Thomas Oladipo Kuforiji (1911-1994)

Man in a suit and hat with young son in a school uniform, with a cap, shorts and long socks

Thomas with his son Raymond in Liverpool, about 1950

Thomas Oladipo Kuforiji, also known as Tommy Brown, was born in 1911 in Abeokuta, Nigeria. He came to Liverpool as a seafarer during the 1930s. During the Second World War he worked at the Royal Ordnance Factory, Kirkby. After the war he worked for British Rail in shunting yards and signal boxes. He later became a guard and travelled all over Britain. In the early 1980s he moved to Wigan. As committed churchgoer he was very involved in his local parish church. He died in 1994.

The Museum of Liverpool was offered some of his clothes and his Bible for the collection. We worked with the Black community to find out more about Thomas Oladipo Kuforiji. With their generous help we were able to trace some of his family in Lancashire and his brother who still lived in Abeokuta, Nigeria.

Finding out about Thomas Oladipo Kuforiji took over two years and included detailed correspondence with Nigeria. Two of his traditional Yoruba outfits, dating from the 1950s, are now part of the Museum of Liverpool's collection. They consist of an abada (overgarment), buba (undergarment), sokoto (trousers) and fila (hat). His brother sent us the photograph displayed below, which shows Thomas wearing one of the complete outfits. The clothes and photograph were displayed in the Magical History Tour exhibition.

Thomas with 3 women, all wearing traditional African costume, on the steps of a church

This photograph was taken in 1966 when Thomas gave away his niece, Mrs Molara Onifade, at her wedding in Leeds. Known as 'Pa Kuforiji' he often took on this role within his family.