ASIA SCENE: Ismaili Kenya arts festival

Wednesday March 18 2020

A contestant at the auditions shows her performance skills. PHOTO| ALLAUDIN QURESHI


A unique festival that is designed to encourage a deeper appreciation of the artistic expressions within the Ismaili community has captured the imagination of our culturally awake showgoers in the past couple of weeks.

The Ismaili Kenya Arts Festival 2018 has been launched as the community commemorates 60 years (Diamond Jubilee) since His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan became the 49th hereditary Imam.

Ismaili artists and performers from the regions that fall under the jurisdiction of the Kenya Council — namely Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Namibia and South Africa — have for the last couple of weeks been engaged in auditions at local level for the grand Talent Showcase.

The second and final competition is scheduled to take place in Nairobi in mid-March. Winners of the competition categories visual arts, films and talent showcase at the national festival will represent the region in a global extravaganza at a place and date to be announced.

The Shia Imami Muslims, generally known as the Ismailis, are a culturally diverse community living in more than 25 countries worldwide. They adhere to the 1400-year-old tradition of Shia values that are expressed through a pledge to search for knowledge for betterment of self and society by embracing pluralism and building bridges of peace and understanding and above all generally sharing of one’s time, talents, and material resources to improve the quality of the life of the community and those among whom they live.

The spiritual leader of the community, the Aga Khan, is the living hereditary Imam who has been deeply engaged in development of countries around the world through the work of Aga Khan Development Network. This group of private, international and non-denominational agencies, is committed to improve living conditions and opportunities for people .

Ismaili Kenya Arts Festival as part of the Diamond Jubilee Programme celebrates a wide range of arts including dance, films literary arts, musical performances, visual arts, poetry, graphic design and more to culminate in an international arts festival.

The initiative is first of its kind in bringing together a network of established and aspiring Ismaili artists and intends to catalyse artistic interests’ abilities and aspirations within the global Ismaili community.