Margaret Ekpo: Remembering The Brave Nigerian Politician Who Pioneered Women's Rights Activism

Margaret Ekpo: Remembering The Brave Nigerian Politician Who Pioneered Women's Rights Activism

When the story of women's activism in Nigeria is told in full, the name, Margaret Ekpo will obviously sit prominently on top. Ekpo was the one who conscientised women and brought many of them into mainstream activism in a country that is patrilineal and largely male-dominated.

Margaret Ekpo, a great woman was born

Born on 14th July 1914, Margaret Ekpo grew above her immediate community of Creek Town, Cross River State, to become a burgeoning national political figure. Ekpo would later cross and defy national boundaries to make a name for herself in the male-dominated political arena of the First Republic.

Remembering Margaret Ekpo
Margaret Ekpo was a notable figure in women's activism in Nigeria. Photo credit: Independent Newspaper
Source: UGC

Education of Margaret Ekpo

Ekpo attended primary and secondary school which was rare among women of her days. She wanted to further her education immediately, but that ambition did not quickly materialse due to the passage of her father in 1934. She had to wait.

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When she clocked 24, she got married to John Udo Ekpo, a medical doctor. Educational luck finally smiled on Margarete when she accompanied her husband to Ireland in 1944. There, she enrolled to further her education at the Rathmine School of Domestic Economics in Dublin. The school where she studied is today known as the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin Ireland. She earned a diploma in domestic science. The couple would later return to Aba, the present-day Abia state.

Politics, activism

History records that Margarete's involvement in community and social activism was not entirely planned. It is recorded that she was attending political activities to represent her husband who was a civil servant and who could not participate in such anti-establishment movements organised against the colonial masters.

Margarete would later become a celebrated activist a decade later. She orgainsed and unionised women in Aba. She formed a Market Women Association in Aba and she was the leading light of women's participation in politics. She also teamed up with Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti to protest against killings at an Enugu coal mine in the 1950s.

Election into political office

In 1961, Margaret Ekpo was elected into the Eastern Regional House of Assembly, becoming one of Nigeria's earliest women to take up political positions.

Her political career nosedived with the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War which saw her being arrested and kept in jail.

Margeret Ekpo died in 2006 at the age of 92. To remember the great woman, Nigeria named the International Airport in Calabar, Cross River state after her.

Remembering Bola Ige had also written about the life of late Nigerian lawyer, Bola Ige. Ige, a former governor of Oyo state was assassinated in 2001.

Before his murder, Ige was the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

To date, his murder case has not been resolved. Many have called for the case to be revisited and for those who mured him to be brought to book.


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