Upon weeks of reflection, I agree that your work was done, Pius… You would not have imagined the impact you made in people’s lives. You were mourned like a true statesman, a patriot and a hero. The world’s best news outlets and newspapers touted your scholarship. Indeed, it is better to die young and be celebrated than to die unsung in old age.

No one writes another’s legacy. We write our legacies with every breath we draw because a legacy is not what you acquire, it is what you create, it is what you do. Professor Pius Adesanmi created words. When life comes to an end, as it will, what remains are the memories we made and the stories we created out of life. Pius Adesanmi did not believe in the myopic world of quick transactions. He had a long range vision of what and where Nigeria and indeed the whole of Africa should be. He believed in deliberate and methodical investments in ideas, people and processes. Through his writings, he lived in a world of thought, teaching, small interactions and impact.

Even though no one has complete control over how they are going to be remembered, but Pius Adesanmi tried to write his, through flowery, flowing prose, satire, sarcasm, biting wit and sometimes cheery or morbid humour. Every medium, for him, was a playground of ideas, education and exchanges. He was not one to miss the opportunity of chance encounters, social media and informal outlets of interaction and communication. Pius Adesanmi empowered everyone in his orbit to become informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities for the greater good. It was his belief that social, political, economic and cultural systems shape our lives. In his speeches, keynotes, lectures, Op-eds and social media updates, he stressed the lack of engagement with government and its policies as the fundamental driver of inequality, impunity and the abuse of power. He preached active citizenship, civic engagement and civic responsibility as pathways to speaking up, claiming the space, organising, engaging, and influencing decisions that affect us collectively and hold Nigerian leaders and institutions accountable.

He was most comfortable wearing his colourful coat of thinker, creative and public intellectual on the streets. He had the common touch, with an uncanny ability to connect with the lowly and the mighty. With effortless ease, he crisscrossed the socio-economic strata to preach his message. Each class owned him. To him, poverty and underdevelopment are neither natural nor inevitable.

The classroom of Carleton University, Canada where he was director of African Studies was not big enough for Professor Pius Adesanmi, neither was his foray into post-doctoral mentorship in many African universities. He was most comfortable wearing his colourful coat of thinker, creative and public intellectual on the streets. He had the common touch, with an uncanny ability to connect with the lowly and the mighty. With effortless ease, he crisscrossed the socio-economic strata to preach his message. Each class owned him. To him, poverty and underdevelopment are neither natural nor inevitable. Those who follow him know that they do not have to tolerate government’s attempt to reinforce inequality or make systems work for only those at the top. Each time, without holding back, he called on us to push our leaders to be responsive and fulfill their promises to serve the common good. In his own words, Pius summed it up this way: “I write basically these days for the purposes of archaeology. A thousand years from now, archaeologists would be interested in how some people called Nigerians lived in the 20th and 21st centuries. If they dig and excavate, I am hoping that fragments of my writing survive to point them to the fact that not all of them accepted to live as slaves of the most irresponsible rulers of their era.”

A year ago today, Nigeria, Africa and his adopted country Canada lost a genius. Fate chose to bless the rolling fields of Abyssinia with the remains of a giant in life and in death. Nothing today describes him than his own epitaph, which he wrote in 2013: “Here lies Pius Adesanmi, who tried as much as he could to put his talent in the service of humanity and flew away home one bright morning when his work was over.”

A year has flown by since that fatal Ethiopian airline crash robbed us of him. His untimely demise reminds us to ask ourselves: What really matters in life? What stories are we telling? What stories are you creating for people to tell after we are gone? What impact will we leave behind? What will be our legacy?

By his words and charge, Pius put a stamp on the future, by making contributions to future generation of Nigerians. His written words are immortal and there for posterity. They are thoughtful, meaningful and very intentional. His words called and still calls us into existence; to embrace the connectivity of community, to jettison limiting beliefs and have the courage and confidence to be an agent of positive change. A year has flown by since that fatal Ethiopian airline crash robbed us of him. His untimely demise reminds us to ask ourselves: What really matters in life? What stories are we telling? What stories are you creating for people to tell after we are gone? What impact will we leave behind? What will be our legacy?

Upon weeks of reflection, I agree that your work was done, Pius. When you died, it felt like the sun would not rise and warm the skies again; it does. It felt like the half moon will never be a full moon again; it still becomes full. You would not have imagined the impact you made in people’s lives. You were mourned like a true statesman, a patriot and a hero. The world’s best news outlets and newspapers touted your scholarship. Indeed, it is better to die young and be celebrated than to die unsung in old age. May God make your death a true rest. I miss you my dear friend.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo