A Nigerian Mandela Washington Fellow dies 12 days after leaving Nigeria
A Nigerian Student who traveled to the US just this month died after an accident. John Paul Ojaojogwu Usman who is a Mandela Washington Fellow passed on after an accident while hiking near Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He was studying Civic Leadership.
A South African Colleague who was present at the seen described what transpired.
A colleague of the late Usman from South Africa, Nzuzi narrated what happened: “We went on a hiking trip. I was walking ahead with four other fellows, including John Paul and one of our coordinators. When we reached the waterfall where some decided to swim, John Paul kept insisting I go into the water and I didn’t, because it was too cold. He decided to join the fellows who were right under the water and the next thing that happened was that he slipped into the water and started drowning. Another fellow tried to save him but they both disappeared for a while. We were all freaked out and then the one fellow (trying to rescue the deceased) came back up but JP remained unseen. We started screaming for help, and people jumped in to look for him. They then recovered his body.”
While lamenting the loss, a participant, Adams Adeiza who comes from same Kogi State with the deceased, recalled that on June 16, shortly before their departure to the US, he was with late Usman’s parents at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport, Abuja. “They drove all the way from Lokoja in effort to see him off. They were lovely people and obviously very caring parents. I have been thinking. How will they receive this heart-breaking news,” he said.
The US mission to Nigeria has since released a statement.
We extend our deepest condolences to John Paul’s family and friends over this tragic loss. John Paul was a rising star, devoted to the causes of sustainable development, children’s rights, and peace building in Nigeria. His selection to the Mandela Washington Fellowship was a tribute to his drive, talent, and dedication to making his country’s civil society even stronger.
One of John Paul’s professional mentors at Virginia Tech put it best, “While his time with us was short, he was well loved.” This young man will be remembered fondly as a great citizen ambassador of his country. We mourn his passing.