Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi

Pius Adesanmi

Nigerian-Born Canadian Professor, Writer, Literary Critic, Satirist, and Columnist

DAWN Commission is devastated by the sudden death of Professor Pius Adesanmi who was one of the 157 passengers on the ill-fated Ethiopian Airline on Sunday, 10th March, 2019.

Professor Pius Adesanmi was born on 27th February, 1972 to the family of Alfred and Lois Adesanmi in Isanlu, Yagba East Local Government area, Kogi State, Nigeria. He was a Nigerian-born Canadian professor, writer, literary critic, satirist, and columnist.

Adesanmi obtained a First Class Honors Degree in French Studies from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, a Master’s Degree in French Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and a PhD in French Studies from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He was a Fellow of the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) from 1993 to 1997, and a Fellow of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) in 1998 and 2000. 

By 2002, Adesanmi was the Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University, USA, but left in 2005. In 2006, he became Professor of Literature and African Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Around 2010, he became the Professor for the Department of English and the Institute of African Studies in Carleton University.

He was the Director of Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Canada and a remarkable writer, poet and political commentator who was celebrated for his eloquence and fearlessness in speaking truth to power. For many years, Adesanmi was a regular columnist for Premium Times and Sahara Reporters. His writings were often satiric, focusing on the absurd in the Nigerian social and political system. His targets often included public figures in the society.
He was a specialist of Francophone and Anglophone African and Black Diasporic literatures, politics and cultures.
He authored 3 books: The Wayfarer and Other Poems (Oracle Books, Lagos; 2001); You’re Not a Country, Africa (Penguin Books; 2011); Naija No Dey Carry Last (Parrésia Publishers; 2015). 

It is worthy to note that his first book, Wayfarer and Other Poems published in 2001, won the Association of Nigerian Authors prize for poetry. Professor Adesanmi won The Erasmus Teaching Award, Penn State University, Spring 2006. In 2010, he won the Inaugural Penguin Prize for African Writing in the nonfiction category of his book “You’re not a Country, Africa” (Penguin Books, 2011), a collection of essays. In 2015, he gave a TED talk titled “Africa is the forward that the world needs to face”. In 2017, Adesanmi was a recipient of Canada Bureau of International Education Leadership Award. He was also nominated for a 2012 Capital Educators’ Award.

His portfolio of keynote lectures included appearances on such prestigious platforms as the Stanford Forum for African Studies, the Africa Talks Series of the London School of Economics, the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation’s annual lecture series, the Vanderbilt History Seminar, the International Leadership Platform of the University of Johannesburg, the African Unity for Renaissance Series of the Africa Institute of South Africa, and the annual talk series of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

He was a member of the Diaspora Consultation series of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 in New York. In 2013-2014, he was a Carnegie Diaspora Visiting Professor of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, where he designed the African Thinkers’ Program of UG-Ghana’s Institute of African Studies. He was an annual facilitator of seminars at the University of Ghana’s Pan-African Doctoral Academy.

He was a foundation faculty member of the Abiola Irele School of Theory and Criticism at Kwara State University, Nigeria.

Pius was an embodiment of intellectualism, dedication, hard work, and the community spirit; ever willing to give back his intellect, time and resources for the greater good of his country and humanity. 

Prof Pius Adesanmi…a big loss to Nigeria and Africa at large. A man of impeccable character and an outstanding gentleman. RIP Prof!!
May God console your family and give them the fortitude to bear the loss.

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