Yesterday, 22 July 2022 marked the 80th birthday of Mrs Abah Folawiyo, the widow of the former Baba Adinni of Nigeria, Chief Abdulwahab Iyanda Yinka Folawiyo, and the mother of my very dear friend, the irrepressible Segun Awolowo. Sisi Abah as she is fondly called was born in 1942 into the prestigious and noble Koku family of Ijebu Ode. Her mother was Ghanaian, and she was brought up and educated in both Ghana and Nigeria. On account of this fact, she is very close to her maternal family in Ghana. Her education in a Convent School in Cape Coast, Ghana was to shape her life which she considers as a sober one despite her flamboyance, popularity and celebrity status.
Sisi Abah is known and reputed for her expertise in fashion, designing and sewing. She was the winner of the first Daily Times Fashion Designer Award and also won the first Fashion design award in Ghana organised by the defunct Ghana Airways at the launch of its first aircraft. Her first trip abroad was to Beirut being the prize she won as the winner of the Ghana Airways competition.
A very talented woman. Sisi Abah had her own fashion house situated in Surulere, Lagos, which was known as Labanella. She started the fashion house with her friend Ornella, and this led to the eponymous name of the fashion house. The fashion house, a pioneer in its field, was a very successful brand. It became even more successful when then General Olusegun Obasanjo, as Head of State, banned the importation of foreign clothes and materials. Her business blossomed and boomed as she took advantage of the ban. Although she has retired, she still designs and sews for a select few.
Sisi Abah has gained recognition from Nigerian Fashion Designers. For a long time, she was the national President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), of which I became a patron years ago, and she is now a life patron of the Association.
Sisi Abah is also a very good cook. Family and friends will attest to this. She is a fantastic hostess, always prepared to entertain guests and leaving nothing to chance by not only supervising the cooking, but personally doing most of the cooking herself including buying and preparing the ingredients. Sisi Abah puts paid to the debate and controversy about which Jollof Rice is the best by plumbing for Nigerian Jollof Rice. She s most qualified for this task given her Nigerian and Ghanaian roots. I must not forget her dancing prowess which exhibited when I had the honor of hosting her and her friends, inclusing Iya Oge Opral Benson, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, and others at my home in Accra, Ghana.
Most importantly, she is a family woman. She also loves wholly and with all her might. Previously married to Lagun Adesanya, now a Celestial Church Priest, She married Alhaji Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo and converted to Islam because that was his faith. She had no children from these relationships. Her only son, Segun Awolowo is the grandson of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his wife, Mama H. I. D Awolowo.
The lovely, beautiful and delectable Sisi Abah is a very caring and warm Sister, Aunt, Mother, Grandmother and Friend and regularly gives to charity as part of her philanthropic and Islamic duties. She looks after everyone in her circle of influence.
I wish her a very happy 80th birthday.