Friends, associates and fans of Professor Pius Adesanmi, who died in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday, on Thursday, gathered at the Ouida House in the Ikeja area of Lagos in memory of the late writer.
The half-lit small room called the “Reading Place” was filled to capacity, with many having to take their seats outside.
Dele Momodu, veteran journalist and publisher of Ovation Magazine, who was an acquaintance of the Carleton University professor, said the writer, though lived outside the country, never lost touch with his roots.
He recollected that the last personal conversation they had on the social media was when the deceased told him about his ill-fated journey to Kenya, and asked if they could meet in the east African country.
“I met Pius through Segun Adeniyi. Then I began to read his write ups. When we became very close, he will call me at anytime he is the country to say “Bob Dee”, hope there is pounded yam. Once I say, I’m not in Nigeria, he would funnily replied that so that means there is no pounded yam?”
“I’d sent him in messages on What’sapp in January that I wanted to go to Oxford University and they said I should bring three referees. Though he didnt reply me immediately because I know he was a busy man.
“When he replied, he apologised that he had been busy with a seminar and he asked me to send my CV. I didn’t even know he had an accident not long ago. When we talked about it, he said he spent about two months with the physios, that it was serious.
“The last conversation I had with him was that he asked me if I would be in Kenya on that fateful day, so that we could meet. I didn’t know Pius was embarking on his last journey. He was a great man, a true African, ” he said.
Kadaria Ahmed, host of the televised national debate for presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2019 election, fought back tears while eulogising the deceased.
She said, “Pius was very dear to me. He helped me grow better as a person. He would say Kadaria, you have to do this, you have to achieve that. He loved this country, he loved Africa like anyone else. His writings were focused on Nigeria and this continent.
I will miss him, he was a dear brother.”
One of his friend, Victor Edikameno, friend of the late scholar from the United States of America, while recounting his last encounter with him, said he would always ask for pounded yam and palm wine whenever he visited him.
“The last time he was at my house in Texas, as usual, he would always ask for pounded yam. So whenever he’s visiting, I would always prepare myself. I would also keep some palm wine for him because he loved it so much. Then he would finish a whole bowl of the meal and say this is nice.
“The last communication I had with him was a mail I sent him. I didn’t know that was the last time I was going to communicate with him,” he recounted.
Gbenga Ademola Ojo, Pius’ childhood friend, said the deceased was more than a brother to him.
“My mum and Pius’ mum attended same school, so that you all would know how close we were. He was more than a brother to me. I also attended same Secondary School with Pius in Ilorin. So my mum would give his mum my pocket money because my own parents weren’t living in the town.
“So Pius will come to me and say I know how much your pocket money is, don’t worry, your money is safe with me.
But after school, we didn’t meet again because I left Nigeria before I eventually came back. But we somehow reconnected on Facebook and the feeling of our brotherhood never felt different.
“He would warm-up to people, encourage people to do things. He loved African culture so much. He wanted the best for Nigeria. He’s always talking about Nigeria when we communicate.
“The last time I could have seen him, he called me that he was coming to Nigeria. So I said fine, please call me so I could pick you up at the Airport. Then I called him later, he said his cousin had picked him up, and that he would come to my house to eat pounded yam and drink some palm wine.
“I said pounded yam is fine, but we don’t have palm wine in Lagos. Then he called later that he had to go to Abuja for an emergency. Then he spoke with my wife to apologize and asked him to put the food in the refrigerator, that he would come for it later.
“That was the last communucation we had. When I received the news of his death, I live in Omole, but I didnt know when I drove towards Maryland,” he stated.
Lola Shoneyin, a writer, host of the event and friend of Pius, said the late lecturer, surpassed what all of them had planned to achieve in life.
“When we started out to write, all of us who are friends in the literary sense of it would talk about what we wanted to do. But let me tell you, Pius surpasses us all. He did hr eat things in his short life. He still lives with us. We are not here to mourn tonight, but to celebrate his legacy and drink and merry like he would always do,” she said.
She also said though her late friend lived abroad, but loved Nigeria passionately.
“Pius loved this country more than anyone I know. He would defend Nigeria on social media, he would attack you if you attack Nigeria. He started this Atikulate thing that later became a popular thing in Nigeria. He was truly African,” she added.
A fan and journalist, Bunmi Adepeju, said though she never met or knew him while he was alive, but the spirit of Africanism in the scholar, endeared him to her.
“When I heard about the news of his death and started reading what people were saying about him, I went to his Facebook page and saw where he put his daughter on his back like a true African man, who is a professor in a white man’s country.
“My husband did same thing and his family threw me out of the house, that I want to enslave their child. He was a good example,” she revealed.
Ayodele Osho, also a fan of Pius’ writing, said he would ask God in heaven why He had to take such a good person.
“Surely when we get to heaven, I will ask God why he took away such a good man who gave others joy through his works. I still don’t understand why good people die young, especially not in the manner at which he died, ” he lamented.