It must be great to know that residual Wilmotism is still a factor in radical politics in Nigeria. For, that must be the springboard from which comrades such as John Odah raised the alarm that, in quoting the Emir of Kano’s condolence message to the Bjorn Beckman family, Intervention unintentionally announced the death of Dr. Patrick Wilmot along with Bala Usman, Raufu Mustapha, Sanusi Abubakar, etc. The alarm is appreciated and any impression in that direction stands corrected in this standalone story. No, Dr. Patrick Wilmot, the Jamaican who taught Sociology in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in the 1970s and 1980s is alive and kicking in London, not dead.
It is, unfortunately, totally correct that the portion of the Emir’s condolence message in question creates the powerful impression that Dr. Wilmot is dead. It reads: “Like his compatriots before him including Yusufu Bala Usman, Patrick Wilmot, Mahmud Tukur, Raufu Mustapha and Sanusi Abubakar among others, we have lost another gem”. Certainly, the Emir could not have set out to suggest that Dr. Wilmot is dead in the same manner as those mentioned in the list.
Although those who handled the progression of Prof Beckman’s health did their best in hinting selected others, it was never possible to start writing anything about him. The hope was still that Western medicine could still give him more time on earth. So, when the news of his death finally came, Intervention was still caught flat footed in terms of what to publish. Very young and educated outside Nigeria, the Staff Researcher had never heard the name Beckman. So, she could not start anything. The Staff Adviser, though an academic, was no better, being completely outside Social Sciences and far from the stuff of radical academia in Nigeria. The Editorial Associate who could handle the story had run out of battery due to fluctuation in electricity supply.
There were bound to be errors along the line in the haste when eventually a story process began well after 7 pm on Thursday, November 7th, 2019, six hours after the story had broken of Prof Beckman’s death. It happened that one such error is the unintentional listing of Dr. Wilmot among the list of the radical warriors who had passed on when his name could have been simply edited out from the list.
Dr. Patrick Wilmot was no less a strong actor in the ferment in which his peers such as Prof Bjorn Beckman built a strong bond between themselves and their students, fellow academics and others committed to the struggle for popular democracy from the ABU, Zaria basement.
If there is anyone who should also be alive to witness the radical remaking of Nigeria, that should be Dr. Wilmot. Framed for serving as agent of those he was fighting through intellectual warfare, he suffered deportation in what could as well be called the first exercise in preemption in Nigeria’s biopower politics. Having survived all of that and remains strong to even recently turn to literary imagination as a weapon of struggle, he deserves to live a very long life. And Intervention wishes him no less!