DOZ Issue 52 February 2020 - Page 11

DOZ Inspirational Biography MARGARET EKPO Mercy James Margaret was a Nigerian woman who became famous for being a Nigerian woman right activist and a social mobilizer who made waves in the political sector of the country as the pioneering female politician in the country’s first republic and also led members of a class of traditional Nigerian women activists who rallied women above notions of ethnic solidarity. Margaret was born to the family of Okoroafor Obiasulor in Creek Town Cross River State. She had everything that could make her successful and help her dreams become a reality until after obtaining a standard six school leaving certificate in 1934. The same year that brought joy to her also brought tragedy that gave her life a new direction. Her father died, and her goal of furthering her education in the teacher’s training seemed to become a fantasy that may never come close to reality. The situation was discouraging and enough to make her quit, but she refused to wallow in self- pity. Instead, she decided to take life from a lower angle by blessing lives before she could rise to her desires once again. She started working as a teacher in elementary school. She was helping children to grow in their academics while earning some money. Hope came back alive when she found love and married John Udo Ekpo in 1938. A new life began, and she had the opportunity of getting further education at Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland. The years of delay never discouraged from being who she was meant to be. She bagged a Domestic Science degree and returned to Nigeria her country to bless more lives by establishing a domestic science and sewing institute in the famous Aba Nigeria. Politics was never something she started intentionally. The opportunity came through her husband, who was a civil servant with little time to spare to participate in political meetings. He knew he had married an intelligent wife and so he allowed her to attend meetings on his behalf. Her first political ideas and association were in 1945, but her most treasured moment was when she participated in a political rally where she was the only woman amongst men such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Herbert Macaulay, who decided to do something about cultural and racial discrimination in administrative promotions in the country. Margaret was inspired to fight for the economic rights of women, and she started by organizing an association to bring unity to market women who participated in her quest to give women a chance to become more relevant than being a kitchen genius. Margaret fought for women’s rights along with famous women such as Funmilayo Ransome- Kuti. They protested the killings at Enugu coal mine before she became a member of the Eastern Regional House of Assembly in 1961. Power could have corrupted her, but she used her position to win a better ground for women before dying on the 21st day of September 2006. In honor of her bravery, the international airport in Calabar was renamed Margaret Ekpo International Airport. She was born a black woman like numerous other women, but she rose beyond circumstances to give women a chance to have a better image. You can rise higher than your situations if you stop looking down on yourself. The world is yours to take if you try. 11 DOZ Magazine | February 2020 W hile nation and race have deprived many women of greatness, others produced something amazing out of what is less celebrated. Margaret Ekpo belonged to the latter category, and for this reason, her name has made it to the history books as a celebrity that will never die because her name shall be passed down through generations.