Why do good people die? Why are they always in a hurry to leave us? I have been searching everywhere for answers to these questions but no clues have come up yet. When good people die, they serve no notice; they just leave us heart-broken and helpless with so much grief and pain in our hearts. You get the feeling that they have been called to a higher purpose by our Father and Creator. There is a time to be born and a time to die but when death comes so suddenly and unannounced like a thief in the night, it hurts badly. Death of any kind is painful but dying in a plane crash is horrifying and devastating. Dreams die with untimely and violent deaths.
Death was never part of Prof Pius Adesanmi’s plan when it occurred. At only 47 years old, the late Prof was a man of many parts – humourist, thinker, humanist, writer, prophet, teacher, mentor, coluumnist, critic, satirist, public policy analyst, friend, colleague, father and husband. Prof was constantly sought after as a speaker because of his scholarship and integrity. I never met Prof Pius Adesanmi who died along with others in the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines tragedy on Sunday March 10, 2019 but it is evident he lived a good life with a generous spirit and kind heart. I have read enough tributes on him and it is now looking like Prof and I knew each other. Maybe our paths would have crossed. I was inspired to add my voice to the chorus because of his goodness and what he meant to so many people.
Prof’s uncommon humanity has provoked an outpouring of tributes. I have read moving tributes by Segun Adeniyi, Reuben Abati, Dele Momodu, Molara Wood, Remi Oyeyemi, Rudolf Okonkwo, Seyi Adedokun, Jamilah Nasir, Sonala Olumhense, Ogaga Ifowodo, Festus Adedayo, Tope Fasua and others. Clearly, Prof was a good man and a great mind and it is difficult to write about good people in the past tense. As a goodwill ambassador, Prof related well with his diverse audiences and the tributes on him have revealed the enigma that he was: thoughtful, kind, loving, humble, friendly, graceful, erudite and intelligent. At this time, the world is at Prof’s feet because of his achievements and strong character. Prof was a man of the people. As a frequent flyer, the world was his canvas and every stroke of the brush represented his connection with different people.
His opinion pieces are in the finest language and prose that you can find and his biggest concern was how we can build a better Nigeria – a theme that I also find interesting. Prof believed that we accept mediocrity as a way of life in Nigeria and this attitude annoyed him greatly. Why settle for good, when things can be better; in fact, Prof’s aim in his writings was that we should settle for the best at all times and become a first world country. In his view, Nigeria is so blessed that the country can become a land flowing with milk and honey. Unfortunately, this is not the case because of lack of vision, poverty of ideas and the greed of our political leaders and ‘vested interests’ who are determined to hold Nigeria to ransom for as long as they wished. As far as Prof also concerned, this was the secondary problem. The primary problem, according to his thesis, was how we think and behave as Nigerians and the kind of choices will make based on who we know, where we come from and our religion -- Prof loved to write Naija for Nigeria – as if we operate under a spell for poor outcomes all the time.
We have enough good people which imply that good things can come out of Naija. It is difficult to understand why we are mocked regularly when we have some of the brightest minds and most enterprising people with solid records of achievements around the world. For example, see the way we drive; we are so impatient with other road users without any regard for traffic lights, that is when they are working. What of the illegal toll gates created by Olopas (uniformed men) on the road? Prof regularly complained about the culture of impunity that has become a way of life in Nigeria; we have laws that are enforced selectively. Let me re-phrase that: we have two sets of laws – one set for the rich and mighty, and the other set for the poor; the dregs of society. When politicians fight dirty, it is for their selfish interests; please ask Rotimi Amaechi and Magnus Abe what they are turning Rivers State into with their constant fights. Also ask Ibikunle Amosun and Rochas Okorocha what they were thinking when they toyed with the idea of turning their respective states into their private estates. Shameless politicians.
As a man of deep faith, Prof was a seer, prophet and clairvoyant. He could see tomorrow and well into the future. Otherwise, how can we possibly explain how he accurately predicted his death? He wrote on his Facebook page before he boarded the plane that crashed by quoting Psalm 139:9-10 as follows: “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me”. I have no doubt God Almighty’s right hand is holding Prof after departing from this sinful world and his name will be written boldly in the Book of Life. The righteous are always protected so that they do not fall into sin in our earthly journey – this may probably explain why he left us so suddenly – but I see the Angels in Heaven rejoicing because Prof has joined the Saints. Even as we mourn Prof, we are reminded by the Holy Book to be thankful in every situation because even his death is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We remain thankful for a life well lived by Prof and may the family and loved ones he left behind find the strength to bear this great loss. Prof’s physical body is what has left us; his spirit is alive and with us! A key lesson untimely death teaches us is to be prepared when it happens – have a will in place and take a life insurance policy. There are online resources for preparing wills and it can be done in matter of minutes.
In different places, candle lit processions have been organised to remember Prof. One way we can keep Prof’s memory alive is to compile all the glowing tributes on him into a book and publish it. Proceeds from the launch and sales of the book can go into the ‘Professor Pius Adesanmi Memorial Fund’ set up by Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada – his last place of work as Professor of Literature and African Studies – to honour his memory. The endowment fund will support students and continue his life’s work. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in perfect peace. So long Professor Pius Adesanmi!
Braimah is a public relations and marketing strategist based in Lagos.