On March 10th, Carleton University lost a valuable leader, mentor, teacher, writer and friend.

Professor Pius Adesanmi, the Director of our Institute of African Studies, was on the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed that day. This tragic loss leaves us all feeling that one of our brightest stars has been extinguished far too soon.

Pius was known as a warm, gregarious and unflappable person who helped establish the Institute of African Studies as a welcoming place that served as the “Carleton home” for students from all across Africa, whatever their program of study at this university.

His friends and colleagues remember Pius as someone who lived with remarkable zest, who proudly celebrated successes of students and faculty, organized vibrant events and strengthened the bonds of faculty, students and visitors to the Institute of African Studies.

He also worked tirelessly to enrich existing connections and establish new ones with diplomatic missions from across the African continent based here in Ottawa.

But Pius Adesanmi’s world was much bigger than the Carleton University campus.

He was considered one of the most important minds of the African diaspora and a renowned public intellectual, especially in his home country of Nigeria. He was also the author of the award-winning book, You’re Not a Country Africa: A Personal History of the African Present.

His renown was abundantly clear to Carleton colleagues who conducted research in different African countries. Whenever they mentioned Pius’ name, people recognized it and expressed deep respect for his work. He provided Carleton with a strong link to the African continent.

In fact, Pius returned to the continent frequently to forge ties with researchers and universities and to facilitate opportunities for Carleton students to work with them.

Pius was well-known not only for his writings, but also in many African institutions, including the African Union and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.

His colleagues, students and friends are dedicated to fulfilling his vision for the Institute of African Studies, which brings together Africanist researchers and students from both the Faculty of Public Affairs and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Professor Nduka Otiono, the graduate coordinator for the Institute, has announced a call for submissions for a special collection of poetry in honour of Professor Adesanmi entitled Wreaths for a Wayfarer: A Poetry Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi (1972-2019).

The Institute has also established a Professor Pius Adesanmi Memorial Fund in his honour.

The Faculty of Public Affairs extends its deepest condolences to Professor Adesanmi’s family, friends, students and colleagues. He will be fondly remembered by all of us.





André Plourde
Dean, Faculty of Public Affairs