‘Kenyan’ Lilian Seenoi Barr elected Councillor in Northern Ireland
In an unprecedented political milestone, Lilian Seenoi Barr, a politician with Kenyan roots, has been elected councillor in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, marking the first time a black person has secured this position.
This landmark achievement has been celebrated by many, including Narok County Senator Ledama Olekina and other Kenyans, who took to social media to express their elation.
“Congratulations to my baby sister, the first ever black person to be elected as a councillor in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. May the good Lord open many doors for you,” Senator Olekina stated in a social media post on Saturday, May 20.
Seenoi, an active political participant in the UK for the past two years, won over a thousand first-preference votes, securing her an electoral mandate. The newly-elected councillor expressed her deep gratitude for the trust and support of the people of Foyleside.
“I am deeply humbled to have been elected by the people of Foyleside,” Seenoi declared, “I made a commitment that I would work tirelessly to earn people’s trust and deliver for the area. The people have spoken loud and clear.”
She also reflected on her constituents’ frustration at the lack of a functioning assembly and acknowledged their desire for change, stating, “For the most part, they are rewarding hard work, but it is also clear to see their frustration at the continuing lack of a functional assembly and obstruction of a nationalist first minister.”
Seenoi, a prominent Black Lives Matter campaigner and refugee activist from the Maasai community, moved to Northern Ireland in 2010 as an asylum seeker. Her tireless advocacy work extends back to her time in Kenya, where she campaigned against Female Genital Mutilation and early marriages, passionately advocating for the rights of Maasai women and girls.
Seenoi is better known Northern Ireland for having founded the North West Migrants Forum in 2012 to help others after experiencing the isolation many migrants and asylum seekers face.