NBAA led the research via individual life stories and family members' memories of African women and men in Greater Manchester 1920s - 1950s. Utilising where appropriate newspaper articles and recognised search references.

Afro Solo UK is the result of 2 years research of the African diaspora of Greater Manchester. Each life story is an act of remembrance, a celebration and in some cases a reconciliation. They provide a legacy and are a declaration that this community will never again be overlooked.

Learn more about the project

  • Jide James Olajide Johnson

    A photo of Jide James Olajide Johnson
    I know in many ways I was lucky because my Dad told me he loved me... he might have skirted round it and said 'we have done this because we love you.'
  • Paul Chartey Marbell

    A photo of Paul Chartey Marbell
    My dad gave 57 years to this country building a life, working and raising a family. When he died he was 84 years old.
  • Razach Ishola Finni

    A photo of Razach Ishola Finni
    The fact is that their environment was wholly Africans. They went home to a white woman and they were the boss. So they didn't live in a mini England they lived in a mini Africa.
  • Adam Mohammed Ali

    A photo of Adam Mohammed Ali
    We never knew Mum and Dad not be together.
  • Alfred Lawrence

    A photo of Alfred Lawrence
    I consider myself to be Black British but when I was young I identified more as African because Dad always taught us to, 'hold our heads up high'.
  • Soloman Olayinka Labinjoh

    A photo of Soloman Olayinka Labinjoh
    They were very conservative about how people should behave and how they should deal with things and they were horrified when people didn't behave in a certain and expected way.
  • John Endomini Tottoh

    A photo of John Endomini Tottoh
    I may go sometime, this Saturday I might will the pools. If I win the pools tomorrow, before I turn around and know where I am I could be in Africa.
  • Hawton Samuel Erizia

    A photo of Hawton Samuel Erizia
    They used to say you don’t want this racial mixing because you have got to think of the children – what did they think that we would have 'horns coming out of our heads'!
  • Ekow Francis Quainoo

    A photo of Ekow Francis Quainoo
    We made the wrong move to come to this country but we had to come here and find that out.
  • Olatunde Joseph Moses

    A photo of Olatunde Joseph Moses
    They told us lies to come. Mr Churchill said you don't want to speak German do you? So we volunteered.
  • Solomon Quarcoopome I

    A photo of Solomon Quarcoopome I
    My life is June, Samanda and Susie. And Susie’s kid, Kwame and that is it really, at the moment.
  • Sunday Nwagbara

    A photo of Sunday Nwagbara
    His family was everything we were kept separated from the business.
  • Simon Akintola Fagbore

    A photo of Simon Akintola Fagbore
    They fought like cat and dog my Mum and Dad as people do but they never, never fell out. They did everything together and separately.
  • Larty Jacob Ladipo Lawson

    A photo of Larty Jacob Ladipo Lawson
    I have got lots of his photographs and all his suits stored in an old flight case that when you open it there is a smell of Papa.
  • Abdul Tella

    A photo of Abdul Tella
    If you go to certain parts of our village and you see my Dad walking, they know him as Oba and they bow down to him but the young people, and these are students they call him 'Baba London' or 'Baba England', because he was the first one to travel the world from his small village.
  • Dr Godwin Aunko Edenma Ikomi

    A photo of Dr Godwin Aunko Edenma Ikomi
    'This is where you are at and this is what it is!'
  • Samuel Olabode Olorunshola

    A photo of Samuel Olabode Olorunshola
    My father said that you shouldn’t dwell in the archives of memory.
  • Samuel Diden Yalaju Amaye

    A photo of Samuel Diden Yalaju Amaye
    I first met my father in 1996 in Benin City, Nigeria ... ... ultimately I would thank him for acknowledging me and allowing me to be an equal part of the African family.
  • Samuel Okante

    A photo of Samuel Okante
    When I came back from Africa, I was African. I was so African, it's not true.... I can't explain it finitely.
  • Ousman Fassah Saidy

    A photo of Ousman Fassah Saidy
    The Saidy family is like a tree there are many branches to it. Ousman Fassah was the root of the tree now there are lots of different branches sprouting out. All the time it is growing.
  • Mba Kalu Agbai

    A photo of Mba Kalu Agbai
    You know when you come from school; you see these gates..... Out there beyond these gates is Manchester – inside this house, this is Nigeria.
  • Godfrey Toro Akingbad Akinbode

    A photo of Godfrey Toro Akingbad Akinbode
    My father died when I was seven from bowel cancer. Memories are a series of snap shots.
  • Mussa Mohammed Conteh

    A photo of Mussa Mohammed Conteh
    He changed the village. He was a true African.
  • John Thomas Tottoh

    A photo of John Thomas Tottoh
    My Dad was very hopeful for his children and he really tried to do the best by his children and he lived for his children.
  • Doreen and Philomena Moses

    A photo of Doreen and Philomena Moses
    We rode with the hare and ran with the hounds, when we were younger we didn’t see colour.
  • Erinma Bell

    A photo of Erinma Bell
    I will always be a Nigerian. If I was born in China I wouldn’t be Chinese, I would still be a Nigerian born in China.
  • June Theresa Prouse

    A photo of June Theresa Prouse
    The community was supportive of me.
  • Jonathan Kwaku Mayisi

    A photo of Jonathan Kwaku Mayisi
    I didn't have any family until my two sisters turned up. People that your dad would say 'these are your cousins' they weren’t real cousins, they were from your Dad's tribe or from the same country. That is how they used to stick together.
  • Thomas Jabous Andi

    A photo of Thomas Jabous Andi
    I was never Daddy’s little girl, I was my father’s daughter. I was the core of his life.
  • Sammy George

    A photo of Sammy George
    I don't think he had any understanding of how had it was for his kids because we wouldn't go home and say 'Dad we have been beaten up'.
  • Dazzy Atta

    A photo of Dazzy Atta
    He did the best he could. I think African fathers took their responsibilities very seriously; it was rare to find men who fathered children and then totally disappeared.
  • Prince Ardaye Ankrah

    A photo of Prince Ardaye Ankrah
    Our family was definitely multi - cultural. It was a melting pot.
  • Shecku Brown Seisay

    A photo of Shecku Brown Seisay
    No matter which way you look at it. You walk past a shop window, look at yourself and think 'My god, that's my Dad' and that's it, there is no getting away from that.
  • Euisbius Abyomi Pereira

    A photo of Euisbius Abyomi Pereira
    ...this one man who packed his bag one day and came to England from the African continent, he has produced a tribe in England.
  • Secka

    A photo of Secka

Every picture tells a story. View the photographic exhibition below.

The launch

Afro Solo UK, a 2 year research project into the African diaspora of Greater Manchester from 1925 - 1960. Each life story is an act of remembrance, a celebration and in some cases a reconciliation.

The book

Afro Solo UK should be essential reading for anyone interested in the African Diaspora or post-war migration to the UK.

Many stories narrate the frustration of fractured family histories, but there is also huge pride, nostalgia, curiosity and wonderment.

Despite uneasy memories of prejudice and suspicion, there is a prevailing sense of gratitude to those early pioneers; a realisation that what connects us is love, the tenderness and solidarity of human concern.

It is also about hidden lives, sometimes painful, sometimes heart-breaking, always important. The oral histories of relationships across the divides of race and celebrates the ways in which women sustain and support their families over time.

Like all hidden histories, these stories represent living knowledge that can inform future generations and can help us think differently about the experiences of children from interracial relationships.

Review by Professor Graham Mort
Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research, Lancaster University, UK

Download the PDF

Background on the project

A total of 78 people were initially approached. Resulting in 39 published life story chapters.

They gave their family histories, photographs, their own life stories to help create this important and unique archive.

A cultural and community history based around the lives of Africans in Greater Manchester from the 1920s to the 1960s...

Afro Solo UK might never have happened had Leslie Johnson not donated a collection of photographs to AIURR. The collection included family snaps, studio portraits and street photographs of the family and friends of Leslie’s parents, Jide and Renee Johnson. What made them special was that they were a visual record of Africans in Manchester in the 1940s. A community that had fallen beneath public awareness as increasingly the “Windrush” has become the timeline for Black communities in the UK.

AIURRRC set the photographs as an exhibition showing it in local libraries and sharing it with African community groups. The photos generated huge interest, stirring up memories and re-capturing the names of numerous people featured.

Leslie was delighted with this response: “It is great to know that some of my old family photos created so much interest, and memories for others to enjoy. I am sure my parents are looking down on me amazed that their pictures, from the bottom drawer of the sideboard could ever have been of interest to anybody else! It feels right to give these memories back, so that the Now and Future may understand.”

Leslie’s photographs form the foundations of the Afro Solo UK research of images and memories of the oft-forgotten African community in Manchester.

ASUK is dedicated to West African Jide (Jimmy) and his Mancunian wife Renee who married in 1947 and raised their family in Hulme, Moss Side and Wythenshawe before they both passed away in 1981

Jackie Ould, AIURR.

Afro Solo UK Steering Group Dr Hakim Adi, BA Hons., PhD Dinesh Allirajah, Chair of Trustees NBAA Burjor Avari MMU Honorary Research Fellow Jackie Ould, AIURRRC Paul Okojie MMU, Senior Lecturer in Law Rebecca Asgill, Community Activist

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