On 10 March 2019, when the Boeing 737 Max flown by Ethiopian Airlines crashed after six minutes in the air on its flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya, it took with it a host of African intellectuals and foreign diplomats who were on their way to Nairobi for a conference.

The death of Prof. Adesanmi, a towering Nigerian intellectual whose critical commentary on the Nigerian social space had earned him a huge following, was deeply mourned. At the time, Prof. Adesanmi was the director of Carleton University’s Institute of Africans Studies in Canada.

The African Studies Association said of Prof. Adesanmi’s death: “His passing has been a monumental loss to the global African Studies community. It is in his honour that the African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA) has established the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award for Excellence in African Writing.

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The award is set to “honour an outstanding single-authored book focused on Africa and/or the global African world biennially. Nominations for this prize should be submitted by or on behalf of a scholar, activist and/or artist. The award committee will consider books that cover any historical period and come from any discipline or combination of disciplines, published in English, French, Portuguese or an African language. The award committee is particularly interested in books that are theoretically, conceptually, and/or methodologically innovative and demonstrate excellence in African writing,” the press release stated.

The winner of the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award for excellence in African Writing will receive a cash prize and a plaque, as well as a lifetime membership of the ASAA. This award is only one indication of the huge intellectual lacuna that Prof. Adesanmi’s death created on the continent and internationally.