BY Dollita Okine, 9:40am March 25, 2024,

Vaughan Gething: Meet the son of Zambian chicken farmer now first Black leader in all of Europe  

Vaughan Gething, a Zambian-born lawyer, has become the first Black head of government in Wales, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Photo Credit: Wales Government

Vaughan Gething, a Zambian-born lawyer, has become the first Black head of government in Wales, the United Kingdom, and all of Europe.

Upon taking office, the trailblazer said, “Today we turn a page in the book of our nation’s history—a history we write together. Not just because I have the honor of becoming the first Black leader in any European country, but because a generational dial has jumped too,” per NPR

Following the resignation of his predecessor, Mark Drakeford, the 50-year-old was elected by the Welsh parliament in Cardiff, approved by King Charles III, and has assumed the role of first minister for Wales.

Aware that his race and background may lead to some controversy, he expressed, “It is a matter of pride, I believe, for a modern Wales, but also a daunting responsibility for me and one that I do not take lightly. But today, we can also expect a depressingly familiar pattern to emerge with abuse on social media, racist tropes disguised with polite language, people questioning my motives. And yes, they will still question or deny my nationality, whilst others will question why I am playing the race card,” per The New York Times

Gething has been elected to a place where nearly 94 percent of the population of about three million is white, as stated by government data.

Addressing the critics, he remarked: “It is very easy not to care about identity when your own has never once been questioned or held you back. I believe the Wales of today and the future will be owned by all those decent people who recognize that our Parliament and our government should look like our country.”

Gething highlighted that he is the first Welsh leader to emerge following the devolution of powers from the United Kingdom’s central government in London to national governments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which began with public votes in the late 1990s.

Having assumed the role of first minister, he will lead the Welsh Government and act as custodian of the Welsh Seal. Besides that, he will serve as the chair of the Welsh Cabinet and be in charge of creating, developing, and presenting Welsh Government policy.

According to the BBC, the first minister serves as the face of the Welsh government, representing the character and spirit of the administration.

Gething was born in Zambia to a Zambian mother, a poultry farmer, and a White Welsh father, a vet. He moved to England when he was two years old and grew up in Dorset before attending university in Wales.

The Guardian reported that his parents faced racism when they moved to Britain. However, later, at the age of 17, he became a member of the Labour Party after reading stories about Nelson Mandela in his newspaper round, which motivated him.

Gething attended Aberystwyth and Cardiff universities, where he rose to become the National Union of Students Wales’ first Black president before setting out to work as a trade union lawyer.

Gething has been a part of the Welsh government for a long time, per Forbes. 2011 saw him enter the Welsh legislature for the first time, and in 2013, he became the first Black minister in a devolved country of the United Kingdom. Later, during the Covid-19 pandemic, he held the position of Wales’ minister of health and, since 2021, its minister of the economy.

The Associated Press reports that Gething is now Wales’ fifth first minister since the Senedd’s founding in 1999. He won the election for Welsh Labour leader with a narrow majority of 51.7% of the vote.

With his election, three of the U.K.’s four countries — England, Wales and Scotland — now have non-white leaders. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is of Indian descent while Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has Pakistani heritage.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 25, 2024


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