As I pick up my pen to put words together about Professor Rachel Bolaji Asagba, I still feel the same just as when I heard the shocking news of her passing on to glory – Speechless, Sad, and Teary! Coming in contact with Mama Asagba (as she was fondly called) as my teacher during my Master degree programme in 2012 at the University of Ibadan was the beginning of a very memorable and blessed journey that I never thought would be this short. From the very first personal interaction in her office to the last voice call I had with her, the memory is still crystal clear. As my teacher, supervisor, employer, mentor, role model, guidance, encourager, supporter, and friend (yes, friend), Mama Asagba never for once stopped playing these roles as a selfless mother who just wanted to see the best in others.
Working with her as a research assistant in 2013-2014, Mama Asagba practically passionately and relentlessly “poured” scholarly reasoning and academic paper writing into me. She did everything possible to see that I could stand alone as a scholar she became proud of. My first ever scientific conference participation and presentation, which was a major boost to my academic career was 100% sponsored by Mama Asagba. Until her demise, she never stopped giving me a push to do more even when it is tiring. Just when I informed her of our last publication earlier this year, Mama congratulated me and said “Ehn ehn Femi, please look at our data bank to check what we have not explored so that we can write another paper as soon as possible. The data must not waste”.
As a mother, Mama Asagba became a household name in my family. I almost became jealous of how she became close to my wife, always encouraging, checking up and supporting our welfare. At the time that I got my postdoctoral fellowship and just had a baby, she said “wow this is Ayodimeji”, the name she called my daughter. Thank you so very much Mama Asagba for your invaluable support. We will miss you a lot.
She was the most humble teacher I ever came across. As a famous proponent of Logotherapy (a meaning-centred therapy) in Nigeria, and someone who in a meaningless world, found and taught meaning in life, she became the only Nigerian Diplomate Clinician in Logotherapy (the highest and most prestigious title in Logotherapy practice worldwide). Her credential in terms of scholarly experience and contact is immense, yet, Mama will never blow her own trumpet.
As we mourn the passing into the glory of Professor Rachel Bolaji Asagba, great academia, caring mother, promoter of African garment and fashion, lover of humanity and God, I want us to learn from her life, courage, resilience, kindness, compassion, passion for excellence, benevolence, and above all meaning in life even in a meaningless world. Mama Asagba, your time here is short, but you left behind a legacy that will abide forever. Adieu, Mama Asagba.