Mrs. Tyna Mcphilips Nwachukwu is the Director General of the Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation which was launched in Lagos in May 2022. In this interview with Nigerian journalist and writer, UGOCHUKWU EJINKEONYE, Mrs. Nwachukwu speaks on the vision and objectives of the foundation, the programmes it has embarked upon so far and the grounds the foundation hopes to cover in the next couple of years...
When and how did the motivation to set up the Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation come to you?
The motivation to set up the Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation came to me in the month of January 2021. On that day, my daughter just said to me, “Mom, we should continue from where my Dad stopped." I took time to think about what she said. Continuing from where my husband had stopped should mean pursuing his dreams when he was alive. My husband loved poetry. In fact, I can say that he lived poetry. He wrote poems and promoted poets and other writers. That was how the motivation came to me.
You may wish to tell our readers about your husband and why the Foundation was set up in his name.
My late husband, Mcphilips Nwachukwu, was the Arts Editor of the Vanguard newspapers, Lagos. He occupied that position till his death on September 29, 2013. He had obtained his First Degree in English and Literary Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where his talent as a writer first found a platform to express itself. His works were published in The Muse, a journal of the English Department. He later received the Christopher Okigbo Prize for Poetry. He also undertook postgraduate study at the University of Lagos where he took special interest in Oral Literature. He later published a collection of poems titled So Long A Night. After his death I decided to set up this foundation in his name. The foundation aims at promoting poetry, assisting less privileged young people to obtain quality education and keeping alive the memory of my late husband, Mcphilips Nwachukwu.
When was the foundation launched and since then what activities have you undertaken in the pursuit of its objectives?
The foundation was officially launched on May 30, 2022, at National Gallery of Arts, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. Since then, we have undertaken some activities within the limits of the resources presently available to us. On November 5, 2022, the Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation in collaboration with Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission organised a poetry competition at the Penny International College, Coker, Aguda, Surulere, Lagos. The day’s activities were aimed at promoting poetry and quality education in schools. Prizes were awarded to students for excellent performances while other students went home with different gift items, like copies of So Long A Night, the collection of poems, published by my late husband, Mcphilips Nwachukwu, exercise books, biros, mathematical sets, etc. The teachers were excited about the event and participated actively. Penny International College is the first school at which the Foundation executed its programme. I am glad to report that it was such a successful outing. After this, the management and staff of St. Maximillian Kolbe Nursery and Primary School, Enyiogugu, Mbaise in Imo State hosted the Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation on December 31, 2022. It was our opportunity to take the Foundation to the Eastern part of Nigeria. The pupils came out in their numbers. They performed well. We also gave them gifts such as exercise books, math sets and other writing materials to encourage them in their academic pursuits. We must thank the proprietress of the school, Miss Rose Agwulonu, who received the Foundation with joy, and everyone who made the event a success. Our next event will be a visit to some orphanages to give some succour to the precious motherless children there. We have several other programmes mapped out for this year, but we will see the much we would be able to accomplish given the very limited resources at our disposal.
What kind of reception has the foundation and its activities received so far from Nigerians and foreigners?
Since the official launch of the foundation, we have received commendations from within and outside country. Several people have called to commend our vision and effort. We are encouraged by these gestures and hope that many individuals and corporate organisations would be willing to support us to achieve our objectives.
Yes, foundations like this could have wonderful objectives but funding could be a challenge; how do you hope to overcome this?
Indeed, it has not been very easy getting sponsors. Many people who had promised various forms of support are yet to redeem them, but we remain positive and hopeful. So, far, I have funded the foundation’s programmes with personal resources. It has not been easy, but we believe that we must achieve the lofty dreams of the foundation. No doubt, as more Nigerians become aware of our activities, we are hopeful that we will surely get the needed support.
Would you be interested to partner with other organisations to achieve your targeted impact?
Of course, we will readily partner with other organisations and individuals to achieve the objectives of the foundation.
At a very tender age, your daughter has published a book – a collection of short stories; what do you think inspired her? Do you think she has the drive to write and publish more?
What inspired my daughter to write her book were the many books she has read. Once she learned to read, she told me that she would eat books like food, wear books like clothes and carry them like bags. I had laughed when I heard that from her, but today, I can tell you that she has become a great lover of books and an avid reader. She reads a lot both poetry and story books.
Given your experience with your daughter’s creative effort, what advice will you give other parents whose daughters are developing interest in writing?
I will advise other parents to encourage their children to achieve their goals in life. They should first establish their areas of interest and help them with all the necessary support to achieve them. They should always devote time to listen to them, look at their work and motivate them.
Where do you see the Foundation in the next ten years?
I have no doubt in my mind that in the next ten years, the Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation will achieve global recognition. The signs are already there.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Mrs. Tyna Mcphilips Nwachukwu, I am the wife of the late Mcphilips Nwachukwu. A Chartered Administrator with the Chartered Institute of Administrators, I studied Public Administration at Lagos State University, (LASU). Presently I am working at the National Gallery of Arts, Lagos. I am equally the Director General of the Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation.
(Mcphilips Arts and Educational Foundation Contacts: [email protected]; Tel: 234-806-051-1387)
*Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye's book, Nigeria: Why Looting May Not Stop, is available on Amazon.com