Remembering Amaka Igwe: Giant Without Complex (1)

by Femi Akintunde-Johnson

On April 28, about three months after her 51st birthday, that famed director and producer, Amaka Igwe, MFR left us.
We remember a great spirit, a wonderful wife, a marvellous mother and a fiery friend. What a sensational mix of talents, goodness, humour and straightforwardness. Today, I am led to remember her illustrously gaping space…and marvel at her almost irreplaceable legacies.

Dateline: Lagos, Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – 9.36am – I got a ‘ping’ from a young friend, Akinwale Oluwaleimu: “Morn’ sir, is it true that Amaka Igwe is dead?” My wife instantly “re-pinged”: “Nooo, where did you hear that?” He pointed to a blog. ‘But I spoke with one of her staff yesterday, and he didn’t mention anything like that’ – my head spoke. We called the fellow, but it merely rang on – no answer. Then, we called a friend, Lekan Onimole who runs TopRadio FM (co-owned by Amaka). After her husband, Charles Igwe, the next best person to confirm such is Lekan. The man just took the steering wheel out of my hand by his single plaintive sentence: “We lost her yesterday”. My wife screamed off Lekan’s voice as she flung the telephone across the dashboard. Thank God she wasn’t the driver.

Truly, all you’ll read from me about this “spirit” called Amaka are true only to the extent that it is impossible to write all I know about this remarkable woman of untrammelled talents and toughness, great or small details.

Clearly, a towering Igwe (would have been 57 on January 2, this year) and the creative force behind Moving Movies Ltd., with tentacles in music production, live band management, radio ownership, and TV in the offing, Amaka packed into two decades (1994 – 2014) what ordinary folks spend a life-lime salivating over. Her works are delicately scripted, professionally produced and enthusiastically received. Which of her works has not been critically applauded? Rattle Snake, Violated, To Live Again and Forever. And who can forget Fuji House of Commotion? Or Checkmate?

With two degrees from two of Nigeria’s best universities (in Ibadan and Ife) Amaka Igwe knocked on the door of movie-making and broadcast communication with a knuckle clothed in professional fulfilment and even greater accomplishments. And she was still a ‘kid’!”

Amaka Igwe – I often called her “MFR” (to remind her that she was one of the few that truly deserve the national honour). She would always switch on that small smile and wry bemused looks: “Yes FAJ, what is it?” She never wasted word or space in “moving things forward”. I have known and grown fond of Amaka since her Checkmate days. In all these 20 years of professional relationship, the last 14 months (before her demise) had been specially glorious. These last months exploded my admiration and intrigued my imagination about the person, passion and power of Amaka Igwe.

In January of 2013 (her birth month) I intimated her about our dreams for a truly national and professionally grounded gospel music award concept in Nigeria. We had not seen each other for few years before then. She not only warmly cottoned onto the idea, she repeatedly challenged me on ways to improve and expand the solidifying scaffolds that would sustain and project the award beyond the capacity of the promoters in areas of financing, logistics, production finessing and other technical issues. Ever the humanist, she would always remind me to stop thanking her for one act of goodwill or strategic support or the other: “FAJ, why? I have told you this project is OUR own, stop thanking me…”. Oh, Amaka Igwe!

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