First Ismaili festival to celebrate arts, Imam Aga Khan

His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. FILE PHOTO | NMG
His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Preparations for the Inaugural Ismaili Kenya Arts Festival are well underway as the local Ismaili community has unprecedented plans for celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of their spiritual leader, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan.

To commemorate 60 years since he, at the tender age of 20, became their 49th hereditary Imam, the Aga Khan Council of Kenya is planning a three-pronged festival that will also celebrate the artistic skills and talents of their community.

Competitions are about to take off to find the most gifted filmmakers, visual artists and performers in the community. The best will be showcased during the very first Jubilee Art Festival being held in Kenya. It will be launched in mid-March in the spiritual centre of the community which is at the Aga Khan Pavilion and Complex in Parklands.

Judging will primarily be held in Kenya with events being organised in Kisumu and Mombasa as well as in Nairobi. But as the Ismaili community is global, there will be a regional dimension to the festival. Some of the judges will travel to Bujumbura and Johannesburg to explore Ismaili talents in all sectors of the arts within the wider African region.

In fact, this inaugural festival is highly ambitious. From March 15th, a Visual Arts Gallery will feature everything from painting and sculpture to print-making, photography and graphic design.

At the same time, a Film Festival featuring the finest short films produced by Ismaili filmmakers will be shown.

And the biggest surprise may come with the Talent Showcase since it will include various aspects of performance including music, dance, voice and other aspects of the creative and performing arts.

With Farrah Nurani heading the planning committee of the Festival, an exceptional team of local jurors has already been assembled. They include filmmakers like Judy Kibinge, visual art critics like Frank Whalley and talent ‘scouts’ like Kenya Cultural Centre chairman Nicholas Moipei and acclaimed Asian thespian Allaudin Qureshi.

The themes to be explored in all aspects of the arts being judged are four. They relate to legacy, aspiration, devotion and time.

And because expectations are high, the final judging of the talent search will extend over three days. The winning performers in the four categories, namely music, dance, voice and creative arts will have the opportunity to attend the International Jubilee Arts Festival which will be held in Portugal in July.