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How I Plan To Celebrate My 80th Birthday – What Mama Rainbow

Everybody knows Mama Rainbow. She is a veteran actress who is very much talented. Though her real name is Idowu Phillips, everyone calls her by her stage name, Mama Rainbow, a name coined for her by some Igbo people who could not call Osumare (meaning Rainbow in English), the name of her husband’s theatre group. Her husband who died on January 22, 1984, was called Augustine Ayanfemi Phillips.

The big news is that Mama Rainbow is going to be 80 on 16th October 2022.

But she does not look it at all. She walks unaided. She is fit as a fiddle. When she turned 70, ten years ago that was the same comment she got. Many say Mama Rainbow looks good for her age. Nothing in her looks or gait suggests that she is that far gone in age. At 80, she still appears in running adverts for big companies like Airtel. She is a brand Ambassador for companies like Arch View Investments.

And she still runs her church. It's a white garment church. What has attracted many people to her, is her great sense of philanthropy. She is very big in philanthropy. She loves to give back to society. And she loves to help people in diverse ways.

She has a foundation that has done a lot to help people in need. City People gathered that she has touched many lives of the veterans in the movie industry.

Mama Idowu Phillips was born on 16th October 1942 at Jebba Street, Ebute-Metta in Lagos, and she hails from Odogbolu town in Ogun State. She attended African Methodist School and Anglican Modern School for her primary and secondary education.

She started out as a Nurse. Idowu Phillips worked as a Healthcare Assistant in General Hospitals in Nigeria for several years and occasionally acted in Theatre. Idowu ventured into full-time acting after the death of her husband - Augustine Ayanfemi Phillips, who worked closely with the late patriarch of the Nigerian Film Industry, Sir Herbert Ogunde. She has featured in several Nigerian films, including Apaadi, Eru, and Aje Ni Iya Mi, Alamu Seniyan, Kosi Arugbo Ni London, Mewa Nsele, Elepo Robi, Odunmbaku, amongst many more.. Idowu Phillips has 5 biological children and many more live with her.

How does she plan to celebrate her 80th birthday, City People asked her last week. We visited Mama Rainbow at her Lagos home and she told us about her plans. Already, she has set up a powerful Committee to plan the birthday. She is planning to launch her Biography and her Mama Rainbow Foundation, which has done a lot over the last few years. During the Covid-19 lockdown, she was there for many people, as she provided food and shelter for many children and actors who stayed with her. To date, she still feeds many on a daily basis.

The celebration will be in 2 parts. One will be the Book launch and the 2nd event is the Birthday party.

Aso-Ebi will be out in a few days, and she has begun to reach out to individuals and corporate bodies to rally around her.

We asked her how she feels at 80. “I am very happy. At 80, I can still go out. At 80, I can still talk. I have all my faculties intact. To God be the Glory."

"I can still associate with my contemporaries. I know it is by the Grace of God. (Ore Ofe Olorun Ni). One can’t do it alone.

"That is why I am happy. That is why I am thanking God. I am grateful. To God be the Glory”.

"Many people always wonder what the secret behind your beauty is. This is how refreshingly young Mama Rainbow looked at 60, 70 and now 80. How does she do it?

“There is no secret. It is the Grace of God. Ore Ofe Olorun Ni. I have gone through a lot. I have faced so many challenges, but it does not show on me."

"I have been through a lot. Me, Idowu, I have fought so many battles and I have won all my battles. I have had so many problems. I come from a family where nobody was willing to help. I had no helper, but God. I am from a family of 12 men my father gave birth to. I am the only girl. Despite that nobody was willing to help. All I became today is through the Grace of God. When my father died, my brothers didn’t reckon with me. They suggested I should be shared along with his inheritance. They said who is Idowu. They get angry that whenever they are discussing serious family issues, some will suggest that Idowu should come and sit down with them. Who is Idowu?"

"She has nothing to offer. My husband Osumare died in 1984. Things went upside down. Everything went down the drain then. But I thank God that today, by the time our mother died all those men were nowhere to be found."

"My mother and I lived together for 18 years. We were sleeping on the same bed. And she used to pray for me. And her prayers came to pass. When our mum died God made me triumph over them. She told me that whatever I have, I should give out to people and that even if it is pure water I should give people to drink. She said I have done enough for her. I have done what any daughter should do for her mum, in her lifetime.

"She said I took great care of her food and upkeep."

"When she died, she opened the doors of progress and happiness. Money started coming in. People flew in from America and London. They took party tables. We had a big party till the following day. I was so happy. And I also know that my mother was happy. I am happy that God used me to build a church in my father's name with the help of Mama wa, Iya Adura, Esther Ajayi. I need to say a big thank you to her. She tried for me, although we have been constructing the church for years, but we got to a point and everything got stuck. One of my daughters, Titi George. She is in London. She has been calling me that I should come to their church. And I don’t like moving from one church to another."

"One Sunday, my son Femi Alabi who lives in London. He came to pick me at the church I was in and took me to Titi’s church. And I followed him."

"When we got there all the church members began to stare at me. Mama Esther Ajayi was preaching. I entered and sat down when she finished, they told her Mama Rainbow, from Lagos is here to see her, she shouted, 'haaa, those are the old school Cherubim & Seraphim'. Can’t you see that her gown is touching the ground at the back?" Church members laughed.

"When we finished the service, Titi George came to call me that I should enter Mama’s office to go and see her."

"Iya Adura usually calls me Maami, Mama Rainbow. She said what can I do for you? I said Ma. Let me tell you. I have where I stay. I have a roof over my head. I have a church, but it can no longer contain us. We want to raise the building but I have reached a point, I am stuck."

"She now said okay. When we get to Lagos I will come and see you. She did. She came. She gave me N1million before I left London to celebrate the Xmas/New Year Season of that year. When we got back to Lagos she sent someone to meet me. She asked me to open an account in a particular bank and that was how she began to give me money. So, I kept the construction of the church going and I kept taking photos and I was sending photos of work in progress to her. The year we were to open it she couldn’t come. But the following year she came. She looked at it. She liked the job we did on the church complex she said it was neat. She said of all those who took money from her to build churches, Iya Rainbow’s work is the only one that is outstanding. She said it here. When she got to Ayo Ni, at express, she said the same thing. My children at Ayo Ni told me. They said Mama Adura spoke nicely about you in the presence of many people. She is my Alaanu. Alaanu mi ni. Oloore mi ni. I pray for her all the time. I am praying for her right now. She will grow from strength to strength”.

Mama Rainbow's birthday is just a few days away, how does she feel now?

“I am afraid”, she says. “I am afraid about how we would actualise it. But I have left everything to God. It is only God that can do it. Only God knows how to do."

"It is only God that begins a  job and finishes it well. I know he will do it for me. After the birthday we would all have the course to rejoice."


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