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Sadiq Khan: 'Black community is part of London's history'

AIMS: Sadiq Khan says social integration is still one of the big challenges facing the capital; inset, the late Nelson Mandela

LONDON MAYOR Sadiq Khan talks exclusively to The Voice about his hopes for the capital and his admiration for Nelson Mandela

October is Black History Month, what is your primary message for the community at this special time?
Black History Month is a really important opportunity to celebrate the many great contributions our communities have made to our country and to London. London is a very open city, but improving social integration is still one of the big challenges we face. That’s why I want to use times of celebration, like Black History Month, Eid, Chanukah, Christmas and Diwali, to bring communities together and strengthen the social fabric that underpins London’s prosperity.
I also want to tell everyone around the world, loud and clear, that London is open to people of all backgrounds. Here in the capital, we do not just tolerate each other’s differences, we respect and celebrate them and, for me, that’s what Black History Month is all about.

Who from the African continent has inspired you, at university or in your political career?
It has to be Nelson Mandela. As a hero to many, his fight against apartheid will never be forgotten.

Africa On The Square recognises the growing influence of the African diaspora in London, how do you see this contribution benefiting the city’s diversity?
This year at City Hall, we are doing more to mark Black History Month than any Mayor has done before. We are hosting an amazing programme of African culture, including a special production of King Lear and a performance from the Black Heroes Foundation.

We want to use Black History Month to improve the wellbeing of the capital’s black communities by raising awareness of important health issues, including the need for more black and BAME Londoners to register as donors.  


INFLUENCE: Nelson Mandela

Another highlight will be visiting the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. And to top it all off, we have the brilliant Africa on the Square this weekend! Last week we unveiled a special photographic exhibition at City Hall in conjunction with English Heritage. It showcases the blue plaques and stories of notable black men and women who made a huge difference to our city. When I looked at these iconic plaques, it struck me just how much the capital’s black community is part of the fabric and history of London. From Connie Mark, a community activist noted for championing Caribbean culture in the UK, to Claudia Jones, who founded Britain’s first black newspaper, to Mary Seacole, who worked tirelessly to help injured
soldiers during the Crimean War, to Sam King MBE, who founded Notting Hill Carnival. These were all pioneers of their time and it is important we remember the challenges they overcame to make this city and country a better place.

Have you ever visited Africa? Where have you been?
I’ve been to Sierra Leone, Tunisia and Egypt, three brilliant and very different experiences, and am keen to see more of the awe-inspiring continent.

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The annual Africa on the Square event, organised by London mayor Sadiq Khan, will feature African arts and culture with a range of activities highlighting the diverse communities from across the continent and their presence in the UK.

As the official media partner for this year's festival, we would like to invite all of our readers to join us at Trafalgar Square today (Oct 15) as we celebrate all the continent has to offer.

The free event will be compered by Esther Alade and Usifu Jalloh, also known as the Cowfoot Prince, and will include live music from Nigeria’s Bukky Leo & Black Egypt, talented MOBO Unsung finalists, amongst other spectacular acts.

The free event will be compered by Esther Alade and Usifu Jalloh, also known as the Cowfoot Prince, and will include live music from Nigeria’s Bukky Leo & Black Egypt, talented MOBO Unsung finalists, amongst other spectacular acts.

DETAILS
DATE: Saturday, October 15, 2016
TIME: 12pm-6pm
LOCATION: Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN
ENTRY: FREE
WEBSITE: www.london.gov.uk/africa

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