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Aga Khan and Colin Powell Open 'Silk Road' Festival in Washington 2002-06-26

Wednesday, 2002, June 26
H.H. The Aga Khan with Colin Powell and Senator Edward Kennedy at the opening of the Silk Road Festival in Washington DC  2002
Jun 26, 2002, 01:00 ET from Aga Khan Trust for Culture

WASHINGTON, June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- "A search for new forces of
stability," was how His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the
Ismaili Muslims, today described one of the pressing needs of the moment in
Central Asia. One such force "that seems particularly essential," he said,
"is the validation and vigorous promotion of human and cultural pluralism.
For the new countries of Central Asia," said the Aga Khan, "the inherent
pluralism of their societies can be an asset rather than a liability. In a
wider sense, it can be a means for enlarging the frontiers of global
pluralism. This is a goal," he concluded, "with which we can all associate
and should all associate."
Noting that "the Silk Road was the main link between civilizations of the
East, Central Asia, and Europe and from Europe, the products and ideas spread
to the New World of the Americas," US Secretary of State Colin Powell pointed
out that it was "more than an image of past glories. The countries of Central
Asia are once again joining the nations at either end of the Silk Road on a
path to a better future for all. The region's security, stability and
prosperity depend on critical political and economic reform," he observed,
"but the Silk Road is once again a living reality."
In the shade of a canvas replica of Samarkand's Registan Square on The
Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, the Aga Khan joined
Secretary Powell and distinguished government leaders, including Senator
Edward Kennedy and Senator Sam Brownback, as well as renowned cellist Yo-Yo
Ma, to light a lamp symbolically inaugurating the Smithsonian Folklife
Festival produced in collaboration with the Silk Road Project, Inc. whose lead
funder and key creative partner is the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
The Festival produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural
Heritage is for the first time in its 36 year history dedicated to a single
theme: "The Silk Road: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust." The 2002
Festival features a living exhibition of the music, crafts, culinary and
narrative traditions involved in the cultural interchange between the "East"
and the "West."
Senator Edward Kennedy, in his remarks, expressed deep appreciation of the
role being played by the Aga Khan in the process of education and cultural
understanding. "Now more than ever," said Sen. Kennedy, "his is a voice that
needs to heard and understood."
Following the opening ceremony which featured short performances by Yo-Yo
Ma and members of the Silk Road Ensemble, as well as musicians from countries
as diverse as Mongolia, Japan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the Aga Khan and
Secretary Powell toured several of the exhibits.
Set over 20 acres, the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival features some
350 traditional artists -- musicians, dancers, craftsmen, storytellers,
artists, cooks, and more -- from 20 nations including the United States,
Italy, Turkey, Syria, Armenia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China,
Mongolia, and Japan. The Silk Road program illustrates connections between
the cultures of Asia, Europe, and America based upon historical trade routes.
It emphasizes the development of many living traditions -- from silk textiles
to tea drinking, from stringed instruments to paper making, from noodle
traditions to blue and white "chinaware."
The Silk Road Project, Inc. founded by Yo-Yo Ma seeks to illuminate the
Silk Road's historical contribution to the cross-cultural diffusion of arts,
technologies, and musical traditions, identify the voices that best represent
its cultural legacy today, and support innovative collaborations among
outstanding artists from the lands of the Silk Road and the West.
Through the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia, the Aga Khan Trust
for Culture, the lead funder and creative partner of the Silk Road Project,
seeks to preserve and revive the traditional music of Central Asia and enhance
its role thorough providing financial resources, technical assistance and
organizational support directly to individuals and organizations in the
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is one of the agencies of the Aga Khan
Development Network (AKDN). The Trust's own involvement in Central Asia
covers areas of architecture and education as well as music. It has recently
begun two major cultural restoration and urban revitalization projects in
Kabul, Afghanistan: the Mausoleum of Timur Shah and the Bagh-e-Babur gardens.
In collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, the
Trust's Education and Culture Program has developed ArchNet, an Internet-based
network that will provide students and professionals around the world with a
globally accessible resource on architecture, urban design and related issues
such as restoration, conservation and housing design and construction.
ArchNet has established a computer laboratory and held courses in computer
aided design at the Tajik Technical University in Dushanbe. The Aga Khan
Humanities Project for Central Asia, based in Dushanbe, is working with
scholars from the region and abroad to design humanities curricula for
universities and schools in Central Asia.
The AKDN has launched a number of successful initiatives in Central Asia
ranging from agrarian reform to education, infrastructure, healthcare, micro-
credit, small enterprise development and cultural revitalization. Pre-eminent
amongst these is the University of Central Asia, the world's first institution
of higher learning dedicated to the study of mountain societies. The
University, established by international treaty between Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz
Republic, Tajikistan and the Ismaili Imamat, will serve a catchment population
of nearly 25 million people.
The AKDN is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies
and institutions that seek to empower communities and individuals, often in
disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities.
Established by the Ismaili Imamat (office of spiritual leadership) and working
in over 20 countries, the Network's underlying impulse is the ethic of
compassion for the vulnerable in society and its agencies and institutions
work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or
For high resolution pictures, please check the website: www.akdn.org

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