Sky
Professor Tope Omoniyi (Sky)
  • 61 years old
  • Date of birth: Feb 20, 1956
  • Date of passing: May 27, 2017
Let the memory of Tope (Sky) be with us forever

This memorial has been created in memory of our wonderful husband and father

Professor Tope Omoniyi

We will remember him forever.

He leaves behind his wife Karen, his children Tife Nisha, Onaayo Mara and Feranmi as well as his elderly mother, siblings and in-laws.  We all loved him dearly.

Sky touched the lives of so many people in different places around the world so we wanted to create a space for people to share memories and photos so that we, and all of those who loved him, can celebrate the life of this beloved and cherished man, who we miss so very much.

During his lifetime Sky funded and supported numerous charities but especially the local secondary school in his hometown where he provided an annual financial donation to fund key projects.  As so many people are asking about flowers or donations we have set up a go fund me page to faciliate a memorial at the school in his name which will provide a benefit to the students and the school.  The family will also take great comfort in knowing that there is a memorial in Sky's name in an educational environment in his hometown.

Rather than receive flowers and wreaths the family would  prefer wellwishers made a donation to the gofundme campaign to raise money for a long lasting monument in his name, below:

https://www.gofundme.com/prof-tope-omoniyi-memorial-fund


The funeral service will take place on 12th June at 2.30pm at Gloucester Cemetery and Crematorium, Coney Hill Road, Gloucester GL4 4PA.

A 'Celebration of Life' reception will follow in the

Mulberry Room from 3 - 5pm.


All family and friends are welcome. 


 

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Iyabode Authe-Nwabueze on 1st July 2017

"I just got the news of your departure today, deducing it from an email sent to me to review a paper to be part of a book that is a memorial tribute in your honour. I went into shock mode. I could not believe that the cold hands of death could sneak in and take you away from us in this manner, without any warning.
Yes, we only met in 2015 when both of us went to University of Ghana for our  sabbatical leave. As is your nature, we got to be more than colleagues to become brother and sister. And more so when you got to know that my husband used to be your colleague in Unilag.
Your brotherly and kind nature showed its sterlingness in your relationship with us throughout and after our individual sabbatical period in Ghana.
We cannot question the Almighty God as His ways are past finding out, I guess, He takes away the righteous before the evil day, the scriptures declare. May the Lord grant you eternal rest in peace. I also pray that He gives your family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss in Jesus name."

This tribute was added by femi yusoof on 27th June 2017

"I still find it hard to believe that you have gone. Though i only got to know you briefly while at Roehampton, you showed a warmth and heart that is testament to your character as a giver and helper. I still remember the brief time we had lunch together, sharing stories about Nigeria and the UK. Reading the tributes here just confirms what an inspiration you were to many, and though i am very sad to hear of your passing, it really has been a privilege and blessing to have known you. May your soul rest in God's peace."

This tribute was added by Lamia Bach Baoueb on 20th June 2017

"I'm still under the shock. I can't believe Sky is gone. I knew him at BAAL conference in 2002 in Leeds. We became close friends since that day. I felt very confortable talking to him about everything. I was going through hard times and he listened with patience. Sky was more than a friend, he was a brother and a confident. He shared my happiness as well as my sorrows. His words were full of wisdom and his sense of humour had always softened the blow. He visited me twice in Tunisia and spent days with my family. My kids love him so much and are always asking about  him. They still can't realise he left us for a better world.  I also knew his wife Karen when I was a PhD student at Reading University. Sky, Karen and the girls attended my graduation ceremony in 2007.  May he rest in peace and may God bless his family. Sky will always live in my heart. Rest in peace brother."

This tribute was added by Karen Omoniyi on 15th June 2017

"From:  Pastor Obi
Tribute to Professor Omoniyi

I met him only twice but I think that in those two times I can tell a brief story. Prof as he is fondly called by his brother Pastor Olu and Sky by his beloved wife is a man after God's heart and a kind hearted man in all his ways.

I saw a man who loved God and loved his family, a man who knew God and gave opportunity to other's to know the God that he knows. I saw a man who was fearless, calm and at peace with himself, knowing whether in the body or out of the body he belonged to God. I saw a man who understood that the mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom and his words were full of wisdom, hope and faith. I saw him last at the hospital and I remember on his knowing that I had come in, he lifted up both hands to heaven and said "the yoke is broken. At that moment any reservations, concerns, uncompleted tasks in his mind were all settled,  he knew his wife and children that he would be leaving behind were taken care and would follow after the God that he so loved and so he  was ready to go.

He fought a good fight of faith, he believed to the very end and there is a crown of righteousness laid up for him.  He is in heaven now, a place where there is no sorrow with a glorified body that has no sickness, disease or infirmity so while we will miss him here on this earth, we look forward to meeting again on that glorious day.

Pastor Obi Chiemeka
Zonal Pastor
Christ Embassy UK Zone 3"

This tribute was added by Caroline Flynn on 14th June 2017

"I am so deeply shocked to learn of Tope's passing. He was so warm and friendly to me in all my time as an administrator for English Language and Linguistics. I was privileged to know him, and to be invited to his amazing Professorial lecture, which gave me much food for thought, as did his poetry. Never to be forgotten. Warm wishes to his family."

This tribute was added by Joseph Chimbuto on 14th June 2017

"My dear Tope.  Words alone fail me. I could write million words in a million times to express how special you were to my life. I could write a million times to express my grief. But this could not be enough.

Thank you for the life well lived. For your humility and generous heart. You saw the best in your JC as you fondly called me. You got the best out of me. You made the best of me.

Thank you for walking me through the long path till I reached my destiny: from my first year of PhD programme in 2012 till the day of my Graduatilon in 2016. You remain my intellectual father of all times.

You had been there as my father, friend and mentor. You had been there in my lows and in my highs. I am not sure the best adjective to describe what a genuine friend I found in you. I saw Jesus manifesting in you.

JC from Malawi...will always forever celebrate your life - SKY"

This tribute was added by Ana Souza on 13th June 2017

"Dearest Tope, I have started writing this message a number of times. No words seem to be able to express the feelings caused by your passing.  A true brother, as you would say, will always be remembered in the best possible ways.  May you rest in peace. May your family be in peace. Ire o."

This tribute was added by Eric Anchimbe on 12th June 2017

"My dear bro.
rest in peace. the assurance you gave to most of us will continue to stay with us and your family.
we will miss you!"

This tribute was added by dorothy debrah on 12th June 2017

"this tribute was added by Boateng Acheampong emmanuel- 2016 commonwealth fellow
I got to know prof Sky through my boss and since then I never regretted meeting him  since 2015. The 2016 fellows use to greet him ..."our prof" and the usual response from him was always " my people" .little did I know that he was going home so soon. I must say that I have learn a lot from him within the short period I met him. To me, he has gone too  soon but God knows best. Prof I love you but God loves you more. I will be that ambassador you have always wanted me to be.
Fare thee well.... SKY."

This tribute was added by Julia Peck on 11th June 2017

"I had the honour of knowing Tope as a colleague at Roehampton. As a scholar, colleague and all-round warm person, Tope supported my work and development as an academic. I will miss him. My condolences to Karen and Tope's daughters for their loss."

This tribute was added by Nambam Ojo on 11th June 2017

"The question that has been going on in my mind since I heard about the passing on of Prof 'tope is 'What will I be remembered for when my time expires?' Prof 'tope made such a great impact on my academic life within the short time we started working on my research at the university of Roehampton, London. Oh! what an outstanding personality gone too soon!

We have lost
Heaven has gained.

To Karen and children,
My thoughts and prayers are with you and I offer my condolence."

This tribute was added by Eric Uchendu on 10th June 2017

""Dearest Prof,
I still remember our usual greeting....."Onye ihe na agara nke oma"
Ever humble, always smiling and ever ready to help no matter the circumsatnce. I am a beneficiary of your wisdom and inspiring council, your unique choice of words and personalised illustrations at some of our Christ Embassy Reading Mens fellowship meetings were always remarkable. Your love was so tangible and real that it left permanent mark on those that just met you for the first time.Your life is an epistle worth studying and the impact you made in so many lives will live on and stand the test of time. You were a precious gem and a light to many.
Bro Sky, you were more than a brother and friend to me, I will forever miss you and will always cherish your memory as I take comfort in the knwoledge that you have passed on to Glory!.....Therefore we shall surely meet again"."

This tribute was added by Debo Shopade on 10th June 2017

"Dear Prof., It has been a pleasure to have been touched by your life. I will never forget some of the things you shared during the first edition of Auxano initiative at Christ Embassy Reading. You helped us to see that visions can become reality if pursued with faith, determination and perseverance using some of your personal experiences to drive home the message. But you did not stop there; you not only showed me the path to professional greatness and achievement, but like a true mentor you guided me on that path. Thank you for having lived an impactful, glorious and a most generous life. You are missed."

This tribute was added by Joseph Nwokobia on 9th June 2017

"A Poem in memory of my dear true, kind and inspirational Brother, Sky, Tope Omoniyi who passed away on 27 May 2017:

The world has lost a true light,
A candle was too soon put out
It was once flaming, burning bright,
But now we stand without.

The pain tears a hole, it always will,
When near becomes so far.
And as you would want me fulfil
I leave a song for all you left afar:


To Karen and the children:

You’ll never walk alone
When you walk through the storm
Hold your head up high,
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll never walk alone

With SKY above, you will never walk alone.

Joseph and family, Lynne, Joshua and Georgia"

This tribute was added by Alatise Maroof on 9th June 2017

""Hi bayo,
I know you don't know me. I met your dad sometimes in the past. I am tope omoniyi from the same hometown. I learnt of you just concluded your MBBS and have life full of prospect. I wish to introduce you to many academic opportunities here......." Those were part of his mail to me.
He was a humble, kindhearted man who was always ready to help and his words always encouraging and reassuring. I am still in a state of denial. How I wish this is all but dream. His demise is a colossal loss to me and to humanity. Adieu Prof. Sky.

To Karen and the kids, the Lord is your strength."

This tribute was added by Garry Marvin on 8th June 2017

"It was an honour and a privilege to have served with him on the Ethics Committee of the University of Roehampton. I benefitted greatly from his ethical concerns and his enormous wisdom. Sadly missed. Garry"

This tribute was added by FK Lawal on 7th June 2017

"Sky-Pee,
The news of your death was shocking to me and members of my family.You were indeed a dear friend and good  brother. You were a great ambassador of our country and generation. I used to jokingly tell my colleagues that I have a friend who teaches English to English people in England ( o nko oyinbo ni oyinbo ni ilu oyinbo). You were indeed a great inspiration for the completion of my Doctorate in 2015. Your love for your extended family particularly your parents endeared you to me. I just couldn't imagine how mama will take your loss other than to pray that the Lord uphold her. Your dear wife, Karen was loving, caring and highly emotionally attached to you. I pray that she find solace in the fact that she gave you her best.
May the good Lord grant you eternal peace and give your wife, children, family and friends the fortitude to bear this great loss.
You will be sorely missed!!!"

This tribute was added by Viv Edwards on 6th June 2017

"I first heard the sad news from my supervisor, Prof. Viv Edwards. I am particularly sad because Viv had contacted him to be the external examiner for my Viva interview, and he had very graciously agreed. (That was at the end of last year.) I was looking forward to get to know him there as he was very knowledgeable and interested in the use of indigenous languages as resources for development, and also because as a Nigerian he would understand the situation there well. My heartfelt condolences to his wife and family,
Marianne Aaron, PhD Researcher, Institute of Education, University of Reading"

This tribute was added by Jason Gleckman on 6th June 2017

"Tope was a Visiting Scholar at our English Department at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2015.   He was a buoyant and caring member of our Department during his short stay here, and we all miss him and are saddened that he has passed on.  I know that the many students he taught, both in Hong Kong and all over the world, will miss him too."

This tribute was added by Niru Perera on 6th June 2017

"I didn't know you Prof. Tope very well but on the few occasions we met you were so warm and approachable. You had that rare quality of giving someone your complete attention and interest. Then I saw you give that speech about the passing of Joshua Fishman at SS21 in Murcia, Spain, last year and I thought to myself, wow, what a sensitive and genuine man.

I was very very fortunate to have you as an examiner for my PhD thesis and your comments and encouragement meant so much to me. I am deeply sorry that I didn't get the chance to thank you in person for the support you have given me and I am full of regret that I won't get to know you more into the future.

From the posts on this site I can see that you had such a big impact on many people in this world and that you have a loving partner and family. What a loss for all of us. Travel well Tope Omoniyi."

This tribute was added by Anthony Idigbe on 5th June 2017

"Sky, my acquired friend who became my brother! Tunde Fasanu SAN introduced us when we were young lawyers living close to the University of Lagos where he was a lecturer. The rest is history. Sky, you moved abroad and we lost contact until I went for a music festival in Reading with my cousin Joseph Nwokobia who lived there and was studying at Oxford University and we bumped into you and Karen. Since Reading was a natural holiday stop for me, our families began to spend great times together not just in Reading but also in Lagos and Erin Ile. So many issues endear you to me but most important was your great effort to empower members of your family at great discomfort to yourself and your immediate family. Also you were very passionate about your home town Erin Ile and did a lot to assist with education of children there. I remember your scouting for all phased out computers at Roehampton University and other places which you managed to refurbish, freight, paid duty on and delivered free of charge to various schools in Nigeria. Considering that you were not a businessman, you indeed gave your widow's mite. We are grateful for your sacrifice. We are assured that you and your family will be rewarded a thousand fold.

I had a deal with you Sky that you would try to hold on till 16th June when I'm due to be in the U.K. again. You told me I gave you something to look forward to and hoped it would come to pass. Alas, it was not to be. It was all so sudden but the memory remains strong. My daughter Isioma who is 25 this year still remembers the days they played soccer in your garden in Reading whilst I'm on my mobile phone or gisting with you and Karen admonished us to drop the phones and play with the children as we were supposed to be on holiday! I remember teasing Karen that the mobile was a new invention which enabled me to afford the holiday as I could work and go on holiday at the same time. We discussed serious issues; we shared marriage and parenting challenges. We learnt a lot from each other. I know you loved Karen because you told me so. It has been a privilege and honour for me and my family Lizzy, Isioma, Emeka, Chuka and Obiajulu to have met and enjoyed your friendship and those of Karen and their children.

Adieu Sky, you came, you saw and you conquered. Now, you must rest in peace!

Tony"

This tribute was added by Nana Aba Amfo on 5th June 2017

"Oh what a loss!
Such brilliance, such kindheartedness, such warmth! These are the attributes of Tope that I am already missing. My heart is heavy as I mourn the loss of an eminent scholar and colleague, a friend and a brother.
I got into contact with Tope in 2013 in the line of performing my official duties as the then Head of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Ghana. That initial encounter was not as pleasant as there were institutional difficulties to overcome. Yet sooner than later, both of us overcame that rough start and developed an extremely good professional relationship. It went beyond that – we got to know each other’s family, and truly cared for all that concerned each other. Over this relatively short period of knowing Tope, we did a lot together, professionally and otherwise.
I didn’t think his life should be over now. There was so much going on, and so many ideas yet to be fully birthed. The news of your illness came as a shock to many of us. Even then we prayed and hoped that the doctors were wrong. But alas God knows what is best. Two weeks before your death, I was in Stroud to see you. The illness seemed to have taken a toll on your body but your spirit was very much alive and hopeful! We talked about everything – family, Heavenly Acts, our N&MC coursebook project, Legon, etc. Karen looked forward to her Ghana visit with you, but it was not to be.
The linguistics fraternity in Africa and the diaspora has lost a great brain. I have personally lost a dear colleague and friend.
My heart goes out to Karen, Tife Nisha, Onaayo Mara and Feranmi. My thoughts and prayers are with you in these difficult moments. May Tope’s soul rest in perfect peace.
Nana Aba Appiah Amfo
University of Ghana"

This tribute was added by Viv Edwards on 5th June 2017

"So sorry to hear this sad news. Tope was a vibrant, sparkling contributor to BAAL and an inspiration to us all. Condolences to his family and his many friends. Susan Hunston"

This tribute was added by Lai Oshisanya on 5th June 2017

"I 'had' and can still hear my last words with You on the Thursday before You chose to leave a lasting impression two days later to depart on my Daughters’ wedding day! – there was a cloud which was a hangover of my sense of loss when I last saw you; I battled with denial of the realities you confronted me with several weeks before; I left the hospital walking on and on as if I was to walk to Kingscross until I regained consciousness to get a cab to the train station. This must have been for hours of my ruminating on how to reverse time or stall till I could find a solution to what I saw as our predicament –impending inevitable passage – a price we all have to pay at different times. Your last words were pray for me; it gave me undesired closure because I prayed for restoration – but apparently Your Amen came when You slept the last on Saturday it meant resolution; but that was later after Saturday when in consonance with your humility it came to my mind that piece of literature we had shared from forty years association about the legendary views of the traveller from an antique land of the transit nature of man who looked to works of transient-man with awe, ‘Mighty, and Despair’ the appellation was – Ozymandias; You ‘Sky’ chose the spiritual end, faith in the subliminal skies; at least so I reckon, You always left all to God; I guess that’s were your Sky Power always derived; my brilliant friend the picture that comes to my mind was when you were contesting for secretary-general in our Uni days - and after some marathon campaign you were dozing in class! Didn’t we share a joke? You played your role dear friend; I saw you slipping away but I now I know what I saw was sleep. You radiated peace in the end so as not to rape my memory of your magnificence. Adieu dear laureate. RIP.
Karen take heart Sky will be forever missed but will always be in our hearts.
’lai Oshitokunbo Oshisanya."

This tribute was added by Viv Edwards on 4th June 2017

"Farewell tallest poet in England -- and every time i saw you just a little bit taller, your head disappearing upwards into the clouds. You had the best laugh in England too. The best.

John Seed"

This tribute was added by Viv Edwards on 4th June 2017

"I have never met Tope, but it feels like I have known him all my life. I have interacted with Tope academically and had a lot of exchanges and pieces of advice from him. He was my model in the UK context and I looked up to him for inspiration to move on. We exchanged emails, spoke on the phone and he was forever available. I was always comforted to know Tope was there. Reviewing pieces of work and advising on the way to go forward. It is a shame he won't be there again. Although it still does not sound real. Adieu Tope. But know you have left some younger African Scholars behind who hope to keep the candle burning. Lilian Lem Atanga"

This tribute was added by Gemma Keogh on 2nd June 2017

"Tope was a hugely influential figure throughout my undergraduate study at Roehampton. I am deeply sorry and saddened to learn of his passing. I couldn't have asked for a more warm-hearted, kinder or passionate lecturer to guide and shape my study. He influenced and aided me in many projects and essays and was always willing to help. I will always remember Tope's laughter and humour, the profound effect he had on his students, his genuine interest in our aspirations, his willingness to lend and ear and offer advice, but mostly for encouraging me throughout my education and often supporting and believing in me more than I believed in myself. I keep his wife, children and family in my thoughts and prayers. A fantastic person who will be sorely missed, a legend!"

This tribute was added by ope Popoola on 2nd June 2017

"Sky,
Unbelievable news each day passed is as if I will wake up one morning and I will say o it's just a dream and you are still here. You are such a kind hearted leader and inspirator. Missing you Sky, words I often hear you speak kept coming to my mind words like "absolutely" you pronounced it and it made real sense of that word. Thanks for allowing us to meet and know you and your family. Words are not enough to describe you Uncle. Till we meet to part no more rest on in the bosom of the Lord Jesus. Good night Uncle we love you but Christ love you more."

This tribute was added by Sunday Ayantayo on 2nd June 2017

"I have actually met him in 2013 at the Walc and LAN conference at the university of Ibadan and again in 2016 at the seminar organised by Prof. Igboanusi for the metalanguage on HIV/AIDS and Ebola. In all of this, I only know him, I am not sure he knew me. However, he addressed me and my friends like a father. Since I got introduced to him by Prof. Igboanusi in 2016 even after his departure (our communication is limited to Facebook and gmails), he has been like a father. His last words to me are 'To you new doors will be flung open. Don't stop saying it. Don't stop claiming it'. I can't forget those words. It reflects his concerns for others.
When I heard of his departure to the glorious home, I was shock to the marrow. Prof! Not now! Tears rolled down my chin. I couldn't hold it. It is painful though, our consolation is not only in your academic landmark but in lives you torched positively while here with us.
I believe you are resting with the Lord. Prof. Tope Omoniyi! Sun re o. Iwaju re, ire! Eyin re, ire. Ise re ko ni baje. Odi lojo ajinde"

This tribute was added by Claire Cowie on 2nd June 2017

"I was lucky enough to see Tope often when he came to Edinburgh as an external examiner. His infectious laugh and expansive presence would always lift everyone's spirits. He reminded us that there was always more to life than some of the mundane aspects of academia. I will miss seeing him at conferences and my thoughts are with his family and friends."

This tribute was added by Fergus O'Dwyer on 2nd June 2017

"Very sad to hear this, Tope made a valuable contribution to sociolinguistics. I remember fondly kind and engaging words when we met at conferences. Most definitely, that unique laugh lives on..

For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand"

This tribute was added by Kristine Horner on 2nd June 2017

"Thank you for the inspiration, warmth and light that you brought us through your exceptional scholarship, jovial conversations and those one-of-a-kind smiles that were truly from the heart. Sending condolences to your family. May you rest in peace, dear Tope (Sky)."

This tribute was added by Elizabeth Erling on 2nd June 2017

"I just cannot believe what I am reading here. Tope is no longer with us? I read this on the Linguist List and had to read it several times, as I kept thinking it couldn't be true. Tall, funny, kind, exuberant, sharp and witty, creative thinking Tope will no longer be there to run into at conferences? I met him at the first conference I ever attended: BAAL in 2000. His work pushed boundaries, as he always engaged to draw on poetry and a different perspective to liven up and diversify applied linguistics. I've run into him many times since at various events, but it's been too long and now it will never happen. He will be sorely missed in the applied linguistics community. Many condolences to his family."

This tribute was added by Nkonko Kamwangamalu on 1st June 2017

"Dear Karen and family,
It is with deep sadness that I have learned that my brother, Sky Tope Omoniyi, has left this world. I first interacted virtually with Tope almost thirty years ago, soon after he joined the National University of Singapore in the early 1990s. In 2000, he invited me to give a keynote address at the sociolinguistics symposium he organized in Lagos, Nigeria, where I met him in person for the first time. A well-established and internationally renowned scholar, Tope wrote on a wide range of topics, among them language and identity, the sociolinguistics of borderlands, World Englishes, the sociology of language and religion, language policy and planning, etc. Over the years, he and I worked together on numerous research projects, and spent quality time, whenever we met at conferences, talking about our families, work, and life in general.
Prior to his sudden passing, Tope was guest-editing a special issue of the journal Current Issues in Language Planning (CILP) entitled “Micro and macro language policies in contemporary Ghanaian society.” As recently as three weeks ago, on May 9, he informed me of his imminent passing, which he had known about at the end of March, saying,
“I must talk to you as a brother. Tough news. …a two month life span prediction.. Pray along with me for prolonged life and total healing. Love always, Tope.”
My heart broke. I wished him a speedy recovery and told him that I would do the guest-editing job on his behalf while he was recovering.  That was the last communication I had with him.
Tope, my brother, I am already missing you. May your soul rest in eternal peace! Martha and I will keep Karen and the family in our prayers as we mourn your passing.  Love as always. Nkonko"

This tribute was added by aulani Mulford on 1st June 2017

"Dear Karen, Nisha, Takesha and Feranmi

Your Husband and Father Sky was and will always be remembered as a Magnificent Man in my and countless others' minds.  Sky was such a deeply intelligent and kindhearted man, full of gentleness, wisdom and proper intellectual thinking.  My heart is broken along with yours.  We have an empty place where he once lived amoungst us.  But I will never forget his presence - he was a very special and dignified Gentleman.  Let us, all your devoted friends and family, comfort and care for you.  We love you and want you to know how highly we thought of Sky.  You and all of us were so lucky to have him in our lives.  What a loss to the Earth.  But I trust if there is a Heavenly Paradise - he is there, he is there, he is there.
All my love and devoted friendship forever, Aulani Mulford"

This tribute was added by Marta Dabrowska on 1st June 2017

"Tope was a truly exceptional man, a great friend from day one and an anchor for me in my academic life, although we only knew each other for a few years. We first met when he came to Poland on his academic quest in 2014 and I was delegated by my department to meet him because my boss was not in town - the chance meeting that developed into a beautiful cooperation on a project and a caring friendship. We kept meeting at conferences and during offline and online lectures which Tope asked me to deliver to his students. Last year I asked him to be one of our keynote speakers at our triennial conference in Cracow this April - the yes came barely after an hour. Unfortunately, he then realised it overlapped with another conference he was already going to and he had to cancel. Life has shown he would not have come anyway... I knew he had some health problems already last year, but he was as always in good spirits and full of plans. He was to be one of the plenary speakers at the next Sociolinguistic Symposium in New Zealand next year, which I was so much looking forward to. It was such a shock when I learnt about his passing away...I still cannot come to terms with it... He touched me so deeply with his profound humanity, modesty, gentleness and warmth, and inspired me greatly as an academic... I remember his tribute speech delivered to commemorate Joshua Fishman at the Symposium in Murcia last year and his touching poems - now he has joined his great mentor too... Rest in peace dear Friend, you will never be forgotten....
My deepest condolences to all the loved ones that Tope left behind - please take consolation from all those testimonies, Tope lives in hearts and minds of so many!"

This tribute was added by Rosina Marquez on 1st June 2017

"Rest in peace, Tope. Rest assured that you will not be forgotten"

This tribute was added by 'Biodun Adanikin on 1st June 2017

"Prof Omoniyi was such a wonderful person. You brought so much inspiration. Sleep on Sky in the bosom of the Lord"

This tribute was added by Rakesh Bhatt on 1st June 2017

"This is so, so very sad!  I knew Sky as a gentle, gregarious, and warm person.  We met at conferences, emailed often ... Gosh!  I will miss him, very much!  I didn't know he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  

May his kind soul rest in peace!"

This tribute was added by Emily Zhang on 1st June 2017

"Three months ago, when you emailed me that you were diagnosed with stomach cancer, I was shocked and I couldn't believe it.  I prayed that you would eventually recover and visit us again in Hangzhou. But my prayers were not answered. You left us so soon!
    Without your kind invitation I wouldn't have been able to come to Roehampton as a visiting scholar in 2013.  Since then you have been more than an inspiring mentor to me, but a caring friend! I will never forget your thoughtfulness and your generosity, your humor and warm heart. My visiting program in Roehampton and your visits in Hangzhou have become my most cherished memories. You will live in our hearts forever."

This tribute was added by Eddie Williams on 1st June 2017

"All those of us who knew him feel shock at the suddenness of Sky's passing, and grief at the loss. I was horrified - he should have been with us for decades to come. Sky (Tope was for me a later name) and I first met in the late 80s when he was an outstanding member of a group from Nigeria who came on a Commonwealth-funded course to Reading University. We discussed the possibility of his doing a PhD in Reading - he did it soon after, supervised by Paul Kerswill. I was the Internal Examiner.
Thereafter we met at conferences in the UK and abroad - among many others, Cape Town, where he introduced me and my wife Annie to sushi, and Ghent, where we sampled a generous range of Belgian beers. I particularly remember a 3-day residential course at Gregynog in mid-Wales for Bangor undergraduate linguists in 2004, where he was a huge hit - he had time for everyone - from 1st year students to international scholars - in conversations on matters personal, social, political and linguistic, which he invariably adroitly interconnected.
An innovative and original mind, in researching graffiti he persuaded Annie to copy down a wallful of texts written on a women's toilet in Reading, while would-be users battered desperately on the door! And when Sky was working in Singapore, he was extremely generous to my son Joe, whom he invited to his house, and who was thrilled to meet a friendly face as he travelled alone during his gap year.
In the academic field, of course, Sky's work speaks for itself - astonishingly wide-ranging, with a distinctive personal take. He was one of those life-enhancing characters whose company enriched us all. Thank you for everything, my brother, and rest in peace.
Deepest sympathies to Karen, Tife Nisha, Onaayo Mara, Feranmi and his whole extended family."

This tribute was added by phyllis chew on 1st June 2017

"Not just a colleague but a true friend.    Sincere, generous and open-minded.   Will never forget ... until we meet again in the great beyond -
"O SON OF THE SUPREME! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom? "(Bahai Writings)"

This tribute was added by Mathilda Banwat on 1st June 2017

"LATE PROFESSOR ‘SKY’ TOPE OMONIYI
A tall, lanky and humorous man, intelligent, witty and wise beyond his age and peers. Calm, collected and very accommodating. You gave room to everyone to express themselves professionally. You had a dream; that language should not be allowed to be a barrier in medical practice. That everyone deserves a right to comprehend and be comprehended by all health professionals. To this dream you called a number of professionals to share and participate in its actualization. Some enthusiastically and genuinely accepted and jointly pursued this shared dream, others were lukewarm towards it while others were negligent in sharing your dream. This did not deter you, you drove on and continued fighting for your dream until the cold hands of death snatched you from us. You were receptive to all whom you came across to the point of accepting some into your home and that of your friends and family. Indeed, your sense of humour and warm heartedness was rare and will be greatly missed.
Prof., we are very grateful for the rare opportunity you accorded us. We thank you for sharing your dream, family, home, friends, faith, relatives and indeed your person with us. You Sir, were a rare and great individual and our lives have forever been enriched by our association with you. We know you are resting in the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ; whom you loved and served. As you smile down on us from heaven, may the grace which God bestowed on you to impact lives positively, be in us, now and forever. May we learn from you, to live lives worthy of God’s glory just like you did, in Jesus’s name.
Rest on “Professor Sky” till we meet at the end of the Age.
Adieu Prof.
From the “Jos Group”
Dr Mathilda Banwat
Dr Luret Lar
Dr Fwangshak Kumbak"

This tribute was added by Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta on 1st June 2017

"Such a loss to the field of language studies! I am so sorry that my move last year meant that we could not have you participate in our research activities... Our meeting and symposium at Georgetown, DC has left a mark. RIP"

This tribute was added by Yeo Hock on 1st June 2017

"I know Tope so well while he was in Singapore - warm hearted, kind and always laughing.  When you are with him you forget the time. I am very sad that he has passed on and I hope he did not suffer too long. Its a big loss to all his friends!"

This tribute was added by Viv Edwards on 31st May 2017

"Dear Prof, I am still in shock that you are no longer with us! We first met in 2012 as my PhD external examiner! It was a nerve wrecking experience but I didn't fail to notice the effort you made to make me comfortable! We there after enjoyed lunch together with my other two precious professors and we had an amazing time. I still recall your jokes, funny experiences from Nigeria which i related to. Your admiration for my work made me proud of my achievements and looked forward to our collaboration. I then contacted you in 2014 for a reference to apply for postdoctoral training! I surely thought you didn't remember me at all! I still remember your warm email, how you still remembered me and how you went out of your way to explain why you had taken long to respond to my email. We have since then kept in touch, emails here and there,  inquiring about different issues of academia!  I was still looking forward to another reunion and to closely work together, but I guess the Lord also needs you as a consultant on the different projects in Haven! Rest in peace dear professor, we miss you already! May the lord keep and protect your loving family!"

This tribute was added by Bernard Spolsky on 31st May 2017

"It was a great privilege to know and work with Tope.  His leadership and friendship will be missed by many of us."

This tribute was added by Tajudeen Balogun on 31st May 2017

"Dearest Topsy,
The news of your passing shocked me more than I can describe despite the fact that we have not seen each other for over a decade. Following the initial shock, I spent the entire weekend thinking back of the time we first met at Ogoja (at the time in Cross River State) attending Federal School of Arts and Science in preparation for our H.S.C examination from 1974 to 1976.
In that two years, Tope was a huge influence in my life academically and spiritually. At the time, you acted much older than your age. You were always the voice of reasoning, advising and protecting me from the wild and dangerous elements out there waiting to be explored by a "lagos boy" in that foreign land. I still remember how you would pray for my safety as I climb the school gate venturing into town, watching my figure blend with the dark environment before turning around to go back to the hostel.
Our time together at the University of Lagos was equally memorable since it was the height of the disco era. While some of us failed to grow up, Tope was different with a remarkable sense of commitment and focus. While some achieved greatness, Tope was destined to be great and my wonderful memories of you would remain forever.
My deepest and sincere condolence to your wife, children, family and others you left behind.
Good night brother."

This tribute was added by Tatjana Soldat-Jaffe on 31st May 2017

"Dear Tope,
I still cannot believe it. It was only the end of November last year that I saw you again. And it was only in February that you recommended me as a reader for a journal. I wish I could travel back in time and add 5 minutes here and there with you. First time I met you in NYC, I had known you already through your scholarship. Your article on Nigerian Hip Hop is still my favorite piece to teach. And when I met you in person, it was like meeting an old friend. You included me in your circle of friends immediately. I will miss you. The world has lost a great scholar, wonderful man, and beautiful soul. Rest in Peace."

This tribute was added by Lukasz De on 31st May 2017

"Dear Karen, Tife Nisha, Onaayo Mara and Feranmi,

Once more, please accept my most sincere condolences. I am very sorry for your loss.

I met Professor Tope Omoniyi approximately 10 years ago, as I was doing my BA in English Language and Linguistics at Roehampton University. He came in one day to teach a class on the "Introduction to Linguistics" module. Back then I thought to myself "this man is a great lecturer", so later on I also signed up for other modules that he taught: "Discourse and Conversation Analysis", "Language Issues in Multilingual Settings" and "Language in its Social Context". Over the three years I have learned that Tope was an inspiring academic, a great leader, motivator and an exceptional guide to all of his students.
We "officially" became friends in the summer of 2010. I say "officially", because I have that in writing, as per the dedication he wrote on one of his books he gave me on my graduation that year.
After I moved on to do my MA and started working in TV production we kept in touch. On occasions Tope would invite me to Roehampton for a catch up and to give a talk to his final year students about doing a large final project in "Discourse and Conversation Analysis". He would always try and encourage me to return to Roehampton, to do a PhD and from his words I gathered he had a lot more faith in my ability than I ever did myself.
In January 2014 I contacted Tope, as I needed a referee for my British Citizenship. He was my immediate first choice. He agreed to help and suggested I should apply for a PhD scholarship and come to work with him at Roehampton.
In April 2014 I have become a British Citizen, partially thanks to his help with the references. Also with his guidance and the guidance of Dr. Andrea Esser I wrote a PhD proposal which was eventually accepted at the University of Roehampton and I started my MPhil/PhD course in September 2014.
Over the last three years I got to know Tope a lot better. We were meeting and chatting regularly. We worked together on various projects, including the Commonwealth Fellows Programme, several conference papers and most of all my PhD dissertation.
Tope was a very dear friend, a kind, generous, cheerful person. He was always there for me when I needed help and advice, over the course of the last 10 years. I owe him so much, he treated me like a son, and I will miss him not only as a friend and a mentor, but also as my UK based father.

May his soul rest in eternal peace,

God Bless you my dear friend Sky.

Lukasz Daniluk."

This tribute was added by BABATUNDE FASHANU on 31st May 2017

"Dear Sky Pee,

That was your full nom de guerre when we were at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) where we met in the 70s, though, you were more popularly called Sky especially when you ran for office in the Students Union. I recall shouts of "how's the weather up there?" would rent the air anytime you campaigned or made a speech obviously because of your height as most of us were struggling to get past your shoulders.

We were to get closer when I started practice as a lawyer and living close to UNILAG whilst you were a lecturer there until you left the shores of Nigeria for the UK. I met your wife, Karen, when you visited Lagos on a few occasions and I remember the good times we had attending a couple of music gigs in Lagos.

I had thought we'd get together soon but, painfully, that is not to be. However, I take solace in memories of your warm embraces, killer jokes and, of course, the local milky bite (waara) you used to bring anytime you went home to Erin Ile, which, my wife, Kari, always reminds me of whenever your name comes up.

Kari and me send our deepest condolences to Karen, the kids and your larger family. Until we meet to part no more, it's

Fash de Bash"

This tribute was added by Xiaoyan Wang on 31st May 2017

"Dear Professor
You are more than a mentor but an ispiring friend, you were  always supporting and ecouraging during my academic visit at Roehampton in  2016, I still remember the discussion about socialinguistics in your office, I still remember your invitation to the international symposium at Roehampton....
Peace
Xiaoyan Wang from China"

This tribute was added by Andrey Rosowsky on 31st May 2017

"You were my friend, my colleague, my mentor, my brother…
I miss you enormously.
Peace.
Andrey"

This tribute was added by Durk Gorter on 31st May 2017

"We are deeply touched. Tope was exceptional. Something special happened to us everytime we met, mainly during conferences, but also at a birthday celebration, a commemoration and even by coincidence at an airport. His radiating personality, his immediate engagement with minority issues, his deep understanding of multilingualism, his critical awareness of academia and the wider world, his optimism and sharp wit are just a few of his many qualities we can never forget.
Goian bego - rêst yn frede.
Jasone Cenoz & Durk Gorter"

This tribute was added by Lizzy Idigbe on 31st May 2017

"Sky was a very good friend to my husband  and being such a nice person with a high sense of humour he, his lovely wife Karen and children became family friends to us and our children.

He was a friend who cared and believed in relationships and will go out of his way to show this. I will never forget the memories of our spending time in their home in Reading, or at ours in London and Lagos. I am still in shock that we will not share these moments with him anymore, but my consolation is that we will still do this with his lovely family. We had hoped to see him next month and he had hoped this will happen, but God knows best .
Karen be rest assured we are all here to support you and the children and as much as I know Sky's departure to eternity is very painful to you and irreplaceable, hold firm to your faith in God and trust Him that you will do all you both have planned for the children. Sky will always be with you to protect you and the children. Sky Rest in perfect peace.

Love from, Lizzy Idigbe"

This tribute was added by Yejuan Zha on 31st May 2017

"Dear Professor Tope,
So sorry to hear about your leaving us. 7 years ago, during my academic visit to Roehampton, you were more than my tutor, but a friend. After that, you kept encouraging me. Just three months ago, I was so excited to get the chance of visiting London again next year, but you are not there waiting for me... So sad. You are such a good man. You always live in my heart..."

This tribute was added by Lily Chen Hangzhou on 31st May 2017

"I am afraid that I was technically the last academic visitor invited by Prof. Omoniyi. When I finished my visiting program at the end of this February, Prof. Omoniyi seemed to be a little bit weak and told me of his medical appointment at the following week. But he was still very nice, humorous and encouraging as always and suggested a lot of research topics for me to explore when I get back home. He even expressed some interest in the cooperation. I was very concerned about him when I got back to China but didn't expect to learn that he suffered from so serious illness and left us so soon. What a pity and a sad loss! Words can't express how shocked and sad I was at the terrible news! I will always  remember that he responded to my emails promptly and patiently, he cared about me as a new-comer to U.K. kindly, and he gave the lectures humorously and inspiringly. Prof. Omoniyi, thank you indeed and miss you forever!"

This tribute was added by Frances Rock on 31st May 2017

"I am struggling to know what to write about a man who always had something to say and so very sad about this man who always brought such high spirits.

I remember 'Tope's honesty, his welcome, his encouragement. I have benefitted from conversations with him about work, particularly sociolinguistics, and life. His enthusiasm was infectious and he welcomed people into his scholarly activities such as the memorable seminar on language and religion at Roehampton in around 2003.

I last saw him at Sociolinguistics Symposium last year when I had the good fortune to share a long catch-up at the conference dinner and was, of course, introduced to a number of 'Tope's friends and colleagues making for a warm and hilarious evening.

Tope had such love for his family. My thoughts are with you.

How sad I am to know that I won't again hear that huge, sustaining laugh barrelling along another academic corridor or across another conference hall."

This tribute was added by Stephen May on 30th May 2017

"Dear Karen and family

I first met Sky in 1996 when we both attended a language rights conference at Hong Kong University. We ended up talking and going out for dinner one night and that was the start of a great friendship. I always looked forward to catching up with him at conferences after that - not least, for his wonderful (and wicked) sense of humour - and we would often just hang out together, especially when our interest in the conference waned! I last saw him, again in Hong Kong, at the conference on language and globalisation in 2015 and, as always, I enjoyed his company again immensely.

Sky was to keynote at the Sociolinguistics Symposium 22 Conference that I'm convening in 2018 and I'm so sorry that I won't now be catching up with him again there (I had already had some potential restaurants in mind!). We will definitely organise something to commemorate his life and his work, not least because I think his work, and its influence, has not always been recognised to the degree that it should.

As for me, though, I will miss most his booming laugh, his infectious humour, and, above all, his kindness and generosity. Thinking of you all at this very sad time..
Stephen"

This tribute was added by Femi Omoniyi on 30th May 2017

"Baba....Uncle Sky as I fondly call you,  you have indeed left this sinful word to rest in the bossom of our Lord, my family will miss you for your visits and fatherly counsel.....Funmi could not believe it, Iyinoluwa was scared to hear of your departure. You have been the inspiration behind my career aspirations, God's own  hand in my life and our counsellor. Sleep on baba until we meet to part no more. Love from Femi, Funmi, Iyinoluwa and Inioluwa."

This tribute was added by Jim Wilce on 30th May 2017

"Dear Karen and family,
I have such warm memories of Sky reaching out to include my work in an edited collection and then once, during my sabbatical in Finland, he happened to be there and to have time to meet. I could feel what a great and kind mine he was/ is. Thus, though I scarcely knew him, I always think of him fondly. My heart goes out to you all."

This tribute was added by Roberta Piazza on 30th May 2017

"Tope was very generous and i'll never forget his support and encouragement. When we applied for funds with a joint project, I was touched by his enthusiasm and his belief that academic research can  make the world a better place. I was lucky to work with him on a conference panel in the US although sadly he never made it there. Until the last minute he carried on working and keeping positive. He was a wonderfully modest and caring man. I can't believe he's gone. I'll miss you so much dear Tope."

This tribute was added by Andrea Esser on 30th May 2017

"Words are powerful but they fail us when faced with the loss of someone we love. I wish I was poet, like you Tope, as gifted and inspirational. I will miss you. Your ease, your energy and laughter, your warmth and openness. It was a privilege to know you, to spend some time with you. I will always remember you."

This tribute was added by Kaycey Ihemere on 30th May 2017

"I remember meeting Tope for the first time in 2006 at a BAAL event on African sociolinguistics - I was just fresh from finishing my PhD study. He made me very welcome and the feedback he gave on my paper presentation was very positive and kind. From that point on we struck a friendship that saw me inviting him to give a paper at my University and asking him to review my research outputs to acting as my reference on research funding applications. He was always generous with his professional guidance and encouragement. My sadness at his sudden demise cannot compare to what Karen, the children, mama and Tope's relatives must be passing through right now. However, as a man of faith I draw comfort in the knowledge that he's at peace and free from the pains of this world. Adieu dear friend, adieu BIG BROS, may your soul rest in peace in the Lord's bosom."

This tribute was added by Paul Thompson on 30th May 2017

"Oh Sky ... I am in shock, man. Just so sad.  I will always remember you telling me how a friend of yours at university looked across the table at you and said, "whenever I look at you all I see is sky" and that was how you got your nickname ... I'll keep you in my thoughts as I look at the sun going down, now and for many days to come. Such a good friend, such a powerful vital presence. Farewell."

This tribute was added by Mike Baynham on 30th May 2017

"I used to see Tope at sociolinguistics events and was always impressed by his presence and his warmth, his charm and a kind of creative energy that seemed to emanate from him. That acquaintanceship deepened into friendship one morning at the AILA Congress in Beijing in 2011. Tope had arrived that same morning to chair a panel and was keen to get into the conference. I offered to go with him, sure I knew the way. We walked and walked in the heat chatting as we went about all and everything and got totally lost, eventually taking a taxi back to the hotel to start again. Tope arrived at the conference by the skin of his teeth to chair the panel. I was apologizing profusely when he stopped me with these words: " Mike you know, in the course of this morning I started thinking of you as a brother." And of course, from that moment on, that was exactly how I thought of him. I was present on another occasion when Tope was asked (by a Vice Chancellor) to describe an occasion when he had showed leadership. He thought for a moment and said: "Well, as president of the student' union at Ibadan, I led a campaign which resulted in the dismissal of the vice-chancellor for corruption."  You could have heard a pin drop.Out of all his many qualities I pick out these to highlight: courage, tenderness, imagination, dedication. At the Sociolinguistics Symposium in Berlin I was privileged to meet Tope's lovely family. What a loss for them, for us all, my dear brother!"

This tribute was added by Miryana Tashkova on 30th May 2017

"I am crushed to learn the sad news of my mentor Tope Omoniyi's passing.
                                                                                                                       It was an honour to be considered his friend and his student. Truly one of the greatest minds I will ever know - a father, a poet, a hip-hop linguist, a scholar, a great believer in the kinetic power of the WORD.    
                                                                                                                 He was the one to give me my very first hip-hop linguistics book, "Roc the Mic Right" (S. Alim) and my first sociolinguistics book, and I was inspired beyond anything I had imagined.  

During my preparations for Africa Day Sofia this year, I often thought of him and how great it would be if he were to visit Bulgaria soon. On the very day, May 27th, a Cameroonian girl asked me what had inspired me to love African culture and to start our NGO, which organises Africa Day in Bulgaria. I spoke of Sky and his influence on me when I was younger. Little did I know he was leaving his earthly body meanwhile.                                            

To celebrate this amazing human and cultural being, I would like to share a verse from his poetry collection "Farting Presidents":                         I shall sing my own song              
(for a nation that hopes)

I shall sing my own song/
In my time/
These faultering steps would cease/
And shivers of my muscles/
Will marry the rhythms from my drum/
I shall select my costume/
Of pearls and ostrich feathers/
Of cowries and fluffy cow tail/
And when the curtain parts/
And I take the stage in its beam/
I shall blink for the world to film/
A live one in the boom of fullness/
This cold will go/
This crack will heal/
And I shall sing my song before long//

You will be missed, Tope,
Respect!
Miryana."

This tribute was added by Annabelle Mooney on 30th May 2017

"Tope was an inspiring, supportive, wonderful colleague, mentor and friend. In the 16 years that I knew him he never ceased to encourage me both professionally and personally. I have witnessed, and benefited from, his energy and passion as he worked with colleagues around the world across the disciplines. He took real joy in other people's happiness.  
His laughter was a thing of beauty. The advice he so generously gave and the joy and love that he communicated will stay with me forever. I will miss him so very much and will think of him so very often.  My thoughts are with his family."

This tribute was added by Jane Setter on 30th May 2017

"'Tope was a true individual; a man with humour, compassion, and from whom I learned to expect the unexpected. As external examiner on our BA in English Language, he was a good friend to us at Reading during some of our most difficult times, and also to me as a personal friend and supportive colleague. He was often in my thoughts, and will be much missed. Peace be with you all."

This tribute was added by Segun Aiyeobasan on 30th May 2017

"My Beloved Prof and Big Uncle

I was in shock when i first saw this memorial site but on the side i thank God it only means you changed location to be with the Lord Jesus.
You taught me humility and strengthened my public speaking ability by one simple analysis when i took my first reading of Rhapsody of Realities in Christ Embassy Reading years ago. I have never forgotten your smile and comforting soft speech since then. Your gentility is contagious and despite your exposure and academic experience, you took time to come to church , listen attentively to Gods word and shared the connection of the bible with everyday life. We will miss your physical presence but your lessons of greatness will forever remain with us."

This tribute was added by Pastor Peter Atuma on 30th May 2017

"Dearest Prof,
My big brother and friend
- Your humility is remarkable
- Your commitment to helping others is selfless
- Your love is real and tangible
You impacted me and many others very special ways. Words are not enough to express how much you are missed.
Our comfort is that you received the salvation of our Lord Jesus and we know that we have not lost you.. You passed on to Glory"

This tribute was added by B. J. Bulama on 30th May 2017

"I am still shocked at the news of your demise, dear Prof. I watched you very closely during our fellowships at CE Reading. Two things stood out  about you- humility and scholarship. Yes, you were very humble and related with everyone  equally. Each time I interacted  with you I learned something new and inspiring. You encouraged and inspired me to pursue my dreams. You were a good and kind-hearted man. I also learned from you how to take good care of my own mother. You will be sorely missed. Rest on Prof. May your gentle soul rest in the bosom of our Lord and may He alone comfort all those you left behind, especially your aged mother, wonderful wife, beautiful children and siblings."

This tribute was added by Adegboye Adeyanju on 30th May 2017

"It is very difficult to speak of Prof Omoniyi in the past now. His first message, which accompanied his new year wishes, to me January 2017 was:I look forward to you switching another prefix to your name. Yet, here was a man I barely had physically met. I contacted him when I joined a professional association to which he belonged in 2007.By 2008 he had ‘conscripted’ me to join a research he sought funding for, emailing the documents to the administration of my institution to support me and sending me an SMS to that effect! Though the institutional support did not come as some persons bungled it, he promised to avail me of his experience and support. Whenever I seek references for funding travel grants, his is usually the first to arrive. In spite of his busy academic schedule and travels. He went as far as sending to me, by priority mail, his only copy of one of his books which I desperately needed. He became my confidant and friend. I still have threads of our conversation even this May,2017. He adopted me as son and student but nonetheless treats me as an equal. He mentored me. And tremendously supported my career. Once, I asked him why his large heartedness to which he replied that it is his small way of showing appreciation for God’s beneficence to him, and that by nature he is ‘greedy to do good’.
I was to receive him at the airport in Africa in 2016, I think around  the month of July, and to take him round the nation’s capital,where he had yet to visit, to keep an appointment. I had even booked his lodging. Then the embarrassing flight cancellation which necessitated his having to travel by road to another city to connect a flight to the capital, and subsequent on that the airport pick up was not possible. That would have been a glorious moment for my family and I to at least host him no matter how briefly and to express our gratitude to him for all his assistance through the years. Though we had never met but he had mentored and supported my career endlessly. Because I was well aware of his itinerary I got to the airport on the day of his departure and searched endlessly but we could not reach him on his mobile nor sight him. All I knew or better heard from a colleague, Benedict Lin, himself a beneficiary of Prof Omoniyi’s kindness, in Beijing-China was that Prof was called Sky. After security clearance on his way to the departure lounge, I saw a tall man, my benefactor and mentor dressed in a white with black spotted caftan, in person, and shouted crazily Prof! In spite of the wall to wall glass partitioning he heard me and stepped back a few steps. And we shook hands. We spoke for a few seconds as he had to keep moving ahead. His first word to me, spoken with great humility, was no one knows who I am here.
His constant closing word in our chats was either Hallelujah or Amen. Good night Prof. And may God comfort Karen, your wife and children and the Omoniyi clan. Indeed we have lost a gem."

This tribute was added by Kwasi Afawubo on 30th May 2017

"You were a great inspiration, a great and a humble man. Knowing you has changed my life and career. During my preparation for my job interview at Oxford Brookes University, your words of encouragement and advice kept me going. You were always present every of the way to support me. Although you were a busy man, you took time to read through my presentation and offered me the best of advice and direction. Your emails kept coming during the early hours of the morning just to encourage and support me. I was so inspired when I got up on the morning of the interview to find your inspiring text message urging me on for the interview. I went to that interview fully prepared and confident because of your advice. When I called to tell you and thank you that I got the job, you again demonstrated your humility by saying; all glory to God.

Our last meeting was in February 2017 at the African restaurant on the Oxford road in Reading. You were quick to find out how I was doing at work. There again you encouraged and advise me on what to do. Prof, you are a wonderful man. I remember you always call me 'my brother' anytime we meet at church.

The news of your passing was a great shock to me. It was unexpected, sudden and too soon but one thing I am confident of is that you know Christ as your personal saviour. This alone gives me hope and confidence that you are in Heaven and resting in the bosom of Christ Jesus.

Rest in perfect peace Prof, I know that I will surely see you again at the resurrection.

                                         In the sweet by and by,
                             We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
                                        In the sweet by and by,
                                 We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

Kwasi"

This tribute was added by Paul Kerswill on 30th May 2017

"I first met Tope when he arrived in Reading as a Masters student on a Commonwealth scholarship in, I think, 1988. He returned after a year to do a PhD on a sociolinguistic topic under my supervision: ‘The sociolinguistics of the Nigeria-Benin border: language and identity in Idiroko and Igolo’, which he defended in 1994. This was his first contribution to borderlands linguistics, a subject that has since become significant internationally. Language choice and identity remained key to his professional life.

But Tope was no dispassionate observer. Years ago, he decided to experience life as a homeless person for a few days, to see how people reacted to him. For him, life, social commitment and art were inseparable, a combination beautifully preserved in his video ‘River of Words’:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND3oOtOIxGQ.

He was an accomplished poet, and I treasure his volume ‘Farting Presidents and Other Poems’, which shows his love for Africa, but frustration at its politics.

Knowing him over all these years enriched and changed my own life. He introduced me to the African continent, which I first visited in 2002 on a trip not to Nigeria, but to Ghana, where I had another PhD student, Salifu Mahama. Several times, Tope said that one day we would meet on African soil. The opportunity nearly presented itself in 2015, when we were both in Accra – but we missed each other by a week. Over the years, I consulted him about African matters on several occasions, and I valued and followed his sound advice.

Prominently displayed in my living room are two wooden African elephant figures. The day he knew he had passed his PhD, Tope brought them round to my house. He had kept them for this moment, because he hadn’t wanted me to think he was influencing me in any way. A true sign of a principled person. I count myself incredibly lucky to have known Tope Omoniyi.

Paul Kerswill"

This tribute was added by Kefasi Mamhungu on 30th May 2017

"Bye bye my dearest professor.Thank you for inspiring me and my family to be the best in our selves.
You taught me  to be humble and kind sir

You will be sadly missed
Br kefasi"

This tribute was added by Pastor Deji Orija on 30th May 2017

"You opened a page in my life and gave it an expression that impacted much. Prof. you never new me in person, yet believed in my ability to accomplish feats.
The catalytic effects of your mentoring speak on for you.
Sleep on great brother,tutor, mentor and friend. I have no doubt that we'll meet at 'The Marriage Supper of The Lamb'.
Adieu"

This tribute was added by Pastor Deji Orija on 30th May 2017

"'Bye and bye'
Surely, the !morning comes
Then and then
We see again.
My Prof.
I'll surely see you again
bye and bye."

This tribute was added by Pastor Deji Orija on 30th May 2017

"'Bye and bye'
Surely, the morning comes
Then and then
We see again.
My Prof.
I'll surely see you again
bye and bye."

This tribute was added by Jacomine Nortier on 30th May 2017

"In 2002 during te AILA conference in Singapore we became friends and had long talks. For me he was the person who showed what it is like to live in two cultures. To be a person of importance in both. I admired him for that and I am grateful that he showed me how to do that: that it is possible!
After 2002 we met at numerous conferences. He and some other colleagues had dinner and stayed with me in Utrecht in 2008 after a conference.
I don't know exactly when it was but the girls must have been about six when I had to be  in Reading and Sky invited me for dinner. It was the first and only time I met you: Karen and the girls.  I am convinced that you really get to know someone if you meet the people behind him. That happened to me that night. I was happy to see the warmth and love in your home, Karen! It completed my 'distant friendship' wit Sky! Thank you for that!
I hope that after your sorrow the pride and happiness of having had so many years with this wonderful man will be strongest. That warmth and love will win from your sorrow.
I think of you and all those people whom I never met but loved him.

Jacomine Nortier"

This tribute was added by Francoise Ugochukwu on 29th May 2017

"It is night time and I am home from trip. Reading of Tope's passing away, I find it very difficult to believe it has happened. We started working together during the 2006-07 Nollywood pilot project at the OU and met again when I examined one of his students' Ph.D. Last time I skyped him some months ago to ask whether he wanted to contribute to a journal, he said he was so busy...He was a very caring man, a respected colleague, always passionate about his work. He also mentioned you, precious family, often, and I know how he cared for you Karen and the kids. It pains me we did not have the opportunity of meeting you all. I always believed there would be time, and it is too late. Take care and know you are in our hearts at this time."

This tribute was added by Emily Temboe on 29th May 2017

"Learning of your passing on was a huge shock. You will forever be missed uncle Sky, Prof. Everytime I see Olukunwa I see you.
You made an impact at Christ Embassy Reading with your ever so wonderful poems. Rest well Prof.
To the entire Omoniyi family, Karen, the girls and Feranmi may the Holy Spirit of God strengthen and comfort you."

This tribute was added by Olajumoke Omoniyi on 29th May 2017

"Hello Baba words are not enough to show how you have encouraged and supported us in the way of having confidence in ourselves.I remember how Olukunwa is always proud in his school to introduced you as a celebrity as he believes you are one. He once googled your name to show his teachers your publications because he was proud of you and you motivate him. And many people have said the same of you as their great mentor.
Every minute I look at the door thinking you will walk in and call me the name you always liked to call me Jumsy!. I really missed you."

This tribute was added by Olu Omoniyi on 29th May 2017

"Words are not enough to appreciate you my brother. You were a great influence, inspiration and motivation in my life. In 1978 you spoke to me words that opened my spirit to excellence and took me from being an average pupil in school to becoming the best pupil in my class, best student in Secondary school, the trip to FSAS Ondo to register for A/L, a week of motivation tour of UNILAG to inspire me to get in to the University in Oct 1985, MBA at UNI Ilorin.
A great lecturer, you taught me Use of English(FSC101) in my first Year in UNILAG.
All of my friends have stories to tell of how much impact you made in their lives. You were brother to all.
You and Karen gave me invitation to the UK and gave me counsel that got me the Professional accountancy qualification I work with now. My wedding in June 2000 was funded by both of you, your counsels to my wife and I keeps us going. You gave my son his name Olukunwa and he calls you his best friend and calls you Baba. My wife Jumoke remembers you calling her Jumsy! and I was Olumen! We have not been the same without you. You are greatly missed. Our joy is that we know where you are and that is where are all preparing ourselves for. A place in Christ.
I thank God for the opportunity to bring you into salvation of Christ. Members of Christ Embassy Church Reading and Christ Embassy Basingstoke UK remember you greatly for you humility and kind words.
Rest well my brother till we meet in Christ. I love you.
Your brother
Pst Oluyomi Omoniyi"

This tribute was added by Ayo Ojebode on 29th May 2017

""I am Tope Omoniyi from Roehampton University. I like to talk to you about a grant application .... " an early morning phone call, 1998.
"Friends call me Sky because of my height. Yes, call me Sky" ... when we eventually met at his Dad's birthday.
"If we want things to change, we must change our ways. And we can't let our leaders just get away with everything" -- another call, 2015.
"She is my sister. I lost her to cancer last year" our last WhatsApp chat.
Love, laughter, passion, action -- that is what I remember you for, Sky. RIP!"

This tribute was added by Marius O'Shea on 29th May 2017

"I had the great pleasure of knowing Sky when we both worked at the NIE in Singapore. He was an inspirational colleague and a great friend and has left a huge gap by his passing."

This tribute was added by Oladipo Salami on 29th May 2017

"At the last meeting/conference of the Heavenly Acts Network in Roehampton last year, it was decided that the concluding conference of this theme of the Network would hold in Sheffield in May, 2017. We were both hopeful we would be there. Since I met you back in 2000 we had become the Arnold-Devito Twins at conferences in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada. I couldn't go with you to Hong Kong or Singapore. Thanks for the challenge of funding in Nigerian universities. I had sent in an abstract to Andrey for the Sheffield meeting to talk on: "Poetry, Performance and Journey back Home from the Market". It was meant to look at how the Yoruba guild of babalawo and hunters celebrate their departed colleagues and personages. I couldn't make this meeting. The last text from you, we had both hoped and pray that the " cup would pass over"you. But He knows best. I recall our journey on the Bakassi Peninsula in 2004 or 2005 when we would have drowned following a crazy tidal wave. But He said that would not be. Today, you are gone but you have become a four-eyed being able to see here and there and, perhaps, know more than we  do here on this plane. May the light of the ineffable One see you home from this market where you have traded so well with your openness, kindness and generous soul."

This tribute was added by Goodith White on 29th May 2017

"Dear Karen,
there are many many tributes to 'Tope from the Language in Africa SIG from many countries  even in such a short space of time. I've asked members to post here, but will also collate messages for you. You are all so much in our thoughts..."


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Karen Omoniyi

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