It is still quite difficult to believe the death of that brainy, witty, giant scholar with infectious laugh by nomenclature, Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi. That great teacher, the son of great teachers. Tributes have since been flying safer airlines through the cyberspace and in gatherings across villages, towns, cities, countries and continents. Indeed, the man was a man of the people. Yes, he was. And, it is not out of place that many are bereaved ones upon the rude shock of his transition.
We lost our beloved professor by an “executive murder” executed perfectly but sadly, by Boeing 737 MAX 8 of Ethiopian airline. On a sunless Sunday of March 10, 2019. Africa lost a vibrant son in its space. Ever since, the moon seems not confident to do its work again. Everywhere is dark, everything is dark. Addis Ababa, why did your space did this? With other 156 souls, our Pius man left with the unfortunate crash. I pray the families of lost ones find fortitude to bear the irreplaceable losses. May we all the bereaved ones find strength too (amen).
I joined the lovers of the Pius man at the University of Ibadan, on Wednesday, 20 March, 2019, where they held "A March" within the school, read his works and paid tributes to respect him. The atmosphere was solemnly sober. And, words came out from minds that felt his death is a blow on them. There and then, Professor Remi Raji in between his heavy and emotional words asked a question: How Pius are you?
The professor of Arts at the University of Ibadan is a long-time ally of the Pius man. He narrated to the sympathisers a part of Pius Adesanmi’s story. How Pius’s father, the then principal of Titcombe College wanted him to study Sciences against Pius’s wish for Arts (Literature). And, the Oldman ensured Physics and Literature were taught same time in the school. Pius with the Literature teacher made their own different plans. Pius registered to write Literature in another secondary school. He failed physics in his final exams and passed literature in the other school. After, the old principal knew of the secret and decided to abandon him with the literature teacher for some time. Pius was such a rebel at young age. But he was a good rebel. A Pius one!
The professor challenged scholars to research on “Pius, the scholar.” Beyond him being known as a satirist. Beyond being a public intellectual. Beyond being a philosopher and a critical thinker, and many other things and titles. He said, in 2005, Pius brought the idea of third generation Nigeria writing. At that time he was not even 40! He is a man committed to the mission to see Nigeria great. A man restless just to see Africa being the best place to be. Pius was a Good Samaritan to many young faculties too. He has facilitated scholarship opportunities for many as a visiting professor in Ghana and Kenya. He is approachable as a mentor to many. He formed an online interactive lounge for young scholars too. The professor was joyful in the fact that Pius was focus in his writing and that has made him lived like a 90year old sage. He was indeed Pius!
At the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, where the candle light was performed, the director of the institute said many things about him too. He was of the opinion he would continue to fight the battle to see Nigeria great with ancestors in his new world. He would still be restless until his mission is achieved. The human right activist, Femi Aborishade, was around to pay respect to the Pius man. He described him as a fearless man that has challenged authorities of their incompetence, inhumaneness and those ills that would not expected to happen in a sane clime. Again, I say, Pius was persistently Pius!
I read the Pius man’s Naija No Dey Carry Last in 2016 and it was one of its kind. The style professor used in writing his satires are distinct as you might first view serious issues less serious. Then, you see it again as seriously serious issues. His writings have indeed impact so many.
His death begs the question: how Pius are you? And this would be measure by your commitment to Nigeria; your ability to be truthful and not seeing white and call it black because you are related to the sinner; your minds to believe and conceive excellence and not mediocrity; your courage to right the wrong and not cover the wrong for money; your character in every land you step on; your attitude to empathise with humans even when you are comfortable; your ability to help others when you are in a position to do so and many other things Okun’Bola, son of Alfred Adesanmi of the soil Isanlu represented. To many, Pius was pious.
His death reminds me of Yoruba proverb that says: Iku amotekun o ye ko ko ikoko logbon.
Adebola, your death made eyes
Source of waters that ran into
A pool on heavy chests.
You, witty one
And we are dumb and less
Of speech to describe this sting.
Bring you back and death
Is so insensitive to pains.
We now read deeper
Meanings to your prophesies and
We’d find you forever in your writings.
You, elephant fell
And your body stand not
But this your soul standstill, forever.
Our mouths are still sour for dirges.
Pius Adebola Adesanmi was a Nigerian and a Canadian. He joined Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, in 2006, as a Professor of literature and African studies. He was the director of the university's Institute of African Studies until his death.