Here’s to the ones that we lost.
Academic and public intellectual Pius Adesanmi was on his way to Nairobi, Kenya to attend the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) meeting organized by the African Union. He would go on to board the ill-fated Ethiopia Airlines Airbus 737 MAX 8 that crashed on the morning of 10, March shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 persons on board. He was 47. Until his death, Adesanmi was a professor at Carleton University, Ottawa in Canada where he taught English and African studies.
The former Super Falcons striker, star girl and maiden captain of the female under-19 team (The Falconets) died on August 21 after a brief illness. The former Super Falcons forward who last played for SSVSM-Kairat Almaty in the Kazakhstani Championship made history in 1999 when she became the youngest player ever to play at the Women’s World Cup for Nigeria. A left-sided winger and four-time African champion, Chiejine also played for the Falcons at three FIFA World Cup finals and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
On 23, February, renowned surgeon, medical elder, distinguished academic and exemplary entrepreneur, Professor Adeyemo Emmanuel Elebute breathed his last. He was 86 years old. A giant in the field of medicine as well as in the boardroom, Elebute was a nation builder who distinguished himself in several facets of his working life. After retiring from the University of Lagos as a Professor of Surgery, Elebute and his wife, Oyinade, a professor of Physiology, set up the Lagoon Hospitals and Clinics and Hygeia HMO service.
The global art world lost one of its most important and dynamic figures on Friday, 15, March when Nigerian born curator, art critic, writer, educator and administrator breathed his last in Munich, Germany. According to his partner, Louise Neri, a director at Gagosian gallery, cause of death was cancer. He was 55. Born and raised in Nigeria before migrating to the United States of America as a nineteen-year-old student, Enwezor was perhaps, the most unlikely figure to ascend to the zenith of contemporary art curatorship and administration.
Kehinde Lijadu, one half of the legendary Nigerian music duo, the Lijadu Sisters died following a cancer battle. She was 71. Active from the mid-60s through the ’80s, the Lijadu Sisters released several albums on the Decca subsidiary Afrodisia, merging western jazz, rock, soul, Afrobeats, and disco influences. The Lijadus often addressed political unrest in Nigeria in their music. Kehinde suffered a spinal injury in 1996, an event that put on hold their plans for conquering America.
Oghenemaro Henry Azubuike Emeofa, popularly known as Mad Melon, one half of veteran Nigerian music duo, Mountain Black and Mad Melon who rose to fame with the 2003 megahit Danfo Driver passed away in September following a spell with Tuberculosis as disclosed by his son. Emefoa drove a commercial bus to make ends meet and would regularly ply the Ojo-Mile 2 route until he and his partner were discovered by Cornerstone Music.
Considered one of the foremost writers on African feminism, gender studies and literary theory, Omolara Ogundipe-Leslie was a was a poet, critic, editor, feminist and activist. A social critic and academic who came to be recognized as a viable authority on African women, Ogundipe-Leslie was born on December 27, 1940. Stiwanism, the sub-movement of feminism which she founded, argued for inclusion of women in all aspects of living.
Tejumola Olaniyan, an influential scholar and professor of African Languages and Literature, died Saturday at his home in Wisconsin-Madison, USA. He was 60. A consummate scholar of African literary and cultural studies, Olaniyan’s research interests spanned African American and Caribbean literatures, genre studies and popular culture including art, music and architecture. His teaching career spread through many universities from Ife through University of Virginia to University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was the Louise Durham Mead Professor of English & Wole Soyinka Professor of the Humanities.
Precious Owolabi, a 23-year-old youth corper who was interning with ChannelsTV as a reporter was shot dead in July as police clashed with members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), otherwise referred to as Shiite, in Abuja. Owolabi died of a gunshot wound he sustained while in the line of fire, covering the clash between the police and the Shiite protesters.
A beloved sports journalist and former director of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Akinloye Oyebanji passed on in July at the National Hospital, Abuja following a protracted struggle with heart failure. He was 62. Survived by a wife and four children, Oyebanji served the NTA for 35 years in several capacities but was most famous for his work as a sports broadcaster. He retired as managing director of NTA Properties at the authority’s headquarters in Abuja.
The art space, locally and internationally mourned the loss of Bisi Silva, influential curator, founder and artistic director of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), a nonprofit art gallery and education center in Lagos. Silva, a peerless patron of contemporary art- and of the Lagos art scene- who nurtured the career growth of countless contemporary African artists died on Feb. 12 in a Lagos hospital at the age of 56. According to her sister, actress Joke Silva, cause of death was breast cancer.
The former football international who captained Nigeria to the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Finland, as well as the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands where the Flying Eagles emerged runners-up, passed away in the United States of America at the age of 31. Until his death, Success who made his senior team national debut played for American club, Austin Bold FC.
Chief Eddie Ugbomah, the veteran filmmaker whose films were not afraid to take on political issues of their day passed away in May at 78. A native of Ashaka, Aboh in East Ndokwa Local Government, Delta State, the prolific and maverick Ugbomah made 13 films on celluloid including The Mask (1979) and Death of a Black President (1984). In 1988, Ugbomah was appointed chairman of the Nigerian Film Corporation.
Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, representing Imo North Senatorial district on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was reported to have slumped on Wednesday while taking his bath. He was pronounced dead at a private hospital in Apo, Abuja. Born June 30, 1965 to the Uwajumogu family of Umuihi ihitte/Uboma LGA of Imo State, the late senator served as the pioneer Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for Ihitte/Uboma LGA at the age of 25 back in 1990.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.