I remember Sister Rose.
Sister Rose Òdòdó ẹ̀yẹ, as I was found to whisper her name to myself. I can’t forget Sister Rose, not in this lifetime.
I was a young teenage boy back then in Ilorin who had just come from Lagos. It was quite a difficult time for me trying to figure out what to do with my life and all the tussle that came with it. The truth was that I was hiding in Ilorin. I was hiding from confronting my Dad about his disagreement over my decision to study Music. With all of that came uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and this overwhelming feeling of darkness and gloom. And only church and music provided succour.
I had just joined the Rhema Mass Choir,, and that was as exciting and as difficult as it could be. RMC was a choir’s choir. Every musical expression and talent was there. It was the choir that choir leaders came to, to get trained and draw inspiration. And there I was, a new member in the midst of these heroes of mine. It was intimidating. I still remember how I couldn’t even keep up at the first rehearsal and almost lost my voice.
Put all of these together and you’ll find me there, a young boy with low self-esteem and self-worth trying to navigate through it all.
And there was Sister Rose, at one corner of the Soprano singers.
Sister Rose was the first ‘Friend of the Month’. Sister Rose took it seriously like I was her actual friend, like I was some ‘important’ member of the choir. She checked up on me, gave me a gift, always smiled at me, mentioning my name and greeting me specifically at every meeting day. It was the most amazing feeling.
Sister Rose’s smiles and greetings became the highlight of my week. I started to look forward to rehearsal, a reminder that life isn’t all about the gloom and the uncertainty. That, maybe, life was more interesting than I experienced, something to look forward to. Sister Rose’s smile was like a little spark that brightened my otherwise dark days.
And gradually, I started to find my footing and place in RMC and life in general.
With time, I realised sister Rose’s actions weren’t really about me but an attitude that she had for all. She was beautiful but much more, she wore her smile like a gift and shared it with all.
Sister Rose remains a reminder to me that the little things matter.
By the time I left RMC, asides from the leadership and musical responsibilities I grew to handle, I had become a sort of a clown for the choir. I didn’t have the beauty of Sister Rose, but I had one goal: no matter what your week was like, you’d enjoy rehearsal, and there was going to be a moment to laugh, and an ImisiOluwa to smile at you. And I have carried that with me till today.
In many ways, Sister Rose’s legacy is the inspiration behind the song “Maybe We Can“, a reminder that people are fighting battles we don’t know, and that Maybe We – the simple, little, mundane things that we do can be the light that brightens someone’s night.
By loving our own selves and sharing our light, we help others find a path in their dark days.
I am the ImisiOluwa; and I am grateful for people like Sister Rose Itua Olugboye.
1. Òdòdó ẹ̀yẹ was something I heard from a Nollywood movie, that seemed to mean the Yoruba translation of Rose Flower
2. Rhema Mass Choir is the choir of the Rhema Chapel International Churches, Ilorin. RMC, as it is often called, is a very large choir of singers and instrumentalists. And have since had many big old and contemporary musicians pass through it, including Dunsin Oyekan.
3. Friend of the Month is an initiative of the RMC leadership in 2009, led by Fisayo Ogunsola, that encouraged interaction and engagement within the very large choir. Friends of the month were expected to pray, visit, and gift each other.