Tributes Pour in as Dola Bamgboye Goes Home October 22
In the morning of Saturday 10 October, Okundola Agboola Bamgboye, MTN events and sponsorship manager, was said to have gone for a walk. A source close to the amiable deceased fondly called Dola$ said he slept after the walk but did not wake up from the sleep only to be confirmed dead.
The news got many wracked by grief and seething anger: from his colleagues at work with the telco giant; to associates in the integrated marketing communication world; ditto the Grammarians —his Alma mater at CMS Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos and finally family members and friends.
Indeed, the year 2020 is not smiling as it has taken many saints including Dola. The shock was spontaneous and it was understandable. Many have attested to it that Dola was, without a doubt, a jolly good fellow, the most observant, attentive and knowledgeable man to meet.
Tall and a giant of a man —you can’t miss his presence—yet Dola was compassionate and humble. He represented the man many wish to be. With a contagious smile and infectious laugh, he turned heads every time he talked and wowed many with his good nature and open heartedness.
“Dola was there for everyone. He would dance for your newborn, He would bury your dead, He would light up your gathering and he would always ask after your own… He was there for everyone. You didn’t need to ask,” Ivor Ekpe, a communication expert and friend of the deceased, wrote in his tribute titled “GOODNIGHT… Guardian of Our Cool”.
Mr. Funso Aina, another colleague and Senior Manager, External Relations, MTN Nigeria, aptly writes: “Dola baba ($)…Never a dull moment; larger than life; incurable optimist; humanist; survivor par excellence and a jolly good fellow. Not sure we will be able to fill the huge vacuum you left behind. Ever. Rest in peace bro. I know you will crack ’em up in heaven.”
Tunji Adeyinka, the CEO, Connect Marketing, was also brief in his tribute: “Brother, friend, colleague. Real as real can be and open minded. We will miss you bro but you are safe now. Respect! As you would say.”
To Eniola Ashimolowo, another colleague of Dola, “life is indeed like a mist, fleeting! Today we are here, but tomorrow? Tomorrow is not guaranteed. No one knows what tomorrow is going to bring. The irony is that it cannot even be insured. It hurts, it really hurts. Dola was so full of life and happiness, always brimming with positive energy. He was a good person loved by all. He loved all equally, without any discrimination. His humility was remarkable.”
Adewolu Adene, another distraught colleague of Dola feels amazed how there are so many videos of Dola lighting up a room with his love of life and people.
He described the deceased as “an awesome gentleman who also knew his way around the streets….a people person….never took himself or life too seriously….was always blown away by his warmth towards the ladies at the front desk and the security folk…Dola knew their names and boy did they love him back….what a guy….may God grant him eternal rest.”
Dola was described as a repository of influential and powerful names; and he was also close to many of them. The lovely guy was a British-Nigerian with infectious character which endeared him to friends from every tribe, colour and background.
“Dola knew the right contacts and used them for good,” said Dr. Kester Osahenye, Senior Manager, Trade Communication, MTN Nigeria. “So many individuals used the words “Godly”, “family-oriented”, “good person,” “generous”, “humble”, “kind”, “supportive”, “jovial”, “bubbly”, “respectful”, “loyal” and “leader” to describe Dola. The truth is Dola lived his life with remarkable character —one surrounded in Godliness, generosity of heart, humility, and respect for people no matter how young or old. He lived his life in the manner that he wanted to communicate the same through his action…Dola cherished everyone. He was committed to his family, friends and colleagues. You can bet on his unflagging loyalty,” he added.
Reports have it that 58-year old Dola had been treating high blood pressure and diabetes for many years. He was said to have had one or two medical crises prompting successful medical attention abroad. But unexpectedly on Saturday 10 October, the grim reaper had its way. Forcing the marketing genius and a great family man to leave behind his adorable wife, Vivian Ochee and their three great children —Ayodola, Ayoade, Bidemi.
While the 10th of October 2020, may have been his last day on earth, his capacity to love, to accept, to welcome, and to cherish those around him lives on. No doubt, Dola will be greatly missed by his immediate family but his demise will also be affected greatly by the Nigerian social scene and entertainment industry: likewise his brethren in the Christendom.
Dola was many things to many people. He was a man of faith. He routinely gave his life to Christ, much to the confusion of those who assert that once will do. He later became a strong, devout member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of David Parish, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Dola danced like David almost every Sunday. He ministered —not as a minister, but as a man of humility and the purest love— to those who needed it the most. He anchored so many of the church’s programmes. He was said to be in the forefront of the planning team for his church ‘Arise Walk For Life 2020′, slated for Saturday 17 October, 2020.
The church is also honouring his memory as they have tagged this year edition as “Lets Walk For Dola $$$”.
“His church families, at City of David and beyond, will miss his dancing, but will rejoice in the comfort that he’s dancing in spirit,” said Akin Ariyo, Director, Open Hands Decor and one of Dola’s childhood friends.
Dola was born in the windy city of Leicester, United Kingdom to late Chief Claudius Agboola Bamigboye, a former Nigerian Minister in the first and second Republic, and Late Mrs. Phebian Bamgboye, both indigenes of Usi Ekiti, Ekiti State.
After four years in England, he was brought back home to start Nursery school at Sisi Obasa Day Nursery School, and later, Ladi Lak Primary School in Yaba.
He had a boisterous childhood with his siblings —Gbemi, Bolamole and Fey. His secondary school years were spent between African Church Grammar School and CMS Grammar School. He went off to Federal School of Arts and Science, and one year later, School of Basic Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, where he met Ochee, the adorable lady he would later call his wife. Dola often described theirs as “a whirlwind romance, a meeting of perfect opposites who simply just clicked.”
He moved to London to start a new chapter, completing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from the Middlesex University, and a Masters in Social Sciences from Goldsmiths University.
He had started a life in London, punctuated with academic achievements and exciting adventures with trusted friends, but there was something he needed to do.
So in 1992, Dola went back to Nigeria, to marry Ochee. Not long after Bidemi came along, and for two whole years, Dola and Ochee were a family of three. Ayoade and Ayodola, their twin girls, came along in the thick of summer 1994.
Then they were five. He worked hard in London, until he was faced with the opportunity to relocate to Lagos, a decision he did not take lightly.
From 2003, until the very end, Dola worked as the marketing and sponsorship manager at MTN Nigeria. A role he took on with all he had, one can barely think of yellow without thinking of Baba D, as he was so fondly called at the MTN office.
Already, the family has fixed his burial for next week.
The service of songs will hold between 5pm – 8pm on Wednesday 21 October at The Balmoral, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. The Funeral Service comes up on Thursday 22 October at the RCCG City of David Parish, Victoria Island, Lagos at 10am. It will be followed immediately by a private interment service.
As family members, friends, colleagues and associates prepare to pay the great guy his last respect, here is a perfect submission of Dola as written by Ariyo: “Dola was magical. A force of nature. A magnet. He didn’t care who you were, or where you came from, what you wanted from him, or what you could do for him. He treated everyone with equal amounts of grace. He commanded belly laughs and full smiles. If there is one thing to know, it’s that Dola was a currency that you couldn’t spend, Dola was an experience, and we’re all lucky to have had him.”