Margaret Ekpo was a Nigerian women rights activist, social mobilizer, a pioneering politician during the country’s First Republic and a leading member of a group of female Nigerian activists who rallied women beyond the borders of ethnic solidarity.
Margaret Ekpo was born on July 27, 1914 into the family of Inyang Eyo Aniemewue from the Royal stock of King Eyo Honestry II and Okoroafor Obiasulor native of Agulu-Uzo-Igbo near Awka in Anambra State.
She reached standard six of the school leaving certificate in 1934 but she could not further her education to secondary school lever because she lost her father in the same year.
In an era of a male-dominated movement towards independence, she played major roles as a grassroots and nationalist politician in the eastern Nigerian city of Aba.
Margaret Ekpo’s first direct involvement in political association was in 1945, when she attended meetings in place of her husband because he was a civil servant who could not attend meetings to discuss the colonial administrators’ unfair treatment of indigenous Nigerian doctors.
Margaret decided to encourage the the participation of the women folk in Aba as she was the only woman at political meetings organised to discuss the discriminatory practices of the colonial administration and to fight cultural and racial imbalance in administrative promotions.
She was responsible for the formation of the NCNC women’s wing along with the wife of the leader of the party, Flora Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became its first president with Ekpo as vice-president. When Azikiwe became First Lady in 1960, Ekpo assumed the presidential post of the women’s wing. As president, she continued to lead women in canvassing for party candidates across the country, forming a formidable campaign team.
In 2001, the Calabar airport was named after her. Her name graces the Ekpo Refectory at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and various other buildings and structures across the nation. Until her death, she was the Life Patron of the National Council of Women Societie.
Ekpo died at the age of 92 on September 21, 2006 at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
To find out more on this historical powerhouse click here.