Professor Pius Adesanmi; Award-Winning Writer, Activist and Academician

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If you are an avid reader of online news and blogs aimed at discussing the polity in Africa, specifically Nigeria, then you may have stumbled across the name of Professor Pius Adesanmi; a poet, literary genius and cultural critic. Professors are getting younger and younger, aren’t they?

Pius is a son of Isanlu, Yagba LGA of Kogi State, Nigeria. Possessed of a mind that can cut through glass, Pius earned a First Class Honours degree in French and francophone studies from the University of Ilorin in 1992. He subsequently obtained a Master’s degree in French from the University of Ibadan in 1997, and a Ph.D. in French from the University of British Columbia in 2001; hence his professorial designation.

Pius has and continues to enjoy a gratifying career as a scholar of Anglophone and Francophone African and Black Diasporic literatures and cultures. He has lived in France, South Africa, and the USA where he was employed as an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University before his current appointment in Canada where he currently resides as a Professor of Literature and African Studies at Carleton University.

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Pius is a two-time Fellow of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and is a widely sought-after guest-lecturer in Universities in Africa, Europe, and North America.  Quite apart from his academic pursuits and accomplishments, Pius was thrust into the public consciousness initially, by virtue of his weekly column for Sahara Reporters and the NEXT Newspaper.

Pius has become a voice to be reckoned with in the struggle for a true democracy in Nigeria and other African nations. An excerpt from a column of his which I found interesting goes thus:

We are a nation of 150 million spectators. In political discourse, we are arguably the world’s largest spectocracy. Our spectocratic tendency may be music in the ears of the English Premier League and other European football leagues which serve as national diversion from our sorrows, in the domain of political agency and participation, however, it makes us a thing, that insulted thing which is the exact opposite of a citizen. When next you call yourself a Nigerian citizen, you lie. You deceive yourself. You are not a citizen, Nigerian, you are a spectocrat and here’s why. You are a spectocrat because the validity and legitimacy of your country’s political process do not inhere in you, your choices, and your preferments. It is precisely because these things inhere in the citizen in genuine democracies in Africa and elsewhere in the world that the citizens of such countries are referred to as an electorate. You, Nigerian spectocrat, are a member of a spectocrate, Africa’s largest spectocrate, because all political choices and options are rammed down your throat in a top-down process. Your ability to even be a spectator of how your life is run and ruined is further dependent on the benevolence of PHCN or your generator. Otherwise, you are in total darkness.” [http://saharareporters.com/column/2015-i-endorse-you-spectocrat-pius-adesanmi]. What do you think?

Professor Pius also contributes essays on literature and culture to several learned journals, and literary reviews.

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Perhaps, his ‘greatest’ claim to fame would be winning the inaugural Penguin Prize for African Writing for his non-fiction work entitled, ‘You’re Not a Country, Africa!’ in 2010.  A cutting-edge collection of essays in which Pius tries to unravel what Africa means to him as an African. Traversing the continent, Pius interacts with the Africa of the 21st century and attempts to decipher the puzzles that have kept this continent distracted. His first book, a collection of poems ‘The Wayfarer and Other Poems,’ won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize in 2001. Commendable indeed; he has got an award for every book he wrote; keep writing Sir!!!

So here’s to another star in Africa…keep shining!!!

© 2013 – 2017, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.

1 COMMENT

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