Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Aga Khan has been decorated with the “Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa” medal by President Yoweri Museveni at Uganda’s 55th Independence Day anniversary celebrations on Monday.
At the celebrations held in Bushenyi in South Western Uganda, The Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Spiritual leader (Imam) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), was given the country’s highest civilian honour for his contribution to Uganda’s development and to humanity.
The citation for the award stated that through the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, The Aga Khan IV, has made a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of Ugandans by providing access to high-quality education, health, hydroelectric power, media services (NTV, KFM, Daily Monitor, The East African), civil society, financial inclusion and hospitality (Serena Hotels).
The AKDN has a long history in Uganda spanning over 100 years in Uganda and East Africa and its activities in the country range from infrastructure projects including the Bujagali Hydroelectric Power Project, the country’s first private hydroelectric power project, to a holistic early childhood education programme that operates in underprivileged communities, and from an advanced nursing studies programme to providing essential pharmaceuticals.
The Aga Khan thanked President Museveni for his invitation and award.
“I am honored to celebrate the occasion of the 55th independence anniversary with you. It was inspiring to watch the National Guard matching. Although my community is small in East Africa, it is my hope that they will participate in improving the lives of Ugandans in all works of life,” he said.
Past recipients of Uganda’s top award include Tanzanian presidents Julius Nyerere and Jakaya Kikwete, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Theodore Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea) and Armando Guebuza of Mozambique.
Other medal recipients at Monday’s celebrations included Major General Jim Muhwezi who was decorated with the Masaba Star Award, the fourth highest military decoration and the Golden Jubilee Award. Eleven other people received the Golden Jubilee award.
“Colonialism one of most significant disruptions to Africa’s progress”
At the celebrations, President Museveni reiterated that by the time of colonization, Africa had made significant strides in the development of knowledge, science and technology but by the time Africans freed themselves from colonialism, crucial indigenous achievements had been lost.
Museveni said that colonization and domination of Africa by imperialist forces remains one of the most significant historical disruptions of Africa’s progress. (Read full speech page 2 – click)
He said that the theme for this year’s celebrations “Uganda’s Freedom Must be Anchored in the Spirit of Hard Work, Resilience and Commitment”, should not only be relevant to efforts towards consolidating and defending our independence but also the realization of the vision of transforming the Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country.
“Apart from undermining the right of the Africans to self-determination, the period of colonial rule was characterized by deliberate efforts to destroy indigenous skills, knowledge and technology. Yet all civilization, the world over, has always been built around knowledge, science and technology,” he said.