The writer, academic and influential Nigerian public intellectual Pius Adesanmi has passed on at the age of 47. He was on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed on 10 March. The Carleton University professor of literature and African Studies was travelling on his Canadian passport. Best known for his columns for Premium Times and Sahara Reporters, in which he satirized and critiqued Nigerian social and political systems and figures, his most recent book Naija No Dey Carry Last was released in 2015. In June 2018, he had survived a car accident despite going four hours without help.
Born on 27 February 1972 in Isanlu, in Yagba East Local Government area of Kogi State, Nigeria, Adesanmi got a BA from the University of Ilorin in 1992, an MA from the University of Ibadan in 1998, and a PhD in French Studies from the University of British Columbia in 2002. From 2002 to 2005, he was Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University, USA. He was a Fellow of the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) from 1993 to 1997, as well as of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) in 1998 and 2000.
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. In 2017, he received the Canada Bureau of International Education Leadership Award.
There has been an outpour of shock and tributes on social media.
The Carleton community is mourning the loss of Pius Adesanmi, director of the Institute of African Studies, who was among the 18 Canadians killed in today’s Ethiopian Airlines disaster. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. https://t.co/IxCwkfQWRG
— Carleton University News (@CUnewsroom) 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
#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
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
Payo @pius_adesanmi was a true progressive public scholar; his intellection showed in the public space, ever irreverent of those who have made our country what it is. He was a scholar cast in the mould of Edward Said.
— Great Oracle (@AbdulMahmud01) 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
We join Nigerians, and brethren across #Africa, in mourning the tragic demise of Professor Pius Adesanmi — one of the greatest public intellectuals, political critics, and satirists of our time. It is, indeed, a monumental loss to his family, and the world. 🙇♂️#PiusAdesanmi pic.twitter.com/yfJJPioa5D
— Punocracy (@punocracy) 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
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
— Africa is a Country (@africasacountry) March 10, 2019
I can’t stop crying. #PiusAdesanmi
— Kadaria Ahmed (@KadariaAhmed) March 10, 2019
Rest in brilliance, Pius Adesanmi.