Kenyan Activist, Rome-based Lay Catholic Association Receive Human Fraternity Award

Shamsa Abubakar Fadhil, known as “Mama Shamsa”, and the logo of the Sant’Egidio Community. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Kenyan community activist, and the Rome-based lay Catholic association dedicated to the provision of social services and arbitrating conflicts, Sant’Egidio Community, are the recipients of the 2023 Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.

The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity was established in 2019 to mark the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, His Eminence Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb, during which they co-signed the Document on Human Fraternity.

In a Tuesday, January 31 statement announcing the recipients, one of the award’s judging committee members, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who is a Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, says Shamsa Abubakar Fadhil, known as “Mama Shamsa”, and the Sant’Egidio Community “demonstrate how people committed to working together for the common good can help heal our wounded world.”

The award's judges say Mama Shamsa is recognized “for nurturing youth in Kenya and saving young people from lives of violence, crime, and extremism, by providing them with counseling, care, and training.”

“Mrs. Abubakar Fadhil has led major campaigns in Kenya and greater Africa to draw awareness to violence against women, as well as women and youth empowerment,” the judges have been quoted as saying in the statement. 


They add that Sant'Egidio Community is being recognized “for their contribution to successful peace negotiations and conflict resolution through religious diplomacy and intercultural dialogue - promoting peace in various places around the world, from Guatemala to Mozambique.”

Sant'Egidio also provides community services in different parts of the world, the judges say. 

They further say that the Rome-based lay Catholic association “continues to assist refugees and support their integration into host societies through their ‘Humanitarian Corridors’ initiative, which also extends support to the most impoverished communities around the world.”

The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity, which includes a $1 million prize, is an annual independent international award that recognizes people and entities across the world for their work in advancing values of solidarity, integrity, fairness, and championing peaceful coexistence.

The award is named in honor of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the United Arab Emirates, renowned for his humanitarianism and dedication to helping people no matter their background.

More in Africa

In the January 31 statement announcing the recipients of the award, Cardinal Tagle says it is the hope of the judging committee that “the efforts of Sant’Egidio and Mama Shamsa will inspire us all to lead lives of service, humility, and compassion.”  

For Mohamed Abdelsalam who also serves as a judge in the award's committee, the awardees "are truly outstanding leaders that are dedicating their lives to address division, build resilient communities and cultivate compassion and hope."

"The Community of Sant’Egidio and Mama Shamsa have transformed the lives of vulnerable and marginalized peoples in societies around the world, including youth, refugees, and those living in conflict zones," says judge Abdelsalam.

The awardees are to be honored during an award ceremony on the UN International Day of Human Fraternity, February 4.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.