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Tributes to ‘dedicated’ former Islington councillor Michael Boye-Anawomah

Politicians pay tribute to the former Mildmay ward member

06 July, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Jeremy Corbyn visiting Mr Boye-Anawomah in hospital 

ONE of Michael Boye-Anawomah’s most treasured achievements was being elected as a Labour councillor in Islington.

“I think that was a proud moment for him and he saw it as an obligation and he did want to really work for his constituents,” said his son, Philip. “He did love Islington and it became his home.”

In that 1991 Holloway ward by-election, Michael became the first black African councillor to serve in Islington before becoming Mildmay councillor from 1994 to 2002. He served as Deputy Mayor and then Mayor between 1993 to 1995.

Born in Ghana in 1935, Michael came to the UK as a young man to study and he worked in local government before returning to Ghana.

He served as the executive secretary to the Ghanaian prime minister, and was then appointed as head of a trade mission for Ghana to the UN in Geneva.

But in 1971 he was forced to flee his country as a political refugee after the military coup d’état.

When he returned to England he became rooted in the community.

Mr Boye-Anawomah with his wife Marjorie 

Paul Convery, a current Caledonian ward councillor who served during the 1990s, said: “Michael was certainly very proud to be the first black African councillor in Islington and then Mayor – which was the same year that Apartheid came to an end in South Africa, with Nelson Mandela elected as South Africa’s first black president.”

He added: “You could see in a way Michael was often seen as one of the pioneers of people from West Africa settling in London.

“He wanted to see good decision-making and sometimes in the council we did not take good decisions. But even when he disagreed he was impeccably polite.”

Michael, who lived in Camden and then Islington, was embedded in community justice and fairness, and was known for “championing the underdog”. He was a magistrate, a charity trustee and served as a school governor for many years.

His dedication runs in his family, inspiring two of his children in their careers. Philip works as a corporate engagement manager for Volunteer Centre Camden, previously serving 10 years as centre manager at Voluntary Action Islington.

Daughter Margo is a family court judge in Holborn. “I think we were always brought up to be very inclusive, understanding people came from different cultures, different backgrounds,” said 46- year-old Philip.

Mr Boye-Anawomah as Mayor of Islington 

Michael stood down from the Town Hall in the 2002 elections but remained involved in local issues as well as the Ghanaian diaspora.

He became good friends with Jeremy Corbyn, who visited him in hospital when his health declined earlier this year.

Paying tribute, the Labour leader and Islington North MP said: “Michael was totally dedicated to giving back to his community and to inspiring others to do the same – and he kept up his passion for progressive politics long after leaving the council. I chatted about politics with Michael for many years, and I will really miss hearing his wise words of advice.”

Richard Watts, Labour Town Hall leader, said: “He was one of the people when I first considered running for the council that I sought advice from. He encouraged me to run and I owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Derek Sawyer, who was a Labour Town Hall leader in the 1990s, said: “He didn’t have to raise his voice because when he spoke, you listened. He was a lovely man, he was a man who had real gravitas.”

Michael, who had been battling cancer for five years, passed away aged 83 at the Whittington Hospital on June 26.

He is survived by Marjorie, a former head- teacher who was his wife of more than 60 years, and his four children, Sam, Prince, Margo and Philip.

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