13 See, for example, the 1949 German Basic Law, the Grundgesetz; the 1992 Israel Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty; and the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
14 R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30 at 166.
15 Aharon Barak, Human Dignity: The Constitutional Value and the Constitutional Right (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015) at 107.
16 BVefGe 45, 187 at 229 (1997).
17 Quoted in Michael Rosen, Dignity: Its History And Meaning (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012) at 1.
18 Lecture by His Highness the Aga Khan: The LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture (Toronto, Canada) 15 October 2010.
19 MacLean’s, May 25, 2015, p.5
20 Ibid.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid.


Reconciling Unity and Diversity in the Modern Era: Tolerance and Intolerance

Tolerance: the willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not agree with. (Oxford English Dictionary)

Canada is a diverse, multi-cultural state. With that comes a plethora of diverse religions, opinions and behaviors.

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Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin
Madame Adrienne Clarkson
Your Excellencies Ministers
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Chers amis,

Permettez-­moi de vous souhaiter la bienvenue à la quatrième Conférence annuelle sur le pluralisme que nous avons le plaisir d’organiser pour la première fois au Musée Aga Khan de Toronto. Ces conférences offrent une plateforme unique pour le dialogue international et soulignent le leadership de ceux et celles qui font une différence concrète en faveur du pluralisme et de la citoyenneté inclusive. Nous avons l’immense honneur d’accueillir aujourd’hui, la juge en chef du Canada, qui partagera ses réflexions sur les défis et les perspectives du pluralisme au 21e siècle.

I am delighted to welcome the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin to deliver the Global Centre’s fourth Annual Pluralism Lecture and to welcome you all to the Aga Khan Museum. The Chief Justice is a great champion of pluralism, with a wide range of judgements that demonstrate a profound respect for inclusion and accommodation. As you may know, she also made history in the year 2000, when she was the first woman to be appointed Chief Justice in Canada – you understand the hint about gender issues – and in 2013, when she became the longest­serving Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court.

When the Chief Justice first came to the Supreme Court in 1989, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms had recently come into force. The justices were hearing numerous controversial human rights cases ­ and often rendering divided decisions.  But the Chief Justice’s appointment ushered in an era of consensus­building among her colleagues. Through her thoughtful, articulate leadership, she has reinforced respect for the Supreme Court, while also fostering greater public understanding about the justice system. By working to uphold the rights of all Canadian citizens, the Chief Justice has contributed in a major way to Canada’s robust pluralism.

Certainly, Canadians will insist that there is still work to be done. But on the world stage, there is a great need for experiences of pluralism that work ­ and Canada is providing a powerful example. In her LaFontaine­Baldwin lecture in Toronto in 2003, the Chief Justice said and I quote, “One problem, more than any other, dominates human history – the problem of how we deal with those who are different than us.” Those words have sharp, continuing relevance as we move further into the 21st century.

Whether the challenge involves new waves of migrants moving into European societies, or political participation for the indigenous peoples of Latin America, or working towards democratic change in the Middle East and North Africa, there is a profound need to focus on the values and hopes that unite all human beings. As the Chief Justice has stated and I quote again, “The creation of a harmonious society where every individual feels not only accepted but truly welcome is the responsibility of all citizens.”

This responsibility is why the Global Centre for Pluralism exists ­­ to help us learn from one another about the challenges of diversity. And on evenings like this, we are fortunate to realize the Centre’s mission to convene change leaders and inspire dialogue about the benefits of inclusion and respect. Ladies and Gentlemen, together with you, I eagerly look forward to hearing from the Centre’s honoured lecturer for 2015, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin.



Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin
Madame Adrienne Clarkson
Your Excellencies Ministers
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Chers amis,

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Her Excellency Roza Otunbayeva
Chief Justice McLachlin
Distinguished Guests

Welcome to this launching by the Global Centre for Pluralism of its annual Pluralism Lecture Series. This is a significant milestone – and I cannot think of an inaugural speaker better suited than the remarkable leader whom it is my honor to introduce. Her Excellency Roza Otunbayeva is a woman of courage, and conviction, whom I have come to admire and respect greatly, over the many years that the Aga Khan Development Network and I have been engaged in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. As a leader, President Otunbayeva understood and championed the democratic aspirations of her peoples, guiding the country, in all its diversity, through the region’s first peaceful and constitutional transfer of power - a remarkable achievement with tremendous implications for governance inside and outside Kyrgyzstan. Excellency, I am so very pleased that you have graciously accepted my invitation to launch this lecture series with an address to the distinguished group assembled here today.

In the course of my work over the past half-century, I have become convinced that finding ways for diverse societies to live peacefully together is one of the principal challenges of the contemporary world. It has led me to the conclusion that pluralism as an ethic of respect for diversity is an essential building block of successful and prosperous societies.

Canada is one of the best examples of a country that has embraced its diversity and cultivated a vision of nationhood based on shared and democratic citizenship. It should therefore come as no surprise that the Global Centre for Pluralism is headquartered in Ottawa. The Centre is founded on a strong and vital partnership with the Government of Canada, rooted in our common belief in respect for diversity and the importance of building inclusive societies.

Excellency, as a former Kyrgyz Ambassador to Canada, you are no stranger to this country’s commitment to participatory democracy. And you have, through your own example, shown that an enlightened leadership recognizes that, nothing less than this, is acceptable for any society.

It is my hope that the Global Centre for Pluralism will serve the global community as a neutral space for dialogue and comparative exchange about the institutions, policies and practices that foster respect for diversity, cultivate shared citizenship, and ultimately build inclusive societies.

Much of the ongoing conflict we are witnessing in today’s world is linked to a rejection of pluralism. One of the most important ways for the Centre to better apprehend this challenge and contribute to enhancing pluralism is to learn from world figures who have directly experienced it, and addressed it successfully. Our inaugural speaker has shown that it can be done.

Roza Otunbaeva guided her country through the initial stages of its democratic journey, but as she herself has repeatedly stressed, Kyrgyzstan’s future as a democracy depends on the implementation of the rule of law, including respect for human rights and due process, judicial reform, and national reconciliation. These reforms will take time and will require continued leadership from the peoples and the Government of Kyrgyzstan as well as support from international partners, including Canada and the Global Centre for Pluralism.

Madam Otunbayeva, on behalf of the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism it gives me great pleasure to welcome you here this evening to launch the Pluralism Lecture Series. We are extremely fortunate to have you with us to share your first-hand perspective on the prospects and challenges for democracy and pluralism in your increasingly important part of the world.


Her Excellency Roza Otunbayeva
Chief Justice McLachlin
Distinguished Guests

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Prospects for Democracy and Pluralism in Central Asia: Lessons from the Kyrgyz Republic

Your Highness Prince Aga Khan,
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin,
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you very much for your welcoming words and the invitation to address this esteemed gathering.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic. As the first Kyrgyz foreign minister who visited Canada and later as my country’s first ambassador to the Land of the Maple Tree – I am very glad to be back in Ottawa and see so many old friends. During these years Canada not only became the top foreign investor in Kyrgyzstan but a source of many important contributions in social development, culture, human rights and education. Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic are now connected by many family bonds, university alumni, business ties and civil society networks. We have a lot to celebrate, and as our relationship matures, I am confident it will grow even stronger in the years to come.

Dear colleagues,

Allow me to congratulate the Government of Canada and His Highness the Aga Khan on launching this new important institution - the Global Center for Pluralism.

As is rightly pointed out in the mission statement of the Centre, “pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are products of decision and public investment”.

In these turbulent times full of historic upheavals; when so many newly empowered forces have taken their rightful seats at the global decision making table; when the new technologies gave voice to the billions previously unheard of; when the face of the planet is fast changing and the youth around the world questions each and every political model from the past, - it is exceptionally important that such institutions as the Global Centre for Pluralism function as both the anchor of stability and the beacon of inspiration.

It is especially imperative that the Centre offers its guiding light for those of us, who in the effort to liberate their countries from one man dictatorships, risk creating new systems of oppression,
this time - of the few by the many.

The Global Center’s mandate must be not only in accumulating the best practices from Canada and other successful pluralist societies of the North but also in celebrating peace and prosperity
in the communities where despite the lack of rule of law and in the absence of a responsible national leadership - humanity is alive and people of various cultures and backgrounds have
found their own unique ways to enhance mutual respect and security.

I am confident that the Centre for Pluralism will employ global perspective as well as display balance in assessing historical context, show interest in the intellectual nuance and pay attention
to the dynamics of social life at the micro level.

I am reassured by the fact that the Global Center for Pluralism is a partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network and other institutions under the patronage of His Highness. For I
know no other international development organization that at the same time directly belongs to the developing world and represents interests of an ancient community scattered on all continents
around the world. The Aga Khan has earned the trust and enjoys unique credibility in developing countries that many others simply lack or are never able to attain in the first place.

The Aga Khan Development Network and charitable work led by His Highness are well known in Kyrgyzstan and held in high esteem around Central Asia. My compatriots remember and will
never forget the generosity of His Highness in providing humanitarian aid, especially in the difficult first phase of the transition in the 1990s. Peacemaking efforts by His Highness the Aga
Khan played an important role in ending the civil war in Tajikistan.

Currently, the Aga Khan Network is making most effective and lasting impact in the area of civil society development.

Just two months ago I visited the most remote and mountainous town of Naryn - the site of the Kyrgyz campus of the Central Asian University - the flagship regional initiative of His Highness.
It was truly inspiring and heartwarming to see how the entire community is being transformed thanks to the multimillion investment into the campus construction. One can only imagine the future of this previously depressed town when Naryn will welcome students and faculty from around the world and become a center of academic excellence for the entire region. This new University is just one example how the Aga Khan institutions have become an indispensable and important part of our region.

Today we are opening a new page of our cooperation with Canada and His Highness the Aga Khan. Earlier this afternoon, we had a very fruitful and frank exchange of ideas with the governing board of the Global Centre for Pluralism and discussed concrete areas of expertise of the Centre and possible work in Kyrgyzstan. It is clear that the Global Centre for Pluralism has great potential and can help all of us think clearer and act bolder in promoting, defining and building democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen!
The tragic four days of June 2010 that claimed lives of 442 Kyrgyzstani citizens in interethnic
conflict clearly demonstrate that we have failed and failed miserably in our work to build a
pluralistic society – a successful multiethnic nation of shared citizenship.
To my last days I will never forget the shock, the pain, and the worst of all - feeling at times
powerless to stop the catastrophic tragedy taking place on my watch when I, in the capacity of
the chairman of the then two month old Interim Government, directed efforts to put down
violence and restore peace.
I remember every hour of those darkest days and horrific nights.
As the city of Osh went into chaos, I was receiving updates, not so much from government or
police officials but human rights defenders and civil society activists, with urgent calls for action
and help. The local law enforcement units and military in the area were either overwhelmed and
outnumbered, demoralized and in some cases themselves simply unreliable to stop violence. The
reinforcement units from barracks outside the region took many precious hours to arrive while
they too did not have the adequate equipment and experience to deal with large scale civil
disorder and ethnic conflict.
As the acting head of state I took the measure of the last resort and in an extraordinary step
appealed to our most trusted ally – the Russian Federation with the call to provide assistance and
send troops to Osh to stop the bloodshed and restore peace.
The help never arrived.
Twenty years ago, back in 1990 in the same heat of June – when the ancient city of Osh and the
surrounding areas also witnessed large scale interethnic conflict – it took weeks for several
battalions of the Red Army paratroopers and specially equipped police reinforcement from the
entire Soviet Union to put down violence. The state of emergency was lifted then as late as in
This time it took us four long days and nights. Less then a month later we were able to conduct
constitutional referendum nationwide and in all affected areas. I personally chose to travel to
Osh to cast my vote in the city where I grew up and that I call my hometown.
Dear Colleagues,
There are many post factum theories and explanations which have circulated as to what forces
originated the riots, which ethnic side, political grouping, internal and external enemy should
bear the largest share of blame.
I want to state loud and clear that we all, the whole people of Kyrgyzstan, must now move to
accept the responsibility for horrible violence, barbaric bloodshed and destruction that took place
in Osh.
It was in our streets, it was our kids, it was our neighbors, it was our elders who allowed hate to
take root in our hearts and commit these atrocities against each other. It was our government,
local municipalities, police and the military that first failed to prevent and then to act swiftly and
boldly. We must acknowledge and own up to the fact that the law enforcement in the months
after the tragedy was not free from ethnic discrimination and harassment.
We must face the reality and seek out bitter truth! We must ask ourselves and each other tough
questions! We must not avoid the discomfort and the hurt in order to rebuild our communities
and to achieve lasting peace and security!
I provided exhaustive reporting on my own actions in numerous testimonies to the Special
National Commission set up to investigate the June events, as well as to several other
parliamentary, public and international commissions on the matter. I also directed all state
officials and government bodies to turn over any required evidence and witness testimony to
ensure highest degree of accountability and transparency.
In my address to the special session of the Parliament, the Jogorku Kenesh, a year after the June
events, – I specifically warned against any attempt to initiate campaigns of witch-hunt, to assign
blame on one ethnicity, or to politicize the conflict and use it in the narrow party interests. I
called upon the nation not to forget how we never learned from the previous conflict in 1990
because back then the events were quickly overshadowed by our Independence and deep
economic crisis of the subsequent years.
It is clear that so far we have not succeeded building the society of ‘shared citizenship’ where
everyone is empowered to participate and feels safe and protected.
But this is not the case when the ethnic majority, the Kyrgyz, have excluded minorities and
established systematic ways of mistreatment and oppression, as sometimes we read from
irresponsible international reporters who are quick to apply their stereotypes. For most of them it
is always easy, you jump off your airplane, identify the majority group as bad villains and the
story is written. But as we know, the reality is much more complicated and multidimensional.
While the disappointment with the status quo is shared by all ethnicities, it is the Kyrgyz who are
frustrated and insecure at least as much as their neighbors.
I would like to cover briefly three issues that, in my mind, represent main sources of interethnic
tension and without resolving which we cannot move on towards building a pluralistic and
inclusive society. These are the status of the Kyrgyz language, the lack of rule of law, and the
issue of poverty.
At the end I want to ask for your feedback and will be most thankful for your insights and ideas.
With my colleagues we came to Canada to learn from you so it is me who asks the questions
Ladies and gentlemen,
If anyone wants to know how the Kyrgyz feel – look no further but assess the state of the Kyrgyz
language. If during the Perestroika years the perceived low status of the language served as the
rousing call of the active national revival movement that ultimately resulted in the break up of
the Soviet Union - twenty years after we achieved Independence - the situation is much more
grim and hopeless.
During the USSR years, the Soviet state supported publication of hundreds of titles of work by
native writers and translations into the Kyrgyz of foreign books in many millions of copies.
Current annual numbers of published titles range in a few dozens with maximum number of
copies rarely exceeding one thousand. In the main social medium of today – in the Internet –
the size and quality of the Kyrgyz language content is catastrophically low. Even the most
nationally conscious ethnic Kyrgyz choose to communicate online with each other in languages
other than Kyrgyz. Our children are totally deprived of books or cartoons in Kyrgyz. A well
described phenomenon takes place when young children who start in nursery and kindergarten
change overnight the family dinner table language. Parents are made to speak Russian since,
believe it or not, the number of quality Kyrgyz language pre-school facilities in the whole
country can be counted on the fingers of both hands. This very sad fact is, of course, explained
by the already mentioned lack of children content, work materials and methodology in Kyrgyz.
Although we always had the de-facto policy of bilingualism, the 1998 national plebiscite
approved recognition of Russian as the official language of the country, supplementing the
Kyrgyz, that carries the title of the state language. Thus the permission to carry all your affairs
in Russian has further eroded the status of the Kyrgyz language and removed any motivation
whatsoever to develop it.
I understand that this language situation can be quite typical in the post-colonial world when the
native language is increasingly marginalized and subjugated by the more powerful lingua franca.
But I would caution you not to celebrate this as an achievement towards the pluralistic society.
This state of affairs is not permanent. The Kyrgyz language is not a Creole tongue. It is an
ancient mother language of the four million speakers with rich culture and history. The largest
epic “Manas” consists of million lines of poems.
The failure to consolidate national life around the Kyrgyz language and increase its use and
prestige is causing great pain to the Kyrgyz. The pride is hurt. This unattended frustration
further leads to irrational and increasingly dangerous manifestations. I would like to remind you,
that a week before the blood was spilled in Osh, the national headlines were dominated by youth
groups which criticized the Interim Government’s decision to translate and distribute the draft of
the new Constitution in Uzbek. Just recently we had a major scandal with street protests and a
parliamentary debate with calls to do away with the national school examinations in the Uzbek
Canada has the unique experience of bilingualism and knows how futile were the attempts to ask
the people to drop their language for the sake of the supposed larger good.
Therefore let us agree that while every measure should be taken to ensure that ethnic minorities
preserve their languages; with the Russian language continuing in its important role in the
regional economic life; there is no doubt that without fluency in Kyrgyz no citizen of Kyrgyzstan
can participate in public life and politics, or otherwise fully realize his or her potential.
This existing language divide explains the lack of shared space for national discussion today.
There are two large communities operating in parallel. We learnt today that in Canada, you faced
the same situation forty years ago- two solitudes as you call this phenomenon. One in Russian
and the other in Kyrgyz, each complete with its own set of newspapers, TV, entertainment,
political agenda, with very limited communication in between. I don’t mention here the fact that
there is a very large number of Uzbek families who never watch Kyrgyzstani television but are
fully immersed in life of a neighboring country. Neither they are fluent in Russian. We also
have to take into account the changing demographics of the country with the large outflow of the
Russians in the last decades. The Uzbeks have replaced Russians as the largest ethnic minority.
But Kyrgyz and Uzbek languages belong to the same Turkic group and it would be wrong to
accept Russian preserve its status as the language of interethnic communication.
The language issue is a very sensitive area, full of details and nuances, as you understand. Let
me just conclude on this topic, that one criterion of our success in the coming years could be the
high number of young men and women who are very fluent in the state language and are thus
fully capable of not only representing their ethnic communities, but of claiming their due right to
govern the entire country.
Dear Friends,
Much has been written on the unique history of Kyrgyzstan as the very promising island of
democracy in early 1990s that later turned into the sad story of large scale graft, corruption and
All these years, our compatriots – Russians, Uzbeks, Tatars, Dungans, Koreans, Uighurs and all
other 80 ethnicities that together with the Kyrgyz make up our nation – endured the hardships
and did their best to build their lives and newly independent country.
However, both authoritarian regimes that ruled our country, as they would lose their standing and
legitimacy with the people, increasingly relied on playing up the interethnic stability card. The
corrupt and criminal family regimes were interested in isolating ethnic minorities and pitching
them against mostly rural, dominantly Kyrgyz opposition protesters. It was during those times
that the regime would most actively throw around the sound bites and slogans on peoples’
friendship, importance of stability and loyalty to the current regime. The message was clear and
simple: ‘yes, we could be corrupt, but we at least provide the security’. However, there were no
genuine efforts to include ethnic minorities in the political process – they were just limited with
the role of the crowd scene of mass support for the rulers.
Instead of respecting the right of ethnic minorities to independently voice their concerns and
nominate their own representatives, the authoritarian regimes were most comfortable in dealing
with self-appointed ethnic leaders – a bunch of like minded corrupt dealers, who specialized in
trading the nominal support of communities they supposedly represented in exchange for
government preferences in privatization, contracts and other perks. These so called ethnic
leaders have long lost ties with the real life of their diasporas but mostly speculated, blackmailed
and otherwise abused the issues of utmost national concern with the goal of personal gain and
enrichment. With time they grew to believe that their own well being and personal success in
business and political ambitions meant the well being of entire communities.
In the situation when there were no free and fair elections and no open discussion was allowed, it
was easy to revive the ages old feudal system of ‘divide and rule’ with mutual reliance of local
barons and the national rulers.
With time the Kyrgyz grew to mistakenly associate the prosperity of the few ethnic minority
figures with the general injustice and lack of opportunity for social advancement under the
authoritarian rule. This is again a very well known situation around the world and no need for
me to go further in all implications.
Much literature is available on the effects of the lack of rule of law and how every member of the
society at the end is left vulnerable and insecure. You very well know how this situation of total
mutual distrust poisons public life and how the ethnic minorities easily grow to believe that the
state governance is owned by the ethnic majority; who supposedly have it much easier to
navigate the system.
This basic lack of justice and rule of law is the principal source of not only interethnic conflict
but of the general situation that increasingly fits the description of a failed state.
Injustice, lawlessness, total corruption, rotten statehood and alienation of the elites from the
people have already caused two people power revolutions in our short history.
This was the reason why 87 young heroes in April 2010 chose to rather die then live in the
country where one family with a bunch of corrupt crooks of various ethnicities usurped the state
rule and ownership of the national treasures.
Since then we have made the required first steps to liberate our people but much is left to be
done. The new Constitution adopted in the summer of 2010 provides for the first parliamentary
democracy in Central Asia. Both the parliamentary and presidential elections held in the last two
years were recognized by the people of Kyrgyzstan and the international community as
unprecedentedly free and fair. We have laid the foundation for democratic government and took
every measure to prevent the return of one man rule.
I feel both pride in our achievements but also share in the feelings of disappointment and
resentment that many of my compatriots and friends abroad have about Kyrgyzstan. No,
miracles do not happen overnight. As you see here, Canada was also not built in a day. It takes
time and much effort to undo the injustices of the past and have people relearn the civic values.
It takes time and many incremental, little noticed steps that cement the democratic breakthrough
and create a new harmonious and inclusive country.
This brings me to the issue of economic development and the need to eradicate poverty, to give
every citizen of our country an equal chance to improve his or her station – this is a key
condition for the success of a pluralist society.
Every time in the past when we raised the issue of lack of democratic freedoms we were
confronted by the authoritarian regime who claimed the priority of economic development. It
was clear that they rationalized the need of personal dictatorial rule as a supposed requirement
for economic miracle in the model of Singapore, South Korea or Indonesia. History has proven
them wrong. At the end of the day, the lack of good governance served only the purpose of their
personal enrichment and did not bring economic prosperity to the country.
We know for the fact that we, in Kyrgyzstan, have to have a democratic government with strong
rule of law to succeed economically and must quickly build the strong middle class to prevent
further sliding backwards into a clientele based, feudal system that leaves electoral democracy
open for abuse by the affluent minority.
Kyrgyzstan cannot rely on the export of oil and gas to build its future. The one major natural
resource development – the Kumtor gold mine developed in the mid 1990s by the Canadian
corporation Cameco and currently operated by its offshoot Centerra Gold – is a story of
government corruption unfortunately and criminal negligence of the national interest. One of my
first major decisions as the head of the Interim Government was moving to embrace the
principles of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and expanding its standards to the
hydro-energy generating sector.
The best natural resource of Kyrgyzstan – its multiethnic people – is currently mostly employed
abroad. My small country is one of the top five countries in the world in terms of the size of
international cash remittances in the GDP. It is estimated that up to one million, or one fifth of
the population, is involved in labour migration to Russia, Kazakhstan and increasingly to more
remote destinations like Korea or Italy. The effect of this mass migration, of absence of the most
productive and passionate members of the society on domestic and social life, is a topic of a
separate discussion. It is another sad chapter that needs to be addressed. We just have to
remember that in the short term we are not dealing with the many acute social problems just
exporting this instability. In Osh we are dealing with the one manifestation when a lot of
predominantly young Kyrgyz and Uzbek men are working abroad.
The current government in Kyrgyzstan has a very ambitious plan of attracting large international
investment and spurring economic growth in the country. We must use our advantageous
geographic location in the center of the large continent. One of the important priorities concerns
with the construction of the new transcontinental railroad from Shanghai to Amsterdam via
Kyrgyzstan. This railroad will open our direct access to the Pacific and Indian ocean as well as
further develop our role as the hub on the modern Silk Road. Much hopes are, of course, related
to stabilization of Afghanistan – then plans for exporting our electricity to Pakistan and India
become most realistic.
It is no coincidence, that one of the main programmes of my own foundation is directed towards
helping the Kyrgyzstanis to ‘discover Asia’: flight time to New Delhi is twice shorter from
Bishkek then to Moscow and the largest international trade city in our region is Urumqi. Our
country is also to benefit from the expansion of the regional trade partnership with Russia,
Kazakhstan and Belarus into the full fledging Customs Union. Active efforts are needed that we
all realize that Kyrgyzstan, far from being ‘the middle of the nowhere’, is actually located in the
center of the fastest growing economies of the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,
I want to conclude by going over a few areas of concern that will, in my mind, remain of key
importance as Kyrgyzstan develops in the next decade.
First is the issue of the regional stability. What will happen to Central Asia as the international
community will wrap up its active role in Afghanistan? We are also yet to see how smooth will
be the transition in our immediate neighbors. We have already witnessed how disruptive and
powerful can be the transnational narcotics networks. We are following with the increased
concern the rise of the political religious movements. Despite the picture that is painted
sometimes by the international press, it is an undeniable fact that today Kyrgyzstan is the most
stable country in the region because the government is popularly elected and its legitimacy is not
questioned. However, we are not immune and isolated from the larger region and the issue of
the regional security will remain the biggest challenge for our peaceful development.
Secondly, much will depend on the success of our experiment with the parliamentary democracy.
Despite our short term disappointments with sometimes ugly turns and wrong incentives of the
electoral democracy in the society with the weak governance institutions, I strongly wish for my
country to continue on the road to democracy. We must not give up. There will be difficulties
but on this road there are no shortcuts. We cannot copy or import a model of governance, we
must grow and build our own.
Thirdly, it is the issue of the economic development. The window of opportunity is quite
limited. Either we catch up with the rest of the world or we are destined to stay in the gray zone
of failed states. We must ensure strong inflows of foreign investment and modernization of our
Fourth is the subject that I think can be most influenced by us and will in turn affect positively
the three previous factors. It is the area of education. We need to instill in the new generations
values of mutual respect, citizen participation and good governance. The strongest foundation
for peace in the country can be built only in a well-functioning classroom. Kyrgyzstan at the
moment dedicates 4% of its national product to education. This figure is as high as in the United
States of America. In an illustration how misleading can be international development statistics,
you should know that 4% of GDP means budget of $2500 USD per secondary school student in
America and $56 USD per student in Kyrgyzstan. The world average is $800 per student. From
these figures alone you can see how urgent is our action in the sphere of supporting education in
Kyrgyzstan and in the larger region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
His Highness the Aga Khan has compared a pluralistic society to “a kaleidoscope that history
shakes every day” – meaning that pluralism is not an end in itself, but ever evolving process. I
am very happy that this never ending kaleidoscope has brought us together today in one room for
this learning opportunity.
I want to thank His Highness and the Board of the Centre for the invitation to address you and I
conclude by wishing the Global Centre and its Secretary General Mr. McNee much success.
Thank you.


Prospects for Democracy and Pluralism in Central Asia: Lessons from the Kyrgyz Republic

Your Highness Prince Aga Khan,
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin,
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you very much for your welcoming words and the invitation to address this esteemed gathering.

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Your Highness The Aga Khan,
fellow members of the Board,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

it is a pleasure to be with you today. The Global Centre for Pluralism has an extremely important mandate, and I feel privileged to participate in its work.

Globalization has brought us closer together. In the 21st century, we live for the first time in one global community. But it is a community composed of many strands which must be carefully woven together into a whole. If diversity is seen as a source of strength, societies can become healthier, more stable, and prosperous. But there is another side of the coin if we fail to manage the conflicting pressures that pluralism invariably brings. Without the institutions and policies to manage diversity, whole communities can be marginalized and oppressed, creating conditions for conflict and violence.

This is why pluralism is a key challenge for the 21St century. Some look at recent developments and claim that our world is becoming fragmented into different civilizations. I strongly disagree. I see the world coming together in one global civilization, to which each of us brings our own traditions, cultures, and beliefs. My long experience has taught me that, whatever our background, what unites us is far greater than what divides us.

My experience has also taught me that strong, healthy, cohesive societies are built on three pillars - peace and security; development; and the rule of law and respect for human rights. Unfortunately stability and economic growth have, for far too long, been the principal responses to national and global problems. We must not fall into this trap. For there can be no long-term security without development and no long-term development without security. And no society can long remain prosperous or secure without respect for the rule of law and human rights. For a society to manage pluralism successfully, it must embrace and give equal weight to each of these three pillars.

But ladies and gentlemen, we must not shy away from the fact that plural societies, by their nature, are challenging to govern. They bring with them competing claims or entitlements - each of which can be justified and defended, but which are not always compatible. And it is important to recognize that no society - however democratic or respectful of the rule of law - resolves these challenges perfectly. Europe, for example, has well-established legal systems and arrangements to protect minorities and reach acceptable compromises. Yet even within Europe, pluralism is sometimes seen as a threat. Levels of social prejudice have been rising against religious and cultural minorities and new immigrants.

We have also seen a fall in trust and confidence in political institutions which has led to increased support for more extreme political groupings. These trends underline how important it is for countries to entrench democratic principles and norms, adopt inclusive policies to build and sustain trust, increase inclusion and reduce insecurity. And just as no country is born a democracy, no one is born a good citizen. Mutual respect and tolerance have to be fostered and taught. We have to promote dialogue to combat fear, intolerance, and extremism. We have to learn from each other, making our different traditions and cultures a source of harmony and strength, not discord and weakness.

The Centre must help us do that, and it will have plenty of work to do. Let’s not imagine that it can come up with a simple, one-size-fits-all formula that will solve the problems of diversity in all societies. Diversity is about difference and there is diversity among countries as well as between them. The mix of policies and institutions required, for example, to manage relations between indigenous communities and a majority of long-established incomers is not the same as that required to integrate and protect “new” minorities who have only recently arrived.

Many countries have to manage both situations at once. Canada is one, and it has done so more successfully than most - although I’m sure few Canadians would argue or claim that there are no problems left to solve. Canada’s prosperity, as well as its political system and strong institutions - including an independent judiciary - make it relatively well placed to deal with these challenges. But in countries without such advantages, tensions all too often spill over into violence and conflict, leading, in the worst cases, to ethnic cleansing and genocide, such as we saw in Rwanda, and in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Again, the origins of these stresses are different in each country. Most often majorities hold a minority group responsible for their problems, or see it as a threat, and turn on it in fury. But there are also cases such as we saw in South Africa, where a minority clings to power and privilege, partly because it fears what will happen if power passes on to the majority. Each of these cases involve different realities and different conditions. Each requires a different approach. But most have this in common: though these conflicts have security implications, they are, in essence, political problems requiring political solutions.

While numerous political factors come into play, a resolution of these conflicts often requires action to tackle long-standing injustice and discrimination. This was certainly the case in Kenya, a country in which I have been closely involved, after sectarian violence exploded after the contested Presidential elections in 2007. Kenya had successfully projected a vision of peace and stability so the violence, in which over a thousand people were killed and 650, 000 people were displaced, shocked the world. But this image was not rooted in reality. The truth is that widespread corruption and crony-capitalism had fueled a deep-seated sense of anger and grievance across the country. Kenya’s political elite had sadly adopted the ‘divide and rule’ form of its former colonial rulers with little attempt to build a cohesive national identity. Wealth and influence were passed between interchanging ethnic cliques. The rule of law had become less important than tribal bloodlines. But while a few at the top amassed great wealth - which they spread to their close kin - the vast majority of the country’s citizens lived in abject poverty.

This fuelled despair and resentment which exploded in the aftermath of the election, exposing the deep rifts within Kenyan society. The violence was terrible. But I, and many others, were aware that the far worse shadow of Rwanda and Bosnia hung over Kenya. This threat thankfully led to a concerted international response from within Africa and outside which persuaded Kenya’s warring leaders to agree to mediation.

By the time the team of Eminent African Personalities, comprised of Benjamin Mkapa, Graça Machel and myself, had arrived, we had the undivided backing of the African Union, the UN, the US, and the European Union for our work. Such support made a huge difference and helped us, eventually, to persuade President Kibaki and Raila Odinga to agree to powersharing.

But it was clear that what was needed was wide-ranging reform to address the country’s deeper tensions and the failure of its political system. This required engagement not just from the political elite but right across society through the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process. This process delivered a new constitution, overwhelmingly supported in a national referendum, which provided Kenya with the chance of a fresh start.

It opened the way for a much fairer political system built around devolved government, a new bill of rights, land reform, and a permanent reduction in presidential powers. It gave each county and each community, including all its tribal and regional groups, access to power; a welcome antidote to the destructive winner-takes-all politics. Reforms were put in place to strengthen the effectiveness, independence and trust in the judiciary, police and electoral commission whose weakness had helped inflame the violence.

Alongside reform of the political system, work was begun to tackle the divisive political culture. Through the work of the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Kenya begun to look at not just the immediate events which led to the violence but the country’s long history of human rights abuses. At the same time, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission was established to identify and eliminate all forms of discrimination.

Our aim was not to put a plaster over the wound but to try to help Kenya find a permanent solution to its deep divisions. In the past five years, it is to be welcomed – and to the credit of the country- that many of these reforms have been put in place. We saw as well how the recent elections passed off largely peacefully.

But the poll also confirmed that work must continue to reduce negative ethnicity and strengthen Kenya’s institutions and electoral management bodies. It is also far from clear that efforts to reform the culture of Kenya’s political leaders have taken hold. Reconstructing sound political institutions, and public trust in them, will require continued vigilance and effort over a long period from both inside Kenya and its friends. There are no short cuts and, unfortunately, progress can be quickly undone. But the rapid intervention of the international community to this crisis did help Kenya pull itself back from the brink of the abyss.

This is in contrast to the conflict in Syria – another country where I have been involved – whose trauma has been worse in almost every respect. Here too, for a brief period, the international community had an opportunity to act. Negotiation on a political settlement was, I believe, still possible a year ago.

On 30 June 2012, the Action Group for Syria, met to agree a comprehensive plan to resolve the conflict. The final communiqué established principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition that would meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. These guidelines included:

i. The establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, to establish a neutral environment for the transition;
ii. An inclusive national dialogue;
iii. A review of the constitutional order and legal system;
iv. Continuity of government institutions and recruitment of qualified staff;
v. Commitment to accountability and national reconciliation, and a comprehensive package for transitional justice;
vi. Gender equality, protection of vulnerable groups, and provision of humanitarian aid.

Had this moment been seized rather than lost, Syria might have avoided the extreme violence that has now cost over 80,000 lives, resulted in 1.5 million refugees, 4 million internally displaced peoples, and millions more facing daily terror and a humiliating struggle for survival. The involvement of regional interests, proxy wars, and the paralysis of international decision-making, has created a truly poisonous mix that threatens to spillover into neighboring countries.

And unfortunately, the conflict has taken a deeply sectarian turn. While it is not the primary or sole driver of the conflict, sectarianism and communal violence has risen to the fore. And while, of course, continued unrest in Kenya would have had a serious regional impact, the potential fall-out from Syria is far more dangerous.

Syria is an important country in a region that is strategic, diverse and unstable. Syria, unlike Libya, has not imploded, if anything, it is likely to explode, and explode beyond its own

a. Increased risk of ethnic conflict between Arab Sunni insurgents and Kurdish forces, which could drag in Turkey.
b. The violence threatens to spillover to Lebanon and Iraq, sparking conflicts amongst their own communities.
c. Rising tensions between the Gulf states and Iran, and the deepening of Sunni-Shia divisions could also increase regional instability.

This has already greatly complicated attempts to find a political resolution – and will greatly complicate the implementation of any eventual post-conflict settlement.

But I still believe that the conflict can only be ended though mediation and dialogue. So I am glad that Russia and the United States are working together on a ‘Geneva 2’ conference. It is imperative that the international community unites behind a plan to create new political arrangements that will be fairer, more tolerant and more accountable. Only with such unity can we hope to bring a halt to two years of violence and suffering.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kenya and Syria are two different examples from my own experience which show why the Aga Khan and the Canadian Government are to be commended for having the vision and generosity to create this institution. Sound policy advice on pluralism are indispensable to the creation of stable, fair, societies where people can fulfill themselves and live together in harmony. But to be effective such advice also requires the understanding that solutions have to be tailored for the unique situation of every individual society. This is where the Centre’s role will be invaluable.

The differing examples of Kenya and Syria, however, also underline the indispensable role that the international community can and must play in helping defuse trouble. In a world more inter-connected than ever, it would be reckless to believe that we can be indifferent to any country’s traumas or let narrow national interests persuade us to stand back.

I wish the Centre well in its endeavors. It is hard to over-estimate either the urgency or importance of your work.

Thank you very much.


Your Highness The Aga Khan,
fellow members of the Board,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

it is a pleasure to be with you today. The Global Centre for Pluralism has an extremely important mandate, and I feel privileged to participate in its work.

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Forced Displacement and the Promise of Pluralism

Son Altesse l’Aga Khan, Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs, je voudrais tout d’abord vous remercier pour l’opportunité de prononcer cette conférence annuelle au Centre mondial du pluralisme. C’est un véritable plaisir et un privilège. Je tiens également à remercier la délégation de l’imamat Ismaïli pour accueillir cet événement.

Today, all societies are - or are on their way to become – multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multireligious. For some this is a source of discomfort and unease. In many societies, populist politicians, playing upon fears to obtain mindless votes and irresponsible media, only interested in market shares and infotainment, manipulate feelings of anxiety and insecurity, creating artificial divisions, disrupting social cohesion and, in extreme cases, provoking persecution and conflict.

We can see this in my part of the world, in Europe, where, fuelled by the economic crisis and high levels of unemployment, anti-immigration and xenophobic parties are gaining influence. Mainstream parties are unable, or sometimes even unwilling to oppose this effectively.

Xenophobia, racism, islamophobia or the invocation of false identities diminish us all. Not only are they unable to ease the fears of what is new and unfamiliar, they tend to exacerbate them.

The reality is that with an average fertility rate of 1.5 children per woman, Europe needs immigration to sustain its economy and pay the pensions of its aging population. But this is largely an unrecognized truth.

Recently, I saw the results of an opinion poll, where people were asked 3 questions: Do you want to have more children? The answer was: no. Are you willing to do menial work? The response was: no. Would you favour more immigration? And again, people said: no!

This is an impossible discourse; an equation without solution. Immigration is not part of the problem of modern societies; it is part of the solution. Without immigration many of our communities would become completely unsustainable.

In other parts of the world where state structures are weak or non-existent and where respect for diversity is destroyed by ambition or corruption, the incapacity to identify common qualities, the lack of empathy with “the other” and the manipulation of fears by unscrupulous politicians can have tragic consequences.

When I returned from a visit from the Central African Republic earlier this year, I told the Security Council that I did not remember a field trip in my 9-year tenure as High Commissioner for Refugees that had caused me so much anguish as this one. I was shocked by the brutality and inhumanity of the violence, targeting women, men and even children only because they were Muslims. But my subsequent mission to South Sudan was equally distressing. In Gambella, Ethiopia, I saw tens of thousands of women and children seeking refuge from atrocity. Many of the children were severely malnourished and their mothers told me the horrors of the violence unleashed in their communities.

Until last year, the Central African Republic was largely a stranger to religious violence, which is why it is wrong to characterize the current situation as a religious conflict. Despite the widespread corruption and poverty, banditry and violence, Christians and Muslims had always lived side by side. Religious hatred was one of the few problems the Central African Republic did not have.

State structures had largely disintegrated and banditry was rife when the Séléka seized power in late 2012. The Séléka was an alliance of Central African rebel groups and foreign fighters and was indeed predominantly Muslim, although creating an Islamic State was not part of their agenda. But the widespread looting and killings committed by the Séléka and ex-Séléka members led to the emergence of the so-called Anti-Balaka, a combination of vigilante groups and bandits. While they called themselves Christian self-defence militias, they soon turned into an uncontrollable monster. This gave rise to a sectarian divide, mostly along religious lines, that is now tearing apart the social fabric of the country.

In South Sudan, the rift is not along religious, but ethnic lines. At its independence, the leaders of South Sudan were faced with daunting challenges. This was one of the most underdeveloped places in the world as a result of decades of war and neglect. As aid and money poured in, corruption, ethnic nepotism and competition over power and resources grew. Old disputes re-emerged and the country’s leaders, all former rebels, were quick to come up with a military answer to political problems. A political squabble turned into an ethnic conflict when antagonistic leaders rallied support along ethnic lines. Soon Nuers were fighting Dinka on a larger scale than ever before, deliberately targeting civilians and turning against moderate voices within their own communities.

While a religious or ethnic conflict usually starts out with faith or ethnicity being instrumentalized for political purposes, the real danger is that these tensions then gain a dynamic of their own – a genie, that once it is out of the bottle becomes exceedingly difficult to control, let alone put back.

It is against these realities that the voice of tolerance and reason and the values of pluralism need to rise. Diversity is not a threat. Diversity represents the richness of our communities. We must stand together against all forms of irrationality and manipulation that lead to hatred, be it political populism, radical nationalism or religious fundamentalism.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Globalization has been unfair, its benefits have been distributed unequally and many have been left out. The paradox of today’s world is that money moves freely; goods and services also tend to move relatively freely; but people cannot. People are stopped by physical and legal barriers.

One of the things I have learned in my years of public life is that markets work. Supply and demand tend to meet. In the global labour market supply and demand will also meet, legally if possible, irregularly if necessary.

Despite barriers, millions of people move from one country to another in the hope of a better future, millions of others to save their lives. They often travel alongside each other, creating the so-called asylum-migration nexus. When international migration is managed by border controls only, in an effort “to keep people out”, human traffickers and smugglers are bound to prosper. There is something fundamentally wrong in a world where people have to risk their lives to seek safety and where at the end of a dangerous journey, they are not welcome or even turned away. It breaks my heart to see Syrian refugees being pushed back at the Bulgarian border, one of the European Union’s external borders, or drown in the Mediterranean, as they have no other ways to find asylum.

We need more international cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination and concerted efforts to identify opportunities for legal migration. We also need international trade and globalization to become true agents of development. And we need more targeted development programmes, focused on poverty reduction, job creation and the strengthening of governance, rule of law and public services. Greater efforts should be made to address the challenges of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace building, so that when people move, they do so out of choice, not necessity.

Irrespective of cultural, religious or ethnic differences, men and women around the world share a common humanity. Aristotle was among the first to deny that division was the necessary outcome of diversity and this concept has been followed through by many illustrious thinkers, up to today. Seeking to identify the qualities and experiences that unite rather than divide people, pluralism can be a powerful force that fosters more harmonious, peaceful and prosperous societies.

A common value that can be found in all cultures is the idea of giving protection, of sheltering a stranger in need.

The word asylum is derived from the Greek word “asylon”, or sanctuary, a designated space in each city, often a temple, where people could find safety.

Flight from persecution and the search for a protected space are central themes in all the three Abrahamic faiths, and can also be found Hindu mythology and Buddhist teachings. The Exodus of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt is a central story in the Jewish faith. In Christianity, the flight of the Holy Family from Bethlehem is studied by all children. And for Muslims, the Islamic calendar starts with the year the Prophet (PBUH) travelled to Medina to seek protection as he and his followers had come under threat. When some of the first Muslims suffered persecution in Mecca, they were given asylum by the Christian Emperor of Abyssinia, who withstood great pressure and declined precious gifts, refusing to return the refugees to their persecutors. Similarly, in the early Middle-ages, Jews from many parts of Europe found sanctuary in Al Andalus, where they were allowed to practice their religion and had opportunities to work and trade. In particular, there is nothing in modern refugee law that was not already explicitly contained in Islamic law and traditions, since the very beginning.

It was only after the horrors of World War II that the protection of refugees became an obligation under international law. The 1951 Refugee Convention establishes who is a refugee and what their rights and responsibilities are. It also spells out the obligations that States have towards people seeking safety on their soil. Non-refoulement, or no-return of people in need of asylum is the cornerstone of the refugee regime. Building on this, the African Refugee Convention was adopted in 1969 and the Declaration of Cartagena about Refugees in 1984 to respond to specific regional dimensions of forced displacement in Africa and Latin America.

UNHCR was created by the UN General Assembly to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees and to find solutions for them. To fulfil this mandate, my Office works together with a wide range of partners, including the Aga Khan Development Network. We have an excellent partnership with many of the Network’s agencies, including in Central Asia, the Middle-east and East Africa.

While initially focusing on Europe, by the time Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan was elected High Commissioner in 1965, UNHCR had become operational in much of the developing world. Prince Saddruddin Aga Khan is still remembered with admiration as the man who steered the organization through some of the most challenging humanitarian crises of that time. He also played a key role in finding new homes, including here in Canada, for tens of thousands of South Asians who had been expelled overnight from Uganda in 1972.

Today, an unprecedented number of people are uprooted by violence and persecution. One of most dramatic situations is Syria, which saw 3 million of its citizens flee the country in little more than three years. Only five years ago, Syria was the world’s second largest refugee hosting country, now Syrians are the largest group of refugees worldwide, followed by Afghans and Somalis. The overwhelming majority of Syrian refugees found safety in the neighbouring countries, where communities are showing a generosity that is well beyond their means.

UNHCR recently registered the millionth Syrian refugee arriving in Lebanon. With 244 registered Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese, Lebanon already has the highest concentration of refugees than any other country. This is 295 times as many refugees per capita as the in United States and nearly 52 times as many as in Canada.

In Lebanon, as in most refugee hosting countries around the world, the strain that the large presence of refugees places on services and resources has become unbearable. The world needs to do much more to support Syria’s neighbours, recognizing that this conflict has become a major threat to regional stability.

And let’s not forget that contrary to the populist mantra that all asylum-seekers are on their way to the industrialized world, 86% of the world’s refugees live in developing countries, compared to 70% a decade ago. Rather than seeing refugees as competitors and a burden, their presence can be an incentive to advance poor areas. We need to promote the development of refugee hosting areas, involving refugees and local communities, rather than just handing out assistance to the refugees, year after year. Stimulating self-reliance, education and livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities are key to fostering more harmonious relations and a better protection environment. Instead of competing over scarce resources, both communities work together to improve their future. I am convinced that this will, ultimately, help stem the flow of desperate people who move on out of necessity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Canada has a proud history of welcoming refugees. Loyalists - freemen and slaves - fleeing the American Revolution in the 18th century; Europeans leaving behind oppression, persecution and authoritarian states in the 19th and 20th centuries; Latin Americans escaping military regimes and growing numbers of refugees from other parts of the world found sanctuary in Canada.

Canada’s resettlement programme is one of the largest in the world. It offers refugees who can no longer stay in their first country of asylum an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Resettlement is also a practical way of sharing the burden of developing countries that host large refugee populations. I welcome all efforts to maintain and strengthen a global and flexible resettlement programme and encourage Canada to resettle a large number of Syrian refugees.

My country, Portugal, has seen many of its people leave. Some because of oppression during 48 years of dictatorship that ended with the Carnation Revolution of 1974, others because of economic hardship. When I was in government, we commissioned a study to find out how well these people had integrated and how they perceived their new countries. The study found that the Portuguese community in Canada felt more integrated and better accepted than any of the others.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Canada is a clear demonstration that multi – cultural, multi-ethnical and multi-religious societies are not only inevitable, they are a good thing. Diversity and pluralism enrich societies and should be cherished by good governance, strong civic institutions and policies that promote respect for diversity. The recognition of our common humanity, inclusion and solidarity, tolerance and compromise are key elements of strong, cohesive and peaceful societies.

The mission of the Global Centre for Pluralism is to advance global understanding of pluralism as an ethic of respect that values diversity and to enable each and every person to realize his or her full potential as a citizen. I wish you every success in this important undertaking.

Thank you.


Forced Displacement and the Promise of Pluralism

Son Altesse l’Aga Khan, Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs, je voudrais tout d’abord vous remercier pour l’opportunité de prononcer cette conférence annuelle au Centre mondial du pluralisme. C’est un véritable plaisir et un privilège. Je tiens également à remercier la délégation de l’imamat Ismaïli pour accueillir cet événement.

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Madame Adrienne Clarkson
Madame Michaelle Jean
Your Excellencies
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Annual Pluralism Lecture of the Global Centre for Pluralism. This is our third such Lecture – its purpose is to provide a platform for international leaders, people of stature and insight, to reflect on important issues that relate to pluralism. That purpose is surely fulfilled this evening, as we welcome our very distinguished Lecturer - the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres.

As you know, Mr. Guterres was Prime Minister of Portugal for seven years - from 1995 to 2002. He has now been the High Commissioner for Refugees for an even longer period. He began in 2005 and was elected to a second five-year term in 2010.

Les défis que M. Guterres a affrontés ont été extraordinaires, tout comme le fut sa manière d’y répondre. Ces premières années du 21e siècle ont connu des défis humanitaires sans précédent. La situation mondiale des réfugiés a atteint des proportions de crises, souvent déclenchées par des conflits ethniques, religieux ou sociaux.

Nous vivons à une époque paradoxale. Les guerres à grande échelle éclatent de moins en moins, et l’on pourrait même dire que c’est une époque où les relations entre les grands pays sont relativement stables. Cependant, c’est également une époque de conflits violents incessants — de faible intensité, mais de lutte armée longue et féroce — particulièrement dans les régions sous-développées.

C’est également paradoxal que — chaque fois que la technologie nous donne une occasion sans précédent de communiquer — et de coopérer — partout dans le monde, les interactions humaines reflètent si souvent l’échec extrême de la compréhension du pluralisme — particulièrement au sein des États et dans des contextes relativement localisés.

Le résultat est une crise mondiale de réfugiés d’une ampleur et d’une gravité inégalée.

How to respond to this unprecedented refugee crisis is among the most urgent challenges of our time. And we are fortunate indeed that we can hear from Mr. Guterres, who has devoted decades to confronting these questions, not only at the global level, but also in Portugal and in Europe.

Thirty years ago, as a young member of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Mr. Guterres chaired the Assembly’s Committee on Demography, Migrations and Refugees. In 1991, more than twenty years ago, he founded the Portuguese Refugee Council, the only national NGO in Portugal today that works exclusively for the benefit of asylum-seekers and refugees.

That work, we should note, has had an impressive dual focus: it begins with meeting the immediate dangers faced by arriving refugees, the challenge of providing sustenance and protection. And it then it also goes on to address the challenge of integration - helping refugees achieve equality of opportunity in their new settings.

The challenges faced by refugees have been a central concern of mine for a very long time. My own community has, at various points in our history, been forced to seek refuge in new homelands - in Canada, among other places. And I have long admired the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. As you may know, my uncle, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, had the privilege of serving as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 1966 until 1977, playing an instrumental role in reorienting that organization from a focus on post-war European refugees to one with a deeper emphasis on global humanitarian crises.

Throughout his own, long career, António Guterres has been a passionate and effective advocate on these issues, articulating both the rights of the refugees - and the responsibilities of society to support and to integrate them. Underlying both his words and his work is a conviction, which I share, that any person’s worth in this world does not depend on where he or she has come from - and that all people should be welcomed into the fabric of the society in which they may find themselves - so that they can contribute to that society’s long term progress.

The Global Centre for Pluralism was established in partnership with the Government of Canada, and was inspired, in part, by Canada’s experience as a highly diverse society, with a long-term commitment to welcoming and supporting newcomers. The Centre was founded as a place where we all can learn from one another about the challenges of diversity, and about the enormous possibilities that can open for us when we respect diversity as an opportunity rather than fearing it as a burden.

To that end, the Centre is also a destination for dialogue, a place to exchange ideas with true champions of pluralism. And that is exactly what we are doing tonight. Please join me in welcoming the Centre’s very distinguished Lecturer for 2014, High Commissioner António Guterres.



Madame Adrienne Clarkson
Madame Michaelle Jean
Your Excellencies
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

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If you did a paternity test on the South African Constitution, whose DNA do you think would come up? Despite what the speakers have said, it would not be that of Albie Sachs. It would not be that of Nelson Mandela. It would not be that of F.W. de Klerk. It would be that of Oliver Tambo.

My mind goes back to 1988. I still had two arms. We’re meeting in a fairly small room, the size of this platform, in Lusaka. Zambian security around in case of commando raids from South Africa to take us out. We’re discussing for the first time at a conference of the ANC, constitutional guidelines for a new South Africa. I’m going up to the platform and my heart is going boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Some of the delegates are in the underground resistance, some of them are military, waiting to find their way back to South Africa. Others are diplomats, others are people giving political support, others are journalists, and I’m anxious. My job— I’d been given the task by Oliver Tambo— to explain through the delegates there to our organization, ultimately to the world, why South Africa needs a Bill of Rights.

There was great suspicion amongst the majority of South Africans about a Bill of Rights. Some of them call it a “Bill of Whites.” The fear was we’ll get democracy, we’ll get the vote, but there’ll be a Bill of Rights that will freeze the status quo and give all power to the judges and we won’t be able to move forward. I’m being asked now to say why we need, the country needs, a
Bill of Rights. I have three motivations. The first one was easy. It makes you look good. We were being denounced as terrorists. What will happen? You see what’s happened elsewhere in Africa? If the Blacks take control, they would just grab everything, look after themselves. There’s no future for the whites in that country. That was easily accepted by the delegates there that we want to put on a good face, to be well respected throughout the world. The ANC had actually in 1987, the year before, adopted a Bill of Rights as being part of its policy, and the year before that, multiparty democracy. That wasn’t the issue that made my heart race.

The second reason for having a Bill of Rights was more complex and in a way more fundamental. It wasn’t just tactical. It was Oliver Tambo’s answer to the concept that was being put up to us of power-sharing - group rights - and I think it’s important at this conference on, this discussion on, pluralism to see how the concept of pluralism can be abused because they were using the language of pluralism and they was saying we are a minority and that we’re using the language of protecting minorities to, in effect, protect the fact that whites owned 87% of the land by law, 95% of productive capital. In South Africa, the minority was the majority and the majority were the minority, so that kind of discourse that favors protecting minority rights was now being abused to maintain minority privilege.  His answer was, “We don’t want power sharing between racial and ethnic groups in South Africa. We don’t want power sharing between whites and blacks. We want a common society of citizens where rights are protected through a Bill of Rights, not because you are white or black or a member of the majority or a minority but because you're a human being.”

That was his profound vision and approach. Not to institutionalize race, ethnicity in the structures of governments the way as was being advanced. To recognize pluralism through political pluralism, not through giving forms of autonomy, group rights, institutionalized, constitutionalized around race, ethnicity, language, skin color, whatever it might be. That was the strategic answer and I saw the soldiers and the underground workers and the others all nodding their heads and all very happy that now, the ANC is discussing constitutions, not just strategy of overthrowing apartheid and winning friends, but the kind of country we’re going to live in.
But that wasn’t why my heart was racing. My heart was pounding because of the third reason. I said we need a Bill of Rights against ourselves. I was fearful. How would they react? It’s easy for Albie Sachs, this lawyer, middle class background, comfortable. We’re at the cutting face of struggle. We feel the violence all the time every day. Don’t come to us with your lawyer’s language and beautiful ideas. But instead of any kind of repudiation or rejection, I just saw looks of delight. People knew the countries we were living in in Africa had fought often bravely and nobly for their freedom but the leaders had gone on to become authoritarian rulers. They knew that in practice. Would that happen with us? People have seen inside our own organization completely unacceptable forms of behavior and abuse. Will that happen to us when we’re in power? There’s always the assumption that we would be in authority. There was a look of pleasure, of delight that we were willing to acknowledge and face up to our own frailties. So when it came ultimately to constitution making, we were very, very aware. You make a constitution not just for your first government, not just for yourselves, not just for the better people in your organization. You’re making a constitution for the future.

Lo and behold, when after talks about talks about talks and then talks about talks, finally, we got to talks. Real negotiations. It took us two years. The big clash - and it’s not understood even in South Africa and certainly not internationally. The big clash – and just by the way, the kind of legend now is how did South Africa get the constitution? We are told that the marvelous, wonderful Mandela comes out of prison, 27 years, no bitterness in his heart, and he meets the wise, pragmatic de Klerk. They do a deal. They send it to the lawyers to draft a constitution.
That’s how it came to pass. [Sings] It ain’t necessarily so. It just wasn’t like that at all. It took us six years. We had breakdowns. We have rally mass action. Chris Hani was assassinated. We almost erupted. There was low grade civil war. People were being thrown off trains. The basic clash was the clash of two completely different visions of what kind of structures of government we would have, and what process should be used to get the new constitution.

When referring to the South African government in those days, we used to speak about the “enemy.” Then the enemy became, as we made some progress, the “regime.” Then we made some more progress, it was the “bloody government.” It ended up with the “other side.” Right towards the end, we’d say, “Well, what would the other side say?” Now, the big clash of basic views comes somewhere between the “regime” and “bloody government” phases. The South African regime is saying, “We must draft the constitution now. The constitution we want will have forms of power sharing.” Initially it was to be between the races, then they dropped it from being between the races overtly to making it between the three leading parties. It just so happened the three leading parties would be the ANC, the National Party under de Klerk, and the KwaZulu Inkatha Freedom Party under Buthelezi. And they said, “We must have three presidents representing the three parties. They must rule by consensus, and we must have a Lower House elected by universal suffrage and the Upper House will be the house of minority parties because everyone knows democrats protect the rights of minorities.” [We called it the House of Losers!] The Upper House would then enable the minority parties to have a veto over matters of deep, special concern to themselves.

It was a disguised form of power sharing on an ethnic basis that would effectively ensure that instead of the constitution being seen as the facilitator of transformation and change and of opening up the doors and access to everybody, it would have been regarded as a barrier to change. The constitution would have been the enemy. The people in the majority would have hated the constitution because it’s preventing us from moving forward even though giving us the vote. We had to blow that – and I don’t like military images ordinarily, but we had to blow that scheme out of the water.

In addition, they said, “We must draft the constitution there and then.” We said, “No.” Only if the people of South Africa as a whole, through mandated representatives, through a constituent assembly which can be our first parliament, drafts a document, will it have meaning for the people and will it have legitimacy. Our people have never been consulted or involved in deciding their fate, their future. Now, the self-appointed group of negotiators is going to decide for them. We said, “We want a two-stage process of constitution-making. We can agree in advance to certain fundamental principles that have to be in the new constitution. We can agree that a two- thirds majority is required. We can agree to have proportional representation. In fact, we even mentioned that there would be no threshold or cut-off points, so that the smallest party would be represented; and we can agree to have a constitutional court set up which will decide whether the principles had been complied with or not.” This is a South African invention which would work, but the regime would not accept it. There was a massacre. The ANC said, “Until the massacres stop, we can’t carry on negotiating anymore.” Eventually, after some months of very tough, confidential negotiations, the regime accepted the basic two-stage mechanism for going forward, and South Africa got an interim constitution which led to elections in 1994, Mandela becoming President and a final constitution in 1996.

Miracles – we have told it was a miracle. Miracles are not made of minutes and matters arising, and agendas, and one report after another report after another report. We worked very hard, very intelligently, creating new modalities as we went along to finally get the consensus document that enabled us to succeed through the two-stage process. We elected the parliament. Parliament is now given two years to draft a constitution, complying with the 34 principles agreed to in advance, and I always mention, of course they worked until late in the afternoon on the last day of the second year, and luckily, 1996 was a leap year so they had one extra day.

It was sent to the Constitutional Court and to the dismay of my former comrades in negotiations and in the struggle in the trenches, we declared the constitution to be unconstitutional. Overwhelmingly it complied, but in nine respects, it didn’t. For those who had been following South African events recently, you might be interested to note I checked up recently to see what the nine factors were, and one of them involved the powers of the public protector. The relevant principle agreed to in advance said that the public protector and the auditor general, belonging to a group called Institutions to Protect Democracy in the Constitution, must have their independence safeguarded. The draft text said it’s safeguarded by a 50% majority that parliament needed to dismiss them. The court said, that’s not sufficient safeguarding. The requisite majority went up to 2/3 and possibly, if it hadn’t been 2/3, the public protector whose report led to President Zuma apologizing, a crisis inside the ANC, huge popular support for the independent judiciary that made that pronouncement, maybe she wouldn’t have been there, and there wouldn’t have been the report at all.

You will note that we rejected pluralism in the sense that it was being advanced, even when using the language of consociationalism, as the concept was called. We refused to accept the idea that the different groups in our society created by our history, often in tense relationships, should be represented as such and try to find agreement in Parliament and at the executive level in government. But we accepted pluralism in the sense of the constitutional recognition of the diversity of our nation and through the Bill of Rights, through language rights, through devolution, directly and indirectly we gave massive respect to pluralism. At the same time, we’re trying to unite South Africa which was fragmented under apartheid. We want a united country, not a unitary country necessarily, but a united country, a united country. And in our preamble, it says, “United in our diversity.” South Africa belongs to all who live in it. United in our diversity. That’s the fundamental theme of our constitutional endeavor.

Diversity doesn't destroy unity, but true unity depends upon acknowledging diversity. It’s not a unity that’s imposed. It’s a unity that’s felt, enjoyed and realized by the people who are affected by it.

I’m going to give you two examples of how that principle of unity in diversity operated in practice in the Constitutional Court. The first has been controversial in many countries, and certainly it has been here in Canada, and it’s the very vexed issue of customary law and gender equality, the relationship between the two. I’m not sure if it was the Lovelace Case in Canada.
People felt we had to choose. Are you on the side of recognizing aboriginal autonomy in decision-making in which case it was seen that women came off very, very badly, or are you on the side of gender equality? You had to choose.

We acknowledged tensions, but we tried to resolve them not through suppressing one dynamic, one element, for the one to win, the other loses. Rather, we sought to find a mechanism for actually reconciling the two elements in a principled way in three important cases that came before the Constitutional Court.

The first was the Bhe case where a man died. He and the woman he’d been living with, they had two daughters, in a small house. The man’s cousin comes along and says, “I’m going to sell the house to pay for his funeral.” It was shocking. His daughters had to leave because he hadn’t been formally married. The mother had no formal rights under traditional law, customary law, or under the common law. The matter comes up to our Court. The other courts had been saying, “That’s tradition. The constitution recognizes customary law. There’s also a right to associate with others to promote language, culture, religion.” Putting the right to culture together with the recognition of customary law, the courts were saying, “Too bad for the children. That’s the custom.” It came to us – we said that the principle of primogeniture violates the Bill of Rights. The argument that the eldest, closest male relative inherits is unfair, it’s unjust, and it violates the principle of equality in our bill of rights. My one colleague said, “Let it be the eldest child who inherits in which case.” It could be a girl child, the daughters would have inherited. But most of us felt the issue was too tricky for the Court itself to develop the solution. We were not against customary law. There’s so much in customary law that is positive and affirmative and brings about social solidarity. Something which, in fact, our whole society needs... Ubuntu. A deep philosophical principle in African culture which I believe is the source of the things that people admire in Desmond Tutu and Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. I’m a person because you’re a person. I can’t separate my humanity from acknowledging your humanity. It’s not only customary law that needs that, we all need it. In fact I’d say the whole world needs it. In Canada, it was Supreme Court Justice Charles Gonthier who was speaking about fraternity, what’s happened to fraternité, he asked. That element that’s been excluded from that sense of human solidarity that gives context to liberty and equality? It’s very strong in African customary law and Ubuntu is something I think that needs to be retained and built on, not struck down.

The next case dealt with the rights of African women on divorce. What was called the Natal Native Code for Zulus said that it’s the husband who retains the family property, the husband has the marital power, and the husband controls everything. If the wife wants to divorce, it’s tough luck on her, she can go back to her own family. She can get a divorce but she doesn’t take any property with her. We said that was unconstitutional, and in doing so we developed the concept of living customary law. Customary law is not something ahistorical, decontextualized, a set of rules for all time. Customary law belongs to the people. It evolves as the people’s lives change and notions evolve. And African women are now earning. They’re independent, they’re strong, they’re citizens, they’re voting, they participate as equals in public life, and it’s absolutely inconceivable that customary law can’t be seen as evolving in a living way to keep up with and respond to changing circumstances. It is Black women who are part of the African society who are now demanding equality in terms of customary law that affects their lives so much.

The third case was that of Mrs. Shilubana who’d been chosen by the Baloyi Community to be their Hosi, their king – their chief. The royal family wanted her. The community meeting wanted her, and even the incumbent at that time, who was very ill, said she was the right person. But just before he died, the incumbent said, “No, no, no. I made a mistake. It’s my son.” The state appointed her, recognized her. The son went to court, and the judges said, “You can’t be chosen as a chief or king. You are born a chief or a king.” That was their position. The Supreme Court of Appeal agreed. The matter came to us. The Court was packed. Women came down in buses and one busload sat in the court from 10:00 to 11:15, then went out, and the other busload sat from 11:30 to 1:00. The case went right through the day. It was very moving for me. It was wonderful to see the people packing out the court. In the end, our decision was based on the principle of customary law being a living phenomenon. It’s evolving. Even if there was a situation before where women couldn’t be the leaders, the heads of the African communities, customary law now had changed. This was not a case of the state telling the community, “You must have a woman for purposes of equality.” The community itself wanted it and it had been the judges in the lower courts saying, “You can’t have what you want because of this particular inflexible rule of customary law.” The theme of living customary law is very productive. It’s very rich, and it enables you to respect the democratic aspects of customary law. For millions of people for whom it’s much more real than a marriage certificate you might get before some state official. It goes back deep into their society, their culture, their custom, relationship between families, but at the same time, it’s not static. It moves with the new values of a new society.

The second case I mention became quite well-known internationally. It’s the Fourie case, dealing with same sex marriages. I’m mentioning it because if any case dealt with the right to be different, explicitly, strongly, powerfully, it was this one. The whole case turned on the right to be different. Not just to be tolerated, to be different, something much stronger, much more affirming. Toleration in that sense is, “Okay, you can have your relationships in private.” The right being claimed by same sex couples was the right to express your love, your commitment or association on an equal basis with equal dignity. The reason I mention it today was because of what I found necessary to say in the judgment, which I read for the Court, on the relationship between the sacred and the secular. I made a statement which I picked up from a colleague of mine who was deeply religious, I am, if you can be deeply secular, I’m deeply secular, saying, “Don’t call opponents of same sex marriages bigots. That’s their world view. That’s their belief. But don’t allow them to force their beliefs on people who see life differently. That can’t be the basis of the civil rights of the rest of the society.”

I spoke about the co-existence between the sacred and the secular, and I think that’s much more powerful than drawing a cultural line that declares that we are the enlightened, they are the benighted, and we’re going to push the line of progress and enlightenment further forward.

The result was an extraordinary degree of acceptance by faith communities in South Africa. They weren’t being clobbered. On the contrary they were just being told that within your communities, within your faith communities, you’re not compelled to celebrate marriages that go against your beliefs. The judgment even mentioned something relevant now to debates in the United States, namely that Parliament, in passing the necessary legislation, could decide that marriage officers who had genuine reasons of conscience not to wish to perform those marriages, shouldn’t be compelled to do so. My reason for writing that was partly to avoid the centre of constitutional concern in the whole debate being the marriage officers and their rights of conscience, rather than the same sex couples who wanted to express their love and commitment in a public way. It shifts the battle to a very unfortunate, unnecessary area. It wasn’t only that. It was also the idea of being married by somebody who loathes the ceremony was a factor to be considered. But also belief is belief, it’s in your head. It’s true that people can’t make laws for themselves. They can’t carve out exemptions simply because of their beliefs if the law isn't targeting them in particular but in its generality happens to affect them. At the same time, we declared, the state is under a duty to do everything it can to avoid subjecting people to a hard choice between their consciences on the one hand and the law on the other. A form of reasonable accommodation. The legal culture we grew up in is not comfortable with reasonable accommodation. It likes bright line classifications, but we need to have decriminalization, reasonable accommodation, a whole lot of softening factors that allow us for the fluidity, mobility that belongs to ordinary life. Reasonable accommodation and cultural and religious pluralism go well together.

Houston, I had a problem. I’m coming to the end of my presentation, and I want to end it by making a presentation. Let me tell you the problem I had, and the education I underwent in resolving that problem. I sent an email to my wife last night. “Darling, you know I’m a very staunch Republican. I don’t like titles. When it came to the Constitutional Court being established, we decided we don’t want to be called ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady.’ We’re not even called ‘Honourable.’ It will be difficult for me to use the appropriate form of address to the person to whom I want to hand the most precious product of South Africa. It’s not gold, it’s not diamonds, it’s not even platinum. It’s our Bill of Rights.” Maybe, Calina can stand up and just show it to the people. Don’t hand it over yet. We are so proud of this document. Thank you.

I found it so interesting to see how from breakfast time until about an hour ago, my thought processes developed on how to solve the problem I had created for myself. The first step was to say, “Well, come on, Albie, you know, it’s protocol, it’s good manners. Do it.” But I’ve spent most of my life fighting against protocol. I could do it, but it would be without grace. Then the next step was to say, “Well, I’m in his house.  I’m in his home, the place named after him, and be a gracious guest respecting his title.” I felt actually you can’t give something just to be gracious. You give something – you don’t have to give it - if you’re going to give it, it’s got to come from the heart.

Then, the way discoveries are made, just suddenly, “of course, of course. I’m not giving this document to a titled individual. I’m giving the document to the head of an extraordinary community with a long, long history. Through that person, I’m linking up with a community and the deeds that are being done in the name of that community, and that’s something very beautiful. It’s very beautiful. I’m overcoming in that sense, getting beyond the reticence of my egalitarianism, but not because I’m forced to, or I’m being polite or gracious. I think it’s actually rather lovely that I’m, as it were, leaping out of my particular circumscribed world view, which I will defend, if I’m compelled and obliged to bend the knee and show respect. I’ll fight against that, but I’m doing it voluntarily and I’m doing it because I’ve just enjoyed this whole experience of being here and reading the book and listening to what the Centre is doing.” What I’m going to do now is – if we can go down together. Please don’t get up.

Now, I’m going to ask you to stop clapping, please, because I want to say something that I’m going to say with joy. “Your Highness, please accept South Africa’s most precious gift to the world and to yourselves. Thank you, Your Highness.”



إذا قمتم بإجراء اختبار أبوة لدستور جنوب إفريقيا، فأي حمضٍ نووي تعتقدون أنكم ستكتشفون؟ رغم الكلمات التي ألقاها المتحدثون، إلا أن ذاك الحمض لن يمت بصلة إلى ألبي ساكس، ولا إلى نيلسون مانديلا، ولا حتى إلى فريديريك ويليم دي كليرك، وبالطبع ليس إلى أوليفر تامبو.

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Distinguished Professors and Students,
Dear Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to extend my congratulations on the occasion of the commissioning of one more higher education institution – University of Central Asia, to all of the distinguished professors, students, guests, parents and every resident of our country.

During the recent years, the Government of Tajikistan, alongside with implementing continuous reforms at all levels of education, accomplished a significant amount of activities to bring the higher education system of the country in line with international standards.

I have to note that thanks to our independence, currently 43 higher education institutions operate in our country that train highly qualified professionals for different sectors of our national economy.

The University of Central Asia in Khorog, by starting its activities through introduction of its curriculum based on international standards, is opening a new page in our country’s education system.

With a view to training professionals meeting international standards, the Government of Tajikistan has undertaken a number of activities. Establishment of the Centre of International Programs and ‘Durakhshandagon’ Scholarship of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan are among these initiatives, which are aimed to send young Tajik talents for study in prestigious universities abroad.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The Republic of Tajikistan has established multifaceted cooperation with its development partners to improve the education system’s physical infrastructure at all levels, primarily the higher education institutions. In the context of this cooperation, we signed a joint agreement on establishment of the University of Central Asia with the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Ismaili Imamat in August 2000.

The university construction activities have been accomplished in a relatively short period within this Agreement and today we witness the launch of the newly established facility.

The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan was the initiator of this educational project and we supported it since we believed that the creation of such an international institution would be important for Central Asian countries.

I am convinced that operation of this newly established facility will benefit not only our country but it will also strengthen the multifaceted cooperation between the countries of the region in the field of education.

The university founders established its modern academic and residential campuses of identical design with all necessary conditions for study and leisure of faculty members and students in Khorog of Tajikistan, Naryn of the Kyrgyz Republic and Tekeli of Kazakhstan.

Currently the University of Central Asia in Khorog has 150 students in total with 55% female students from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

Today we got familiar with the administrative and academic activities of the University and got convinced that it provides a very advanced environment for education.

The University has academic buildings equipped with modern education equipment, computer labs, a fancy leisure and communications facility, administrative buildings, library, various sports playgrounds and other necessary infrastructure.

This educational institution will be training highly qualified professionals in the areas of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the International Economics.

The University will also have Travel Preparation Department. The courses will be taught in English and its faculty membership will include professors from Tajikistan and other countries.

The institution’s curriculum are developed in accordance with the Tajik legislation by taking into account the nationally compulsory subjects and approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of Tajikistan.

The university management and professors will have to run their activities within the approved curriculum approved by the Ministry and respect the national and overall human customs and traditions in educating the young professionals.

This educational facility will attract students representing different nations from various countries of the world in the future. With this regard, it is important to follow the noble customs and traditions of the Tajik people and other nations alongside with introducing education process based on the standards of internationally advanced higher education institutions as well as respecting the existing legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan.

I also would like to outline that the university will admit the best applicants from various towns and districts on merit basis. It will also grant preferences to full orphans, persons with disabilities of the 1st and 2nd categories as well as winners of international, regional and national educational competitions.

The University also established a good framework for learning occupations, i.e. training of qualified labour force. It already trains such specialists on a number of occupations for several years. I believe that it will expand its list of occupations for training once it has strengthened its financial viability.

I also would like to highlight that upon starting its activities, the institution will employs dozens of our citizens, including the local inhabitants.

Distinguished Friends!

Since the creation of this type of educational facility is a new experience for our country, its faculty and students will have a significant responsibility. The university faculty will need to educate their students in the spirit of noble humanity such as patriotism and kindness, tolerance and sense of responsibility. Hence following these features is more important than ever before in the current situation.

At the conclusion, let me once again to offer my congratulations on the launch of the University of Central Asia in Khorog to all of the professors and students of this brand new facility and the entire staff of the education sector and wish everybody of you continued health, happiness and good luck in your future endeavours.

Thank you!

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The Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Your Excellency Emomali Rahmon,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of UCA, Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha,
Distinguished guests,

My name is Mirzonabot and I am from the Zong village of Ishkashim district. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate all of you on occasion of the Independence Day of Tajikistan.

It is a great pleasure for me to speak on behalf of the UCA students on this historical day and this historical moment. After I had gotten the email that I was accepted into The University of Central Asia, UCA started calling me a member of its family. From the first day of study, it was clear that without concentrating on my studies and without hard work it would be impossible to reach the peak of my goals. 

Your Excellency and patron of the university, we as UCA students promise that after graduating from the university we will serve our country and we will represent our country in the world.

Now I would like to share with you my expectations of UCA.  I believe that as years go by, our university will train more and more professionals, who will become a part of the chain of productive cooperation within Central Asian countries and around the world.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of UCA students I would like to express my gratitude to the Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon, and His Highness the Aga Khan for establishing this university.

Thank you for your attention.

","speech_208051","","English" "UCA Khorog Campus Inauguration","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-tajikistan-zainab.jpg","Khorog, Tajikistan","Tuesday, 18 September 2018","1536936300","Speech by Zainab Muborakshoeva, Student Representative, at the UCA Khorog Campus Inauguration","","speech","Tajikistan","","2010s","","","","208036","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-tajikistan-zainab.jpg","University of Central Asia","","Education","

The Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Your Excellency Emomali Rahmon,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of UCA, Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha,
Distinguished guests,
My name is Zainab, and I am from Kyrgyzstan.

People of Kyrgyzstan and people of Tajikistan have historically been strongly related, and according to a legend, Manas’ mother Khanake was Tajik. We are proud of it. Besides that, we are the closest neighbour of Tajikistan and our countries have been excellent neighbours.

I am happy that I am a Preparatory Programme student of Economics department. Now, I consider myself a full member of UCA and it is my pleasure to welcome all of you. 

Khush omaded! Welcome! Kosh Kelinizder!

Your Excellency, it is well known that our countries are mountainous countries and those mountains support a mutually beneficial cooperation. Therefore, we know that in the future we will use our knowledge and experience to enhance this cooperation.

Your Excellency has declared 2018 as the Year of tourism and folk-crafts. This initiative is a good opportunity for development of tourism, which we hope will become a focus of the economies of our countries.

I will work hard, I will do my best to become a qualified specialist in Economics and apply it for the benefit of my country and for the cooperation between central Asian countries.

Today on this historical day, I want to sincerely thank your Excellency, and His Highness the Aga Khan for allowing me to witness the academic potential of my classmates and their passion for knowledge. I also want to express my gratitude for allowing us students to create opportunities in these mountains of Central Asia.

Tashakkur, Jon Rahmat

","speech_208041","","English" "Inauguration of UCA's Khorog campus","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-tajikistan-inauguration-05-skl1_r.jpg","Khorog, Tajikistan","Friday, 14 September 2018","1536938100","Speech by Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Chairman of UCA's Board of Trustees, at the inauguration of UCA's Khorog campus","","speech","Tajikistan","","2010s","","","","174586","","","1","","1","","","","University of Central Asia","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/uca-tajikistan-inauguration-05-skl1_r.jpg","University of Central Asia","","Education","


Your Excellency, President Emomali Rahmon,
Honorable members of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and Governor of Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast,
Trustees of UCA,
Distinguished guests,
Faculty members, staff and students,


Man tashrifi-shumo, peshvoyee millat janobi-olli, Emomali Rahmon, wa mehmononi olli qadrro badonishgohi osiyoi markazee sidqan khaira maqdam me gooyum.

(I warmly welcome the Leader of the Nation, Your Excellency Emomali Rahmon and distinguished guests to the University of Central Asia.)

Let me begin by expressing my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Board of Trustees of UCA to Your Excellency, President Emomali Rahmon for inaugurating the Khorog campus of the University of Central Asia. I recall vividly that President Rahmon was the first to join the Chancellor of UCA, His Highness the Aga Khan in conceiving the idea of this university. Your Excellency was also the first among the Presidents of the three founding states, to sign the UCA Charter in August 2000. This is indeed a tribute to your foresight and commitment to higher education.

I take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Education Said Nuruddin Said and his ministry colleagues for their support to UCA. The recent signing of the Agreement of Cooperation between the Ministry of Education and UCA is an important example of collaboration which will enhance our mutually beneficial relationship.

For over 1,000 years the ancestors of His Highness the Aga Khan have had a tradition of sponsoring higher education. His Highness’s own commitment to that tradition is reflected in sponsoring the Aga Khan University in 1983, and the University of Central Asia. We offer special gratitude to His Highness the Aga Khan whose vision, continued stewardship and attention to every aspect of this University have enabled us to witness this important day.

The University was established under an International Treaty executed by the Republics of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and the Ismaili Imamat. It was ratified by the respective parliaments and registered with the United Nations. The founders envisaged UCA as one university with equitable presence in all three countries. Its location and academic programmes are derived from the founders’ commitment to improving the quality of life of the peoples of Central Asia, particularly those in its mountain regions.

The Trustees who have responsibility for governing the University are appointed by the Chancellor and the honourable Presidents of its founding states, who are patrons of the University. The Trustees bring a wealth of experience with distinguished backgrounds in academia, government, the private sector, and civil society. On their recommendation, the Chancellor has appointed Prof Dr Syed Sohail Naqvi as the first Rector of UCA. He has distinguished himself in research, academic administration and higher education reforms.

The campus we are inaugurating today follows the first residential campus built in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, which was commissioned in 2016. The third campus will soon be built in Tekeli, Kazakhstan. All campuses were designed by the award-winning Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. The buildings on each UCA campus represent only the first phase. This campus was constructed mainly by small and medium size contractors from Tajikistan to ensure maximum economic fallout benefit for the local and regional economies.

The investment of US$ 95 million in the Khorog campus was provided by the Aga Khan Development Network, supplemented by a soft loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the US.

Here in Khorog, students will study Economics and Earth and Environmental Sciences, whereas those in Kyrgyzstan specialise in Computer Science and, Media and Communications. Our Campus in Kazakhstan will offer Business Management and Engineering degrees. Instruction is in English. Tajik as well as regional languages are also taught.

Admission is strictly on merit defined by academic ability and motivation to study. Students receive a broad-based education in the tradition of liberal arts, that is, a general education that opens their minds to the humanities, arts and sciences before specialising in their chosen disciplines. Here in Khorog, all will learn the beauty of the Tajik language, study the rich history of the Somoni Empire, and absorb the culture of Tajikistan. They will understand the meaning of Rudaki’s famous couplet:

donish andar dil charogh-e rawshan ast

w-az hama bad bar tan-e tu jawshan ast

(Knowledge in the heart is a bright lamp

And a shield for your body against all adversities)

In a fully-residential setting, students learn about diversity, pluralism and ethics in practice. The University is working hard to ensure students come from all corners of Tajikistan, the other Founding States and from the regional countries. Your Excellency’s presence here and information about UCA on the national media will go a long way towards informing the people of Tajikistan and future students about this new world-class educational opportunity in the country.

Seeking solutions to societal problems cannot be outsourced – it has to be indigenously driven. Therefore, our Graduate School of Development is strongly focused on research. This will be grounded in the history and culture of this region, and close to peoples’ issues.

Its Institute of Public Policy and Administration in Bishkek is collaborating with the Institute of Public Administration under the President’s Office in Tajikistan. This joint effort aims to deliver a highly contextual programme on economic policies for innovation and growth.

The Mountain Societies Research Institute of our Graduate School, which is located on the Khorog campus, allows closer integration with the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Its research will concentrate on issues of global warming, natural disasters and food security in these vulnerable regions. This Institute is also involved in developing the research capacity of the faculty of natural and biological sciences at Khorog State University.

To deliver education at this level of quality we have recruited faculty on merit from Central Asia, Russia, North America, South Asia and Europe. Under a plan to promote the appointment of nationals from Tajikistan and Central Asia, we sent some 40 scholars to renowned universities. Already 8 of them have graduated and joined the UCA faculty.

While the Khorog campus is new, UCA is proud of its history of involvement in Tajikistan. Since 2006, the third unit of UCA, its School of Professional and Continuing Education, has trained over 64,000 learners in Dushanbe and Khorog in English, Information Technology, financial accounting and other subjects. Soon we will open a Learning Centre in Bokhtar and one in Khujand.

Let me assure Your Excellency President Rahmon, that the scholars at UCA stand ready to collaborate with your government, and through their research, address the challenges you consider important.

Finally, on behalf of everyone at UCA, I express our profound appreciation to President Rahmon and the governments of Tajikistan and GBAO as well as to His Highness the Aga Khan and the AKDN agencies for their valuable support and encouragement.

Let me close my remarks with a quote from Nizomi, which I hope the students present here and those who will walk the halls of this campus in future will seriously take to heart:

har ki z-omukhtan nadorad nang

gul barorad zi khor-u laal az sang

(One who does not shy away from learning

Can turn a thorn into a flower and a stone into a ruby)

Thank you.

","speech_207911","","English" "Address to the Parliament of Portugal ","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/moez_visram_parliament_address_july_10_-4938-2_2300px.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Tuesday, 10 July 2018","1531226700","Address by His Highness the Aga Khan to the Parliament of Portugal ","","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","6926","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MihpZeZLnY","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/moez_visram_parliament_address_july_10_-4938-2_2300px.jpg","","","","


Your Excellency, President of Parliament, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues
Distinguished Members of Government and Members of Parliament 
Honourable Mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me begin by expressing my most sincere gratitude to the President and the members of the Parliament, for your very warm welcome in this remarkable setting, and to the President of the Republic for the invitation to visit Portugal.   

I recognise what a great honour it is to have been invited to speak to you today.

It is always a personal pleasure for me to return to Portugal.  I treasure wonderful memories of earlier visits here - including the gracious hospitality of the last five Presidents of the Parliament.  Portugal is surely an ideal place for me to conclude my Diamond Jubilee anniversary - celebrating my sixtieth year as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. 

During this Jubilee year, I have visited Ismaili communities in many parts of the world.  And now the anniversary events come to a happy culmination here in Portugal, so graciously facilitated by the strong collaboration of the Portuguese diplomatic service abroad, and the civil service here in Lisbon.

I am told that some 40 thousand members of the Ismaili community have come here this week to share in our Jubilee celebrations. In the process, of course, they will also have the opportunity to discover Portugal, many of them for the first time.   In doing so they are joining a great wave of foreign visitors who have made Portugal one of the fastest growing travel destinations in the world. 

Of course, when we use the word “discover” in connection with Portugal, we are immediately reminded of the leading role that Portugal played in the great Age of Discovery - a half a millennium and more, ago.  The spirit of discovery - of reaching out, of connecting and engaging, has long been a central part of Portuguese culture.       

It was here, on the Iberian peninsula, between the 8th and the 16th centuries, that the History of Al-Andalus was written - when Muslim administrations worked constructively with people of the Christian and the Jewish faiths, viewing a diversity of talents and energies as a source of strength – rather than a cause for division.

This pluralistic outlook has been reflected at many points throughout Portuguese history – and it has been powerfully expressed in the recent re-emergence of this country as an influential leader on the global stage.  I think of the strong roles played by Portuguese leaders at the United Nations, and UNESCO, at the European Commission, and - as of just last week - at the International Organization for Migration, to mention only a few examples. 

As I have travelled throughout the world in recent years, one of the most hopeful developments I have identified is the emergence of countries with the potential to become “Countries of Opportunity.”  And certainly Portugal has been earning a high place on that list.

To become a Country of Opportunity is not an easy matter, it is something that the people and the government of a nation must work at, creatively, patiently, and persistently.

A Country of Opportunity is one that builds on the strengths of its past, while also addressing its problems, embracing enduring values while respecting a variety of viewpoints.  Countries of Opportunity value legal structures that create a climate of predictability and confidence, an enabling environment for creative change. 

A Country of Opportunity is one that encourages cooperation among diverse interests, fostering partnerships between government and the private sector, for example, while also encouraging those private organisations that are designed to serve public goals, what we often call the institutions of civil society.

It is because of such factors that we can think today of Portugal as a Country of Opportunity, a country that seeks to honour both its past achievements and its future opportunities, to embrace both the gift of social stability and the promise of social progress.  And the Portuguese Parliament is to be commended for its role in that encouraging story.

My viewpoint on this matter is widely shared.  One example, is the Global Peace Index for 2018, a report for the Institute for Economics and Peace. The Global Peace Index measures some 23 economic, social and political factors which contribute to peaceful societies in 163 countries.  And it came as no surprise to see that, among all the nations in the world, Portugal is ranked in the top five.      

It was with these values in mind that we signed an historic agreement in Lisbon in 2015 - an Agreement to establish here a new Seat of the Ismaili Imamat.  This means that Lisbon, already a leading international crossroads city, will also now serve as a central connecting point for the global Ismaili community.  

After that Agreement was signed three years ago, it was approved by the Portuguese Parliament, and I am pleased to thank the Parliament today, in person, for that welcoming endorsement.

Of course, we can trace the story of Ismaili engagement with Portugal back many years - even to the time when Ismailis settled in Portuguese Territories in India in the 17th Century, or when later Ismaili settlers came to Mozambique.  Another milestone moment was the generous welcome that Portugal offered almost half a century ago to many Ismailis fleeing the Mozambiquan civil war.

Since that time, Ismaili ties to Portugal have multiplied.  The Aga Khan Foundation in Portugal was established in the mid-1980's.  In 1998 we created a new Ismaili Centre in Lisbon.  Protocols of Cooperation between the Imamat and Portugal were signed in 2005, in 2008, in 2009, and in 2016, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between the Aga Khan University and the Catholic University of Portugal.

The word momentum comes to mind!  What we celebrate today is an advancing sense of momentum - a spirit of progressive partnership between the Portuguese nation and the Ismaili Imamat.

Today, the Ismailis are a highly diversified community, living in more than 25 countries, mostly in the developing world, but with increasing numbers in Europe and North America.     

The Ismaili Imamat itself, as you may know, is an international institution that goes back some 15 centuries, to the time of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon Him and his Family).  This means that when I inherited my role just 61 years ago, I became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.  

Through the centuries, the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat has been formally designated in one or more locations by the Imam-of-the-Time, depending on the requirements of the day. It has known many homes over the years - throughout the Arabian Peninsula, in the Middle East, in South Asia, and in North Africa.  It moved to Cairo in the tenth century, when my ancestors founded that city.

The decision to establish a new Seat here in Portugal, at the gracious invitation of your Government, is one that has been taken after much reflection and consultation.  It represents a true milestone moment in the long history of the Imamat.

The authority of the Ismaili Imam is spiritual rather than temporal in nature.  At the same time, Islam believes fundamentally that the spiritual and material worlds are inextricably connected.  This means that the Imam-of-the-Time also has a responsibility for improving the quality of life - the quality of worldly life - for his people, and for the people among whom the Ismailis live.  It is to advance those responsibilities that so much of my attention over these sixty years has been committed not only to strengthening the Imamat’s capacities to fulfill its mandate,  but also to the work of what we now call the AKDN -  the Aga Khan Development Network.

The AKDN includes a variety of agencies working in the fields of economic development, education, health care, and cultural enrichment.  Our fundamental objective is to do whatever we can to help to improve the quality of human life.  And that is the spirit that will continue to inspire our partnership with the people and the Government of Portugal.

We know that the days ahead will be demanding ones, a time of profound global change.  Economic developments are bringing new prospects for influence in the Global East, and a new sense of hope in the Global South.  One new study suggests that two-thirds of the world’s growth in the next few years will be centered in the cities of the developing world. 

At the same time, new technologies of communication and transportation are inter-connecting the world more closely than ever before.

What will these new realities mean for all of us?  On the one hand, we must recognise, realistically, that our inter-connected world could bring about an increasing sense of suspicion, fear, and perhaps even vertigo as we look into the future.  Diverse peoples, sadly, can sometimes interpret their differences as threats rather than as opportunities, defining their own identity by those they are against, rather than what they are for.

On the other hand, closer interactions in our world will also produce wonderful new opportunities for creative cooperation, for healthy inter-dependence, for new discovery and inspiring growth.  When that happens, the opportunity to engage with people who are different from us need not be seen as a burden, but rather, as a blessing.  

The welcoming attitude is often described as a pluralistic outlook.  It was the animating concept behind one of our major AKDN projects, our establishment, together with the Government of Canada, of the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa.  Since its founding 12 years ago, the Centre has worked to advance what we all refer to as a Cosmopolitan Ethic. Fostering strong Cosmopolitan Ethic in our world is surely a central challenge of our time.

As we face that challenge, Portugal is a most encouraging example.  A Cosmopolitan Ethic has contributed abundantly to Portuguese culture in the past, and I know it will continue to animate this country’s future.  It is a value that we will deeply enrich with our continuing partnership, as we establish here in Lisbon, a city with a true global vision, a new Seat of the Imamat, a committed global institution.

The Ismaili Imamat will now be proudly moving some of its activities into the magnificent, historic Palacete Mendonça.  There we will establish our Department of Diplomatic Affairs and our Department of Jamati Institutions. We are already planning to host, here in Lisbon, next year’s meeting of the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism, as well as the inaugural Aga Khan Award for Music. And there will be much more to follow.

And so, our planning moves forward.   We know that we face a demanding future.  But as we engage with those demands, the Ismaili Imamat will draw strength from our continuing sense of partnership with the people and the Government of Portugal.

So let us, then, go forward together, bound by our shared past, committed to our shared values, and inspired by our shared hopes for a constructive, purposeful future.

Thank you.


""During this Jubilee year, I have visited Ismaili communities in many parts of the world.  And now the anniversary events come to a happy culmination here in Portugal, so graciously facilitated by the strong collaboration of the Portuguese diplomatic service abroad, and the civil service here in Lisbon.""

","English" "Opening of the Aga Khan Centre, London ","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2018-06-uk-rm3a9628-33_r.jpg","London, UK","Tuesday, 26 June 2018","1530025200","Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the opening of the Aga Khan Centre, London ","","speech","United Kingdom","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2018-06-uk-rm3a9628-33_r.jpg","Aga Khan University","","Education","


Your Royal Highness,
Lord Ahmad, Foreign Office Minister, Mr Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London,
The leadership of Camden,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen

What a pleasure it is to welcome you to this celebration!

We celebrate today a beautiful new architectural accomplishment.  As we do so, we also honour those who have made this Centre possible - and the values that have inspired their work.

Two of those values which deserve special mention today - the value of education as a force for cooperation and healing in our world - and the value of architecture as a source of inspiration and illumination.

Both of these values - education and architecture - have been significant in the life and work of today’s guest of honour, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.  As you know, Prince Charles’ commitment to creative education - through organisations such as the Prince’s Trust and the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts - has transformed the lives of countless young people from many backgrounds - over many years, and in many places.

Prince Charles has also consistently affirmed the transformative power of architecture - including the rich traditions of Islamic architecture.  You may know, for example, about his development of an award-winning Islamic garden at his home in Highgrove.

The value of education, of course, is at the heart of this project.  We are proud to open here a new home for two important educational institutions associated with the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamat.  One is the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations of the Aga Khan University.   The other is the Institute of Ismaili Studies.  The UK offices of the Aga Khan Foundation will also be located here. 

These institutions - through their teaching and research, their rich library and archival resources, as well as their tours and public programmes - will enrich the lives of people from the entire world.       

For those of us who have seen these institutions grow from infancy, it will be a special joy to see them pursue their mission from this beautiful setting. 

And what a mission it is!

One of the central challenges that faces our world today is the challenge of harmonising many highly diversified voices within an increasingly globalised world.

I use the word “harmonising” carefully - for our ideal here is not a chorus that sings in unison, but one that blends many distinctive voices into an intelligent, resonant whole.  But to do that requires a deep understanding of what makes each voice distinctive.  And that is the essential function of the educational endeavours that will make this place their home.

The challenge is particularly important in the area of religion – and it has been especially challenging for Islamic-Western relations.  For centuries, the Muslim and Western cultures were largely separated geographically – although there have been memorable periods of integration as well - on the Iberian Peninsula and in South Asia - among other places.  But those were hopeful exceptions to what some observers came, over time, to describe as an inevitable pattern of clashing civilisations.

When I came to my role as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community - just sixty years ago - I found it impossible to accept the notion of inevitably clashing civilisations.  My own early life experiences were in both worlds  – and so were those of millions of Muslim peoples.  So rather than talk about clashing civilisations, I began to talk - again and again, as some of you may recall - about a clash of ignorances.  And the assumption behind that phrase was that ignorance could yield to understanding through the power of education.

That continuing conviction is what brings me here today.  I believe that is what brings all of us here.

My strong expectation is that, from this new home, our education-oriented institutions will contribute powerfully to building new bridges of understanding across the gulfs of ignorance.

As that happens, one important source of inspiration will be the place from which these institutions will be working - and that brings us to the second value I mentioned earlier - the inspiring power of architecture. 

The places from which we look out at the world - and the places into which we welcome the world – can deeply influence how we understand ourselves - and our world.

And what place could be more ideal for both our educational hopes and our architectural enthusiasm than the place where we meet today - in the heart of London’s “Knowledge Quarter.”  King’s Cross is one of the central connecting points for a city which itself has been one of the great connecting points for the entire world. 

This place has been shaped by many diverse influences – and among them we now welcome the rich traditions of Islamic architecture.

One of those traditions - one that is appreciated by both the Islamic and the British cultures - is the special importance of the garden.  We see the garden not merely as an adjunct to other constructions, but as a privileged space unto itself.   

And that is why I have emphasised, since our role began here in 2010, my own hope that the value of garden spaces should be embraced here.  As we perambulate together through these spaces today, I trust that you will share my delight in seeing how that hope has been fulfilled.   

What we will see as we walk along are not only beautiful buildings - but also a unique series of gardens, courtyards and terraces - eight of them, in all, across our two buildings.  Each one of them, moreover, has a distinctive identity: each one is inspired by a different region of the Islamic Ummah.

Taken together, this winding ribbon of special spaces is an eloquent tribute to the rich diversity of the Muslim world. 

What they will make possible for those who walk these pathways, the people who will live and work here and public visitors as well, is a wonderful journey of refreshment and discovery.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, an extraordinary Islamic garden already exists in this part of the world, the one that Prince Charles created at his own home.  But, since it is something of a journey to get out to Gloucestershire, we thought we might save people the trip by locating something here!  For now they can actually see eight Islamic gardens right here in the heart of London!

As we open this remarkable site, it is a privilege to salute those who have brought us to this moment.  I would recognise, in particular, our fine relationship with the government of this borough, this city, and this country, as well as our rewarding partnership with the people at Argent.  We are grateful, as well, for the talents of Maki and Associates, Allies and Morrison, Madison Cox and Nelson Byrd Woltz, as well as Rasheed Araeen and the late Karl Schlamminger.  I would also like to thank our splendid team of staff and volunteers, including my brother Prince Amyn, who have stewarded this project to completion. 

And we especially salute the magnificent generosity of supportive donors from around the world.

Finally, as we open this building, I proudly welcome a guest whose commitment to the promise of inter-cultural education - and to the power of architecture - resonates ideally with the spirit of this place and this moment.

Ladies and gentlemen, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.

","speech_201726","","English" "Inauguration of the Sunder Nursery, New Delhi","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2018/india-sundernursery_sm03268_0.jpg","New Delhi, India","Wednesday, 21 February 2018","1519215300","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the inauguration of the Sunder Nursery, New Delhi","","speech","India","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","Historic Cities","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2018/_sm03268.jpg","Aga Khan Trust for Culture","","Historic Cities","


Honourable Vice President of India
Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital of Delhi
Honourable Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs
Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
Distinguished Guests

I am deeply honoured - and so very happy - to share with you in today’s ceremony.  I have followed the Sunder Nursery project with keen interest for many years – going back at least to the year 2000, when the Aga Khan Trust for Culture first undertook the restoration of the Gardens of Humayun’s Tomb, just next door.  

I also remember the day ten years ago when we signed - with the Government of India and its agencies - the Public-Private Partnership which has so effectively advanced this great cultural complex.  We signed that agreement in 2007, and our partnership over these past ten years has been remarkable.

Our deepest  gratitude goes out today to all of our partners - including the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Central Public Works Department, and the Archaeological Survey of India, as well as to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Embassy through the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.  Likewise, the hundreds of craftsmen – stone carvers, plasterers, masons and gardeners - deserve our warmest appreciation and recognition.

And I would also salute the memory of the late Professor M. Shaheer - who sadly is no longer with us.  Professor Shaheer worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for 18 years.  He was the landscape architect for our project here at Humayun’s Tomb, as well as restorations in Kabul and in Hyderabad.  His contribution to the Sunder Nursery project was immense -from the original master plan through to the detailed drawings.  We think gratefully of him today as we see the results of his planning.

The ground on which we stand has been a centre of cultural history for a very long time.  It was nearly seven centuries ago, for example, when the Sufi Saint, Nizamuddin Auliya, walked these paths and shared his teachings of universal love.  That same message of tolerance and humanity would soon infuse the splendid Mughal empire – also centred here - with its Grand Trunk Road passing through this very terrain.  From here, some one-quarter of the world’s population was once governed in a remarkably pluralistic, harmonious, spirit.  

It is in that same spirit of universal harmony that we dedicate these Gardens today.  For it is the Garden, down through history, that has often symbolised the harmonious interaction of Divine Blessing and Human Creativity.

This merging of Nature’s Gifts with Human Design is an ideal that is deeply embedded, of course, both in Indian culture and in Islamic traditions, with the flow of refreshing water reminding us of the abundance of Divine Blessing.   

The Sunder Nursery expressed these same values when it was created here - almost one century ago, in 1924.  The name, Sunder, itself, has its roots in ancient Sanskrit - often described as the world’s oldest language - where “Sunder” simply means “beautiful.”   

The purpose of the Sunder Nursery a century ago was to gather the most beautiful plant species from every corner of the British Empire - and then to share them with the rapidly developing city of New Delhi.

But even as we reflect on these rich traditions, we also know that they have sometimes been neglected.  Under pressure from exploding populations and shrinking budgets, too often crowded buildings have been squeezed into dense spaces – overlooking the importance of open greenery in healthy urban landscapes.  Some have suggested that open spaces are unproductive - or even wasteful - ignoring their aesthetic, recreational and economic potentials - as catalysts for tourism, for education, for community development and for sport.

To restore, create and revitalise beautiful green spaces has been a prime goal of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in recent years - with ten notable successes in places ranging from Cairo to Zanzibar, from Toronto to Kabul, from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Bamako in Mali – and, of course, here in India.

All of these projects were designed to honour the past – while also serving the future.  And it is with the future in mind that we now dedicate the Sunder Nursery as one of the world’s great public parks - open to all for recreation, for contemplation, for education, and for inspiration.
Just think of what a lively, energetic place this will be in the days and years to come.  Already, we are told, a vast array of birds and butterflies have made their new homes in these restored spaces.  And soon they will be joined by school children coming here to experience a variety of new micro-habitats, by scientists advancing their ecological research, by artists meeting audiences in the beautiful Garden amphitheatre, by historians and other visitors engaging with dozens of preserved historical monuments.   

As we think about this lively future, we also know one more thing:  our economic planning means that the Sunder Nursery will also be a self-sustaining entity.  

It will truly be - a gift from the past that will keep on giving - long into the future.

Thank you.  


","speech_195781","","English" "Inaugural Global Pluralism Award Ceremony","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2017/mhi_speech_-_no_watermark.jpg","Ottawa, Canada","Wednesday, 15 November 2017","1510755300","Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inaugural Global Pluralism Award Ceremony","Pluralism","speech","Canada","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/media/events/2017/mhi_speech_-_no_watermark.jpg","","","","


The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin
The Right Honourable Joe Clark
Friends of the Global Centre for Pluralism

What a great pleasure it is to join all of you in this wonderful celebration.

The extraordinary people we honour this evening have all demonstrated the same inspiring quality - the ability to respond creatively to the challenges of diversity.  At the same time, however, what is also most impressive tonight is the sheer diversity of their own particular stories.  As you may have noted, the three Pluralism Awardees come from three continents, and our Honorary Awardees come from seven additional countries.  But more than that, the nature of their work is itself truly multi-dimensional, as you will see as you learn about their accomplishments in more detail.

As you have heard, I am currently marking sixty years in the role I inherited in 1957.  This role has taught me a great deal about the challenges of pluralism - about the way those challenges can be met, but also the way those challenges are growing.  These are not new challenges, they are as old as the human race.  They include the human temptation to define our personal identities by what we are against - rather than what we are for.  They include the temptation to view difference, whenever it may appear, as something that might complicate one’s life, rather than as something that can enrich one’s life.  And they include the sometimes instinctive reaction that difference is a threat to be avoided rather than an opportunity to be embraced.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that pluralism requires them to dilute or de-emphasise their own distinctive identities.  That's not true. What it requires is to ensure that one’s individual identity is strong enough to engage confidently with those of other identities as we all walk together along the road to a better world.   

And as we walk together on that road, the example set by others can be a powerful source of inspiration—and that is why the Global Centre for Pluralism has established these awards.   Their essential purpose is to share the power of inspiring examples with an ever-wider Community of Pluralism all across our world, a Community that will then create a growing momentum for inclusion - rather than exclusion – as a way to respond to the changes of our world.

In many ways, the establishment of this Award follows the pattern of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture which was established several decades ago.  The final outcome of the Awards process is important, of course, but what is also important (both for Architecture - and now for Pluralism), is the far-reaching process  that  leads to the selection of our Awardees.  It is a process that engages, over a two-year period, scores - indeed hundreds - of dedicated individuals. It includes those who search for qualified nominees, those who explore and investigate, and who then reflect on the difference that pluralistic commitments can make in specific contexts, at specific moments, in specific places.  

It is one thing for us to talk about the general principles and theories of Pluralism.  But it is even more exciting to see, close up, what Pluralism can mean in practice.   

As I mention that process, I want to salute all who have participated in it -including the Selection Committee, and our Jury - led by former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark and including  His Worship Naheed Nenshi, Advocate Bience Gawanas, Dr. Dante Caputo and Madame Pascale Thumerelle.

I am also deeply pleased to be joined here tonight by the Right Honorable Beverly McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada.  I well recall her groundbreaking 2015 Pluralism Lecture in Toronto, when she reminded us that living harmoniously amid diversity demands, and I quote her, “great generosity of spirit and openness of mind.”

Those very qualities certainly characterise the Chief Justice herself.  Her leadership of the Supreme Court will be greatly missed when she retires at the end of this year.

It is my honour tonight to express to her our profound thanks for her powerful example, as I ask you to join me in welcoming her to this podium.

Thank you.


""Some people make the mistake of thinking that Pluralism requires them to dilute or de-emphasise their own distinctive identities.  That's not true. What it requires is to ensure that one’s individual identity is strong enough to engage confidently with those of other identities as we all walk together along the road to a better world.""

","English" "United Nations Foundation Award","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2017-10-usa-speech-un-01.jpg","New York, USA","Thursday, 19 October 2017","1508309100","Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the United Nations Foundation Award event","Civil society,Pluralism","speech","United States of America","","2010s","","","","6926","https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYP3dnV6Czw","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2017-10-usa-speech-un-01.jpg","","","","


President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák,
Secretary-General António Guterres,
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed,
Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
The many Permanent Representatives in attendance,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you so much Kofi Annan for your generous words of introduction.  There is no person alive today who has made a greater contribution to world peace than you, and thanks are due to you from all around the world.

It is a pleasure for me to share this beautiful evening with all of you, and what a special honor it is to be receiving from the United Nations Foundation its “Champion of Change Award.”   I must also say that it is a very humbling experience - especially as I look around this room at so many people who have truly been outstanding “Champions of Change” in so many fields of endeavour - including the others being honored tonight.  I am indeed humbled to be in their presence.   

I have come to know about the United Nations Foundation through our admired friend, Kofi Annan, who has been one of our “educators-in-chief” in spreading the good word about the UN Foundation - of which he is an extremely devoted and effective board member.

I am also an enthusiastic supporter of the UN Foundation for another reason.  What has caught my attention for many years is how closely its philosophy about global development actually parallels our own.  The words that leap out of its mission statements include terms like “linking” and “connecting…” not only with the United Nations itself, but with a host of other organisations.  Some of these are private, some are governmental, and some are private but not-for-profit.  I refer to this third category of institutions as “Civil Society” - by which I mean essentially private organizations that are fundamentally devoted to public purposes.

For a long time, political debate all around the world focused on the competing merits of government action versus private enterprise.  My conviction, which has deepened through the years, is that these are false alternatives - and that is the central message I would emphasize in these brief remarks tonight.  The question is not which sector can be most effective in the march towards progress - the central question is how these sectors can best become effective partners in this quest.

The concept of public-private partnerships has been one of the keys to the best work of our agencies, in many fields and many countries around the world in the last sixty years since I became the Imam of the Ismaili Muslim community.  The public-private partnership formula alone, however, is incomplete - unless we also insert the words “Civil Society.”  The partnerships that will most dramatically change the world are those in which all three components - private, public and civil society institutions can connect  - one with the other  - in all-embracing common effort.

When that happens, other concepts emphasised by the UN Foundation also come alive.  I have been impressed, for example, by the innovative terminology the Foundation uses in expressing its goals:  like these three dynamic words:  “Catalyzing” – “multiplier” – and “effects.”  Think about it.

The notion of “catalyzing multiplier effects” reflects a similar dynamic to what I refer to as  “trampoline” projects for development.  These projects are best-practice examples of balanced partnerships between governments, private entities and civil society, threaded together by innovative thinking, intelligent structures, and clear lines of communication.  Well-defined goals and responsibilities are essential, as is the buy-in of the target constituency.

Such projects offer the potential for long-range impacts, which go well beyond immediate, short-term results.

This goal is - to be candid - sometimes easier to talk about than to accomplish.  But one of the great global models of how best to pursue this aim has been the United Nations Foundation.

Another central part of our Aga Khan Development Network’s approach is one that we also share with the United Nations Foundation: an emphasis on what we call “countries of opportunity”.  The issue is to do what we must to set them alive by creating and sustaining an enabling environment.

And fundamental to all of this, of course, is a basic philosophical commitment which is expressed by another important word and that word is “pluralism”.  This is a frame of mind which regards diversity, multiplicity, and indeed difference itself - not as a burden nor a threat but as a gift - a Gift of the divine - an opportunity to learn rather than a danger to be avoided.

So - it is with all of these thoughts in mind that I say again how proud I am to be here to accept your award - recognising how it reinforces not only the important “words” but also the useful concepts, and indeed the central “values”- that we - all of us - hold in common.

Thank you very much.  


","speech_191436","","English" "Honorary Doctorate from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/cropped_dsc0001.jpg","Lisbon, Portugal","Thursday, 20 July 2017","1500565500","Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan upon receiving a doctorate honoris causa from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa","Education and knowledge society","speech","Portugal","","2010s","","","","6926","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/cropped_dsc0001.jpg","Aga Khan University,University of Central Asia","","Civil society,Education","


Your Excellency President Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Your Excellency Vice-President of the Parliament Jorge Lacão   
Honorable Rector of the NOVA University, Professor António Rendas
President of the NOVA University’s General Council, Professor Arantes e Oliveira 
Patron of the Doctorate, Francisco Pinto Balsemão
Members of the Diplomatic Corps 
Distinguished Guests

I am deeply honoured by this recognition from Universidade NOVA, and by the presence of so many of this country’s distinguished leaders, including the President of the Portuguese Republic.  I am grateful to Mr. Francisco Pinto Balsemão, as the Patron of the Doctorate, for his warm gesture and long friendship.  

The University may be young compared against the more than 700-year history of higher education in Portugal, but it has quickly developed a truly outstanding reputation for the quality of its teaching and scholarship, and for its pluralistic, global outlook – foundations that will last for centuries.

I have always felt at home in Portugal, and now ever more so since the signing in 2015 of an historic Agreement between the Ismaili Imamat and Portuguese Republic to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in this country – an important milestone in the 1,400-year history of the Ismaili Imamat.  It marks the culmination of our long and deep relationship here and one that will now deepen further.  While we work in 30 countries, we hold an enduring affinity for Portugal and its institutions, its history and its people.  And the historic Palacete Henrique Mendonca will become the most fitting host for the Seat.

Underpinning this partnership with Portugal is our admiration for the country’s pluralism and bridge-building initiatives with people from disparate cultures and faiths.  

In addition to Universidade NOVA’s significant and international partnerships, your student body now includes people from an impressive 103 countries!  Your principles are embodied within your motto, and I quote, “every city divided against itself shall not stand”.  The world would do well to adopt it. 

The University promotes sustainable development across a range of human activity, all working together to raise the quality of human life.  The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) also emphasises integrated approaches.  In Portugal, our urban community and early childhood programmes are particularly important in driving holistic results that transform lives, across a diversity of individuals and communities. 

You are purposeful about building partnerships; a true hallmark of an exceptional institution.  Some of your partners are also ours, for example Catholica University and Gulbenkian Foundation.  Another example is an innovative partnership between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic, supporting research here and in Africa. And I would also mention our work with the Agrarian Institute of Bilibiza in Mozambique to strengthen agriculture, which now seeks partnerships in Portugal. It is clear that the production of food is a critical issue for the destiny of all African countries.

Universities are important civil society institutions, and it is essential to focus on their role in the years ahead.  The AKDN has two universities that, like yours, are relatively new. The Aga Khan University, started in 1983, promotes standards for healthcare and education in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.K. and across East Africa.  More recently we started an institution in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.  In naming it, we sought to signal local roots and the word “new” or “NOVA” Aga Khan University did not sound quite right!  We called it University of Central Asia. Indeed, Portugal’s emphasis on learning and knowledge aligns with Islam’s emphasis on these areas.

I reiterate in closing my profound appreciation for our partnership, and for honouring me and by extension the Ismaili Imamat and the AKDN, especially as this honour comes during my Diamond Jubilee year, marking 60 years as the 49th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims worldwide.

Our commitment to Portugal reflects our deep respect for this country and our deep affection for its people.   
Thank you.

","speech_187261","","English" "Opening of the first cardiac catheterisation laboratory at the Aga Khan Hospital, Mombasa","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2017-06-kenya08-aai_1688.jpg","Mombasa, Kenya","Tuesday, 13 June 2017","1497024900","Speech by H.E. Margaret Kenyatta at the opening of the first cardiac catheterisation laboratory at the Aga Khan Hospital","","speech","Kenya","","2010s","","","","179271","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/gallery/2017-06-kenya08-aai_1688.jpg","Aga Khan Health Services","","","

Princess Zahra Aga Khan
Development partners
Distinguished Guest Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning,

It is such a pleasure to be here this morning to join you in launching an initiative that will save thousands of Kenyan lives.

I am happy to be reacquainted with so many of you dear friends, and the Aga Khan family who together over the past four years have partnered with me to improve the lives of mothers and children of Kenya.

Today we have gathered to witness the launch of a historical and innovative investment of state of the art cardiac catheterisation laboratory, the latest in Kenya and the first of its kind outside Nairobi.  

For this, I extend my deepest gratitude to Princes Zahra, the Aga Khan Development Network and the partners involved in this important initiative that will expand access to quality diagnostic, timely and accurate treatment not only to the Coastal communities, but the entire country.

I applaud the Aga Khan Development Network for its strategic investment of US$ 1million to not only deliver health services access closer to the communities through the establishment of more health facilities. This new facility offload the existing pressure on Referral Hospitals and medical specialists.

We have heard that coronary artery disease has been projected to take over as the leading cause of mortality in Sub Sahara Africa, and sadly, the vulnerable communities continue to bear the brunt of this disease. In Kenya, more than 3,000 avoidable deaths occur annually mostly affecting the younger generation, who are the productive segment of our country.

Dealing with this new phenomenon requires an aligned vision, cultivation of reliable and strong partnerships between the public sector, professionals, development partners and the private sector.  Kenya has spent the last decade addressing the issue of quality healthcare access. The progress in this effort is laudable and will continue to be the focus over the next decade.

In my journey with the Beyond Zero initiative, travelling across all 47 counties, I agonised over the despair and cost that families face due to limited access, financial barriers and limited information on preventative care. But I have also witnessed the invaluable pivotal role that partnerships play in positively impacting communities and complimenting the Governments effort to expand access to quality, timely and affordable healthcare.  Which is why I am so thrilled to be part of this partnership today that will have a direct bearing on targeting poor households and vulnerable citizens. 

This visionary hospital project that will be rolled out in the next two years promises to offer many Kenyans readily available and improved diagnostic treatment, as well as offer training for medical professionals and research.  And I am confident that together we will find the right approach to increase public awareness and develop practical and sustainable solutions to treatment for cardiovascular diseases.

With those few remarks, it is now my pleasure to declare the Cardiac Catheterisation Lab at the Cardiology Centre officially launched.

Thank you.

","speech_186631","","English" "Foreign Policy Association Medal to His Highness the Aga Khan","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2017-05-usa-mcnee-dsc_3084.jpg","New York, USA","Monday, 29 May 2017","1493796600","Speech by Mr. McNee, on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan, upon receipt of the Foreign Policy Association Medal","Pluralism","speech","United States of America","","2010s","","","","186381","","","1","","1","","","","","","","","","","","","","","https://d1zah1nkiby91r.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/2017-05-usa-mcneedsc_3079_r.jpg","","","","


Thank you Alex Lawrie for such a generous introduction.

It is wonderful for Sue and me to be back in New York and among so many friends.

It is a great honour to receive this prestigious Medal on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan and the Global Centre for Pluralism. His Highness asked me to convey his deep appreciation to the Board of the Foreign Policy Association and to Noel Lateef, its President. He has been a real admirer of the FPA since he was an undergraduate at Harvard.

Many of you may not know much about the Aga Khan. He is both a faith leader—he is the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims—and a major global philanthropist who has devoted his life to making the world a better place for all, regardless of faith or ethnicity. In the last decade, he has founded two major new institutions in Canada—the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa in partnership with the Government of Canada and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, a spectacular new museum that showcases his family’s collection of Islamic art.

I am delighted that leaders of the Ismaili community in the US are here at this wonderful dinner.

I am honoured to be here tonight with Dr David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He has achieved great things as president of Cornell and now at the Smithsonian. It is very flattering and fitting that the Global Centre for Pluralism should be recognised alongside the Smithsonian. Our mandates intersect: the Smithsonian is all about explaining and communicating the rich strands of American history and culture. The Global Centre for Pluralism is about respecting and, indeed, celebrating diversity, in the United States, in Canada and globally.

As His Highness has said:
""Diversity is not a reason to put up walls, but rather to open windows. It is not a burden, it is a blessing. In the end, of course, we must realise that living with diversity is a challenging process. We are wrong to think it will be easy. The work of pluralism is always a work in progress.""

Now, behavioural science has long taught that the best solutions emerge when people of different experiences and perspectives are brought together to solve a problem. It is the same in societies. As Tom Friedman has persuasively argued in his latest book, Thank You For Being Late, in the 21st century the countries that will be most successful will be those which value their diversity.

Our thesis is that every society in the contemporary world is diverse in some way, whether social, linguistic, ethnic, tribal or religious diversity. This is true for all continents --for Africa and Asia, North and South America and Europe – and for developing countries, the emerging powers and industrialised countries alike.

If that diversity is accommodated and valued, it will lead to greater prosperity and peace. But, the opposite holds true, too: if diversity is seen as an element of weakness or division, it leads to discord and negative social outcomes