Rays of Light Exhibition imprints its foot in Tanzania

Rt. Hon. Mizengo Peter Pinda, the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania (left) and Mr. Jehangir Bhaloo, President of the Aga Khan Council for Tanzania, officially cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremonies of the Rays of Light Exhibition at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Photo: RAYSOFLIGHT/Aly Z. Ramji).
After visiting France, Portugal, United States, United Kingdom, UAE, Uganda, and Canada, the Rays of Light: Glimpses into the Ismaili Imamat, finally makes its hallmark debut on Tanzanian soil. The much-anticipated Exhibition marks a significant milestone for Tanzania as it coincides with the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Union of Tanganika and Zanzibar.

Opened officially today at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar es Salaam, by the Rt. Honourable Mizengo Peter Pinda, the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, the Ismaili Jamat and the peoples of
Tanzania will have an exclusive peek into the world of the Shia Ismaili Imamat and the role of the Aga Khan development(AKDN) Globally.

The vision of both the late Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah(Aga Khan III) and a glimpse of the work of H H the Aga Khan over the past 50 years, are demonstrated through the varied projects that are in existence today.

During the opening ceremony, amid the joy and fanfare at the Diamond Jubilee Hall, Honorable Mizengo Pinda, thanked the Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Tanzania for organizing the event, and stated
"We are here to celebrate this historic event worldwide, which indeed reflects the life and work of His Highness Prince Aga Khan, a true pioneer and one of Tanzania's most committed and trusted friends. A person whose family and community have been the pride of the great things we are proud of as a Country."
For Tanzanians, this marks a truly exclusive occasion; many of the featured projects demonstrate AKDN’s rich history in the country. The Imamat initiatives, specifically in socio-economic and cultural programs date back over a century in Tanzania, with the establishment of the first Aga Khan Girls School in Zanzibar in 1905. By the 1960’s there were nearly 65 Aga Khan Schools across the nation. The Aga Khan Education Services is currently planning the construction of a $30 million Aga Khan Academy, which will be affiliated with all other Aga Khan Academies globally.

Rt. Hon. Mizengo Peter Pinda, the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania and Mr. Jehangir Bhaloo, President of the Aga Khan Council for Tanzania, receiving a tour from Karim Kanji (tour guide) for the Rays of Light Exhibition. (Photo: RAYSOFLIGHT/Aly Z. Ramji).
Another integral program in the country is the current establishment of the Aga Khan University in Arusha. The AKU plays an integral role in educating skilled professionals with an ethic of social responsibility and commitment to serving their community. The AKU Arusha Campus will boast professional graduate schools in management, law, government and public policy, journalism and tourism to name a few.

The Aga Khan Health Services Tanzania has had a major impact in the country, with the first dispensary being established in 1929. Since then, numerous other health initiatives through AKHST have been established; these include the Aga Khan Hospital, as well as numerous Outreach Health Centers in Mwanza, Morogoro, Mbeya, Iringa, Arusha, Dodoma and Mbezi Beach, and of course the newly inaugurated Oncology wing, which was opened in January 2014.

The historical association between Tanzania and the Ismaili Imamat span over a century exemplified by H H the Aga Khan’s presence at the Independence of Tanganyika in 1961, it was in 1991, that the Aga Khan signed an Accord of Cooperation for Development with the then President, H.E. Ali Hassan Mwinyi. Just a decade later, in 2001, former President H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa signed an official protocol with H H the Aga Khan enhancing the collaboration between the AKDN and Tanzania, by formalizing the establishment of a mission and enabling it to facilitate the optimal utilization of resources for the AKDN’s objectives.

President of the Aga Khan Council for Tanzania, Mr. Jehangir Bhaloo during his opening remarks stated, 
"The Rays of Light’ is a celebration of a life. Not just any life. It is a celebration of the life and work of the Imam of the time. In our Shia ethical tradition, the Imam leads not only in the interpretation of the faith but also in the effort to improve the quality of life of his community and of wider societies within which the community lives. A guiding principle of the Imamate’s institutions, according to His Highness Aga Khan is to “replace walls that divide with bridges that unite.” 
With far too many development programs to list, it is known that the cooperation between Tanzania and the AKDN has significantly impacted the lives of many Tanzanians. Given this unique history with Tanzania, the Rays of Light Exhibition will also be visited by H.E. Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as former Tanzanian Presidents H.E. Al-Haj Ali Hassan Mwinyi and H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa.