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Nigeria’s Abigail Marshall Katung Makes History as Leeds’ First Lord Mayor of African Descent

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Abigail Marshall Katung, a Nigerian, has officially been announced as the next Lord Mayor of Leeds following the council’s annual general meeting. She takes over from Al Garthwaite, to become the city’s 130th Lord Mayor and the first person of African descent to hold the position.

Born in Zaria, Kaduna State, Abigail arrived in the UK in 2000 for her postgraduate studies in politics and international studies at the University of Leeds.

“Since arriving in Leeds in 2000, the city quickly became my cherished second home,” Abigail said.

In 2019, Abigail was elected to represent the Little London and Woodhouse ward in the city centre – one of Leeds’s most culturally diverse wards where over 82 languages are spoken – becoming the first African ward member of Leeds City Council. She was subsequently re-elected at the 2023 elections.

“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,” Abigail says of Leeds City.

Abigail has held various leadership roles within the Leeds City Council, including chairing the scrutiny board for adults health and active lifestyles and the scrutiny board for infrastructure, investment and inclusive growth. She was lead member for faith and belief, chaired the hate crime strategic board and further education 14-19 years, and is also a food champion.

Besides politics, Abigail is an avid athlete and coach, specialising in sprinting, and serves as a governor at Leeds City College, a trustee of Age UK and Caring Together, and co-chair of the David Oluwale Memorial Association.

Speaking of her appointment, the new Lord Mayor of Leeds said: “It is with great appreciation and humility that I embrace the privilege of becoming this great city’s 130th Lord Mayor… My appointment as Lord Mayor has been widely celebrated in the city’s African community and is a shining example of the enormous contribution international students make to UK society.  As Lord Mayor of Leeds, I am committed to working tirelessly to ensure voices are heard from all areas of the city and every triumph is recognised and celebrated.”

Throughout her tenure, she will be supported as Lord Mayor by her husband, Nigerian senator and Lord Mayor Consort, Sunday Marshall Katung.

Star Features