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English translation of Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Great Mosque of Mopti 2008-04-24

Thursday, 2008, April 24
His Highness the Aga Khan addresses guests at the Inauguration Ceremony for the Komoguel I Mosque in Mopti  2008-04-24
Aga Khan IV (H.H. Prince Karim)

Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Great Mosque of Mopti
Bismillah-hir-Rahim Rahmanir-

Excellency the President of the Republic,
Your Excellencies,
Mr. Governor of the Region of Mopti,
the Mayor of the Urban Community of Mopti,
gentlemen the village chief and elders of Komoguel, Imam of the Mosque
Dear Guests ,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am extremely pleased to inaugurate the Great Mosque of Mopti called "Komoguel" newly restored and visit earlier the various improvements of the environment that continues in the historic Komoguel.

I would like to especially thank the President of the Republic and the Minister of Territorial Administration and Local Authorities for their presence here today and support the government, regional authorities and the Mayor and Oumar Bathily municipality, the Mosque Committee and the Local Committee for the Development of Komoguel brought to this project.

This project is of importance that goes far beyond the physical rehabilitation of the architectural structure of the mosque.

The history of the Ummah in effect keeps track of the prestige and influence of the great mosques of Mali. At the height of the Empire in the 8th century, it is from these high places of knowledge, true intellectual and spiritual center, that Islam has spread across Africa. This is a great privilege for me to restore these magnificent mosques. Whether here in Mopti, Djenne and Timbuktu, the great tradition of earthen architecture has been revived and new skills can now be applied to all earthen structures, whether for the practice of faith or a secular use.

And this work of revitalizing the mosques unfolds gradually to surrounding neighborhoods to include all habitat located in the shadow of the minarets. What a wonderful symbol to see the culmination of this effort for the rehabilitation of mosques is to improve the quality of life of people living at their own pace!

The restoration of the Great Mosque of Mopti is the result of close collaboration between the Ministry of Culture and the National Cultural Heritage (DNPC), the regional and local authorities, the Committee of the Mosque and the Aga Khan Trust for culture, and the dedicated commitment of many professionals and artisans, be they architects, conservators, masons, bricklayers, of crépisseurs, blacksmiths, carpenters, potters and electricians.

This project has combined modern technology with heritage preservation processes and materials traditionally used in the construction of earthworks. The contribution of some masons who have mastered the technique yet banco pourri has also trained over 30 young people who will ensure the transmission of traditional skills to the next generation.

This is particularly relevant in Mali, where traditional artisans may disappear gradually, taking forever with them the expertise and knowledge accumulated by previous generations of builders. Thus, the restoration of this important monument was it the opportunity to continue a tradition and also to ensure the future conservation of the building with appropriate techniques, competently applied.

Many other buildings and land in the country hamlets, which are perhaps less visible but nonetheless significant in the context of the region, awaiting inspection and emergency protection and will require extensive cooperation with national institutions and international organizations. It is encouraging to know that Mali was selected to host this year's international conference on TERRA earthen structures. In the coming years, the AKTC plans to contribute to this international effort not only by restoring important buildings, but also by establishing, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, a national inventory of earth structures that appears more and more urgent in light of the multiple threats and the increasing deterioration of the earth heritage of the country.

Along with the restoration of the Great Mosque, the Trust launched in collaboration with the urban community of Mopti and other AKDN agencies, a pilot project to improve the quality of life for residents of surrounding neighborhoods by answering some some of their most pressing needs. The commitment of AKTC was first expressed by improving access to water and better sanitary system and the implementation of social development projects, of, vocational training and micro- finance.

If these programs of environmental management around mosques on the principle that all people should benefit from improved quality of life, this work is however in a more holistic view of urban development.

It is indeed my fear that modernization of the city leads to increased real estate speculation or the uncontrolled development of tourism infrastructure that eventually engulf the mosques in the urban fabric. We find, unfortunately, in many cities of the Ummah, the minarets our mosques, lofty symbols of our faith from the top which resonates the adhan, got lost among the bars of HLM and drowned in the hubbub of the city.

My hope is that the rehabilitation of neighborhoods around mosques can preserve and protect the legacy of our glorious past that deserves our respect and admiration.

And it's our duty of Muslims to contribute to this effort and encourage, as we are reminded in the Qur'an commanding us to leave the world a better state than that in which we received and we are directing to help each other in performing good works.

Thank you

Original textDiscours prononcé par Son Altesse L'Aga Khan à la Cérémonie d’inauguration de la Grande Mosquée de Mopti
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