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Square that will be named after Rosa Emilia Clay (forthcoming)

    Rosa Emilia Clay (born in Omaruru, present day Namibia in 1875 – died in Covington, Michigan, US in 1959) was a primary school teacher and a choir and theater director who became the first African person with the Finnish citizenship. She was born to a British hunter and merchantman Charles William Clay and to an unknown Omarurun woman who was separated from her baby soon after the birth. Since the age of four she was raised in the Finnish Missionary School and adopted by the missionaries Karl August and Ida Sofia Weikkolin who returned to Finland together with Rosa in 1888. Rosa lived with the Weikkolin family until her adulthood under a very strict discipline. She was also taken to perform publicly in the spiritual meetings as an example of African child who has been baptized and raised to Christianity.
    In 1893 she was sent to the teacher seminar to Sortavala where she graduated in 1898 as a primary school teacher and also started a career as a talented choir singer and director. As a first African, she got the Finnish citizenship in 1899. She worked in couple of different places in the Finnish countryside as a teacher and suffered often from the racist attitudes of the local people. Her longest position as a teacher was in the city of Tampere in the Ceder’s school in 1901-1903. The school was located on the place where the Tampere city council decided to zone a public square named after her in 2020.
    In 1904 Rosa Emilia Clay migrated to the U.S. and built a life in the Finnish-American community of New York. She married a Finnish playwrite Lauri Lemberg, and the couple got to children. The family lived in Michigan and Oregon but Rosa and Lauri ended up into divorce. Rosa raised her children alone and made a living by teaching, singing and as a choir and theater director. She died in the Finnish-American elderly home in Covington, Michigan.

    Address : Rosa Emilia Clayn square, Tampere


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