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  • Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Academy Maputo on 19 March 2022.
    AKDN / Akbar Hakim
Speech by President of the Portuguese Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

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

His Excellency Prince Rahim Aga Khan,

His Excellency President Joaquim Chissano,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Young students of this Academy,

I was here in January 2020, when the Academy was being set up, and I stopped for a while to talk to the students of the Academy and we talked about its present and its future. The Academy was not yet the reality that we have today in front of our eyes. It was the beginning of a work. Today, we have the beginning of the future of that work. I told you then what I will say again here today, that the Academy is a unique opportunity in your life. It is a privileged opportunity in your life, because it corresponds to the vision of His Highness the Aga Khan. A vision that was passed on to His Highness Prince Rahim. And it is a vision made up of humanism, of respect for the person, for the dignity of the person, of each concrete person, of flesh and blood, of his difference, of his own path, of his life that is also diverse, and that corresponds to what is a very rich way of living Islam. It is a vision of Islam that considers that there is an intimate link between faith and social action. Humanism results from that dignity of the divine creation of the human person and that is why it is universal; that is why it is tolerant, that is why it is dialoguing, that is why it is open and inclusive, and that is why everyone fits in it. I often carry with me a quotation from the Qu’ran, which says: "The gifts of your Lord reach everyone. The gifts of your Lord will not be denied to anyone." It is an openness to all religions, to those without religion, to all positions, in all parts of the world. It is that vision that inspires the entire Aga Khan Development Network, for economic and social progress, that inspires this Academy. It has inspired the message of the Aga Khan Network all over the world: in education, health, social solidarity, support to those in need, brotherhood, dialogue, the meeting of cultures and civilisations. We, in Portugal, know this reality. In Portugal there is a strong Ismaili Community, a Community that has been the bearer of this message of humanism and brotherhood.

Here, in Mozambique, this message has been known for as long or longer. With an Ismaili Community that is also very strong, very dynamic and very courageous. And this Academy is, in its own way, the recognition of the importance of that Community. And that is why the Presidents of the two States are here representing the two Peoples. The President of Mozambique attests to the strength and the future of a great homeland, and a homeland that is generous, that is open, that likes to give more than receive. And the President of Portugal, who shares the same values and principles, in an atmosphere of fraternity, and it is during the visit of the President of Portugal to Mozambique that we can meet here together to thank His Highness Prince Rahim for his message, which is also a message of the future, because it is the continuation of a legacy, because it is the continuation of a past, because it is the building of a future. But today, we are not really important at this celebration, neither President Nyusi, nor President Rebelo de Sousa, nor President Chissano, who was so important at the emergence of the idea, nor even His Highness Prince Rahim; important are these young women and men who are here. They are the raison d'être of the Academy, there is no Academy without students, there is no Academy without Youth. And what I want to tell you, continuing the conversation of two years ago, before the pandemic, what I want to tell you 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 all continents, in all countries would like to be able to attend an Academy like this. That is a great responsibility on your shoulders. Those who are privileged, who receive more, have to give more to others. One's happiness can only be built with others and by others and for others. And the only way to make up for the millions that do not come here and never will, is to be the best you can be, the most you can be. You have to be the best, you have to be the best to respond to this opportunity that others do not have. The best at studying, the best at learning, the best at communicating, the best at learning to live with others who are different, to respect them, and then the best to build Mozambique, the best to build Mozambique. A Mozambique that is open to all religions, to those who have no religion, to all opinions, to all dreams, to all projects for the future, that is your duty.

His Highness Prince Rahim came here to say that the Aga Khan's message enabled the construction of this Academy, but it will only be a success if it is a success in the life of each and every one of those who pass through here. I wish you all the happiness in the world, because this happiness is the happiness of Mozambique. If there is happiness in Mozambique, there is happiness in Portugal. There is happiness in Africa. There is happiness in the whole world. What each one of us does in our lives impacts the whole world. It is your duty to learn from the message of His Highness the Aga Khan, today the message of His Highness Prince Rahim Aga Khan: Serve everyone, starting by serving Mozambique more and better.