Ayo Odebisi a.k.a. Paramole (1956-2017) was one of the three persons [cum mentors] who never stopped loving me as the human being I am. He loved me despite my apparent unusual and often disconcerting approach to life, perhaps because he was a far more unusual fellow with an even more disconcerting approach to life. Death has changed this dynamic, taking me unawares.
Paramole died unexpectedly last week, and there shall be no more love in my life. That is not going to be easy. A “Muslim of sorts” he was a believer in the biblical proclamation “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life” – Duet 30:19. He lived life to the fullest, and those close to him certainly learned how to live. For Paramole life was an endless possibility filled with abundance, enough abundance to go round everyone he knew and more. Life and living, in the most stoic and congenial senses, was his vocation, everything else being a spill-over to be enjoyed or suffered. He was a rare multiplier, someone who could almost effortlessly transform something tiny into an enormous reality whether it was money, an enterprise, an idea, a personality, a skill, an interest or whatever. He had an eye for things that would become great. He certainly multiplied me in many ways.
All my mentors are now dead as Paramole has now passed on. My gladiatorial battles with illness kept me away from him for the past 13 years before his passing, but he continued to make sure from Nigeria. I was well and progressing in life in the UK. He naturally abhorred standstills in life. I remember lying in bed with a 50/50 chance of survival, at best, during a long term admission in Kings College Hospital in 2005 when he asked me “what have you written about this week?” When I responded “nothing, you know I do not like writing and have never been a writer”. His response was simple but hauntingly firm “I want an original idea written up from you every week”. I can call myself a professional writer today. At this same time, he was willing to pay for me to do a PhD in solar energy at Imperial College with me having only a 50/50 chance of recovery!
I have never met an individual so independent but so gregarious; so generous but so prudent; so outspoken but so tactful; so refined but so counterculture; so charismatic but so modes; so wealthy but so ragged. He was a mathematician that spent more time on poetry. He was the power broker who was never under the spell of politics. He was the millionaire who lived liked he was penniless. He was a gifted intellectual but one of the ‘everyday people’. And none of it was contrived. Oh yes! Paramole was a living Paradox.
Paramole was a Pyrate, a proud and exemplary one. He was the purest kind of Pyrate based on the “4-7 Creed” the only benchmark of Pyratism. His life whole was totally against convention; tribal sentiments never bound him; his life and lifestyle exemplified humanistic ideals, and you will hardly find a man more chivalrous and brotherly than himself. He would readily make sacrifices for others; most would not even contemplate. He was the protector who would make sure everyone else had reached safety before he saved himself. He never accepted anything without proper examination or prediction. I dare anyone to say he ever lied to or deceived them. He was the master who was also the life-long student. He had a sincere revolutionary spirit but was more successful as a brilliant reformer. For every word, he uttered, he carried out three actions with keen dedication. It was the very genuineness of his person and his rejection of all things base that made him thrive in all things good. He was the opposite of what 99% of Pyrates are or have become, something that truly worried him and that he tried to counter.
Paramole was a farmer, mathematician, banker, management consultant, facilitator and entrepreneur. He is the only man I have known who had rejected appointments to the office of state commissioner (to a serving governor) thrice; he certainly had better things to do. He did! The man was a member of the Nigerian upper-class and was close friends with many famous Nigerians. He never dressed like one though, only his supply and taste in whiskey, tobacco and food, as well as his many large houses and his considerable charity, revealed his status.
Paramole was a great man and a man of the people; he always stood for the right thing, making things right and better. He unrelentingly believed in the “unquenchability of the human spirit” and “freedom”, those were the things that mattered most to him. For him, the human spirit is ever-enduring, ever-creative, only the body and things made of earth die. His spirit lives on. So, I will not mourn Paramole… if I can resist it – I do not know if I can.