The Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, is visiting Kenya at the invitation of the government.
He landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Thursday evening was received by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and leaders from the Ismaili community and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
While in Nairobi, the Aga Khan is expected to meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House.
The meeting will focus on the longstanding partnership between the Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network.
The AKDN has been engaged in the development of Kenya for over a century and has enjoyed a strong relationship with the government.
An agreement of cooperation for development was signed with Kenya in 1996 and recognises AKDN’s contributions to national development while creating an enabling framework for its activities.
Through its several interventions in education, health, poverty alleviation, finance, insurance, tourism promotion, conservation and civil society strengthening, AKDN has been improving the quality of life of Kenyans.
Every year, the AKDN touches the lives of over 7.5 million Kenyans directly and 4 million indirectly.
The visit to Kenya marks the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee— 60 years since his accession to his role of spiritual leadership, and is part of a year-long celebration which commenced on July 11, 2017.
The Diamond Jubilee celebrations represent both a recognition of the Aga Khan’s work over the last 60 years and an opportunity to launch new initiatives.
In October last year, the Aga Khan launched the Global Centre for Pluralism Awards— amongst the recipients was Kenyan Alice Nderitu; peacemaker, conflict mediator and gender equality advocate, who was recognized for unparalleled and sustained commitment to building more inclusive, peaceful societies.
In Kenya, past Jubilee initiatives have included the Platinum Jubilee Hospital, which was inaugurated by the Aga Khan in 1958 and which is now the non-profit Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi (one of the few hospitals in Africa to be ISO- and JCI-accredited); the Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust, which started off as a community lending enterprise, and grew into a major retail financial institution – now called Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) – that helps promote small and medium enterprises across East Africa; the Jubilee Insurance companies, the largest providers of life and medical insurance across East Africa and Asia; and the non-profit Diamond Jubilee Schools in India and Pakistan, which were among the first to educate girls.
Ten years ago, during his Golden Jubilee, the Aga Khan expanded the role of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Aga Khan University and Heart and Cancer.