The announcement of the sudden passing of Late Prof. Asagba came to me as a rude shock, more so, because I interacted with her a few days before her passing. I knew Late Prof. Asagba for over a decade, which dates back to my studentship years in the department of Psychology, University of Ibadan. For me, my memoir of her would not be judiciously executed without touching on the roles she assumed in her daily interactions while I was her student and as her colleague before her passing. In these two categories, she was a special person who played the unique role of tutoring, counseling and caring for me as a mother would her daughter.
My first direct interaction with her was in my penultimate year of my undergraduate programme in the university. Back then, I was really appreciative of her style of teaching and how she introduced her courses with great sense of practicality, providing spot on illustrations and examples that made her class interactive and learning fun. Her selfless nature, dedication to work and compassion for students to get the best were evident in my subsequent interactions with her as she agreed to students’ pleas for extra hours of teachings outside the statutory teaching periods; and even fixed additional meeting periods just to ensure the curriculum is covered. I must say that Late Prof. Asagba was very resolute and enterprising when it comes to the execution of her duties.
At the Postgraduate level, her prowess and rapt interest for teaching were equally unique and exceptional. I vividly recall her insightful and creative approach to teaching behavioural modification in class. She made relaxation therapies, biofeedback and cognitive behavioural therapies so vivid that they have been beyond extinction. Indeed, her classroom setting felt more like a mini clinician office, and while we made presentations in class she urged, encouraged and applauded practical aspects of such presentations. Late Prof. Asagba’s passion for practical rather than theory was quite exemplary and many students appreciated her for this.
As a member of staff in the Department, working with her was very pleasant and cordial. Mama Asagba, as she was fondly called by many in the Department, was hardly bossy or domineering. Even when she oversaw tasks with junior colleagues, she participated actively and gave us a sense of belonging in spite of her ardent stickler for timeliness. In addition, she was an individual who kept to time schedules for meetings and various functions. Other qualities of hers that stands out strong is are caring and loving nature which cannot be overemphasized. I vividly recall my encounter with her just days before her passing, when we exchanged salutations on her way to a meeting. In her usual self, she was very cheering and welcoming and when I thanked her for the gift she extended to my son days back, she replied, “it’s my pleasure and it’s just a token”. This motherly quality of hers is a rare disposition that is only peculiar of a person with a godly personality.
You can then imagine how I felt when the news of her sudden passing reached me just few days afterwards. Indeed, this must be a trying and difficult time for her immediate family and the Department due to the unexpected manner in which the incident occurred. I therefore extend my sincere sympathies to her family and those who are close to her and pray that Almighty God grant them the fortitude to bear this loss. Her footprints are enshrined in the sand of time and her good deeds would forever be remembered.
Adieu Professor Rachel Asagba, rest in the bosom of our Lord.