You are here

You are here

Speech center

Title Audio Image Location 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 Year 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
Speech by Mr Carlos Moedas 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 // 1 Université Aga Khan 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 realized 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.

speech_230336 <p>"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?"</p> English
Address by President Firoz Rasul 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 // 1 Université Aga Khan 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.

speech_230321 <p>"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."</p> English
Aga Khan Music Awards prize-giving ceremony at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 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 // 1 Aga Khan Music Awards,Trust Aga Khan pour la 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.

speech_229451 <p dir="RTL">"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".</p> English
Aga Khan Music Awards prize-giving ceremony at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 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 // 1 Aga Khan Music Awards,Trust Aga Khan pour la culture AKMA,Aga Khan Music Awards Culture


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.

speech_229426 <p>“The technological forces that are reshaping 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.”</p> English
Inaugural event of the Aga Khan Music Awards Lisbon, Portugal Saturday, 30 March 2019 1553891400 Remarks by Dr Isabel Mota, President of the Gulbenkian Foundation Culture speech Portugal 2010s 229491 1 Aga Khan Music Awards,Trust Aga Khan pour la culture AKMA 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.

speech_229276 <p dir="rtl">"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".</p> English
Inaugural event of the Aga Khan Music Awards 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 Aga Khan Music Awards,Trust Aga Khan pour la culture AKMA 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.

speech_229266 <p dir="RTL">"لطالما كانت الموسيقى فناً ذا أهمية خاصة بالنسبة لي: إن قدرتها على التواصل مميزة وعظيمة وشاملة، فهي تربط بين الناس وتوحّدهم".</p> English
Opening of the phase II expansion of the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam 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 Aga Khan Health Services Serviços Aga Khan para a Saúde 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,
Ambassador Clavier,
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 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 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.


"I want my institutions to look to the future", His Highness the Aga Khan.
Laurence von der Weid

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 Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, 14 February 2019 1550139300 Speech by Dr. Amina Mohamed, Ministry of Education at the AKU Convocation ceremony in Nairobi speech Kenya 2010s 226401 1 Université Aga Khan 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.
  • We are engaging partners to expand our pool of intellectual-exchange with other high-powered universities in the world.
  • In March 2019, I will lead a delegation of 10 local University Vice-Chancellors to the United Kingdom to meet and engage with 10 United Kingdom based institutions’ Vice Chancellors in a first of its kind, active collaborative project. It is my hope that this carefully thought-through process will offer an opportunity for our local universities to find ways of engaging with counterparts in the United Kingdom particularly, in the fields of research and innovation.
  • I have also extensively engaged with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in a series of discussions that will broaden sino-Kenyan relations in the field of higher education. Several institutions including the University of Nairobi and Dedan Kimathi University of Science and Technology have benefitted from this collaboration.
  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.
  • In order to continuously sustain the uptake of government sponsored students into universities and TVETs, the government has enhanced HELB financing to 13.5B and is sourcing more funds to enhance this allocation for uptake of more students.
  • The placement exercise is currently under-way until Saturday 23 February 2019. Candidates who wish to apply or revise their choices are therefore encouraged to visit the KUCCPS website for more information.
  • In order to support government initiative to place more students into the TVET sector, applications from candidates who sat their national examinations from the year 2000-2018 will be considered. This will provide a window of opportunity for broader skills acquisition to support the nation’s development priorities and reinforce the dignity of the individual through education and dignified livelihoods.

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.


speech_226396 <p dir="RTL">"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.&nbsp;<span dir="RTL">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".</span></p> English
AKU 15th Convocation ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya 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 Université Aga Khan 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.


speech_226381 <p dir="RTL">"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.</p><p dir="RTL">إلى جانب ذلك، دعمنا القدرات وإنتاج معارف جديدة، وهذا مؤشر إلى نمو شبكتنا الصحية وتطورها لتلبية احتياجات كينيا المتغيّرة".</p> English