There are now lots of articles which provide information on David Oluwale’s life and death in Leeds in 1969. On this page we list the ones we think are most useful. You’ll find that lots of informations repeated, but in each article you’ll learn a something new. We know that readers will have different amounts of time to spare, so maybe you should just scroll through and take your pick.

(2015) One of the most detailed accounts of David’s life and death (in 1969) is the one by Caryl Phillips in his book Foreigners – Three English Lives (2007). You can find that book here Our charity has followed up Phillips’ suggestion that there should be a memorial to David in Leeds, and he is the patron of our charity. So we are bound to recommend his work. In this short article he explains David’s story, and sets it in the context of David’s life in the history of Leeds as a city which depended for its growth on water. David crossed the Atlantic, and the North Sea, to get to Leeds, UK. Our Memorial Garden for David will be close to the River Aire, where he was drowned, which connects Leeds to Hull, where he arrived in England in 1949. (In the second part, Phillips talks to our friedd John McLeod, a professor of postcolonial literature Leeds University, about a wider range of issues, all of which we think you will find illuminating.)  The full article is here Phillips McLeod The city by the water

(2014/2015) )Neil Wilby’s excellent article on the important website The Justice Gap summarises David’s story well and makes important points about the trial of Ellerker and Kitching, including the trial’s inability (unwillingness?) to make anything of the racist aspects of David’s case. Read it here

(2013) This article in the Leeds Citizen magazine summarises David’s life and explains ongoing work in the design of the Memorial Garden. (Published Winter 2013/2014)

A useful summary of David’s life and death in Leeds appears on this Wikipedia site

(2012) A slide-show about David and the David Oluwale Memorial Association used at the Black History Month Presentation in Leeds in October 2012 may be accessed via DropBox, here

Other important writings on David Oluwale include the following:

Ron Phillips (1972) ‘The Death of One Lame Darkie’ Race Today, January. This is the pioneering article on David’s treatment at the hands of two Leeds police officers by  Ron Phillips, one of the key people who brought this matter to light.    Download this PDF of Phillips’ article Ron Phillips Race Today 1972

Jeremy Sandford (1974) Smiling David, London: Caldar & Boyers.
This play (produced on BBC Radio in the mid 1970s) came out of Sandford’s interviews in Leeds with people who knew David.  Its factual basis is disputed by subsequent authors, but it is well worth reading.  Copies are available via Abe Books

Linton Kwesi Johnson’s 1975 poem ‘Night of the Head’ referencing ‘Oluwale’ as a ‘victim of terror’ appeared in his collection of poems titled Dread, Beat and Blood (London: Bougle l’Overture publications)

Linton Kewsi Johnson’s 1979 poem ‘Time Come‘ appeared on his CD (with the Dennis Bovell band) Forces of Victory (Island Records): ‘When you kill Oluwale/I did warn you’

Kester Aspden (2007) Legacy of Hate, The Guardian Unlimited.
Another useful summary in a newspaper article.

Kester Aspden (2007) Nationality: Wog – The Hounding of David Oluwale, (London: Jonathan Cape). Reprinted in 2008 in paperback as The Hounding of David Oluwale (London: Vintage Books). This is the book which sets out David’s life story in the most detail, written by a trained historian, but written in a ‘true crime’ style.
click here for Max Farrar’s review in the journal Darkmatter.

Caryl Phillips (2007) Foreigners – Three English Lives, London: Harvill Secker.  The idea for the David Oluwale Memorial came from Caryl Phillips, who documents David’s life in this book and provides his own response, as a young black person growing up in Leeds during the time that David was in the city. Caryl testifies to David’s resolute defiance of the forces ranged against him.
Click here for David Lammy’s review in the Guardian.

The Hounding of David Oluwale by Kester Aspden, adapted for the stage by Oladipo Agboluaje (Oberon Modern Plays 2009).  A great strength of this play is its rich and happy evocation of David’s early life in Nigeria. Click here for the Guardian’s review of this play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

A helpful article arising from the publicity surrounding Kester Aspden’s book and the activities of the Memorial group was published in the Yorkshire Evening Post in 2008.  Click here to read it.

A group of writers called the F-words responded to the David Oluwale story in FWords: Creative Freedom (Peepal Tree Press 2007).  It was a creative project to commemorate the Parliamentary Act, 200 years ago to abolish the British Slave Trade. click here to read reviews and order a free copy.

Corinne Silva’s film ‘Wandering Abroad‘ reflecting on David Oluwale was exhibited by Leeds City Art Gallery in 2009.

The Leeds-based poet Ian Duhig included two poems arising from David’s story in his acclaimed collection Pandorama (Picador 2010): ‘Flooding Black’ and ‘from The Masque of Blankness’.

Zodwa Nyoni, while a member of Leeds Young Authors, can be seen reading her poem ‘A Letter for Mama Oluwale’ in November 2011 here.

The West Yorkshire Playhouse staged Eclipse Theatre’s  adaptation of Kester Aspden’s book scripted by Oladipo Agboluaje. Directed by Dawn Walton, it was first performed on 31st January 2009, before travelling to The New Wolsey Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse. As well as dramatising Kester’s account, this play contained an imagined, evocative portrait of David’s life in Lagos before he stowed away on the ship to Hull. The script was published by Oberon Modern Plays. Eclipse Theatre produced a three minute filmed trailer for the play with Daniel Francis playing David, which can be viewed here.

The academic Tony Kushner discussed David’s story alongside that of other West Africans who stowed away and arrived in Britain in the early 1950s in his book The Battle of Britishness – Migrant Journeys 1685 to the Present (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012). You can read the relevant chapter here Kushner CHAP8 in Word

Dave Whittaker published his poem about David Oluwale on his Facebook page in 2013. Click here to read it.

Singer/songwriter Gary Kaye promoted on You Tube his song about David Oluwale, ‘Mo Fe Lo Le‘ in 2013 (original version 2009).

Type ‘David Oluwale’ into a search engine for thousands more references.


David Oluwale: summary of key publications [links above]

  1. Ron Phillips (1972) ‘The Death of One Lame Darkie’ Race Today, January.
  2. Jeremy Sandford (1974) Smiling David, London: Caldar & Boyers.
  3. Kester Aspden (2007) Nationality: Wog – The Hounding of David Oluwale, London: Jonathan Cape. 2nd edition (paperback) The Hounding of David Oluwale (2008)
  4. Caryl Phillips (2007) Foreigners – Three English Lives, London: Harvill Secker.
  5. The Hounding of David Oluwale by Kester Aspden adapted for the stage by Oladipo Agboluaje (Oberon Modern Plays, 2009)
  6. ‘Flooding Back’ and From ‘The Masque of Blankness’ in Ian Duhig’s collection of poems Pandorama Picador Poetry, 2010
  7. Caryl Phillips The City by the Water (2015)

Web search ‘David Oluwale’ for thousands of references.