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A Malawian to Become First African Mayor in UK

By Charles Kachitsa

Suleman Khonat  a Malawian born in Mangochi district is to become the first African Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council from May 2022. This follows his selection as the new Deputy Mayor of the council on Thursday 25th March 2021. Councillor Suleman Khonat will assume his Deputy Mayor duty from May 2021 which will automatically usher him to the top position come same month next year.

His Malawi roots are so deep having lived in several district in the country. Mr Khonat’s parents relocated to Mponela in Kasungu district when he was young before moving on to stay in Lilongwe Nkhoma from where Suleman left for the United Kingdom UK in 1976. He moved after his father passed away in Nkhoma, Lilongwe.

In announcing his recent appointment he said,

“I am very pleased to share with you some good news. Tonight on 25th March 2021, I have been selected as the new Deputy Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council from May. Thereafter I will become the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council from May 2022.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of the councillors for their widespread support for placing their trust in me now and always.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all my family, friends and colleagues, for their immense and unconditional support over the many decades of public service I have been able to provide. Without your prayers and support, I would not have achieved this, thank you all.

I would also like to thank the Shear Brow and Corporation Ward constituents, for their continued support. I am truly honoured and humbled to continually have your support.

Whilst I am in this very privileged position, I will continue to serve the good people of the Borough to the best of my abilities.

I would like to end by wishing each and every citizen of the Borough, good health, happiness alongside a prosperous and peaceful year ahead.”

According to the Lancashire Telegraph, 61 years old Councillor Suleman Khonat who owns newsagent is well in line to become the first citizen of Blackburn with Darwen Borough in 2022. The current Mayor, Councillor Derek Hardman congratulated him for being chosen to his new office and promised to support him when he takes over the new office though they represent different political parties in the council.

Mr Khonat is also on the executive of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents in the UK. As if that is not enough for such an honourably man, he is again a local Magistrate sitting in Lancashire Courts since 2001. Despite all these responsibilities he has still a soft spot for his home country Malawi and wants to contribute to its development which already does through some NGOs. His bothers Omar and Salim Baghas are still in Malawi and help in some of the initiative to help in assist with developing the country.

Many people of Blackburn and Darwin have congratulated him as first African, in this case Malawian to assume such an honourable position in the UK.

An award received on 29th October 2002 at Highgrove House presented by His Royal Highness Prince Charles.
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