Our colleague Gospel Omanya, who passed away on 16 June 2019 at age 51 after a short illness, was a plant geneticist and Africa’s frontier seed systems expert with decades of combined work experience, mostly spent as a practitioner of technology deployment at AATF where he worked for 15 uninterrupted years, maintaining his exceptional focus and productivity up to the time of his death.
The diversity of responsibilities that Gospel took on at AATF and in his prior professional life was simply extraordinary, as were the intelligence, energy, enthusiasm, and collegiality he brought to all of them. Gospel smiled all the time, often joking that this was because his name literally translated to ‘good news’. Uniquely multilingual, Gospel was fluent in English, French, German and Kiswahili, an attribute that enabled him make friends from all over the world, including those he worked so hard to support – farmers.
Hired by AATF in 2005 as Geneticist and Seed Systems Manager, Gospel would have a trailblazing career that saw him serve in the positions of Projects Manager, Seed Systems Manager, Seed Stewardship Manager rising to become Senior Manager for Deployment and later on as Technology Lead and Coordinator for the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Maize Compact.
A Kenyan who grew up in Nairobi, Gospel studied for his bachelors and master’s degrees in plant Breeding at the University of Nairobi. He later earned a doctorate in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Hohenheim in Germany before debuting as research coordinator for millet and sorghum at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Niamey, Niger. His research speaks for itself as the list of his contributions, comprising publications, monographs and press articles and credentialed key note presentations, run into pages.
For us at AATF, his close colleagues, professional colleagues in the TAAT Program and across the world, what Gospel brought to our work was not only a first-class mind, a deeply informed focus on some of the most important issues at the intersection of technology and deployment nexus, an admirable commitment to seed delivery, a mind-boggling stamina for work, and his exceptional standing as a global leader in crop technology diffusion. He was also a wonderful colleague – warm, ever upbeat and enthusiastic, always ready to consider seriously the views of others, always looking for ways to contribute to a better world, a prosperous Africa. We shall surely miss him.
May the Almighty God rest his soul in eternal peace and grant his immediate family the fortitude to bear this great loss.