By Prisca Sam-Duru
It is eight years already since former Arts Editor of Vanguard Newspapers, McPhilips Nwachukwu, passed on. As a renowned journalist and a scholar, Nwachukwu edited and published books especially on poetry.
His most popular, “So Long A Night”, a 71-page book, documents his traumatic experiences when he fell ill years earlier.
To keep alive the memory of his great contributions to preservation and promotion of arts and culture in Nigeria and Africa, a foundation – “McPhilips Arts and Educational Foundation” has been established in his name.
The “McPhilips Arts and Educational Foundation” is designed to bring succour to the less privileged in the society, especially in connection with access to quality education.
The Foundation, kicking off first quarter of 2022, has its main focus on the promotion of poetry in the country and beyond, as well as helping to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
“The vision of the Foundation is to promote poetry in Nigerian culture and to assist the less privileged in the society in the area of education,” Tyna Nwachukwu, widow of late McPhilips Nwachukwu, stated, saying that the late McPhilips loved poetry so much when he was alive.
Narrating how the journey towards actualising the dream of setting up a foundation in the late poet cum journalist’s memory, Tyna said that years of battling daunting challenges alone overwhelmed her, but “one day, our daughter said to me, “mom, we should continue from where my daddy stopped.”
“I decided to set up this Foundation now because, it’s been eight years without Mcphilips; I have managed to hide my emptiness without him. It’s very easy to wear a mask. I felt that my life was meaningless without him, but one day my daughter made a statement that turned things around for me. Like I said above, she said to me, “mom, we should continue from where my daddy stopped.”
“That statement jolted me. It was as if she knew that I stopped. I thought everything was all over, including my happiness, and the dreams we shared together. And I thought starting from where he stopped means continuing with his dreams,” she explained.
According to her, emphasis is on poetry because, “he loved poetry. He lived poetry. And above all, he wrote poetry. And when the name, “Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation came to me, I got that glimmer of happiness back,” she explained.
To ensure the dream comes true in totality, she said, “as you can see from the name, it is going to be more of helping the less privileged ones, especially in the area of education. Helping children who cannot afford to fund their education; pay school fees, buy books, school uniforms, sandals, etc.
Mrs Nwachukwu hinted further on the program for the Foundation: “We want to start by instituting a poetry competition in schools, and we want to start with Imo state. We will begin with poetry readings from Mcphilips’ book: “So Long A Night”. At the initial stage of the annual competition, Senior Secondary Schools will be participating, while other categories will join as the scope of the competition expands.
Usually in Nigeria, most beautiful dreams don’t materialize due to fund deficit, but Mrs Nwachukwu is hopeful that with efforts already in place for the Foundation’s take-off and God willing, some good spirited individuals and organisations will push the institution into growing beyond her imagining.
“For now, I don’t have sponsors, but I am in talks with some people already, mostly individuals. That’s the more reason I want to create this awareness for sponsorship from both corporate organisations and individuals who would want to assist us to achieve this dream. I am strongly believing God for success.”