Speech By H.H. The Aga Khan in Uganda at the Jamatkhana - 1957-10-25
Your Excellencies, Your Highnesses, Your Worship, Ladies and Gentlemen, My spiritual children
I thank you most warmly for your kind addresses. I shall never forget the wonderful welcome I have had in Kampala, not only from my own people, but from all other communities that live here.
His Excellency, Sir Frederic Crawford and Lady Crawford have been most kind and hospitable, and I am sincerely grateful to them.
It has also been a very special pleasure for me to renew old family ties of friendship with His Highness the Kabaka of Buganda. His Highness has received me here with every courtesy and kindness. I look forward to meeting him again during my stay and I hope on many future occasions.
Finally, I must congratulate all those who have worked to make these celebrations a success. As you all know, I felt it desirable to change the arena of this ceremony at very short notice. Some of our community members have been working day and night to achieve this transformation and this is a great tribute to their devotion.
The procession last night was a wonderful and most moving spectacle. I congratulate the police on the good-humoured way they controlled such large and exuberant crowds.
Today's ceremony is of a very different nature. We are assembled on the holy grounds of the Jamatkhana for an installation whose significance is entirely religious. The position which I occupy as Imam of Shia Imami Ismailis here in Uganda and in other countries all over the world beneath the flags of many nations, with widely different forms of government, is not and never will be a political one.
The Ismaili community in Uganda is closely knit. This is essential for your spiritual welfare. But apart from your religious faith, your allegiance in all other matters must be to your local and provincial authorities and, through them, to the government of Uganda as a whole.
Apart from the Ismaili community, there are a million or more African Muslims in this territory. Through the Muslim Welfare Society, my grandfather took a deep interest in their spiritual and social welfare. As Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili sect, I pledge myself to do all I can to continue this important work.
Yesterday, I visited the magnificent new Aga Khan educational institution. I was shown enough of its work to convince me that this school compared with the finest in the world. One event which I witnessed was a boxing match between two Ismaili boys -- one African, one Asian. I saw a good fight and at the end I think each of them thought he had won. Perhaps both were right!
To me, this friendly contest reflected something of tremendous importance to our community. It reflected first the qualities of determination and endurance which are demanded by our faith. These qualities are also necessary to the future leaders of the community and for the country as a whole.
At the end of this sporting event, the two boys shook hands and stood together to be photographed. To me this symbolized the partnership between different races which I am convinced is the only condition of peace and prosperity.
Uganda is a predominantly African state and when it becomes autonomous, the government will, I understand, be mainly African. If this is accepted by the other races, and provided they in their turn are given a legitimate role in the development of the country they seek to serve, Uganda will prosper as never before. If, on the other hand, the different races fall out and quarrel, there will be no confidence, foreign capital will not be attracted, development will be slowed, and the country's progress impeded in every way. This is why I most strongly urge the Ismaili community to work hand in hand with all other citizens.
Finally, I would like to speak of your spiritual welfare. We think a great deal today of material advancement. In Uganda, most of our community is prospering. This is a tribute to its skill and industries -- particularly to the wise advice and guidance it received from my beloved grandfather.
But wealth is not all that matters. Our religion teaches us that a spirit of humility and devotion is of first importance. You must work together with mutual forbearance and with respect for each other. Only thus shall we achieve the harmony and happiness which is necessary for the true advancement of our faith.