Pa David Emare, the oldest African living in Manchester, United Kingdom, passed away earlier this month surrounded by family members. He was 101 years old.
Emare was born in 1914 in the little village of Igbanke in Edo state, Nigeria, shortly after the start of the First World War. He was the first of five surviving children born to his parents. Sadly, Emare lost both his parents early in life, and he quickly had to learn to fend for himself and the rest of his younger siblings.
Emare apprenticed briefly as a blacksmith in his local community before taking up a trade, selling and buying Muslim prayer mats. The business involved a lot of traveling, so Emare often journeyed as far as Ghana for business.
Later in 1940, well before Nigeria got its independence from Britain, Emare decided to make the trip across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom in search of more opportunities. The ship he traveled in docked in Edinburgh for the winter.
Emare arrived in the UK as an African immigrant with no formal education of any kind, and while he never learned how to read or write, his determination soon found him a job at Bradford Gasworks.
He would later join the services of the Goldberg Salvage Company on Oxford Road, where he spent an impressive 55 years, working and traveling across the UK before he retired.
Emare was a pioneer among Nigerian and African immigrants in the UK and widely seen as a Father figure since he helped several immigrants settle into life, often providing accommodation until they could stand on their feet. As such, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the Nigerian Association of Manchester.
Emare is remembered as being full of anecdotes about the events in his lifetime. He could speak at least eight languages and often told a funny story of how he confused falling snow for sugar when the ship carrying him to the UK docked in Edinburgh in the winter.
He also had a lot to say about the racism that characterized his early years in England. He, however, expressed that there had been changes and things were much better in the later years.
Emare had four children, Helen, Godwin, Christopher, and Paula, with his partner Alma Howard. He is also survived by several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. He was laid to rest on June 24 at Monton Street Church in Moss Side Manchester.
Emare died on June 8th.