It was with immense shock and sadness that the Abiola Irele School of Theory and Criticism, Kwara State University, Malete learnt of the passing of its distinguished Associate Director, Professor Pius Adesanmi.
Professor Adesanmi was among the one hundred and fifty seven passengers and crew on board the Ethiopian Aircraft that crashed six minutes after take-off on Sunday March 10, 2019 in Addis Ababa. He was on the way to a committee meeting of the African Union’s Citizen and Diaspora Directorate scheduled to begin on Monday March 11, 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The late Associate Director of KWASU’s Abiola Irele School of Theory and Criticism was an accomplished literary scholar, critic, satirist, political commentator, poet, newspaper columnist, teacher, mentor and exponent for quality higher education in Africa. This saw him organising, leading, or participating actively in seminars, workshops, talks, and programmes where he mentored early to middle level career academics and postgraduate students in Africa and beyond.
At Kwara State University, Professor Adesanmi was an active and significant force in the annual convening of the Abiola Irele School of Theory and Criticism. Working closely with the Director of the School, Professor Adélékè Adéẹ̀kọ́ of Ohio State University, USA, the school focuses on mentoring early to middle level career academics and postgraduate students. The Abiola Irele School convenes during the summer for two weeks for intellectual interactions on ways to improve higher education teaching, research, and career development.
Professor Adesanmi’s boundless energy, superb intellectual prowess, jovial mien, and patience were key factors in the successful hosting of this seminar series which started in 2015 to facilitate the development of multidisciplinary research ideas, the advancement of scholarship, the broadening of participants’ skill of sourcing grants and fellowships, and also the establishment of mentorships between participants and lead faculties for the promotion of research and scholarship. His commitment to Nigeria and the African continent as a whole made him an active personality known in various quarters and climes.
Educated at the universities of Ilorin and Ibadan, Professor Adesanmi graduated with a First Class Honours degree in French from University of Ilorin and obtained a Masters of Arts degree in French studies from University of Ibadan before proceeding to Canada for his Doctorate degree at the University of British Colombia. It was as an undergraduate that the late Professor Adesanmi and Professor AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, Vice Chancellor of Kwara State University struck a friendship that lasted till Professor Adesanmi’s unfortunate demise.
Professor Adesanmi was a teacher per excellence who touched many lives across the world. His love and concern for the development of the African continent as a whole saw him devote a significant part of his life traveling to teach or participate in programmes where he espoused a vision for a great Africa. He was an optimist in the potentials of the continent and this showed in his biting condemnations of bad leadership which has retarded the development of Africa.
Professor Adesanmi was a prophet of sorts as his writings showed. He wrote his epitaph in an exercise Nwokolo Chuma initiated during an interview for a special edition of African Writing Magazine in 2013 thus; “Here lies Pius Adesanmi who tried as much as he could to put his talent in the service of humanity and flew away home one bright morning when his work was over.” Indeed, he flew home one bright morning. His work may not have been done as much as he would have wanted it, but it was over. He succeeded in carving his name and essence on the stone of time, not to be washed away like sand, but to live on after him.
A special programme in Professor Adesanmi's honour will be put together during this year’s Abiola Irele seminar. Family, friends, colleagues, students and followers of his writings will converge to celebrate his intellectual legacies at this programme.
Staff and students of Kwara State University and Abiola Irele School of Theory and Criticism mourn this great loss and we pray that God gives his family, friends, colleagues, and followers the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. Professor Pius Adesanmi will be sorely missed.
Saeedat Aliyu (Ph.D.)
Coordinator, Abiola Irele School of Theory and Criticism