In October 1957 Nairobi speech, His Highness the Aga Khan asked younger generation to stand by the faith of their forefathers and meet future challenges in the spirit of humility and tolerance

Prepared and compiled by ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher/Editor Barakah, Simerg and Simergphotos; .com)

Commencing this week, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, at the invitation of the Kenyan Government will arrive in the country to engage in activities related to initiatives of the Ismaili Imamat as well as to celebrate his Diamond Jubilee with Ismailis living in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Namibia, South Africa, Malagasy Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We present the following historical speech he made on October 22, 1957 in Nairobi on the occasion of his Takhtnashini or ceremonial installation. Similar symbolic coronation ceremonies were also held in Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Karachi and Mumbai following his succession to the Hereditary Throne of Imamat on July 11, 1957 at the age of 20.


October 22, 1957: The Aga Khan’s Takhtnashini speech, followed by an audio recording of proceedings and video of arrival in Nairobi


Aga Khan IV., Prinz Karim - Imam der Ismaeliten, GB
His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims (Copyright. 1960 photo by Ullstein bild via Getty Images).

Your Excellencies, Your Highnesses, Your Worship, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, My Spiritual Children

I am most grateful for your kind address. On behalf of the Ismaili community and myself, I would like to thank all those in Nairobi who have contributed to such a wonderful welcome here.

I have been very moved by everyone’s kindness, especially by the hospitality given me by His Excellency the Governor and Lady Baring.

How beautiful your city is looking! The decorations along the streets and here on this ground are truly magnificent. I remember Nairobi as a boy and most of you know how much it has changed since the war. Yet this is only a symbol of the still greater changes which are taking place throughout Kenya.

Under the guidance of His Excellency Sir Evelyn Baring, Kenya is developing fast and prospering today as never before in its history. If wise counsels continue to prevail, if the people here face their problems with mutual forbearance, still greater prosperity and expansion will lie before you.

Please click on image for endearing stories of His Highness the Aga Khan and Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan during their childhood years in Kenya.

Never before in the history of man has there been such an age of technical progress. Only thirty years ago, it was an adventure to fly in an aeroplane. Today, there are machines that travel faster than sound. Before long the oceans will be scattered with atomic-powered ships travelling on and beneath the sea. New and undreamt of changes in the means of transport and communication lie in the future.

All of this will create new markets and new fields of enterprise for Africa. Fresh outlooks and unforeseen influences will follow in their train. It is most important for the future of this country that the various races face these changes together and with mutual understanding.

How do we Ismailis fit into this picture? Our faith keeps us a united community. This is essential to our spiritual welfare. But in every other way, you must remember that you are citizens of Kenya. It is to this government that you owe allegiance.

Although as a community the Ismailis will never be involved in politics, individually they may well play a constructive part in their country’s political developments. Some of your leaders here are doing this with great distinction. They should remember above all how important it is to encourage and promote good relations among the different races who live here together.

The Aga Khan Platinum Jubilee Hospital was built with funds raised by the Ismaili community, together with a contribution from the Kenya Government, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the installation of His Highness Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah as the Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili community.

Let me give you a practical example. Behind, you can see the structure of a great new hospital which is almost completed. It will be one of the best equipped hospitals in East Africa. Half of it has been paid for by the Ismaili community and half by the Government. It will be, like our schools, available for all races. I hope that this will be only one of many other ventures in which the spirit of partnership will always prevail.

The years of development and change which lie ahead are certain to throw up many new problems. We should not be afraid of these. You will surely surmount them if you stand by your faith and meet your difficulties in the spirit of humility and tolerance that your religion demands of us. This is specially important for the younger generations who will have to carry the future on their shoulders.

Only the Faith of your fathers can sustain you and enable you to live in peace here, in this world, and the next.


British Pathe Video: The Aga Khan’s arrival in Nairobi for his Ceremonial Installation


Audio recording of the proceedings of the installation ceremony, with Aga Khan’s speech

Date posted: April 10, 2018.


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This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan as he celebrates his Diamond Jubilee or 60 years of Imamat.

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