Nairobi, Kenya

May 10, 1961

(Speeches. Vol.2 pg.65-67)

His Royal Highness Prince Aga Khan on 10 May 1961, speaking as a guest speaker, told the Nairobi Lions Club that he had never thought that it would be possible to create a multi-racial political system in Kenya. "Once independence is achieved, the real and ultimate authority in any truly democratic system is bound to be African" He said.

He went on: "This doesn't exclude the possibility of European or Asian representation in one form or another. Tanganyika is showing that this is completely possible. But it does mean that once the cards are down, the African will have the last word and personally I see no objection at all. This is the real meaning of Uhuru and the sooner we accept this fact and understand its meaning the better it will be for Kenya."

"However what was possible," said the Aga Khan, "was a multi-racial society, in which individual rights would be upheld and respected. Kenya was going through a difficult transitional stage when the foundations of political power were shifting.

In such circumstances, the only thing I can suggest which has brought results in My own community is that one should base one's political plans on a certain assumption and the first most important is that this country will be ruled by an African Government. A Government which I am sure will recognize the legitimate rights of those who have emigrated here, made their homes and contributed so much to the fantastic progress in a country where modern civilization is only 50 years old."

His Royal Highness said he sympathised with Africans who said they were given an insufficient voice in the management of business and industry in Kenya. But He said the answer was by no means to engage in what He was told was sometimes a desperate search for an African to appoint to the board of management. It is even more important and certainly more valuable in the long run to make conscious and consistent effort to train Africans for managerial posts from one's own staff. He cited an example where this worked successfully - "Taifa leo" a sister paper to the "Daily Nation." "It was," said the Aga Khan, "produced, published and put to bed by Africans and there was practically no control by any other person in the company."

He went on, "The mainly European or Asian businesses cannot exist in isolation from the main political and social trends of the country. They must become part of it. That calls for considerable imagination, perseverance and patience but please do not imagine that I under-estimate the difficulties. I simply believe they have to be overcome."

His Royal Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan said that His second main point was that Kenya needed more enterprise from the "free enterprisers." "Times," He knew "were hard, and there was a shortage of capital and a reluctance in the country to make long-term plans when the short-term future seemed so uncertain. He declared, "But if we wait for something to happen, nothing will happen. Somebody has got to take his courage in his hands and say to himself - I believe in this country and I am going to do something about it.

"I think I can honestly say that My own community has set a sound example. My people look upon themselves as Kenyans. They know that the future will bring big changes, but this has not deterred them from building schools, hospitals, new buildings and creating new businesses. I am convinced that those who can show financial courage now will certainly reap their rewards in the future. Much of this had been made possible because the community believed in self-help." He didn't want to suggest that any single firm, no matter how big could do it alone.

To make the Kenya economy flourish, action should be taken on the widest possible base and all should be represented. It wouldn't be enough to sit back and wait for foreign trade delegations to bring capital or decide whether to establish businesses in Kenya. Substantial sums of money were said to be just around the corner. But if foreign firms came to Kenya, it was because there were business opportunities in the country. "Is this something we cannot trun to our own advantage?" He asked. "Should we not send our own delegations abroad led not by politicians but by businessmen?" He hoped Mr. Ngala's Finance Minister would be able to encourage industry by tax reliefs and cited a case of several printing firms, with the means to print paper-back books but which couldn't, because the tax meant that imported books were cheaper.

He concluded, "The voice of business has been some what subdued. Now is the moment when it should speak up and offer practical suggestions to some of Kenya's difficulties."

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