Okoth Okombo: Google doodle celebrates 71st birthday of Kenyan professor & author


Devdiscourse News Desk | Nairobi | Updated: 08-11-2021 09:25 IST | Created: 08-11-2021 09:25 IST
Okoth Okombo: Google doodle celebrates 71st birthday of Kenyan professor & author
Today, Okombo’s students remember him as a great listener, storyteller, and even a great dancer as his legacy lives on in the ongoing advocacy work of the Kenyan Sign Language Research Project. Image Credit: Google doodle
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  • Kenya

Happy birthday, Professor Okombo!

Today Google doodle to celebrate the 71st birthday of acclaimed Kenyan professor and author Okoth Okombo, an eminent researcher of Nilotic linguistics (from the Nile River region) who is widely considered the founder of African sign language studies. Today's Doodle, illustrated by Kenya-based guest artist Joe Impressions.

Duncan Okoth Okombo was born on November 8, 1950 in Kaswanga, of Rusinga Island located on the north of Lake Victoria. Okombo was an only child and his aunt and foster mother raised him.

Okombo attended Kaswanga SDA Primary School and Mbita High School in the Homa Bay County. He caught an interest in languages at an early age and wanted to pursue a career as a teacher.

These experiences inspired Okombo's lifelong mission to preserve indigenous African heritage through academia with a major focus on educating children in their native languages.

While pursuing his linguistics doctorate in 1983, Okombo published Masira ki Ndaki ("Misfortune is Inevitable") in Dholuo, which is considered one of the first novels published in a Kenyan language. He continued to pass down his expertise as a professor of linguistics and literature at his alma mater of the University of Nairobi, where Okombo founded the Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) Research Project in 1991. This project led to the widespread adoption of KSL across Kenya, allowing the nation's deaf community to secure new opportunities in society.

For his achievements, the World Federation of the Deaf elected Okombo as its international president from 1992 to 1995. Today, Okombo's students remember him as a great listener, storyteller, and even a great dancer as his legacy lives on in the ongoing advocacy work of the Kenyan Sign Language Research Project.

Source: Google doodle

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