BIOGRAPHY OF CHIEF LERE PAIMO (MFR); A RARE BREED CALLED EDA ONILE OLA
WRITTEN BY JOHNSON ADE OKUNADE
Chief Lere Paimo MFR (Eda Onile Ola) is one of the most modern dramatists, theatre arts performer, filmmaker, dancer, and singer from Ogbomoso who has distinguished himself on stage for the last few 60years.
Chief Lere Paimo, MFR was born on September 19, 1939 in Ile Ikoyi Odan, Osupa Ogbomoso. His father was a tobacco and yam farmer, the leader of the local farmers’ organization. His mother was a trader. Lere was sent to primary school in Ogbomoso but then left for the Gold Coast (now Ghana).
He continued his education in the Gold Coast (Ghana) up to teacher training college where he obtained Teacher’s Grade two certificate. He eventually returned back to Nigeria and decided to stay in Osogbo where he worked as a classroom teacher in a Baptist Missionary School, Newton Memorial School.
In the 1950s, Osogbo was the seabed of Yorùbá indigenous culture Osogbo. Osogbo continued to serve as a beacon for arts, culture, and dramatics between the 1950s and 1970s; cultural flowering took place during this place majorly in Osogbo. No wonder ace artists, musician dramatists, and actors started their careers in Osogbo.
The likes of Duro Ladipo, Oyin Adejobi, Kola Ogunmola who were the three greatest and most talented actor-managers in the history of Yoruba theatre, established their careers in Osogbo. Lere Paimo, like every other actor of the time, joined the theatre through his experience of acting at school, asides from his experience he was passionate about acting.
In around 1960, while working as a teacher in Osogbo, he decided to join the Oyin Adejobi theatre group, a theatre group founded by Pa Oyinade Adejobi which was an organization performing plays for churches, schools, and cultural and social clubs. A year later in about 1961, Duro Ladipo invited him to Mbari Club – the cultural centre founded by Ulli Beier- to take part in art production. He was interested in painting as well as in theatre, so he accepted the invitation.
From the beginning, Lere Paimo’s talent as an actor was recognized and he was given leading roles. In Eda, a Yoruba version of Everyman, he played Everyman himself, so memorably that up till today his nickname has remained Eda Onile ola. While with Duro Ladipo, he featured in a stage play titled Obamoro with the role of “Chief Basa”. For twelve solid years, he was an apprentice tutelage of the renowned international artist, Late Duro Ladipo before establishing his own Lere Paimo Theatre Group.
Duro Ladipo died in 1978 5yrs after Chief Lere Paimo started his own Theatre group. Lere Paimo regards the years he spent with Late Duro Ladipo as a formative influence on his career, and up to this day refers to him as his boss. He stayed with Late Duro Ladipo for Twelve years and eventually became Ladipo’s manager and right-hand man before starting his own Theatre group.
Chief Lere Paimo, MFR had set up his own Theatre group by 1973. In the 1970s, the theatre group was at its peak. Numerous theatre groups started in this particular decade, old theatre groups also “up” their games by becoming professional and commercial so as to catch up with the trends.
By this time, Chief Lere Paimo, MFR was already well known and celebrated due to his well-approved works with the renowned Late Duro Ladipo. This gave him an edge over others as many aspiring actors already had their eyes on the veteran actor. Chief Lere Paimo is unapologetically passionate and proud of his heritage as a Yoruba man.
After setting up his theatre group, he went ahead to produce most of the first well-accepted movies. As a proud indigene of Ogbomoso, he produced an epic Yoruba movie titled Ogbori Elemoso where he played the lead role of Soun Ogunlana, the first king (Soun) of Ogbomoso and the founder of Soun dynasty; a movie depicting the history of his beloved hometown.
Other repertoires of plays he produced include; Onikoyi, Aye n yi, Gbangba Dekun, Irinajo Eda, Idajo, Aye Gbege, Akukuu-bi, Gba die, Ago Alaago and Ere Ogun.
All the aforementioned movies promote indigenous Yorùbá culture. Also, some of the movies were derived directly from the traditionalist style of play, being based on traditional oral narratives and making extensive use of indigenous art such as drumming, singing, and dancing. Chief Lere Paimo is no doubt, a rare breed.
Eda Onile ola participated fully in the extraordinary creativity and innovativeness of the Yoruba popular theatre. Like all the first-rate theatre of the 1970s and early 1980s, he introduced not only new themes and styles but also new theoretical techniques. He also used colourful backcloths which were changed from scene to scene and more elaborate lighting effects; he was a creative genius.
Chief Lere Paimo will forever be remembered in the history of theatre arts for his innovations and creativity. He remains the sceptre of the old and contemporary theatre industry and has done the nation proud both locally and internationally. He has contributed immensely to the socio-cultural and tourism development of Nigeria through his unbeatable records in the theatre and movie industry.
Ever since on the stage performing, Chief Lere Paimo, MFR has won several awards, Laurels in performing theatre arts and Films. He won from the then Governor-General of Nigeria the then Governor-General of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Trophy for participating in World Berlin Arts Festival 1964; First position in Drama at the Common Wealth Art Festival 1965; Best Actor Award in the first National Film Festival, Best Yorùbá Actor Theme Award 1999 and so many others.
For recognition of his career’s worth, he bagged the chieftaincy title of “Aare Arobajo of Ogbomosoland” from his royal majesty Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, the Soun of Ogbomosoland in 2004.
Equally, in 2005, former President Olusegun Obasanjo bestowed him with a National award of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) alongside Zeb Ejiro in recognition of his immense contributions to the Nigerian film industry.
In May 2013, it was reported that he had a partial stroke, an attack he survived. In April 2014, he won N1million cash prize in a Nigerian game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
On Saturday, September 28, 2019 the Ogbomoso Community Foundation (OCF), a social-cultural organization founded in 2001 under the leadership of late IGP, Chief Sunday Adewusi, organized an event tagged, Night with Stars which was dedicated to honouring Ogbomoso indigenes who have positively impacted the Country, state and the Ogbomoso community.
Outstanding indigenes were giving like Chief Lere Paimo (Eda Onileola) we’re giving Exemplary Award/Outstanding Recognition. Other beneficiaries of the awards/recognition are; Dr. Samson Adegoke (Maigida), Late Chief Ogundare Foyanmu (Posthumous Award), Special Award (Entertainment) Mr. Abolore Akande (9ice), Alhaji Wale Akorede (Okunnu), Prince Femi Oyewumi, Alhaji Ramoni Akanni, Mr.Ayodeji Adegoke, Benedict Ayoola and others.
Chief Lere Paimo MFR is happily married to Olusola, Mojirade, Abiola and Bolanle Paimo. His first son, Dele Paimo is a great gospel singer. Chief Lere Paimo’s hobbies cannot be less than acting and dancing.
- Chief Oyebisi Okewuyi (JP.) 2013, Ogbomoso in the Early Times, Modern Era and in Today’s Contemporary World, Published and printed by Johnny Printing Works, Beside Okelerin Court Area, Ogbomoso, Nigeria
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Written by Johnson Adé OKÙNADÉ, an enthusiast of Indigenous Culture
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