On the one hand there was the endeavour to find ways to heal the earth, and on the other, seeking ways to initiate progressive steps towards the development of the people.

Acceptance speech – Ibrahim Abouleish / Sekem

It is with a deep sense of joy and gratitude that I am here today. The honour to have been chosen amongst others to receive this award is immense. I accept it in recognition to Egypt and the many thousands at Sekem who have given of their time, their skills and their effort.

Since 1977 I have been guided by a similar vision as you, Mr. von Uexkull; that vision which led to your founding of the “Right Livelihood Award” in 1980, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. On the one hand there was the endeavour to find ways to heal the earth, and on the other, seeking ways to initiate progressive steps towards the development of the people.

At that time it became clear that the implementation of this ideal would become a life’s task. I knew that it would require patience and most likely would take many generations to progress. It is as if one tries to reach the horizon, which seems to retreat at every step you take.

During my initial years in Austria I absorbed much European culture. Through this cross-cultural exchange, I could perceive my own roots, as well as Islam, from a totally new perspective. This kindled the first flame of my vision. Carrying this in my heart, I returned to Egypt after 21 years, in 1977 and prepared for the initiative. After much consideration I chose the name SEKEM; The reason being, that the Egyptians had recognised the light and warmth of the sun as well as the third life giving force, permeating and enlivening the earth’s entire being. The name SEKEM portrays this.

It was my wish for this initiative to embody itself as a community; a community in which people from all walks of life, from all nations and cultures, from all vocations and age groups, could work together, learning from one another and helping each other, sounding as one in a symphony of harmony and peace.

Over time and from within the bounds of the community, the “Council for the Future” was born. The goal of this council is to strengthen our direction and simultaneously renewing it according to contemporary needs. To achieve this we draw our source of inspiration from spiritual and natural science, religion and art.

Added to this, the “Council for the Future” has created a network based on communication and cooperation between Sekem, our friends and partners, co-workers and supporters, as well as scientists and artists from all over the world.

Over the past 26 years Sekem founded various institutions based on the Three-Fold order of economic, social and cultural life, striving to inspire, aid and develop our natural and human resources. Although all three areas are entities in their own right, they do constantly interact with one another.

Economic life within Sekem’s group of companies begins on a practical level by healing the soil through the application of biodynamic farming methods. Through this method we have raw materials at our disposal and are able to develop and manufacture natural medicine and a wide range of other products, adhering to the highest possible quality standards, which conform to the true needs of our consumers. In partnership with our close friends and colleagues in Europe, and our local partners in trade, we strive to market our products, employing what we call the “Economics of Love”.

To ensure that the democratic rights and values for our co-workers are adequately implemented, we founded the “Cooperative of Sekem Employees”, which addresses all questions concerning civil society in the workplace. It is our objective here that all members of the Sekem community will grow towards taking responsibility for society.

Cultural life within Sekem is nurtured and cultivated by the “Egyptian Society for Cultural Development”. It has the never-ending task of educating our children, youth and adults, consolidating both their cognitive and practical skills, while enhancing their command of free will. Furthermore the institution offers health care and therapeutic services, based on holistic medical care, including outreach programmes in neighbouring villages. Within the Sekem Academy we initiate research, dealing with all aspects of life, searching for solutions to major questions.

Our next goal is the founding of the Sekem University. Here it is our ambition to give future generations a comprehensive education, inspiring creative and courageous youth, with the aim to send them into the world as bearers of ideals. To achieve this, the Sekem University is at present weaving a network of associates from affiliated Universities around the world.

For me, personally, the year 2003 has brought a number of wonderful events, all of which are results of the efforts of Sekem’s Council for the Future. It is my genuine wish to find friends in spirit, who, through perseverance have manifested their visions. Mutually we can build a living network of people and organisations, endeavouring to fulfil humanity’s most noble ideals.

I wish to close by expressing my gratitude to Allah and His endearing support. My gratitude extends to you here, not only for choosing Sekem as recipient of the award, but also for your acknowledgement of Sekem. I convey my immense appreciation to my friends, partners and co-workers for their trust in my vision. But above all my never ending thanks go to my wife and family. Without their continuous practical support, guidance and love, none of this would have been possible.

SEKEM Initiative
Ibrahim Abouleish
3, Belbeis Desert Road
POB 2834 El Horreya

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