Chief Lere Paimo
Veteran Nigerian Actor
Chief Lere Paimo, aka, Eda Onile Ola is an old guard of the Yoruba movie industry; One of the most respected icons of the business. Chief Paimo is an Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) and this national honour shows what he is to Nigeria till today.
On September 19, 1939, in Ile Ikoyi Odan, Ogbomoso, Chief Lere Paimo was born. His father was the head of the neighborhood farmers’ association and a tobacco and yam farmer. His mom worked in trading. Lere was enrolled in Ogbomoso’s primary school before departing for the Gold Coast (now Ghana). At a teacher training college on the Gold Coast, he continued his education. When he got back to Nigeria, he went to Osogbo and started working as a teacher at Newton Memorial School, a Baptist missionary school.
The extraordinary cultural flowering that occurred in the following two decades began in Osogbo in the 1950s. Many artists, musicians, and playwrights, including Duro Ladipo, Oyin Adejobi, and Kola Ogunmola, three of the greatest actor-managers in Yoruba theatre history, launched their careers here. Lere Paimo, like all other actors of the era, gained experience in acting during his time in school.
He joined Oyin Adejobi’s company, a group that performed plays for churches, schools, and cultural and social clubs, sometime around 1960 while employed as a teacher in Osogbo. A year later, Duro Ladipo invited him to participate in an artistic production at Mbari Club, the cultural hub established by Ulli Beier. He accepted the invitation because he was interested in both painting and theater.
Lere Paimo’s talent as an actor was immediately acknowledged, and he was given leading roles. He played Everyman himself in Eda, a Yoruba adaptation of Everyman, which was so memorable that it has remained his nickname ever since, and his own theater company is known as the Eda Theatre Company.
Lere Paimo, who worked with Duro Ladipo for more than ten years before he passed away in 1978, considers Ladipo to have had a significant impact on his career and still refers to him as “my boss” today. He was appointed Ladipo’s manager and assistant. Lere Paimo had founded his own theater company by 1973. In these “boom” years, both new and established theater companies became fully professional and commercial for the first time.
Lere Paimo had the benefit of already having a solid reputation thanks to his work with Duro Ladipo; in fact, before he even started his own company, aspiring actors were already writing to him with offers to work for them. Ogbori Elemosho, Idajo, Irinajo Eda, Aye N Yi, Aye Gbege, Gbanga d’Ekun, Akukuu-Bi, Aago Alaago, Gba Die, and Ere Ogun are just a few of the plays that Paimo and his company have produced since establishing their own company. Some of these were based on traditional oral histories and made extensive use of indigenous art forms like drumming, singing, and dancing. Others were directly influenced by the traditionalist style of play.
Lere Paimo actively contributed to the Yoruba popular theater’s extraordinary creativity and innovation. He introduced new theoretical techniques in addition to new themes and styles, just like all the top theatre of the 1970s and early 1980s. He also used elaborate lighting effects and colorful backdrops that changed from scene to scene.
Chief Lere Paimo continues to hold the scepter of both traditional and modern theater, and he has made his country proud both domestically and abroad. Through his unmatched achievements in the theater and film industries, he has made a significant contribution to the sociocultural and tourism development of Nigeria.
In 2005, former President Olusegun Obasanjo presented him with a national award of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) in honor of his enormous contributions to the Nigerian film industry. Without a doubt, Chief Lere Paimo is a unique breed. He is unabashedly passionate and proud of his Yoruba heritage.
DAWN Commission celebrates this Nollywood veteran while appreciating him for his selfless service to the development of the entertainment industry in Nigeria.