By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
I never met him, but the good works and name he left behind speak for him, even till this day. Wherever I go, immediately I introduce myself as Arts Editor of Vanguard the discussion always centre around McPhilips.
Those who have not read me would admonish me to endeavor to be as good and brilliant as McPhilips. What more could the dead wish for besides the welfare of the family one left behind?
On January 14, 2019, after reading my part essay, part review of Emma Okocha’s “Blood on the Niger” which I titled Telling our children the truth on Armed Forces Day, a certain man who concealed his identity but impressed me as a Very Important Person called me on phone just to ask me where Sam Amuka (the publisher of Vanguard Newspaper) gets Arts Editors like Obi Nwakanmma, McPhilips Nwachukwu, and myself.
Back ‘home’ at Vanguard, the story is the same: Those who knew him would not stop talking to me about McPhilips; what a brilliant and creative person he was, and I believe it’s the best epitaph for the dead. It is rare for dead people to be remembered for their money which often vanishes as soon as they are gone.
Whoever missed the opportunity of having a firsthand experience of McPhilips Nwachukwu’s brilliance and deep mind, his book, “So Long A Night” (which is one of the published, out of his many unpublished works) is there, both as a testimony and a historical record.
Although McPhilips died young at age 47, he did not die suddenly. He saw death approaching and had time to reflect upon it and write about his life and its imminent end. “So Long A Night” is the product of those grim reflections by McPhilips the intellectual and artist at the twilight of his earthly existence.
As we – his friends, colleagues and family – mourn McPhilips afresh today on the 6th anniversary of his death, we must not lose sight of the fact that soon, and very soon, we will all go to the place he had gone since 2013. We must also learn that what really matters in this world is not how long we lived on earth but what we left behind.
Jesus lived for only 33 years on earth (without money or property), while Methuselah lived for 969 years (certainly with money and property). Today, Methuselah is only remembered for his long years on earth by those who bother to read the Bible. But concerning Jesus, the Scripture says: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…” And we (including those who don’t read the Bible) are all witnesses to the fulfillment of that Scripture penned by Prophet Isaiah (9:7) more than 800 years before Jesus was born!
McPhilips Nwachukwu remarkably played his role and quitted the stage. We pray to God never to leave alone the family he left behind. To all governments in Nigeria and across our borders, one of the ways McPhilips children can be assisted is to put in the school curriculum his heart-rending poetry book, “So Long A Night”. It is a book of limitless resource for learning and for life.
Rest in peace, McPhilips.