He left the world stage halfway in this life; but McPhilips Nwachukwu, former Arts Editor, Vanguard Newspaper, who died on the 29th of September, 2013, at the young age of 47, wrote intensively and incisively enough to leave indelible prints in the minds of literary readers.

As the One Year Anniversary of Nwachukwu’s Painful Exit draws near, Arts and Culture Writers, on Wednesday, 24th September, 2014, converged inside the Entrance ’D’ Lobby of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu-Lagos, for the presentation ceremony of a book written by the departed cultural icon and for his Memorial Lecture – the 1st Annual Memorial Lecture in the series to come in his honour.

In his opening remarks, Chairman of the Occasion and Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka (Uncle Sam), represented by the stable’s General Manager, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, noted that the late Nwachukwu deserved the recognition accorded him in life and in death, as an outstanding Arts writer.

It was a sad development, Adefaye stated, that many Nigerians no longer read books, observing that good bookshops that stocked choice books have virtually disappeared from the country.

The book, titled, So Long a Night, is a collection of poems written by McPhilips Nwachukwu though published posthumously by his publishers, Bookdoctors Press, Lagos.

The book was unveiled and launched by the invited guests and friends of the author, led by the Chief Presenter, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, the Executive Secretary/CEO, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), who was represented by Dr. Dipo Kalejaiye, Head, Academics, NICO Training School, Lagos.

Doing the review of the book at the occasion, Newspaper Columnist and PR Consultant, Mr. Toni Kan, informed that the book, which has 32 poems and three sections, delves mainly on death and dying as if the writer, who wrote it during his very serious medical challenge in 2005, seemed to have had premonition of his passing on before a ripe old age.

According to Mr. Sunny Ayewanu, CEO, Bookdoctors Publishers and Publishers of the book, it was the wish of late Mr. Nwachukwu to be immortalised by the publication of the collection of poems.

Earlier on, the Guest Speaker, Mr. Toyin Akinosho, who is the General Secretary, Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), averred during the memorial lecture, titled, “Influence of Arts and Culture Reporting Towards Nation Building: The McPhilips Example,” that, the Internet had brought forward different sorts of writers that have challenged the job security of today’s writers.

However, the Art Writer, he said, can overcome this problem by being creative and focusing on news materials that his readers could use, emphasizing that the Arts Writer, as a knowledge worker, should use his/her knowledge to cure society.

Many tributes were paid to the late author during the ceremony, notably from Mr. Larry Williams, a poet and veteran actor, colleagues and PhD course mates of late McPhilips Nwachukwu; just as the wife of the deceased, Mrs. Tina McPhilips Nwachukwu, chief organiser of the event, was highly commended during the occasion for her doggedness to carry out her husband’s desire to be immortalised through the publication.

Also present at the occasion were Mrs. Annette C. Ibe, representative of the DG, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC; Mr. Olaniyan Aderemi, representative of DG, National Orientation Agency, NOA; Mr. Emeka Odiarra, representative of DG, National Gallery of Arts, NGA; Engr. Emeka Iwu, and members of late Nwachukwu’s family.

Tony Okafor                                                                                                                                        Corporate Affairs                                                                                                                                         NICO Training School