My friend request still lingers on his Facebook profile.
Now I know it’ll never be accepted.
When rumours of his death began to gain traction on social media, I was slightly alarmed but quickly dismissed it as the usual negative excitement that often accompanied bad news in the virtual space. Knowing that people have a penchant for peddling fake news because they cannot be bothered to wait for credible news sources to report events, I muttered a prayer in the hope that it emanated from some mischief-loving individual.
And then it was confirmed.
The erudite professor and foremost intellectual was involved in the ill-fated Ethiopian Airline crash.
Swept off the surface of the earth without any warning. All his brilliance and literary acumen deleted along with his profound personality. Just like that!
I have read Professor Adesanmi’s articles a few times. I follow him on Twitter and would often marvel at his inimitable intelligence and deep knowledge of a wide range of subject matters. As a knowledge junkie, I learnt a lot from him even though I never met him. And especially in this political season where he was quite vocal about his take on national issues, I gleaned information from him. I had also hoped to meet him someday soon and drink from his well of knowledge, but that is now an eternal pipe dream.
Death took him away at the worst possible time and in the worst possible way.
It’s a wonder why someone who was so loaded, someone who was a humongous conduit of deep knowledge to had to be taken away in such a tragic manner.
As one who’s self-motivated and desires to reach the heights that Pius Adesanmi reached, sometimes, I take a step back to consider the worthiness of everything I do.
We are told to dream. To work hard. To strive for greater heights. To be invaluable to society.
We are always hungry for more. Looking to increase our earnings by getting better jobs. We search for love and want the happily-ever-after story. We want to have kids and see them perpetuate us. Always making plans for the future.
Saving. Investing. Aspiring.
But we almost never consider death; that the “Boogeyman” can come calling when we least expect.
The finality for every human in this realm. The end of it all.
We shove the thought aside even when we are reminded by tragedies like this. We mourn for a while and we move on. Back to our daily hustle…in the hunt for bread.
We love, we laugh, we work, we retire, we fight, we jostle for relevance; all for everything to end in seconds.
Our mortal bodies, gone with the wind!
All the beauty we take pride in…our long, luxurious hair. Our scar-free bodies and razor-sharp wit all become a distant memory soon enough.
When I consider these things, I ask, “Is it worth it?” Do I really need to exert myself and become a person of note when I could just slump and die unexpectedly? Do I need to aspire to greatness? Aren’t all these motivational speakers frauds for sowing the “never-give-up” seed in us?
I never met the academic luminary called Pius Adesanmi, but I am pained. People like him should not be leaving us at this time when Africa, and Nigeria, in particular, need them the most.
The thing with death is that it’s always a sour reminder of the people we have loved and lost.
Now, I remember my maternal aunt who died suddenly many years ago. Gentle in spirit, literally harmless. As a full-blown adult, she had gradually gone blind much to everyone’s dismay—but she remained cheerful—making her way around the house and doing chores unaided. She would often talk about the many lofty things she desired for me. But death took her away abruptly.
At times like this, I remember my good friend, Gloria. A wonderful cook. She had dreams of becoming a caterer of repute but had just secured a job in a bank when she was involved in a fatal motor accident—an accident that took her life. When I heard the news, I was in shock for days. We had spoken only about three weeks earlier and she had shared her dream of getting married as soon as she found the right one. But death had other plans. Gloria’s desire to get married and become a known caterer died unfulfilled.
I remember, Akinkunmi, my friend and classmate at the University of Ibadan. In our final year log book, he had written “Certainly not death” as his response to the question “What next after school?” But in a shocking twist of fate, he had slumped and died during the compulsory National Youth Service Corp programme, right after school!
When I am asked about my greatest fear, I never hesitate to say it’s the fear of losing loved ones. I’m almost paranoid about it, hence, my tendency to be overprotective even of my siblings (who are older).
Death is so powerful. Too powerful and too rude.
Prof’s death is another reminder. Of our fallibility and jarring powerlessness when it comes calling.
As endowed as we all are in different giftings and spheres of life, when death appears, we are helpless. It’s a reality that should humble anyone.
A realisation that should spur us to live as the mere mortals that we are.