Four Minute Interview with the Mayor of London, Ken Livingston.
After introducing myself and my interest in sports in Tanzania, I asked him how much he was aware of Tanzania.
“ Tanzania, yes I remember your First President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who is one of my icons. Although I have never visited the country, I would love an opportunity to go there.”
“Apart from Julius Nyerere, Mr Mayor, is there anything else about Tanzania you are aware of in terms of the country?” I asked.
“ Yes, I am aware of Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. I have not climbed it but I am aware how famous it his and many Londoners climb Mt Kilimanjaro so it is well known and important as a tourist attraction for Tanzania.”
“Mr Livingstone, I have a particular interest in sports and so would like to first congratulate you for your efforts in securing London to hold the Olympics in 2012. I am hoping that Tanzania will be well represented”.
“Yes, in terms of Tanzania sports, I remember very well Filbert Bayi who was a world champion for the 1500 metres so whenever you mention Steve Cram and Sebastian Coe, you have to remember Filbert Bayi.”
“ I am also familiar with the Kiswahili language and have heard that Kiswahili is becoming a very popular international language and that it is up to you Swahili speakers to make sure the language increases in popularity”.
“Thank you Mr Livingstone for your time and I wish you all the best”.
Ken Livingstone was elected Mayor of London in 2000, the first person to hold this office. Ken was born in Lambeth, London in 1945.
He has been a Labour councillor in Lambeth and in Camden. He became a Labour member of the Greater London Council in 1973 and became its leader in 1981, a position he held until March 1986 when Margaret Thatcher abolished the GLC, ending an era in London government. The GLC’s campaign against abolition was one of the most popular political campaigns in London’s history. London-wide government was only restored in 2000.
From 1987 to June 2001, Ken was the Labour Member of Parliament for Brent East. He was elected to the position of Mayor of London in 2000 as an Independent. In 2004 he won re-election to a second term as Mayor as the Labour candidate.
He has written two books, If Voting Changed Anything They’d Abolish It (1987) and Livingstone’s Labour (1989).
Ken Livingstone campaigned for seven years to get the statue of Nelson Mandela erected in Parliament Square. The prominent position of the nine foot bronze statue, facing the Houses of Parliament, will honour Nelson Mandela as one of the greatest fighters for freedom in the 20th century. It will also be a permanent statement of London’s abhorrence of Apartheid and every other form of racism.
Filbert Bayi, the well known athlete was born in Karutu, near Arusha, Tanzania. He made his debut in the 1972 Olympic Games at Montreal. In 1973 he won the African Games 1500 m, later running the year’s fastest 1500 m at 3:34•6 (min:sec). At the Commonwealth Games of 1974, he ran one of the greatest world records as he forged away from the rest of the field in the 1500 m to take the gold medal in 3:32•16, ahead of John Walker of New Zealand. In Kingston, Jamaica, in 1975 he improved the mile world record to 3:51•0, later that year Walker recorded the first sub 3:50 s mile. The public were denied the keenly awaited clash between Bayi and Walker when Tanzania boycotted the 1976 Olympic Games. Bayi won the African Games 1500 m again in 1977. Bayi is now Secretary General of the Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC).