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Professor Pius Adesanmi. Photo from Kogi Reports.

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.

Rest in brilliance, Pius Adesanmi. 

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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