March 1, 1981

First Noorani Family Visit to Jamath

For the Jamaths of Kenya who had been preparing for months in advance, this mulakat was special. They were jubilant, for this was to the first time that Mowlana Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba were coming to Kenya accompanied by the Noorani children, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Prince Hussein. They were also to be accompanied by Mowlana Hazar Imam's sister, Princess Yasmin. It was an event for which each and every spiritual child, young and old was waiting.

On Sunday 1st March 1981, Mowlana Hazar Imam arrive at Jomo Kenyatta Airport with Princess Yasmin. He had been preceeded a few days earlier by Begum Salimah, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Prince Hussein. At the airport to receive Mowlana Hazar Imam was Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Robert Ouko and the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Elijah Mwangale, as well as the leaders of Nairobi Jamath. Dr. Ouko welcomed Mowlana Hazar Imam on behalf of President Moi and urged him to feel at home during his stay in Kenya. On the morning of March 2, 1981, Mowlana Hazar Imam who had been invited by the International Press Institute (IPI) to deliver the keynote address to their 30th General Assembly, arrived at the Kenyatta Conference Centre. Hazar Imam was greeted by Mr. Cushrow Irani, Chairman of IPI and Mr. Peter Galliner, Executive Director. Few minutes later, President Moi arrived and the speakers were escorted to the platform to open the assembly.

Addressing representatives of the world's leading newspapers and news agencies, Hazar Imam urged the twinning of newpapers. "We have all heard of twin cities", he said, proposing twin publishing companies between industrial and developing countries, "these could provide mutual beneficial and editorial experience and news".

Following the IPI address, Hazar Imam commenced his busy schedule in Kenya which included visits to his various social welfare institutions and meetings with executive members of the IPS Kenya, IPS Pakistan, TPS and various Health and Education Service Companies, officials of the Aga Khan Foundation, Kenya and members of the Board of Governors of the many Hospitals and Schools throughout Kenya. This was coupled with performing religious ceremonies for the Jamaths from Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu which were held at the Parkland's Complex in Nairobi; Diamond Jubliee Hall in Mombasa and the Aga Khan Hall in Kisumu.

Elaborate preparation in each centre included the setting up of facilities for the large number of people from Kenya. Special nursery facilities for as many as 500 children were set up. They were manned by voluntary workers who catered for the children's food, health care and amusement. Medical centres with in-patient and intensive care units were set up. "The enthusiasm to serve was so overwhelming and spontaneous", said Dr. Nizar Virjee of the Nairobi Health Committee, "that we did not need to keep a roster of services". Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and para-medicals all came forward to provide the Jamath with the best medical services available.

On Thursday March 5, 1981, thousands of eager murids from Nairobi and other areas of Kenya (including various overseas Jamaths) gathered at the Parkland complex. They had waited for hours to get a glimpse of the Noorani Family. Among the members of the Jamaths were various elder people who remembered with great happiness the 1940's when Mowlana Hazar Imam as a young boy spent his childhood in Nairobi with Prince Amyn Mohammed. To them this mulakat, unlike any other, was a moment of great significance and joy. To all present, it was one of the most happy and exciting events of their lives for they were the first Jamath in the world to be granted this priviledge. In the words of Count Sir Eboo Pirbhai, "no words can express our profound joy and happiness to be granted the priviledge of meeting Iman-e-Zaman accompanied by the Noorani Family".

With his family by his side, Mowlana Hazar Imam express his happiness on this ocassion and recalled the time when as a young boy he had recited the Idd Namaz in the Darkhana Jamathkhana in Nairobi. "I was somewhere between the ages of Prince Rahim and Prince Hussein". Describing how happy he was, he said this mulakat was "just as exceptional an ocassion for me as it is for you". The Jamaths expressed their gratitude to Iman-e-Zaman for his guidance and devotion (for their upliftment). Hazar Imam blessed the Jamaths and wished them joy, unity, happiness and progress in their spiritual and material welfare. After Nairobi, the Noorani Family visited the Jamaths in Mombasa, after which Mowlana Hazar Imam visited Kisumu.

At Mombasa, Mowlana Hazar Imam was met at the airport by Mayor Rajab Sumba, his deputy Councellor, Ahmed Mwidani, Goverment Officials, Chairman of the Council and Leaders of the Jamath. During the following two days, Mowlana Hazar Imam performed religious ceremonies and made an extensive tour of the Aga Khan Hospital, while Begum Salimah accompanied by Princess Yasmin visited the Aga Khan Nursery and Primary School. Hazar Imam aslo visited Kenya Secondary School and the Aga Khan Schools where he emphasized education as "one of the foundations of development".

In Kisumu, which was the final stage of this mulakat, Mowlana Hazar Imam performed various religious ceremonies after which he visited the school and the medical centre. The Mayor Ezra Gumbe, conferred on Hazar Imam the Honorary citizenship of the city and praised Hazar Imam for his philanthropy and unstinted contribution to the country. During his 18 day mulakat, Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba visited all the major social welfare insitutions. Emphasizing the role of manpower, Mowlana Hazar Imam said that, "it is not bricks and mortar that make the institutions, but the people who run them". Imam's concern with every aspect of development was a source of encouragement and renewed incentive for all the people involved in running the various institutions.

On the morning of the 18th, Mowlana Hazar Imam left Jomo Kenyatta Airport for Europe. To see him off at the airport were the Mayor of Nairobi, Nathan Kahara, and various leaders of the Jamath. There was a note of sadness in the air as the past 18 days had been days of extreme happiness and had passed so quickly. But in leaving the Jamath, Hazar Imam made an important announcement.

Kenya is to have a major five year $13.5 million health development program for the expansion of health services in the various hospitals in Mombasa, Nairobi and Kusumu. The Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi will have the first cardiac unit in the country as well as an entirely new private wing of 50 beds, including VIP units conforming to the highest international standards, while at Mombasa and Kisumu expansion will include a new pediatric ward and a completely new operation theatre.

Africa Ismaili

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