Aga Khan receives top Asia achievement award

Saturday November 04 2017

Left to right: Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York Kathy Hochul, with His Highness the Aga Khan, Michael Bloomberg, and Sharon Rockefeller. PHOTO | AKDN | AKBAR HAKIM | MAIRAJ MANJI

By The EastAfrican

His Highness the Aga Khan is the recipient of this year’s Asia Society Lifetime Achievement Award — the society’s most esteemed honour.

The annual awards are presented to individuals, organisations, and movements that have inspired, enlightened, and shown leadership in policy, business, arts and culture and education.

Accepting the award “for improving the lives of millions in Asia and around the world” through the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the Aga Khan, accompanied by his brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan, said: “Any leader of any global community hopes and prays for one thing — peace; peace in every community, in every country of the world, so that men and women can live in safety, build their futures with strength, courage, hope and wisdom. These are the values that the leaders of my community, my institutions and myself, are intimately linked with and will continue to work for, for many, many decades ahead.”

The award was presented to the Aga Khan by Sharon Rockefeller, president and chief executive of WETA-TV, together with Michael Bloomberg, owner of the global financial services, media and software company that bears his name.

“Through the Aga Khan’s network and his role as a spiritual leader, he has worked for decades to help build a more peaceful and tolerant world,” said Mr Bloomberg.

“He has brought important attention to areas and issues that need it most, including protecting vulnerable communities from climate change, and helping young people develop new skills that can help them succeed. He has also been a champion of using public-private partnerships to spread economic opportunity, improve public health, and expand access to education.”


Asia Society president Josette Sheeran recognised the role of the AKDN and its efforts in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

“We  know the power of your work; I know the power of your network; I know what you have built. And we need more networks of people determined to say this is a world of good, this is a world of standing by each other, and this is what we honour here tonight,” she said.

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Other honourees

Eight other people were selected by the Asia Society’s global network this year for making a transformative difference to the future of Asia and the world.

The awardees included Sesame Street, for proving learning can be fun anywhere in the world; actor Dev Patel, for shining a spotlight on India’s poor; Sonita Alizadeh, for using rap music to fight trauma in Afghanistan; Leng Ouch, for risking his life to draw attention to illegal logging in Cambodia; Jean Liu, for revolutionising transportation in China;  Grammy winner Wu Tong, for showing that musical virtuosity has no bounds; Tadashi Yanai, for building a global retail empire that gives back to local communities; and famed eagle huntress, Aisholpan Nurgaiv, for breaking gender barriers at a young age.

Showcasing the music heritage of Asia at the event were musicians from the Aga Khan Music Initiative Ensemble — Homayoun Sakhi, Salar Nader and Wu Man — who are inspired by their deep cultural roots.