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Thursday, 28 July 2016

FLASH BACK NEWS: In 1914, Foremost Nigerian Women's Activist, Margaret Ekpo was Born

Margaret Ekpo was a Nigerian women's rights activist and social mobilizer who was a pioneering female politician in the country's First Republic.

Margaret Ekpo was born in Creek Town, Cross River State, to the family of Okoroafor Obiasulor and Inyang Eyo Aniemewue. She reached standard six of the school leaving certificate in 1934.

 However, tragedy struck at home with the death of her father in 1934, her goals of further education in teachers training was as a result put on hold. She then started working as a pupil teacher in elementary schools.

She married a doctor, John Udo Ekpo, in 1938. He was from the Ibibio ethnic group who are predominant in Akwa Ibom State, while she was of Igbo and Efik heritage. She later moved with her husband to Aba.
In 1946, she had the opportunity to study abroad at what is now Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin Ireland. She earned a diploma in domestic science and on her return to Nigeria she established a Domestic Science and Sewing Institute in Aba.

Margaret Ekpo's first direct participation in political ideas and association was in 1945. She later attended a political rally and was the only woman at the rally, which saw fiery speeches from Mbonu Ojike, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Herbert Macaulay. By the end of the decade she had organized a Market Women Association in Aba to unionize market women in the city. She later joined the decolonization-leading National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NGNC), as a platform to represent a marginalized group. In the 1950s, she also teamed up with Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti to protest killings at an Enugu coal mine.

She won a seat to the Eastern Regional House of Assembly in 1961, a position that allowed her to fight for issues affecting women at the time.

After a military coup ended the First Republic, she took a less prominent approach to politics. In 2001, Calabar Airport was named after her. She died in 2006.
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