A 24-year-old Nigerian participant at the ongoing United States of American exchange programme, the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship, John Paul Usman, died during the weekend.
Usman who was the youngest among the 100 Nigerians participating in the programme across various universities and colleges within the US, was posted to Virginia Tech in Virginia State for a six-week intensive programme on academic excellence and leadership (Civic Leadership Track), but he drowned during an event.
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.
Late Usman was said to have graduated from University of Ilorin, Kwara State just a few days before he embarked on the trip to the United States where 1,000 selected youths from Sub-Saharan African countries are participating in the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders