McLuhan's "Global Village" is now a reality. In this global village, there are many residents, but few true leaders. Today, one of these visionaries, the spiritual head of Shia Imami Ismailis, His Highness the Aga Khan, is visiting Tanzania. He is officially opening one of the investments of his Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) in Zanzibar, but his visit represents much more than that. His Highness is acknowledged as a "Universal Man." His Ismaili followers are spread around the world, and are known for their modern demonstration of the traditional precepts of love and brotherhood and respect for all other peoples and religions.
His Highness himself is a rare individual. His insight, compassion, benevolence, and personal charm are matched by his perceptiveness, inscrutability, discipline, and accountability to society. His love for his people is legendary, and all who know him respect and adore him. The concerns of His Highness extend beyond the narrow definition of religion or his followers, however, and into every aspect of society. Many people, regardless of their religious moorings, look to the future with hope becasue of the development institutions nurtured by His Highness. The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) extends meaningful service in support of health, education, sanitation, rural development, refugeee relief, child care, housing and many other worthwhile development causes. A foundation in compassion, yet pragmatism in formulation and completeness in execution, are the hallmarks of AKDN projects. And a unique feature of the AKDN is that its activity is as much supported by volunteerism and selfless service as it is by paid, high calibre managers. Many global NGOs learn the basic lessons in professionalism and good governance from Aga Khan institutions. Tanzania is privileged to have a special place in the heart of the Aga Khan.
His Highness has believed in Africa, and in Tanzania, even when the socio-political envioronment has not been supportive. His investments in East Africa over the past few decades have boosted the economy in areas as diverse as tourism and fisheries, printing and publications, agroprocessing and engineering, and banking and insurance. These investments are characterised by a long term development spirit and perspective, to be profitable and of positive benefit to the people of the region. Empowerment, through economic and social development, is a natural outcome of the AKDN and AKFED activities. We at The Express acknowledge the tremendous contribution that the Aga Khan, his institutions and his followers have made to Tanzanian society. On this occasion, and on behalf of the Tanzanian people, we welcome you, your Highness, and we pray for a healthy and long life to you in service to Tanzania and humanity.