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Nigerian Woman Makes History as First African Lord Mayor of Leeds

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Abigail Katung has made history as the first person of African descent to be appointed Lord Mayor of Leeds City, England. The Leeds City Council announced her appointment as the 130th Lord Mayor following their annual general meeting on Thursday night.

According to a statement on the council’s website, “Taking over the role from Al Garthwaite, Councillor Abigail Marshall Katung becomes the city’s 130th Lord Mayor and the first person of African descent to hold the position. Councillor Marshall Katung will be supported throughout her tenure as Lord Mayor by her husband, Nigerian Senator and Lord Mayor Consort, Senator Sunday Marshall Katung.”Mayor

Katung was born in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria, and moved to the UK in 2000 to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of Leeds’ Politics and International Studies Department. Following the passing of her father in 1999, who she cites as a profound influence, she resolved to honor his legacy of “education for service” by continuing her studies in the UK.

Transitioning from student to professional life, Katung established her own business while also embracing motherhood, raising twin sons who are now university students themselves. Within the Leeds City Council, she has held numerous roles, including chairing the scrutiny boards for adult health and active lifestyles, and for infrastructure, investment, and inclusive growth. She also served as the lead member for faith and belief, chaired the hate crime strategic board, and is a food champion.Nigerian Woman Makes History as First African Lord Mayor of Leeds

In 2019, Katung broke barriers by becoming the first African to be elected as a ward member of the Leeds City Council, representing the culturally diverse Little London and Woodhouse ward. She was re-elected in 2023.

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Katung, an avid athlete and coach, and a governor at Leeds City College, has chosen the Leeds Community Foundation as her charity of focus during her tenure. The foundation supports local charities tackling societal inequalities such as food poverty, health inequalities, mental health, and digital inclusion.

Expressing her gratitude, Katung highlighted her deep connection to Leeds and her commitment to inclusivity. “It is with great appreciation and humility that I embrace the privilege of becoming this great city’s 130th Lord Mayor. Since arriving in Leeds in 2000, the city quickly became my cherished second home. It was not just the city where I lived, studied, and worked, it’s where I chose to raise my children and become a public servant.”Nigerian Woman Makes History as First African Lord Mayor of Leeds

Her appointment has been celebrated widely, particularly within the city’s African community. Former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar also extended his congratulations, stating that her elevation is “a testament that Nigeria is not short of talents and excels wherever they may find themselves.”

In a post on X.com, Abubakar wrote, “I congratulate Abigail Marshall Katung, the 130th Lord Mayor of Leeds City, the first person of African descent to hold this enviable position, and her husband, Senator Sunday Marshall Katung, Senator representing Kaduna South Senatorial District. May her tenure be impactful.”

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