Tuesday is March 11. It was the day after Africa lost one of her illustrious sons to the ill fated Ethiopian Airline 302 crash in Addis Ababa. This day last year, it was an amalgam of sadness, confusion and grief among fans, friends and family of the late Nigerian-Canadian professor of English and Literature- Pius Adebola Adesanmi. Tears were shed both on physical and virtual spaces. From Accra to Ottawa, Canberra to Lilongwe, the days preceding March 10 in 2019 was a mourning period for a man reputed for his passion to change the not only the narrative but the reality of the problems prevalent in Africa. He has a huge following on Facebook from where he satirically launched acerbic attacks on those who seek to perpetuate the problems in Africa especially Nigeria, the country of his birth.
Tuesday marked a year of this great loss and his friends, fans and colleagues celebrated his passing. From Facebook, encomiums were poured on Adesanmi and tributes flowed in celebrating what he stood for during his lifetime. In an essay penned to reflect on the one year without Adesanmi, Prof. Adeleke Adeeko, a Humanities Distinguished Professor at the Ohio State University, opened with a sense of personal loss. He lamented “It’s been a year ago now that I read anybody refer to me as “o??ga mii?!” Death ensured that Pius Adesanmi? will never call me that again.” He went on to describe Adesanmi’s death in the crash as “an awful infliction on us all in Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019. The bad news was, and is still, too stunning.” He delved into other areas where Adesanmi had influence in his life time. He agonized over Pius’s missed scholarly, literary and public intellectualism.
In other posts, especially, the African Doctoral Lounge on Facebook, there were bursts of emotional words to express the absence of the giant African Professor. Bukola Akintola-Adesina wrote of Adesanmi’s immortality – Pius, you live on in our hearts. Tope Oriola, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Alberta, fondly expressed how Okun son remains in the hearts of his friends and followers. He wrote “We remember: Today and always. Adieu, Pius Adebola Adesanmi. Another follower of Adesanmi, who is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of English Studies, University of South Africa, Dr. Josephine Oluwafunmilayo Alexander also expressed a sense of deep loss for Adesanmi. She posted “the grief that greeted us with your tragic and sudden end remains palpable in our hearts and souls. Our world has been perpetually altered. You live on in our hearts and we love you eternally.”
The tributes came pouring in a year after the demise of the Isanlu man, father of two daughters and only son to his parents. A Nigerian follower, Rofi Tayo, a student of the University of Benin wrote – I ask myself how, what and why death took him away unnoticeably. Ethiopian airlines flight 302 crash is more than a crash to the lovers of an academician, writer, literary critic, satirist, and columnist. Mystery in disguise. I hope his dream for his dear country is manifested, his book (Naija No Dey Carry Last) illustrated his passion for his great Nation called Nigeria.
As the years count by, it is understood that the wayfarer had gone to look for his final flight back home. A home where all mortals go. We are all wayfarers and we shall all board our flights home when the time comes. Death will happen when it will.