Ottawa professor who died in Ethiopia plane crash remembered for public outreach

Ottawa professor Pius Adesanmi, one of the 18 Canadians killed in Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, is being remembered as a public intellectual whose outreach to Africans across the globe shaped the way Canada is seen abroad.

The Nigerian-born scholar was on his way to a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, when the jet went down shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa airport, killing all 157 aboard.

The death of the director of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies sent shockwaves through the academic community and on social media, where Adesanmi was mourned by a “cult following” of more than 40,000 Twitter users, said Nduka Otiono, a fellow Carleton professor and Adesanmi’s friend of 25 years.

“I think it’s difficult to begin to imagine the depth and the breadth of the devastation a whole lot of people and different communities have felt with the demise of Pius,” said Otiono. “More so because of the traumatic way it happened.”

Also a professor in Carleton’s Department of English Language and Literature, Adesanmi’s scholarship on African and post-colonial writing, culture and politics made him a “towering figure” in the field, said the school’s president, Benoit-Antoine Bacon.

Ottawa professor who died in Ethiopia plane crash remembered for public outreach

Dr. Pius Adesanmi is seen in an undated handout photo. Dr. Adesanmi was aboard the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 on board, authorities said, including 17 other Canadians. Josh Hotz / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ottawa professor Pius Adesanmi, one of the 18 Canadians killed in Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, is being remembered as a public intellectual whose outreach to Africans across the globe shaped the way Canada is seen abroad.

The Nigerian-born scholar was on his way to a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, when the jet went down shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa airport, killing all 157 aboard.The death of the director of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies sent shockwaves through the academic community and on social media, where Adesanmi was mourned by a “cult following” of more than 40,000 Twitter users, said Nduka Otiono, a fellow Carleton professor and Adesanmi’s friend of 25 years.“I think it’s difficult to begin to imagine the depth and the breadth of the devastation a whole lot of people and different communities have felt with the demise of Pius,” said Otiono. “More so because of the traumatic way it happened.”Also a professor in Carleton’s Department of English Language and Literature, Adesanmi’s scholarship on African and post-colonial writing, culture and politics made him a “towering figure” in the field, said the school’s president, Benoit-Antoine Bacon.In 2010, Adesanmi was named the winner of the inaugural Penguin Prize for African non-fiction writing for “You’re Not a Country, Africa,” his collection of essays examining his relationship to the continent as a Nigerian-Canadian.
Adesanmi’s political activism could not be contained to the rarefied realm of academia, said Otiono. He amplified his wide-ranging commentary on African issues in public talks, popular publications and the online “world of the avatar,” his colleague said.

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