Young African woman of Nigerian origin – Kemi Badenoch is kingmaker in Tory party election of new British Prime Minister

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 July 2022:

Kemi Badenoch, who currently serves in the government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Minister for Local Government, Faith and Communities at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Equalities, has today emerged as kingmaker in the ruling Conservative Party leadership contest, after losing the fourth round with 59 votes this afternoon.

The results of this afternoon’s vote at Westminster, shows the remaining candidates for the leadership of the Tory Party and effectively Prime Minister of the country –  Rishi Sunak (Finance Minister) scoring 118 votes, Penny Mordaunt 92, and Foreign Minister Liz Truss 86.

The three will now go on to the fifth round tomorrow afternoon, when Tory MPs will once again cast their votes to elect the two candidates, who will go forward to the over 160,000 members of the Tory Party to decide who becomes the new British Prime Minister, with the results expected on 5th September.

Although British-Nigerian Kemi has been eliminated from the battle to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, she can be proud of the record she has set in British politics to become the first African, first Black woman, and first Black person in Britain to take part in any election to become British Prime Minister.

Perhaps most importantly now, is her enviable position as Kingmaker. Kemi has become a powerhouse that cannot be ignored by any of the remaining candidates in the contest, nor within the Conservative Party.

Whosoever is to emerge as winner of the leadership contest, will need to speak to Kemi and her backers to gain her support. In return, Kemi no doubt will be expected to hold a key ministerial job in the new post-Boris government.

What Kemi’s journey has shown young Black Britons is that, there is no such thing today as impossible, if you follow your dreams and believe in yourself with determination and effort.

Of course, there is racism across many facets of British life, including institutionalised racial discrimination. But this barrier must be broken by younger generation of educated Africans and Caribbeans irrespective of party-political colour.

Today, Kemi received the votes of 59 Tory MPs, Rishi Sunak 118, Penny Mordaunt 92, and Liz Truss  86 votes. Kemi was competing against the crème de la crème of the Conservative Party and MPs with greater  ministerial experience. But she held her head up high and contested with dignity and confidence.

She may be out of the contest but has no doubt become a household name with a great political future at just 42 years old.

Rishi Sunak, the former finance minister in Boris’ government is leading with the most votes from Tory MPs and is now likely to emerge as one of the final two candidates, with Kemi holding the key to Number Ten Downing Street – the British Prime Minister’s office – as Kingmaker.

Her position as potential kingmaker in the battle to elect a new British Prime Minister became obvious, after winning significantly large number of votes in the third round of the contest, based on the very good performance she put on at the last two TV debates of contestants.

According to  a report in the Times Newspaper: “A Tory donor who left the party in protest at Boris Johnson’s premiership has suggested he could rejoin if Kemi Badenoch is elected leader. John Armitage, a businessman who has given more than £3 million to the Conservatives, dismissed the other candidates in the leadership race as “slick and superficial”.

“He said, however, that Badenoch stood out from the rest of the pack as a “top-class” candidate because she appeared genuine to voters. Armitage, 62, stopped funding the Conservative Party in 2020 and has since donated to two Labour MPs, one of whom is Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, who received £15,000 from him in January.”

Olukemi Olufunto Badenoch (nee Adegoke) was born on 2nd January 1980 in Wimbledon, London, UK to Nigerian parents. She spent parts of her childhood in Lagos and the United States before returning to the United Kingdom at 16.

After graduating from the University of Sussex, she was a software engineer at Logica before studying law at Birkbeck, University of London. Badenoch later pursued a career in banking, working for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Coutts before joining politics.

Kemi was first elected as MP in 2017. She was re-elected in 2019 as the MP for the Saffron Walden constituency.  She is a former Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party and former member of the Justice Select Committee.

Prior to her election as a Member of Parliament, she was a Conservative member of the London Assembly, acting as the GLA Conservative’s spokesperson for the economy.

Kemi is also a patron of several charities in the constituency including Support 4 Sight, The Stroke Club and CVSU. Her other areas of interest include engineering and technology, social mobility and integration. She provides regular mentoring to women who wish to pursue careers in technology.

18 Comments

  1. I have never said or suggested that Dr Kwarteng is an African. I have only referred to the fact that he is of Ghanaian descent. To suggest otherwise is to misread me.

    I do not see why Dr Kwarteng should feel embarrassed about a title he has honestly earned. He may not be called Dr Kwarteng in Britain and may indeed prefer not to be so called. Does that however make it a crime to call him so?

    Dr Kwarteng may well take a step further one day in his political career and get the keys to No. 10. Whether such a spectacular achievement will lead him to courageously and unequivocally challenge his party and government over issues such as the Windrush monstrosity is something else entirely.

    Lastly, are people of Lebanese descent living in my motherland an underprivileged class? They may not be government ministers but they are in my estimation none the worse for that. In any case, my motherland never at any point sought to create a colonial empire in the Levant. It has as a result no colonial crime to expiate concerning Lebanon and the Lebanese diaspora. People from that part of the world came to Sierra Leone out of their own volition, in search as we all know, of greener pastures. And it is no exaggeration to say that on balance they and their descendants have over the years fared well in their new country of choice.

  2. No one here calls him Dr. He is Mr Kwarteng and he is no African politician. I am pretty sure he will feel embarrassed if you do that to him.

    All said and done, he is is the first blackman to reside at Downing Street, albeit not at no 10 but at no. 11. The logical next step is a walk over the pavement to no. 10 for the next black British high-flier. I guess you will deem that as too far-fetched.

    I do accept that the likes of Kwasi Kwarteng whose social class, educational profile and daily experience of life in the UK does not represent the average black man in the UK.

    I will not comment further on this topic until your motherland, Sierra Leone, has at least two non-blacks in their cabinet of ministers. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  3. Adulators of all things British, including Black African Anglophiles, want us to believe that the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s cabinet appointments constitute a revolution in British politics of Copernican proportions! Their point seems to be that, for the first time in British politics, such prominent cabinet positions as those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Foreign, International Trade and Home Secretaries, are held by people from minority groups. Three of these are of Nigerian, Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean descent. One can easily imagine the seasoned Anglophiles singing out: ‘Hallelujah!’ in praise of what is apparently an irreversible milestone in the history of British politics, and asking rather sanctimoniously: ‘Tokenism? What tokenism?’

    It is of course up to one to adulate or not the seemingly unstoppable wave of acceptance of difference and diversity stirring on Liz Truss’s watch within British Conservative political circles. Yet whatever one chooses to do, one should endeavour to remain lucid, to keep a cool, analytical head and think about the true significance of the phrase ‘for the first time’. Which brings me to the question: does one swallow really make a summer? In other words, does ‘for the first time’ mean ‘from now onwards and forever’? Is Liz Truss’s choice of a non-white chancellor and non-white secretaries of state of consequence not the exception rather than the rule? And perhaps more importantly, what are these Black British Conservative highflyers’ own take on race relations in Britain today? Are those views always in sync with the way the wider black community understands its place within British society?

    And as for the new Chancellor’s exceptional intellectual achievements, one cannot but be star-struck by the fact that he is an alumnus of both Cambridge and Harvard Universities, both places being the acme of academe. However, I would urge Dr Kwasi Kwarteng’s starry-eyed adulators to remember the following point. When the Windrush scandal broke out during Prime Minister Theresa May’s time in No. 10, Dr Kwarteng was one of those who came out fighting, championing on radio, television and online the Conservative party’s and government’s position – that is, defending the indefensible. My point is, why did Dr Kwarteng choose to do the dirty job of explaining away his ruling party’s and the wider white British society’s decades-long odious treatment of Black Britons? Was he not putting his own interests and those of his party above those of the minority group from which he happens to hail? Or is it the case that in the Britain of Dr Kwarteng the idea of Black Britain is pure fiction? It does not exist. Only individuals matter and as such, they may as well blend with the ever white, dominant majority. Whiteness is gold. It is bliss. So get white. Quick.

  4. I know African critics and cynics of the British will invoke tokenism but i believe it is a milestone that two politicians of African descent, one of Sierra Leonean heritage, have just been given the top cabinet posts in the newly appointed UK prime minister Liz Trust’s maiden cabinet.

    It will be interesting to see how the newly-appointed UK foreign secretary half-Sierra Leonean James Cleverley engages his troubled motherland which is teetering on the brink of losing or reversing all her peace gains and dividends within just two decades. The UK Territorial Army’s reservist Lieutenant-Colonel would have certainly had interesting discussions with her former teacher-cum-mid-wife mum, Evelyn Suna Cleverly, who is now deceased.

    I wish him well. With the present geo-political tensions on everyone’s mind and the sabre-rattling or drum-bits of violence saturating discussions in his ancestral land, the Lewisham, London-born politician has an unenviable task.

    On a last note, how many of you know that the new UK Chancellor is a PHD- holder and not just in any mickey-mouse subject and from a fast-churning-degree mill? The geeky, Ghanaian-British politician is a graduate of both Cambridge and Harvard Universities. He strutts his stuff without flaunting his PHD and credentials albeit in no part due to the British Media culture and the British elite of not being too obsessed with using academic titles..

  5. And may I just add that such anti-racist racism is, as the French Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre to whom we owe the term puts it, not an end in itself. It is instead a means to an end. It aims to destroy racism itself in hopes of creating a human society devoid of the bigotry and intolerance that racism engenders.

  6. We both agree that keeping alive memories of the horrors of the slave trade and the colonization of our continent is a worthwhile endeavour. I must say however, that unlike you, I do not think that memorialising the horrors even when woven into the fabric of our daily lives, will ever become an energy-sapping, oppressive, emasculating burden. Rather, I see it when combined with a sane and judicious harnessing of our abundant natural resources and in particular of our ever-growing youthful human capital base, spurring us on to the heights of personal, national and continental self-affirmation and self-development.

    Indeed, all that is missing to get us to those heights is courageous, creative, enlightened, selfless political leadership. On this point our views again converge. That said, the current problem of poor political leadership need not be seen as a congenital, insurmountable, everlasting one. Indeed, while they may be few and far between at the moment, being as it were the exception rather than the rule regarding the vacuum of enlightened socio-political and economic leadership, we do have individual countries that do inspire confidence, that are trail blazers and that go to show that all is not lost as far as our continent and its people are concerned. Successes (modest though they may seem on a world scale) achieved by say Senegal, Botswana, Rwanda and even Cape Verde (a small island nation about which forumites have learnt so much thanks to the articles published recently by Dr Saidu Bangura) are a case in point. And such figures taken from various walks of life as Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Muhammadu Youssoufou, Paul Kagamé, Dangote, Mo Ibrahim, Achille Mbembe, to name but these, are examples of what I have called elsewhere our African humanity’s perfectibility.

    Representatives of our political, business and intellectual elites, these figures are living proof that there is much more to our continent than just being a place where people perpetually slumber, their eyes firmly shut to the need for collective progress and self-preservation. With sons and daughters like these, we can rest assured that our time – Africa’s time – under the sun is bound to come.

  7. The Israelis are complaining as much as they are progressing. They sleep with one eye opened. We have both eyes shut and snoring in our sleep believing that we will never again in history’s turns and twists be enslaved and colonised . Our effing politicians are myopic and do not see the big picture and can not visualise themselves playing any role whatsoever in any grand scheme of things.

    You were more nuanced and did not mention explicitly the r-word. Any talk of billions of reparations for slavery and colonialism will just see our rogue and thieving leaders rubbing their hands in glee in anticipation of the prospect of swelling their foreign bank accounts further, creating more shell companies in offshore havens and laundering their ill-gotten wealth in real estate in the lands of our former oppressors.

    I agree with you totally that we should never forget and keep those horrible memories alive. But letting that hanging around us forever like an albatross preventing us from aiming higher as individuals and collectively as a race and people will continue to be a big mistake.

  8. Some very interesting thoughts there about our history as a continent and as a race. However, should the remarkable strides taken in recent years by such emergent Asian economies as Singapore, India and Malaysia (all three were, like our own Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria, British colonies) make us think of ourselves as lazy, useless latter-day weeping Jeremiahs, forever complaining about past injustices and thus incapable of holding our own and moving forward in a fiendishly unforgiving, competitive world?

    I honestly do not think so. Rather than wallowing in Afropessimism, I am one of those who believe that as a continent possessed of huge natural resources and a largely young and vibrant population, we have the potential to be better than we are now; to build better than we are doing now. After all, Singapore, Malaysia and India have not always been what they are today; they have grown into what they have become. We Black people and Africans will inevitably have our turn, that is, our time under the sun to grow into better versions of ourselves. We are inferior to no continent or race in terms of our capacity for perfectibility. We will get our priorities right. At our own pace.

    As for Israelis, what demonstrates best their keen sense of history is precisely their skill in keeping alive their memory of victimhood; in keeping the historical wrong done to their nation front and centre of their interactions with the wider world and in thus capitalising on it to protect their nation’s best interests. I am speaking here of the Shoah, more commonly called the Holocaust, one of the great tragedies in modern history. When Israelis and the Jewish diaspora keep banging on and justifiably so about Auschwitz and other infamous Nazi death camps, characterised by the industrialization of the genocide of European Jewry, do we hold them to task for doing so? Does their very survival as a nation not depend on keeping alive the memory of that tragedy? Indeed, has this not earned them the sympathy and support – material and otherwise – of some of the most powerful nations of the world to the point that they tend to get away with the injustices they themselves do to others? Palestine comes to mind here.

    Maybe we Black people and Africans are not complaining enough. We should as a result follow Israel’s example and keep alive the memory of the horrors and indignities of colonization and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; make those horrors and indignities front and centre of our interactions with the rest of the world. In doing so, we might get those nations that are historically guilty of perpetrating the two tragedies (tragedies that are separately equal to or perhaps greater in magnitude in my estimation than the Holocaust itself) to own up to their hideous barbarism and cough up whatever it takes to make amends for the damage done to us and our continent. By that damage I mean the role played by the West in, to put it in Walter Rodney’s terms, underdeveloping (I will add the term dehumanizing) Africa. A sad legacy that lives on in our continent and among its sons and daughters living in the diaspora. And which legacy we must combat and destroy with every fibre of our being. In short, keeping alive memories of the inhuman trade in Africans as slaves and of the colonization of our continent that came in the wake of that trade, is one sure way of ensuring that the two tragedies never, ever rear their ugly head again.

  9. My viewpoints have got nothing to do with Uncle Tomism- quite to the contrary. The human rights abuses suffered by us blacks and Africans in the past and now, are appalling and should be condemned by all and sundry without any equivocation. Our ancestors have been victims. We are all still victims. I am a victim. I do not say that lightly. But the question that keeps cropping up at the back of my mind is the question of “never again slavery and colonialism?”.

    What are we as a people and a race doing to ensure that the course of history will not go full cycle? The Europeans thought after the second World war it is given that Europe will enjoy eternal peace. Putin has proved that wrong.

    The Israelis are perhaps one heck of a people who appreciate life’s vicissitudes and have a sense of history. They seem to be pulling all the stops to ensure that their country and by extension their race is as strong and powerful as they could be, and prepare for any eventuality and in anticipation of any nasty habit of History.

    We blacks and Africans are more content and indulgent in complaining about those past injustices and less interested in answering the questions – will it happen again and will we be able to defend oursellves when it does? It will be a shame if we are still complaining 200 years from now. Those other races or countries which suffered under the Bitish have moved on and gone to do much better things. Check out the commonwealth games this week and you will know exactly those I have in mind. One or two of them might sooner or later become more economically and politically powerful than their former oppressors.

  10. Unless I am mistaken, the term ‘British Isles’ has become, where the Republic of Ireland is concerned, an anachronistic political designation. Once conquered and ruled by Britain, Ireland – the southern portion of that island at least – is now an independent, sovereign nation. This means that its internal political realities are sui generis: they are specific to the nation are therefore not necessarily identical to the present and future political realities of a country that used to be a colonizing power there.

  11. I do understand your sentiments. They spring from an affliction generally called uncle tomism.

  12. When are second generation non-black immigrants in Sierra Leone such as the Lebanese stride the political landscape in the country? Are we being racist to them?

    We black people should learn to give credit where it is due. The British Isles is not honky-dory but it is fair to say that though progress is painstakingly slow, steady progress is being made in race relations compared to other European countries. Ireland had the first ever non-white prime minister in Europe. The number of black people in the houses of common, the lords and the UK cabinet is increasing year in and year out.

    Always a stickler for the truth am I.

  13. The ‘big picture’ and ‘symbolism’ argument that Mr Jalloh advances appears on one level irrefutable. Kemi Badenoch’s trail blazing electoral moves make her, it would seem, a role model for present and future young Black Britons harbouring ambitions of occupying the ultimate political leadership position. She is as it were an embodiment of the fact that in Britain today breaking the racial glass ceiling for becoming prime minister is no longer unthinkable.

    And yet the ‘big picture’ thing about and ‘symbolism’ dimension of Kemi Badenoch’s action should not be made to mask the inherent unpalatability of the socio-political reality from which that action springs. That reality has to do with the fact that holding political views and adopting political stances that turn Nigel Farage and people of his ilk into one’s adulators, emerge as they do in Kemi Badenoch’s case, as the way forward for someone from a minority group to be prime minister. This is a worrying occurrence in that far from breaking the barrier circumscribing the political space for people from minority groups, it smacks instead of tokenism – a show in which the Conservative party masquerades as a party of tolerance, diversity and inclusivity. Mr Leo Africanus makes this point in his comment cogently, emphasising as he does the superficial and indeed ephemeral nature of Kemi Badenoch’s racial glass ceiling breaking electoral moves.

    I accept that Barack Obama, the very first President of Black African descent in the United States, for all the two four-year terms for which he served his country, never succeeded in undoing the social ills and injustices including police brutality and violence plaguing the lives of his fellow Black Americans for many centuries. That notwithstanding, President Obama never left them in doubt as to whose side he was on when such ills and injustices reared their ugly head during his time in the Oval office. One cannot say the same about Kemi Badenoch when her views (and these are on record) on issues such as colonialism, the triangular slave trade and racism are taken into consideration. And it is precisely here that the exemplariness of her participation in the race to be prime minister loses its ‘big picture’ and ‘symbolism’ value and edge.

  14. This is a woman who made her name by denying that racism exists and she is against any anti-racists.
    She is a coconut, a sell out. Furthermore, she had no chance of winning. It was only a show by Truss supporters to make a point that the party is not racist. Once the heat was on, they quickly got rid of her.

  15. Kemi Badenoch is not everyone cup of tea .As Mr Yillah pointed out her contribution to race relations and her views on that subject if anything but .Tottaly agree with you.However if we look at the big picture , is not so much her views on race and race relations in the UK, which very much should be on the front and back of her agenda , or anyone aspiring to be a black politician in our western societies .After all Obama was the first African American president of the United States, and after two terms in office he failed to reform the United States criminal justice system that is skewed against the African American community.To me is the symbolism for her audacity to put herself forward for the candidacy to be a UK Prime Minister,and been the first person from the black race that have negative perception from some section of the white population, that might have thought after all when the UK voted for Brixit those that led that campaign used immigration as backdrop for the United Kingdom to take back control of their country and borders.The very notion of majority of the candidates for the conservative party leadership comes from first generation immigrant families, One of them was even born in Iraq but grew up in the UK tells you everything how the UK has become the melting pot of all peoples of all backgrounds. Her candidacy have open up the door for young black boys and black girls to aspire to be future prime minister of the United Kingdom .Maybe after all the future Black candidate for the highest office in the UK might not share the same views like Mrs Badenoch but enough food for thought to give some people in the far right of British politics after all, the Black and ethnic minority groups are part and parcel of the British Isles.

  16. I will be a killjoy here and say something that goes against the grain: Kemi Badenoch’s stance on race relations in Britain is not my cup of tea. Put another way, the young Black British Conservative of Nigerian descent who has been making waves by her remarkable foray into the race to become the next British prime minister, champions a brand of politics that sucks.

    Mrs Badenoch is a confident, audacious and ambitious Black British woman and politician. This is great, and kudos to her. What is worrying though is that in her public statements, including those made in the House of Commons, she tends to deny the prevalence in certain circles in Britain of white supremacist, anti-woke sentiments. Indeed, the British hard-right politician Nigel Farage of all people is an admirer of hers. And it is perhaps no accident that Mr Hamish Badenoch, her husband, himself has conservative political leanings. It is of course up to Mrs Badenoch alone to marry whomsoever she fancies. However, the personal and the political seem in her case to converge, resulting in her making statements that often come across as a conscious and settled rebuttal of claims of institutional racism in Britain.

    Just the other day I watched a video in which a young Nigerian woman was condemning Mrs Badenoch roundly for her brand of politics, saying it amounted to her throwing Black people and other marginalised groups including gay, lesbian and transgender people under the bus. To that critic, Mrs Badenoch was simply a sell-out, bent on advancing her career cynically on the backs of marginalised groups she is ostensibly out to serve. Her politics, therefore, I repeat, sucks. So, people should be wary of being taken in by the hype surrounding her recent aspirations and endeavours to be prime minister. But be the judge, reader.

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