Nigerian writer and academic Pius Adesanmi passed away on the Ethiopian Airways flight 302 crash on March 10, 2019.
Pius Adesanmi was a Nigerian professor, writer, literary critic, poet, satirist, and columnist. His first book, the poetry collection The Wayfarer and Other Poems (2001), won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize. His second book, the collection of essays You’re not a Country, Africa (2011), received the inaugural Penguin Prize for African Writing in the nonfiction category. Naija No Dey Carry Last (2015) was his final book. He also gave the following TED talk.
It had been a horrible few months for Adesanmi who was in a car accident in June 2018 before dying in the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed shortly after take-off on Sunday March 10. In his last Facebook post, he shared, “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”
There has been an outpouring of emotion for the passing of the Ottawa based Adesanmi with those in the academic and writing community writing tributes starting with his university.
An Epitaph for Pius Adesanmi
On 10th March, 2019, Ethiopian flight ET 302 made an unscheduled stop on its way from Addis to Nairobi and the ancestors rose to receive my old friend, Pius Adesanmi. In the announcement that broke the news, his home university at Carleton identified him as a Canadian. Indeed Professor Pius Adesanmi was not one of those citizens whose host country could hold at arm’s length with a hyphenated nationality or an exculpatory reference to his birth country.
Payo was one of our best. A first class graduate of the University of Ilorin, he took an MA from the University of Ibadan and a PhD in French Studies from the University of British Columbia. He was an assistant professor of Comparative Literature at Pennsylvania State University and winner of the inaugural Penguin Prize for African Writing for his book, You are Not a Country, Africa. At the time of his death he was Professor of English and Director of the Institute of African Studies at Carleton.
Carleton University has confirmed that professor Pius Adesanmi was among the 18 Canadians who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash today. He was “a towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship.” He was also beloved in Nigeria as a writer and columnist. pic.twitter.com/D95M4eknMl
— Geoffrey York (@geoffreyyork) March 10, 2019
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. 💔 pic.twitter.com/J68sgftB1b
— Gimba Kakanda (@gimbakakanda) March 10, 2019
When we were in our early 20s, the youngest within the Ibadan/ Lagos literary community, we promised each other that we would work hard to become important writers who travelled the world. My siamese twin @pius_adesanmi was an overachiever. pic.twitter.com/YzQsRgZK5V
— Lọlá Shónẹ́yìn (@lolashoneyin) March 10, 2019
Payo, you showed me a million plus ways to remember you but zero idea on how to ever forget you. Goodnight my good friend. #PiusAdesanmi
— victor ehikhamenor (@victorsozaboy) March 10, 2019
I come online to this awful news and frantic tweets from Nigerians trying to find out if the only Nigerian onboard was indeed Professor Pius Adesanmi. It’s looking like it was. Sigh, wow. 😔 https://t.co/qSEqI5HGY2
— Nnedi Okorafor, PhD (@Nnedi) March 10, 2019
Couldn’t really sleep last night. I can’t focus today. I keep thinking of Pius. pic.twitter.com/Y5tkIsCs83
— The Writer Formerly Known As Elnathan (@elnathan_john) March 11, 2019
#PiusAdesanmi was a beautiful mind. He lived well. He lived extremely well. A bold, beautiful, courageous life. So privileged to have been his friend. So wrong to have to talk about him in the past tense ): Rest in Peace , Payo
— chika unigwe (@chikaunigwe) March 10, 2019
Ikú d’óró, ikú ṣe ‘kà. Death has taken one of our best! I am watching my friend’s death site on the BBC!!! Rest in brilliance, #PiusAdesanmi. I never told you I loved you, but I did! Till we meet again.
— Molara Wood (@molarawood) March 10, 2019
Rest in power and peace brother @pius_adesanmi. So sad to hear that brother Pius was among those we lost in the #EthiopianAirlines crash today. I have fond memories of our book chat with @KadariaAhmed at @akefestival in 2015. Condolences to his family and friends. Such a sad day. pic.twitter.com/IEc3FHC7BY
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) March 10, 2019