SHOLA JOSEPHINE AMUWO (SIS SHOL) R.I.P.
By Michael Egbejumi-David
Sometime in the summer of 2009, I got an email inviting me to a book signing and reading event by Prof Okey Ndibe. Okey was flying in from the USA to read extracts from his book, ‘Arrows of Rain’ in London.
I attended this two-day affair and it turned out to be a fantastic literary event. The organiser and Compere of the event was Shola Josephine Amuwo - Sis Shol to most people who knew her.
At this time, coincidentally, I had just completed the manuscript for my first book. I approached Jo and talked about my upcoming book. As a Medical person, I wasn’t too confident I could handle or cope with the vagaries of getting a book published and then the subsequent, mandatory publicity. Jo laughed at me. She took me into her office and sat me down. She allayed most of my fears, encouraged me in no small way, and, right there and then, she promised me that if I get the book published, she would make her work facility (Account 3 Ltd – a training and development social enterprise centre) available for my use.
She kept her word. After the publication of my book, Sis Shol (who, apart from her work at Account 3 Ltd where she was the Chair, Board of Directors as well as the Marketing Director, was also teaching part time at the University) took over and took charge. She practically dragged me to have a book signing event at Account 3. She invited about half the guests that turned up that night. She provided the entertainment. Again, as during Okey’s event, Shola was the Compere. I was amazed by her dexterity; at the start of the proceedings, she sold just ten copies of my book for £1,000!
And that was the Jo I knew.
That was the Shola I came to love, befriend, admire and respect.
Jo has time for everyone – EVERYONE! She was particularly fond of kids and young people. She greeted you by saying, with that peculiar smile: “How are you, Hon?” Or “How you dey, Hon?” But most of us have learnt not to leave a message on her mobile phone, she just never reckoned much with that device!
During one of my last conversations with her, Jo told me of her desire to increase the exposure of African Writers in the Orient. She had visited Japan and was beginning to put together the mechanisms of achieving this goal. She informed me that she was working on taking Okey Ndibe with her to kick-start this laudable project.
But Sis Shol was ill. She suffered from renal problems, and in the end, she succumbed to the illness.
However, even as I write this, I can only see Jo’s sparkling eyes and bright smile. I can only hear her encouraging words. I can only feel gentle hugs and boundless energy. Ah, it is difficult for me to know that Jo has gone to rest. God, I will miss Shola! I will truly miss her dynamism.
My friend and sister, eternal rest in the bosom of the Lord. We will cherish your memories; for those of us that were fortunate to be touched by you are richer for it.
We will celebrate your worthy life!