President Yoweri Museveni has decorated His Highness the Aga Khan with “Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa, Grand Master” medal. The Aga Khan who is the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim Community arrived in Uganda on Sunday for a four-day visit on the invitation of the President.
He was received by Uganda’s Attorney General William Byaruhanga before proceeding to State House Entebbe to meet with the President. At State House, the Aga Khan and his delegation held talks with President Museveni.
Speaking at the Uganda independence anniversary celebrations held in Bushenyi on Monday, Gen.Elly Tumwine, said the President, as the fountain of honour, approved the award of 12 medals to the spiritual leader and investor in three different categories.
The Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa given to Aga Khan is the highest civilian award of the Ugandan Honours System.
“Today’s occasion should not be to merely celebrate regaining our freedom but also an opportunity for us as Ugandans and Africans to audit and reflect on our internal contradictions that led to the final domination of Africa by the imperialist forces for decades, failure to do so may lead to the second colonisation of Africa,” Museveni said after handing over the awards.
In his remarks, the President hailed the Aga Khan and the Ismaili community in Uganda for the contribution they have made towards developing the country.
“I would like to welcome our Guest of Honour, HH Aga Khan. His community, the Ismailis, have for a long time contributed to the economy of Uganda,” Museveni stated in his Independence Day speech.
“In my village of Ntungamo from the time of my grand fathers, there were four Indian families, all of them apparently Ismaili, that provided us with all the shop goods ─ textiles, cattle salt, parafffin, bicycles, some cattle drugs, scholastic materials…. This gave us time to concentrate on our cattle, goats and crops.”
His Highness the Aga Khan is the founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) – a global network dedicated to improving the quality of life of all people that has made substantive contributions towards the development of Uganda. In Uganda, AKDN has made significant investments in areas of energy, banking, health, tourism, education and the media.
The Chairman of the Awards Committee, General Elly Tumwine said in a citation that the Aga Khan has had deep engagement with development for almost 60 years.
In acceptance of the award, the Aga Khan said; “Your national pathway has been exciting and inspiring to watch and all your friends, including of course myself, look to the future of Uganda in hope, in aspiration, for a better quality of life for all the people of Uganda and of this region of Africa.”
“Our institutions have been here for many decades, [and] it is my hope today that they will participate in improving the quality of life of all the people of Eastern Africa as they build for future generations,” the Aga Khan added.
The Aga Khan is in Uganda on the first in a series of visits that mark his Diamond Jubilee which began earlier this year on 11 July. The Diamond Jubilee marks 60 years of his Imamat as the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. The Aga Khan became the Imam on 11th July, 1957 at the age of 20 years, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan.