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After 54 years David Oluwale is remembered for bringing people together with Hibiscus Rising Leeds.

David Oluwale died 54 years ago, and he is remembered by the Hibiscus Rising sculpture bringing people of Leeds together.

Witnesses say he was chased into the river Aire by two police officers. His body was found two weeks later. He was 38 years old. The two officers were later charged with assault, and spent 56 months in prison between them.

David Oluwale boarded a cargo ship from Nigeria to sail to Hull taking enormous risks to start a new life. Once in Britain he was arrested and treated as a British citizen and spent 28 days in Armley prison.

He was homeless and slept in shop doorways, in and around the city centre of Leeds. The police would routinely beat him up which led to serious head injuries. Oluwale later spent eight years in High Royds Psychiatric Hospital near Menston.

A blue plaque in his honour reads: ‘A British citizen, he came to Leeds from Nigeria in 1949 in search of a different life. David Oluwale was hounded to his death near the bridge after enduring years of prosecution. Two police officers were imprisoned for their crimes. The river tried to carry you away, but you remain with us in Leeds.’

David is buried in Leeds Killingbeck Cemetery in a pauper grave.

The Hibiscus Rising is a way to remember David Oluwale and bring people together in Leeds to celebrate his life, to keep moving forward. Yorkshire Voice joined supporters at the launch of the sculpture honouring Oluwale to create a lasting legacy to mark his life. The ten metre high sculpture is inspired by the hibiscus flower, a plant ubiquitous in his home country Nigeria.

David Oluwale – Celebration

Hibiscus Rising – Leeds. Picture by Lesley O’Connor

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