Nigerian man David Emare who was the oldest verified African living in Manchester, UK, has passed away. Pa David, as he was affectionately called, died in a Manchester hospital on Wednesday, 8th June, surrounded by family members. Helen, one of his daughters, summed up what many others had already said of him: “He was a man of great principle and determination.”
Curtis Mclardie, his youngest grandson, said: “Grand daddy was a man with a huge heart, always willing to help and assist. Our family, our community, far and wide, has lost and the after life has gained a humble giant.”
Mr Emare was born in the Nigerian village of Igbanke, Edo State, in 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. He was his parent’s oldest child and brother to Okoroba, Ogboi, Onyejumonu and Emeye.
His parents both died when he was young and after learning a trade as a blacksmith he bought and sold prayer mats to make ends meet, travelling to Ghana to do so. He later sailed to Britain in search of a new life in 1940 – the year after the Second World War broke out.
Despite his lack of a formal education, he found a job at Bradford Gasworks and later worked for salvage company Goldberg in Oxford Road, where he worked for 55 years until his retirement – travelling the length and breadth of the UK during that time. He never learned to read or write, but was fluent in at least eight different languages.
“I never went to school a day in my life,” he once said.
Mr Emare met his partner Alma Howard through mutual friends in 1958 and went on to have four children with her: Helen, 55; Godwin, 52; Christopher, 50; and Paula, 49; as well as raising her eldest, Carol, as his own. The couple were together for 18 years before separating, but remained good friends
He had several grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren – both in the UK and Nigeria. A book about his life, entitled The Long Journey of Pa David Emare, was later written by Emmanuel Nwene-Osuh,a community leader in Manchester.
As one of the pioneers in the formation of the Nigerian Association in Manchester, he helped many Nigerian’s who required assistance upon their arrival to the city. He considered himself a father figure to them all, often providing them with accommodation in his own home, until they could live independently.
He also told funny stories of his adventures and the people that he had met. There were always words of wisdom to the younger generation. Each of his children and grandchildren were each taken on a pilgrimage back to Nigeria, so that they would know where he was from and know their heritage.
David Emare was laid to rest on June 24, at Monton Street Church in Moss Side, Manchester at 11.30am.
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