Telling David’s story and raising his issues

The RememberOluwale charity uses various methods to put its aims into practice, concentrating its work in the city of Leeds, UK. Overall, our aim (as recommended by the UK Charity Commission) is to promote equality, diversity and racial harmony by telling the story of David Oluwale.

That means explaining what happened in David’s life, including the circumstances of his death in 1969. We also campaign on all the all issues that David endured, including mental ill-health, racism, homelessness, destitution, police brutality, incarceration in prison and psychiatric hospitals. Because he was a migrant — a British citizen who came to Leeds from Lagos — we talk about migration and (un)settlement as well.

We acknowledge how much has changed for the better in Leeds since David’s time here (1949-69), and we support all those in the city who are making it more inclusive, more welcoming, more just, more equal. We want to bring the margins to the centre of the city.

All our events are designed to tell people David’s story, support progressive education and change, and build support for our big idea: a Memorial Garden for David Oluwale in the centre of Leeds, near the River Aire.

We advertise what we are doing on all our social media. Search RememberOluwale on whatever platform you use. Please share what you find.


Pretty much all that do involves artists who help us tell David’s story and to campaign for progress. #ArtsForSocialJustice is one of our tag-lines. We aim for a spirit of joy and creativity in all that we do. We want to create dialogue, conviviality and a more just and equal society. What better way to do this than in poetry, performance, music, film, drama and fine art?

The David Oluwale Memory Garden

Our big goal is the creation of a Memory Garden in the centre of Leeds, near the River Aire, that lifts David’s story from abjection to hope. We are creating a special place in the centre of Leeds to commemorate David.

This will be a premiere example of ‘place-making’ — iconic art, drawing visitors to Leeds, that tells a story, hosts artistic performance, and inspires joyful conviviality. The sculpture will be (in the proper sense of the word) awesome; its water feature will be fun; the vegetation around it will speak of growth and change; and its seats and benches will invite people to pause, reflect, talk and share. We explain this in more detail
here on this website.

Our first idea for making David’s memory was a plaque and a sculpture. But Mahalia France-Mir, one of the first people to join our committee, changed our minds. She wanted somewhere that would be inviting, especially for children, but also for anyone who wanted some peace and some pleasure, for free, in the city centre. She said we should build a garden.

Other committee members agreed, and added that it should connect to water: David’s city, Lagos, is a city of lagoons; David crossed the seas to get to the UK; he died in the River Aire, and the current was pulling him back towards Hull, on the North Sea, where he first disembarked in 1949. Leeds, as Caryl Phillips has explained, is a City on the Water.

23.1.13 Cllr Anne Castle, Lord Mayor of Leeds, speaking at the launch of DOMA on the site initially planned for the Oluwale Memorial Garden. Martin Patterson, then chair of DOMA, on left. © Max Farrar

An interim memorial garden
So we wanted the memorial garden to be as close as possible to the River Aire. Cllr Keith Wakefield, then Leader of Leeds City Council, and John Thorpe, then City Architect, approved of the idea in 2012. They immediately saw how this would work well with the plans they were developing for the tract of land south of the River Aire currently approached when you cross the Leeds Bridge. (The council’s planning framework may be inspected here.) Keith and John suggested we use a patch of land owned by ASDA supermarket close to their headquarters, next to the River Aire, in sight of Leeds Bridge, where David drowned in 1969. ASDA quickly gave us permission to examine and use the (derelict) site. We cleared it and used it for the event that launched the DOMA charity on a very cold evening in January 2013.

The sculpture garden project
In 2016 we pitched an idea for the David Oluwale Memorial Garden to a world-famous artist based in London, Yinka Shonibare CBE, RA. To our delight he was moved by our story and was very keen to offer an idea that captured the values expressed in our presentation. (The aims of the garden are set out here.) He soon produced a sketch of his proposal which entirely gelled with our ideas.

It took a long time to settle on a site for the 10 metre high sculpture that Yinka proposed to make. With financial support from Arts Council England, LEEDS2023 Year of Culture, Leeds Civic Trust, Lord and Lady Harewood’s Charitable Settlement, the Scurrah Wainwright Trust and private donors, a maquette (model) of the sculpture has been produced and made available to the public at The Tetley Art Centre from September 2022 to January 2023.

Funding permitting, the sculpture will be installed in the green space on Meadow Lane in Aire Park during the LEEDS2023 Year of Culture. It will be close to the David Oluwale footbridge and near the point in the River Aire where David Oluwale was drowned in 1969. This phase of the project is being managed by LEEDS2023, in conjunction with Leeds City Council and DOMA.

Cllr James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, in the green space around Meadow Lane (part of Aire Park) during the ceremony to install a Civic Trust Blue Plaque for David Oluwale, 25.4.2022. © Max Farrar

DOMA Events 2021

Saturday 16th October 2021 at 8pm, a BBC Radio 4 documentary: Remembering Oluwale.
Tony Phillips (brother of Caryl Phillips) and Anna Scott-Brown (Overtone Productions) have been commissioned by the BBC to make a one hour radio documentary about David Oluwale and the repercussions of his life and death. DOMA members and supporters have provided interviews and we are looking forward to it being broadcast on Saturday 16th October at 8pm. Please tune in and tell your friends.
This excellent programme is now available
here on BBC Sounds.

The beautiful songs on the programme by the Leeds musician Ellen Smith — based on songs created by Leeds United fans after the trial of Ellerker and Kitching in 1971 — are available here.
Track 1
Track 2

Friday 29th October 2021 at 5.30pm: An Aroko for David Oluwale
The new date for the installation of the plaque which contains Ian Duhig’s Aroko poem is Friday 29th October (at 1pm). This is so we can coincide with the launch of the refurbished Mary Seacole Garden. The site is very close to the Reginald Centre on Chapeltown Road (not far from where David briefly lived in 1963). Local councillors will be at this ceremony, Ian Duhig will read his poem, and you are all invited to join us for this important occasion. (For directions, search “Reginald Centre, Leeds”. The Mary Seacole Garden is adjacent to the Reginald Centre.)

Wednesday 10th November 2021, 5.30 - 8pm: Why David Oluwale Matters: addressing race, mental ill-health & homelessness today. We have arranged the first of an annual panel discussion on the issues David’s life and death provoke us to respond to today. This year it’s about the intersections between race, mental ill-health and homelessness. Our speakers our Alison Lowe (formerly CEO of Touchstone, now Deputy Mayor of West Yorkshire), Heather Nelson (CEO of Leeds Black Health Initiative) and Dr Abiye Hector-Goma (a general practitioner in Leeds). As always, we will bring the arts into the discussion, with poetry from Abdullah Adekola, Chérie Taylor Battiste, Dr Emily Zobel Marshall and others. It’s on Wednesday 10th November, 5.30-8pm at St George’s Centre, 60 Great George Street, LS1 3DL. It’s “pay as you feel” so please book your ticket. Please circulate this among your friends.

DOMA Events

Click here For events that we are currently organising.
Events archive (recent, selected)
Further information on our past events is available on our RememberOluwale Facebook page.

2019 DOMA Events



David was last seen in Call Lane, near Leeds Bridge, in the early hours of 18th April 1969. Witness David Condon said he saw an old man being pursued by two men in police uniform very near to the River Aire. So, during April, we are thinking of David, mourning his death and building a hopeful future for the city of Leeds. We had a special event at his graveside in the morning of 18th April 2019. As always, we use the arts to promote our vision for a better city.

We agree with Chief Superintendent John Perkins, of London’s Metropolitan police, that Inspector Ellerker and Sergeant Kitching were guilty of murder. That’s the charge he recommended, after months of painstaking investigation, in which several honourable police officers testified against their “superiors”. We believe Ellerker and Kitching were the men in uniform seen by David Condon. But the Department of Public Prosecutions downgraded it from murder to a manslaughter charge. We think the Judge misdirected the jury, but that’s another story. (There’s much more information on the WHO page).

Photo of Jackie Kay © Max Farrar

Wednesday 17th April 7pm

Poetry for David Oluwale

Stage@Leeds, University of Leeds

A special performance in honour of David Oluwale’s memory by the acclaimed poets Jackie Kay, Zaffar Kunial and Ian Duhig. More about each of them here Jackie Kay, Zaffar Kunial
Ian Duhig.
Tickets are selling well for this event so book now!
Eventbrite link to information and tickets.

Jackie Kay explains why David Oluwale’s story is so important to her in this video

Here are two of the poems Jackie will read at the 17th April event

Rasheed Araeen and his wife in front of For Oluwale (1972-5) at The Baltic. © Max Farrar



London-based Rasheed Araeen was one of the first artists to respond to the death of David Oluwale. He produced For Oluwale (1972-5) in a series of responses to the reports in the national press of the trial of Ellerker and Kitching. The original work was on display at The Baltic in Gateshead during 2019.

His For Oluwale 2 made in the 1980's was on display at The Tetley Centre for Contemporary Art and Education in Leeds during 2019. RememberOluwale helped with the organisation of this exhibition and contributed historic artefacts to the vitrines displayed at The Tetley.

At The Tetley now, a page from the Yorkshire EVening Post’s coverage of the trial.

Police photo of the River Aire in 1971 around the place at which David was drowned.

Thursday 18th April 2019 at 10am

Gathering at David Oluwale’s graveside

Killingbeck Cemetery, Leeds

Exactly 50 years after David’s death in the River Aire near Leeds Bridge, we will gather in his honour with songs, music and speeches from the Nigerian Community, Leeds and others.
Information, and to book a seat on the coach leaving the parking bay in Kirkgate, close to Leeds Minster (formerly Leeds Parish Church) at 9.30: Eventbirte link

Police photo of Bridal House, Headrow Leeds, where David slept, 1971.

Friday 19th April 2019 5pm

Walking David Oluwale's Leeds

with Joe Williams

The Leeds Library

The historian, writer and actor Joe Williams (Heritage Corner) will lead a guided walk around David Oluwale’s places in Leeds city centre. He will show us where David enjoyed himself in his first few years from 1949, where he slept rough in his last two years, and where he drowned on 18th April 1969.
Eventbrite link to information and tickets.
We are planning an informal discussion at Leeds Library shortly after the end of this walk.

Pictured the cover of LKJ’s first book of poetry, published by Bogle l’Ouverture Press, 1975

Saturday 20th April 2019 2.30pm

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Leeds West Indian Centre, LS7 3JA

The internationally famous poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson will be in conversation with Dr. Emily Zobel Marshall, and he will read his poetry, including those he wrote in the 1970's referencing David Oluwale. More on LKJ...
Eventbrite link to information and tickets.

Photo of King David Oluwale and his Migrant Masqueraders at Leeds Carnival 2017 © Dave Goodfield

Tuesday 23rd April 2019 7pm

Three films for David Oluwale

Leeds Beckett University (Woodhouse Lane)

We will show three short films for David Oluwale:
Wandering Abroad (dir Corinne Silva, including interviews with Arthur France and David’s friend Gabriel Adams; 10 mins)
We Are All Migrants (director Rowenna Baldwin, including King David Oluwale and his Migrant Masqueraders at Leeds carnival; 25 mins)
Empathy (dir Harry Sullivan, with Ogun Arts poets performing live; 3 mins).
Plus Q&A with the directors.
See the trailer for Migrants...
More information and tickets on Facebook: Three Films for #DavidOluwale50th
Eventbrite link to book your tickets...

DOMA Events 2018

1st July 2018: We supported Renaissance One’s Salon titled On Freedom, Memory and David Oluwale. Talks and Q&A with #KeiMiller, #NaomiSumnerChan and #SaiMurray (RememberOluwale Board member) at The Leeds Library.

20th September 2018: We screened (with the Leeds Black Film Club) the 1978 documentary film Blacks Brittanica. Talks and Q&A with #Margaret Henry (researcher on the film) #CourtneyHay #FelinaHughes #ArthurFranceMBE #IrmaHeilegerOBE.

4th October 2018: We supported the launch (with Leeds Irish Health and Homes) of Any Change? Poetry in a Hostile Environment, organised and edited by Ian Duhig. Poets reading included #IanDuhig, #HalimaFrance-Mir, #Ahmed Kaysher and #Sadhu. At Chapel Allerton Library, Leeds.

12th May 2018: We participated (with Chapeltown Arts) in the launch of #IshaqImruhBakari’s poetry collection Without Passport or Apology.
Q&A at Blacks Brittanica screening. L-R Courtney Hay, Felina Hughes, Margaret Henry, Arthur France MBE and Irma Heileger OBE © Max Farrar
Ishaq Imruh Bakari speaking at the launch of his book at The Reginald Centre, Chapeltown Road, 12.5.18. © Max Farrar

DOMA Events 2017

1st Feb 2017: Conversations in Black History with #JanetAlder speaking about the death in police custody in Hull of her brother Christopher, and #MaxFarrar (DOMA Board Secretary) speaking about the life and death of David Oluwale. Event organised by #DrSayBurgin and #DrAnyaaAnim-Adoo at Leeds University’s History Department, in conjunction with the Leeds West Indian Centre Charitable Trust.

10th February 2017: Screening of Generation Revolution, about the latest wave of black militancy in Britain sparked in part by #BlackLivesMatter in the USA and the UK. (With the Leeds Black Film Club.)

8th April 2017: Wandering Abroad poetry workshop, led by #IanDuhig, #SeniSeneviratne and #SaiMurray, funded by Forward Arts.

14th May 2017: We supported the tour by the band RISE!, a six piece band built around the epic voice of Greek singer #IrisMavraki, singing radical songs from all over the world, co-ordinated by #AidanJolly..

28th June 2017: Remembering Darcus Howe: screening of The Mangrove Nine (1974, dir. Franco Rossi and John la Rose), chaired by #DrAnyaaAnim-Adoo, with talks and Q&A from #LeilaHowe #Robin Bunce (co-author of the political biography of Darcus Howe, Renegade, published in 2017) #ArthurFranceMBE, and a special calypso from #AlexanderDGreat. (In conjunction with #StandUpToRacism.)

28th August 2017: King David Oluwale and his Migrant Masqueraders at Leeds West Indian Carnival 2017. Working with #HBMD (the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread carnival troupe,) we commissioned #AlanPergusey to make a sculpture based on the photo we have of David Oluwale, but with a smile. #JaneStorr painted it, and created the waves at the King’s waist, and #HughbonCondor made the harness. Lots of the 100+ masqueraders handed out leaflets to onlookers explaining David’s story and reminding everyone that we are all migrants.

13th October 2017: A Place Called Home — an evening of readings inspired by David Oluwale’s story by #GlynMaxwell, #ImtiazDharker and #Caryl Phillips (patron of RememberOluwale), in association with The Leeds Library.
Poet, artist, film-maker Imtiaz Dharker reading at the event A Place Called Home at the Leeds Library, 13.10.17 © Max Farrar
Seni Seneviratne (centre, scarf) leading the Wandering Abroad poetry workshop at Roscoe Methodist Church, Chapeltown, Leeds, 8.4.17. © Max Farrar
The RISE! band at the Wharfe Street Club in Leeds, 14.5.17. © Max Farrar
Joan Jeffrey (designer) and Simon Namsoo (performing King David Oluwale) with some of his hibiscus-flowered migrant masqueraders in Potternewton Park, Leeds, UK, 28.8.17. © Max Farrar

DOMA Events 2016

26th February 2016: Oluwale Now! Remembering Human Rights in an Age of Crisis was a one-day symposium led by Dr (now Professor) Andrew Warnes of the School of English, University of Leeds. Featuring Guardian journalist Gary Younge and Caryl Phillips (Patron of Remember Oluwale), this event filled the main lecture theatre at the University of Leeds.

Gary Younge speaking at Leeds University in the Oluwale Now! event. © Guy Farrar 

DOMA Events 2015

17th April 2015: The Oluwale Partnership Symposium took place at Leeds Beckett University, facilitated by its Centre for Applied Social Research. It drew practitioners in all the fields that relate to David Oluwale’s life and death. Put together with support from Touchstone, LASSN, Together for Peace and St George’s Crypt, the event included poetry from Michelle Scally Clark, Seni Seneviratne and Sai Murray, with songs from Royal Blood to round off the day. Afterwards, consultant Judith Shalkowski wrote: ‘The David Oluwale Partnership Symposium was a dynamic event, well thought through and organised. It was probably the most creative day I have had the opportunity to take part in. The Open Space and the interjection of arts based presentations was engaging and innovative. I don't doubt that the actions and impact will be realised across our communities in the days to come. Thank you for putting on such an accessible and memorable event.’

4th February 2015: We co-hosted a #BlackLivesMatter speaking tour of the UK, along with Ferguson Solidarity, Leeds University Union BME Campaigns Group, Together for Peace and Leeds Taking Soundings.

Discussion at the Oluwale Partnership Symposium at Leeds Beckett University on 17.4.15. © Max Farrar.
Damon Turner, the #BlackLivesMatter speaker from Los Angeles, at the sculpture next to the Mandela Centre welcoming all to Chapeltown, Leeds. Artwork by Alan Pergusey.© Max Farrar.

Keep Up To Date with #RememberOluwale

RememberOluwale uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to provide information published today that relates to the issues that marked David’s life: mental ill-health, homelessness, racism, destitution and police malpractice. David was a British citizen who migrated here, so we also provide information relating to those seeking refuge in the UK. We give credit to the city of Leeds for the progress it has made since David’s days. But there is so much more to be done. Our aim, always, is to help the city of Leeds become more inclusive, more just, more hospitable and more equal. Please go to our social media to find out about current campaigns.

David Oluwale Memorial Association. A registered charity No. 1151426. A company limited by guarantee No. 8107693.