By Christy Anyanwu
Joko Oni is a socialite, better known as Gold Rush and the delight of paparazzi at events. Like most celebrities, she has stepped back a bit because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still wreaking havoc among public personalities. The amiable lady spoke with Sunday Sun on her seeming absence from social events and other relevant issues.
You don’t grace pages of magazines and appear on a television these days, does that have to do with the pandemic?
Yes. The fear of COVID-19 is the beginning of wisdom. I have lost my beloved ones to this pandemic. So, I have to be careful and watch what I do and how interact. I have to stay safe and comply with all the COVID-19 safety protocols, by staying more at home avoiding unnecessary visits and social interactions. This change has brought me closer to God. I now find more time to go to the mountain, to and pray. These days, I only attend family functions. I also minimize my going to church. I pray at home, I have my altar in my house to comply with COVID-19 protocols..
When you are not at a high society party, it is as if that party has not started. What informs that?
That statement is not true. I go to parties I’m invited to. If I’m not properly invited, I will never attend your party. All my friends know that they can’t just call me and say, ‘Joko let’s go to a party and I will follow them. You have to know me and invite me personally to attend your party. I know a lot of very important personalities. It’s just a pity that when I get to their functions, the cameras will only pick on Joko Oni and when they see it on television, people feel somehow. That she’s a party freak and all that. It’s the grace of God, that is manifesting. Some people go to parties more than I do but are not picked by the cameras. This afternoon, a picture of mine taken at a party was sent to me from Ovation Magazine, London and Dubai.
What kind of person are you really?
I’m a down-to-earth person. There’s nobody I cannot kneel down to greet. You know I’m an Ibadan girl, I love to respect people. I am humble and show humility but I don’t take nonsense from anybody. I hate cheating, just let me be. The Lord has taught me to be humble, just be nice and give the little you have to people. Since I started giving, I have never lacked. I can testify that it’s good to give. Try and have a good connection with Jesus Christ, Ave Maria and Holy Michael, these are the ones I call on and they are always with me. I’m not afraid. I enjoy praying. I love dancing. I love spiritual music. Anywhere I hear the name of God, I jump up, dance and praise God. I don’t spray musicians who do not sing to praise God. But once I hear God’s name in parties, I dance, that is my covenant with God. When I’m sleeping and I hear spiritual songs I wake up, dance and go back to bed to sleep. I don’t know why God is so kind to me. I have joy, peace and contentment.
What has life taught you as a person?
Life has taught me to be humble and nice. Nobody is perfect. Just be yourself, be kind to those around you.
What is your take on fashion?
In the past, there was nothing I could not wear as long as it was a good dress. But now, all my dresses, my bags, everything about me is Dubai. I don’t know the connection I have with Dubai but I have that connection through God. My photograph has been in Dubai for 10 years on billboard. The Arab man that did that also put my photograph on his complimentary card. Nigerians who travel to Dubai bring complimentary card to me. He sells clothes and gold. Nigerians who travel to Dubai come back to tell me they saw me on billboard. I had no money to travel to Dubai back then but they saw my pictures on billboard. Two of my husband’s sisters went to his shop and said this is our sister-in-law. The man said, yes, Joko is a big woman in Nigeria, everybody knows Joko in Nigeria. I was surprised when I heard all these. After 10 years, I was blessed financially and I traveled to Dubai. Meanwhile, my photographs had been there for almost 10 years. Although , I don’t know the exact location but a young Nigerian lady informed me that my photograph is on the bill board, somewhere and said she was just coming from the location. So, I told her to take me. We got to the shop and I asked the man, why did you put my photos out there? He said that he saw the picture in Ovation magazine. And since he got the picture from newspaper cuttings there was nothing I could do to him. That was my 50th birthday party published in Ovation magazine. He said a lot of people wanted their pictures used on his bill board but he preferred Joko the rich woman, meanwhile, I’m not rich (laughs). I don’t know the attraction but I guess it was the way I dressed for my 50th birthday anniversary that attracted him. When I was leaving his shop he said I should pick whatever I wanted but I didn’t mind him. Since he had described me as ‹Joko, the Big Woman in Nigeria, I rather behaved like a big woman also (laughs). Their dresses are all that I wear; The Abaya and everything I wear are solidly Dubai.
How have you been coping with COVID-19?
COVID is real. I lost my best friend, Susan Gummel. I lost my uncle, Chief Harry Akande but who are we to question God. Steam inhalation is the word, morning and night. Sometimes, I put dongoyaro or aboniki to steam. We are always in the house, sunlight damages the skin. Sitting at home my lifestyle has changed.
What is your favourite food?
I love eba, I eat eba a lot but I’m told not to eat eba again due to old age. I love Lebanese bread. I can eat it thrice a day with honey.
What are looking to in the future?
I would like to improve in the area of charity and helping my church, giving thanks to God, and my root where I was born in Ibadan. I have been in Cherubim and Seraphim church since 1960.