OKON, Prof Margaret Mary




Prof Margaret Mary Pius Okon(Nee Essien) was born into the royal family of Eteidung (Sir) Cyril and Lady Catherine Essien (both of blessed memory) of Ikot Eda, Anua Offot in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. She started her academic journey from Ideal Girls’ School, Falolu Road, Lagos and later transferred to Holy Child Convent School Calabar Road, Calabar, to complete her primary education. There, she obtained her First School Leaving Certificate at Distinction level. She thereafter gained admission into the prestigious Holy Child Secondary School, Marian Hill, Calabar and after five years of great diligence in her school work, obtained her West African School Certificate (WASC) at Grade One level. With this qualification, she was able to make the list of pioneer admissions into the University of Calabar in 1976. She read French and graduated with a Second Class(Honours) Upper Division. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French, she joined the services of the University of Calabar as a Graduate Assistant and enrolled on an M.Phil programme in French, with specialization in Language Teaching in the same University. On completion of the programme, she competed for and won a French Government Scholarship to do a Doctorate Degree in France. This took her to Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, France, from where she obtained a Doctorate Degree in Contrastive Linguistics. Since her return from France in 1989, Prof. Okon has been engaged in teaching and research and has risen through the ranks to the position of Professor. As an academic, she has attended many international, national and local conferences and workshops and has many scholarly publications to her credit. Notable among them is Mutanda a la recherche de Namondo, a translation into French, of the famous Efik epic, Mutanda Oyom Namondo, published by l’Harmattan, a foremost publisher in France. She is a member of several learned societies, some of which are the Nigerian Academy of Letters(NAL), Linguistic Association of Nigeria (LAN) etc. She is a recipient of many awards, one of which is the Fellow of INTERCAFT, conferred on her by Inter-College Association of French Teachers in collaboration with the French Embassy in Nigeria in recognition of her immense contribution to the teaching and learning of the French language in Nigeria. Though her core areas in Linguistics are Applied and Sociolinguistics, her post-professorial focus has been more on language endangerment and revitalization, because of her belief that all human languages, cultures, are divine gifts, hence, none deserves to die. Prof. Okon has served ( and is still serving) the University of Calabar selflessly in various capacities - as member and chairperson of various Departmental, Faculty and University statutory and ad hoc committees, Examinations Officer, Coordinator of Diploma in Language Studies Programme , Acting Head of Department, Deputy Dean and Acting Dean of Graduate School. She is currently the Head of the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages. As an active, committed Catholic Christian, Prof. Okon has served (and continues to serve) the Church in various capacities - as Secretary General, Publicity Secretary, Treasurer, Promoter, Vice President and President of various associations and organisations etc. A woman of principles, an epitome of justice and fair play, an advocate of humanism, a committed worker and quiet achiever, Prof. Margaret Mary Okon owes her success in life to her Holy Child upbringing, the foundation of which was laid from childhood by a Holy Child-trained mother, and nurtured in Holy Child Secondary School, Marian Hill, Calabar, under the watchful eyes of teachers and leaders of the calibre of late Lady Mary A. Effiom, a “no-nonsense” Principal. Indeed, the teachers were dedicated and motherly and gave their best for the upliftment of the girl child. Mention must here be made of Mother St. Henry and Mrs. Cyrilla Duke ( both of blessed memory) who laid a solid foundation in the French language that spurred many to take interest in the language. Prof. Margaret Mary Okon, a mother and grandmother, happily married to Mkpisong Pius James Okon, both recognised as the United Nations Int. Day of Families Exemplary Couple, 2017, is inarguably an academic luminary, a benevolent mentor, uncommon role model, prodigious, chivalrous benefactress, unapologetic Catholic fidei defensor and an iconic legacy of the Holy Child Alumni. Detur Gloria soli Deo!
Gender: Female
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Profession University Lecturer
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