By Osa Mbonu-Amadi & Mike Ebonugwo
IT has turned out that a Ni-Nigerian-born, Canadian-based Professor, Pius Adesanmi, a professor of English at Carleton University, was among the casualties aboard the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed early yesterday in a flight between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. The airliner had crashed killing 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard.
Professor Adesanmi was a native of Isanlu, in Yagba East Local Government area of Kogi State. Three family members, a close friend of Adesanmi and a Canadian official had confirmed the professor’s demise to Sahara Reporters, one of the online media where Adesanmi was a columnist for many years. He also wrote for the Premium Times, another online media.
Until his death, Pius Adesanmi was a writer and literary critic, satirist, and columnist. He authored Naija No Dey Carry Last, a collection of satirical essays.
Adesanmi had a first class honors Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Ilorin in 1992, a Masters degree in French from the University of Ibadan (1998), and a PhD in French Studies from the University of British Columbia in 2002.
Between 2002 and 2005, he was Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University, USA. He joined Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada in 2006 as a Professor of literature and African studies. Before then he was a Fellow of the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) from 1993 to 1997 and of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) in 1998 and 2000.
Adesanmi’s literary career which was laced with satire had dwelled on the Nigerian social and political system, targeting politicians, pastors, and other relevant public figures.
It would be recalled that Professor Pius Adesanmi had in September 2015, flayed the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, when the Emir decided to take an underage wife.
In 2017, Adesanmi was a recipient of Canada Bureau of International Education Leadership Award.
Among the books he wrote are “The Wayfarer and Other Poems, published by Oracle Books, Lagos in 2001; “You’re Not a Country, Africa (Penguin Books; 2011); and “Naija No Dey Carry Last (Parrésia Publishers; 2015).
In 2001, Adesanmi’s first book, The Wayfarer and Other Poems, won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize, and in 2010, another of his book, You’re not a Country, Africa, a collection of essays, won the inaugural Penguin Prize for African Writing in the non-fiction category.
Adesanmi: Last flight for the author
He was said to have travelled on a Canadian passport. And as if he had a premonition of his imminent passage, he posed with the passport in the last picture he posted on Facebook with this poetic line: “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me – Psalm 139:9-10.”
To attest to the claim that he was a well-read author, there are already reactions of shock to his tragic death in the social media by those who know him and appreciate his literary output. Gimba Kakande, said of him: “The world has lost a fine intellectual, one of a rare breed of thinkers and good governance advocate. It’s confirmed, people, we lost Professor Pius Adesanmi in that Ethiopian Airlines crash.”
And for Sir Ariyo Atoye: “#NigeriaDecides2019 ended on a sad note with a sorrowful dark cloud enveloping the country. The death of Professor Pius Adesammi is a national calamity. We shall miss his unparalleled contributions. Good people are dying, bad people are wreaking havoc. RIP Prof.”
For Elnathan John, a writer: “Professor Pius Adesanmi is a star. And I am not just talking about his academic distinctions. I am talking of his spirit. I wish now that we had the money to have kept him in Berlin for longer. We spoke about satire, about his book, Naija No Dey Carry Last, about how hard it was to write satire about Nigeria, about Nigerian “anyhowness” and how he almost died as a result of it; about language, about his becoming Canadian and about his remaining Nigerian…
His last WhatsApp message to me was: ‘Really proud of you bro.”