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TRIBUTE: Celebrating Okundola Bamgboye, the MTN manager who unites friends, colleagues

Okundola Bamgboye a.k.a. Dola was unusual in more than one way. He lived life on his terms. He didn’t need to explain himself. What you saw was what you got. He was different in every way. He was extraordinary.

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Okundola Bamgboye a.k.a. Dola was unusual in more than one way. He lived life on his terms. He didn’t need to explain himself. What you saw was what you got. He was different in every way. He was extraordinary.

His sudden and untimely death came as quite a shock to many. He was so energetic, so vigorous, so full of life, it is almost impossible to believe that he is no more. He was so alive it is difficult to imagine him without life. It is sad to think about.

Oh, how he loved life. And he lived it to the fullest and laughed, laughed and then laughed some more.

Dola was born in Leicester City, which he dutifully reminded his wife and children every chance he could get. “13 – 01. 62”, he would state emphatically, as if they could ever forget his birthday, even if they wanted to.

His parents, Late Chief Claudius Agboola, and Late Mrs Phebian Bamgboye were both indigenes of Usi Ekiti, but they somehow found themselves in the Windy City of Leicester, bringing Okundola into the world, the man we’d all later come to know and love.

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 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. There, he met Ochee, who he would later call his wife. He often described 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.

In 1992, he 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, he 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.

Dola was loving and real. He almost always had that incredibly magnetic smile for everyone. He didn’t discriminate, not with his goods or good.

Dola was full of positivity. In a world of darkness and negativity, he stood out like a beacon.
It is impossible to find words to describe Dola. Words are not sufficient in and of themselves.

One couldn’t string words to paint a bohemian. One can only think of words associated with the happiness of spending time with him; words that describe just how special we felt with him.

If one looked hard enough, perhaps one may find words of beauty to describe his individuality, his straightforwardness and his passion for life and living. No mere words could portray Dola.

With Dola beside you, you had him 100 per cent. He was there with you. He gave his full attention. He listened in ways that showed he valued you and your every word counted.

He was one that loved and lived to love and live. He loved to live and lived to love. He was enthusiastic about life.

It is difficult to craft phrases to celebrate his life. He was beyond well-crafted phrases. He was an enigma; he was a prose that constantly reinvented itself. He was light and shone without limit. He was Dola.

Big Dola, like the American Dollar, was a standard. He was a benchmark, not of global forex deals, but for living and loving and for caring.

He was a hero without a cape. He sought to help, constantly. He never wavered. You didn’t need to know him to have him rise on your behalf. He helped people and gave of himself selflessly.

He served the Lord. No, he didn’t rub it on your face. He lived and you asked, are you a Christian? He lived it.

Those, who knew him in church, tell tales of his dancing and high praise in the presence of the king. He was exuberant, celebratory and festive in the house of the Lord.
Meeting Dola for the first thing, you are immediately touched and amazed by his openness, his helpfulness and his keenness.

He didn’t know the meaning of the word “grudge”. He couldn’t hold it. He was quick to comfort.

Thus, the tremendous outpouring of love and support from people from all walks and stations of life is no big surprise. He was a people person. If there was ever a dictionary description of a people person, it should read Dola B.

Dola came alive with big projects. He was at home with projects that lasted months and required near-constant engagement and oversight. He was widely appreciated and known for the MTN Street Soccer and Project Fame.

In everything, Dola’s persistence, creativity and versatility came to the fore.

He had an innate ability to establish, maintain and nurture close working relations with people.

He was a marketers’ marketer. He operated beyond the theories. He placed people first, always.

If marketing was a craft, Dola was the chief craftsman. He understood people. He loved marketing. It was a marriage made in heaven. MTN benefited immensely from his energies, connections and relentless drive. He was loyal.

The small things were big deal things with Dola. He didn’t take anything for granted. He didn’t take anybody for granted. He was respectful. He was extremely courteous. He was Dola.

He was touchy-touchy in a good way. He shook hands, hugged and grasped you tightly any and every time.

Oh, he had his unique way with words. When he meets you, it is always – Bless up bro/sis

At the close of work, it’s all in a day’s job… To God be the glory

Dola wasn’t all about work. He always spoke fondly of his wife and children. His affection for the twins was beyond words. He wanted them to have a great life. He gave them all that he had and could.

He may have gone, too soon, but let’s not despair because The Show Must Go On!

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