Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened.
I am unsurprised at how people experiencing heartache find comfort in the beauty of these words. My reason for choosing it to open this blog? The room next door is newly christened the ‘Tosin Olusoga Student Space’. For ease, let’s call it Tosin’s room. This piece, like the room, is a celebration of the man. And if you aren’t someone who benefitted from crossing his path? I hope it provides an explanation for why this space is so perfectly named.
Let us start with a simple question. What’s so special about Tosin’s room? What transpires daily? Most notably, it is a room for dialogue. I know this well as I hear every raised syllable and every joyous giggle. It’s a hub for chat. Indeed, I’m currently listening to a passionate plea over why Chelsea- by winning the Europa League final- are superior to their London rivals. Born on the 26th March 1997 at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, Tosin certainly loved his football. Learning to play at the age of 7 and kitted in the fanciest of footwear, he became a passionate Arsenal fan. He would tut at the current debate and the unjustified pro-Chelsea conclusion. He would put this conversation right.
The room’s chatter always veers eventually to economic comment. Moans about errors in mathematical notation are followed by chat over ‘will it ever end?’ Brexit. The room echoes with the sharing of knowledge. Tosin’s love for economics is a perfect fit. His interest in the subject is sparked back in his Secondary School days. At De Aston School in Lincolnshire, that interest only gathers momentum. His mother, Patricia, sends him the Economist without fail every month. He visits Wall Street. But his inspiration isn’t one of simple personal glory. During his Schooling he befriends the daughter of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who will become the 14th Emir of Kano. A former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, it cements Tosin’s appreciation of how economics can significantly impact on a people’s well-being. He wants to help the Nigerian economy to achieve greater success. Acknowledging the destructiveness of corruption, he passionately desires to pursue economic development in his home economy. To make a difference is everything to him. His confidence in this endeavour shines through. So much so that it impacts on the lives of others. They too want to achieve more, to make a difference.
The room’s study chat doesn’t last. Laughter eventually drifts down the corridor. It’s a place to cement friendship. Another means to make the world a better place. I’m reminded of that by Tosin’s friends. Charismatic and cheerful, there are unsurprisingly many of them. They inform me of his infectious enthusiasm that inspires hope, love and achievement. Just through the little interactions, from childhood reminiscing to laughter in fine-tuning student cooking skills, people are inspired. They go on smiling at Tosin’s memory. A legacy created through wonderful friendship.
It’s lunchtime. The room’s noise level always intensifies. I don’t mind. The hullaballoo is joyful and acknowledgement of our friendly environment. I’m reminded of a striking selfie of me and Tosin together at the Economic Society’s Christmas Ball. He’s the dapper looking one, I’m the silly bloke in the kilt and long socks. I’m reminded of an experimental assessment in the module ‘Economics of Society, Media & Culture’. It’s a twitter diary. Students are asked to show the wisdom of economic analysis by showing how it can be applied to anything. We’re not restricted to topics covered in core economic theory. It isn’t just about consumption and production. In his diary, ‘Lord Tosin’ remarks, “it takes a lot more than education to reach potential”. He’s right. It also takes fight, using that fight to appreciate right and wrong. Tosin, whilst business minded, also had that understanding in abundance.
Student, Friend, Brother and Son. Tosin, together with his family and his friends, will always be part of our ECO community. They are always welcome. His loss will always ache. We choose, however, to focus on the love.
Written by Duncan Watson
In 2018 Tosin received a posthumous degree. The School of Economics also introduced the Tosin Olusoga Memorial Prize in his memory, open to African students and awarded for excellent performance in their final assesment.