Professor Okoth Okombo Biography

The professor of linguistic

By  | Feb 01, 2023, 09:49 AM  | Top of The

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Professor Okoth Okombo Biography

Prof. Okoth Okombo, a late linguist and patriotic African, dedicated his life and career to advancing and preserving traditional African culture. He had a full life up to his passing, and his contributions to language and culture are still honored today.

Pro Okoth Okombo Biography

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In the settlement of Kaswanga on Rusinga Island, the professor was born on November 8th, 1950. He was an only child who was raised by his aunt and foster mother. 

When he was younger, Okombo spent a lot of time with his grandfather, who would take care of livestock with him in the vast fields and converse with him about their Luo heritage, instilling in Okombo a desire to protect their Luo legacy.

Professor Okoth Okombo Education

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The intellectual attended Kaswanga SDA Primary School before enrolling at Homa Bay's Mbita High School. He would work toward his childhood dream of becoming a teacher. 

Later, in 1971, Okombo enrolled in Kenyatta College, where he excelled academically and played volleyball regularly. He earned his teaching certificate for secondary schools in 1974. He Okombo received a scholarship in 1977 to undertake a BA at the University of Nairobi, and in 1979 he registered for a Ph.D. in linguistics.

Professor Okoth Okombo Career

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Lecturer Okoth Okombo worked at the University of Nairobi from 1987 until he died in 2017, and he was the institution's youngest professor to deliver its opening lecture. 

He wrote the novel "Masira ki Ndaki," which translates to misfortune inevitable in the Luo language. One of the first novels to be published in a native tongue, this one opened the door for many more from authors like Ngugi wa Thiong'o.

He served as the department head for linguistics and literature at the University of Nairobi before rising to the position of dean of the faculty of social sciences. His time in college was crucial for the people of Kenya since he pioneered the field of the Nilotic Language. Further, he promoted research into indigenous African languages.

Professor Okoth played a significant role in helping UNESCO and the government establish language policies for Africa, specifically one for Malawi, on a national and international level.

Additionally, he established the Kenyan Sign Language Research Project, which resulted in more than thirty academic papers on the vocabulary, sociological characteristics, and structure of the deaf Kenyans' language.  ]
Credit: Facebook : Professor Okombo

Later, Kenyan Sign Language would be used to promote inclusiveness in the press, hospitals, universities, houses of worship, and courtrooms. Professor Okoth carried out the same project in other countries, such as South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Uganda. He played a significant role in getting sign language officially acknowledged in the 2010 Kenyan constitution, and for that, he will always be remembered.

No one can dispute that during his life, especially in the academic sphere, Prof. Okombo would be remembered for his love of languages and his love of culture, according to P.L.O. Lumumba, who was speaking of the professor's accomplishments. 

"I can still recall a time when I discussed languages with Prof. Okombo. He was the first person to teach me about how languages change from slang to creole to a stable language, as I assume he did with others", PLO eulogized.

Professor Okoth Okombo Personal Life

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The eminent linguist was an accomplished dancer who adored rhumba music. He would often dance to lighten his mood. In addition, he had a white 1973 Peugeot 504 saloon that he adored (KLB 868).

Farica, Brian, and Gillian were the professor's three children. He was an outstanding speaker and linguist at Kwanza Toastmasters, where he received numerous awards for his sharp humor. In November 2017 while receiving care at the Aga Khan Hospital, he passed away.
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