Haji Latif Ahmed


 

 

 

 

 

 

Latif Ahmed was twelve when his family decided it was time for him to join his father in the UK; the situation in Pakistan was rapidly deteriorating due to problems connected with the partitioning with India. Mr Ahmed recalls returning to his village after the fighting to witness all the shops had been looted and dead bodies lay everywhere. Mr Ahmed had travelled from Dadyal to Karachi where he flew to the UK arriving at London Heathrow then travelling to Wright Road Birmingham where his father owned a fish and chip shop. His father had also owned a boarding house in Ellsmere Road where twenty two residents paid eight shillings (40 pence) a week for accommodation.

Mr Ahmed recalls that when he first came to Birmingham “you could trust people, the milkman would leave eggs, bread and milk on the doorstep and when you came home in the evening it was still there, no one had stolen it”. He also comments on the weather saying that it “used to snow so much and was really foggy, you had to tell the buses which way to go, they had chains on the buses that’s how bad it was”. He also recalls that there was no central heating in the houses and that they used paraffin heaters to keep warm as a coal fire was too expensive.

 

Because Mr Ahmed came to the UK at the age of twelve he continued with his education attending Highfield and Leigh School before completing his education at Duddeston Manor secondary school. He then went to Pitmans College on Corporation Street but unfortunately his father passed away and in turn Latif got a job as he then needed to support his family back in Pakistan. His first wage in 1958 was £3.50, but later he worked for Johnny Writes in Nechells as a press operator and crane driver earning £17.00 for a 6 day week. He then worked at Parkinson’s in Stechford before working at Nechells Power Station for 6 months. After working at the power station Latif decided to change direction and became a bus driver working for 18 years, a job he proclaims he thoroughly enjoyed as he got various perks, including free tickets to watch Aston Villa (his football team), an experience he cherishes and looked forward to.  Whilst working on the buses Latif opened a clothes shop on Alum Rock Road which was managed by his wife.

Latif returned to Pakistan in 1961 and recollects that he took a watch radio, torch and a tape recorder “people used to record their voices, when I played it back to them they were amazed that they could hear their own voices”.  In 1964 he returned to Pakistan to get married, his wife joining him in England in 1965 with his eldest daughter being born in 1967.  He remembers that in the early days there was one mosque on Speedwell Road, Balsall Heath which not well attended at that time, due to people having to work long hours to look after themselves and their families.  Latif also recalls that Ramadan and Eid only started being celebrated fully about 15 years after he arrived in the UK. Latif is happy that the community now have access to mosques and Islamic education as there was nothing available in his early years in the UK.

Latif has loved being in the UK and firmly believes that his sixty years living in England has made him the man he is today.  He doesn’t see a great future for the younger generation due to the lack of opportunities forcing high unemployment figures, however on the flipside he cannot see many families wanting to return back to Pakistan. Latif however has made it known that he wants to return to Pakistan to die as it is his motherland and the land he loves. He also believes that the younger generation have prospered from being educated in the UK rather than Pakistan, the downside being that they have forgotten their roots, he stated that “it is a sad ending as our kids don’t know about their fathers property or ancestral land”.