A Tribute To Professor Pius Adesanmi

The Pan-African Doctoral Academy is devasted to learn of the passing of Pius Adesanmi, professor of English and Director of the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University in Canada.

A Carnegie African Diasporan Fellow and PADA faculty, Professor Adesanmi had an intellectual brilliance, an energetic personality, a warmth and wit that made him a wonderful colleague and an outstanding teacher. Such was his commitment to PhD training in Africa that, twice a year, this much sought-after and extremely busy academic travelled to the University of Ghana for the PADA Doctoral Schools to teach ‘Career Development for the Emerging African Scholar’ as well as to run writing clinics for faculty. Indeed, Professor Adesanmi taught at the last Doctoral Schools in January despite having suffered a potentially fatal accident in Nigeria a few months earlier. When we expressed surprise at having him join us in Accra so soon into his recovery, he replied, with his signature laugh, ‘My sister, you know nothing competes with PADA in my calendar!’

In evaluations, PADA participants praised his knowledge, enthusiasm, friendliness and generosity. Clearly, his students loved him and, in turn, Prof. Adesanmi revelled in their accomplishments. Just a week ago, he forwarded to us an email from a delighted PADA alumna who, with his encouragement, had applied for and won an international grant. ‘Thanks so much Prof! I now have the confidence and boldness to try more,’ she wrote.

Professor Adesanmi was a brilliant academic, an engaging public intellectual, a passionate defender of freedom, and a builder of community. There will be many tributes to his life in the coming days but it is doubtful that any can fully capture Professor Adesanmi’s impact on African and global scholarship, and on public discourse about the state of our continent, nor can they adequately describe the place he held in the hearts of so many of us here at PADA and around the world.

We extend our condolences to his family, his colleagues at Carleton University, his friends, students, mentees, and all PADA faculty and alumni.

He will be dearly missed.

***Read a short bio here of Professor Adesanmi's work and awards, a more extensive write up by CODESRIA of his many contributions to the African scholarly community here, and a statement from Carleton University here. There has also been an outpouring of tributes on Twitter where he was an active contributor to political discussions, especially on his native Nigeria (follow #PiusAdesanmi) and on Facebook where he founded the African Doctoral Lounge as a supportive community of students and faculty across the African continent.