Henry Olayemi, who is the Chairman of Reward Investments and Services Limited, Lagos, in this telephone interview with ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA, reflects on the life and time of his nephew, Prof. Pius Adesanmi
A LETTER TO HIS DAUGHTER
Professor Pius Adesanmi before his death in the ill-fated Ethiopian plane that crashed on Sunday, wrote his daughter an open letter. Due to the nature of his job, he hardly had time to spend with his family. However whenever he had spare time, he always resorted to spending it well with them. In the letter which was written in the year 2017, he talked about leaving home at all times and leaving the girl in a sad mood.
The toughest part? The tears heralding every departure. The accusations. The tantrums. You are going again!!! The pleading. The cajoling. The explanations. These trips, they are Daddy’s work. Your own trip with Daddy is in August. That is when the family vacation comes. But I’ve been to your work. Your office is not on an airplane. Every time you go to the airplane without me you say it is work. Another round of coaxing, sweet talking, pleading. You try to explain this kind of work that takes you to the airplane. And away. From her.
You are struggling. Then she breaks it down brilliantly the way nature has wired toddlers to be far beyond us. Daddy is this also like the hard work that you say they give you money at the end of the month when you do it? Toddler-speak and syntax for salary.
Yes, Tise, when you work hard you make money to buy things. So when you leave on the airplane, you make money to buy me happy meals? Yes. Lots of happy meals? Yes. At the new McDonalds? Yes. Her face dissolves into happinness. She is dancing now and running around the house and helping me pack. And we dance like best friends all the way to the airport. And she waves me bye and tells me to remember my promise of happy meals from the money I make on this trip. I suppress a tear and walk to check in, afraid to look back and catch her gaze…”
How did you get to hear of the news?
I didn’t hear the news when it broke because I had a speaking engagement in the morning of that day (Sunday) and my phones and all my gadgets were switched off. But when I got back later in the day and I had just sat down when I saw the news in the Whatsapp. It was a very shocking news to me and I had to start calling all my relatives but I couldn’t call the mother, who is my elder sister. I had to call my sister, who confirmed the news. It is very devastating. He was the man of the house, the breadwinner and he was the only man of the house. He had two elder sisters, just the three of them.
How are you recovering from the sad development?
It is going to take a while to recover because nobody ever expected that he was going to die in this manner and at his prime. But as a Christian, we believe that God gives and God takes. We take solace in Him and in His words. None of us ever believed that Pius will die that way. He died in active service.
When was the last time you saw him or spoke to him?
He was in my house in 2016 when he was in Nigeria in the company of his friend, Yinka Odumakin. Then when I was in Canada at a point after that year but because of my tight schedule I couldn’t see him in Ottawa and I tried to reach him on the phone and I couldn’t reach him but sent him a message.
What kind of a person was he?
He was a prolific writer and was very devoted to writing about and promoting African arts and culture. His write ups were very deep and went to the root of the culture. He was very helpful to many people and assisted a lot of people who he had never met or knew before. He would be remembered for his love for African culture, his love for education and he loved for people to be well educated.
As a family man, how would you describe him?
He loved his family dearly, he was a promising child and he loved his mother so much and Isanlu, his home town.
What would you remember him for?
I will like to remember him for his write ups because there are so many people who followed him on Facebook and other social media. His indepth write ups were so rich, informative and educative. He wrote the truth without embellishment or adding anything else to it.
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