Google’s doodle today celebrates Professor Okoth Okombo who would have been 71 today.
Google Arts and Culture states that Okombo founded the Kenyan Sign Language Research Project at the University of Nairobi.
He has published over 30 scientific publications on the structure, vocabulary and sociological properties of the language of deaf Kenyans.
As a result, Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) has been implemented in schools, hospitals, courtrooms, churches and the media.
Okombo has implemented similar projects in Uganda, Tanzania, Swaziland and South Africa.
Professor Okombo died on the night of Wednesday, November 1, 2017.
Some of his works include A Functional Grammar of Dholuo, Reflections on the Theories and Methods of Oral Literature, and The Suba of Kenya: A case of increasing ethnicity with reculing language skilling.
Google Arts and Culture adds that as a member of the high Omusuba tribe during the days of British colonial rule, Okombo saw with his own eyes how the rise of the English language eroded his ethnic identity by pushing his tongue out. Kindergarten Olusuba to near extinction.
He was inspired to have a permanent mission to preserve indigenous African heritage.
Okombo attended Kaswanga SDA Primary School and Mbita High School in Homa Bay.
He took an early interest in languages ââand wanted to pursue a teaching career.
Okombo received a scholarship from the University of Nairobi, where he obtained his BA (1977), MA (1979) and PhD in Linguistics (1987).
He worked with the university until his death in 2017 and was the youngest professor to present his inaugural lesson.
While pursuing his doctorate in linguistics in 1983, Okombo published Masira ki Ndaki (“Misfortune is inevitable â) in Dholuo, which is considered to be one of the first novels published in a Kenyan language.
Dr James Oranga, who teaches journalism at the University of Nairobi on November 17, 2017, said Professor Okombo’s departure has left an intellectual void that will be difficult to fill.
âLike other great men who came before him, his story emphasizes the greatness of education. With education, we can all overcome our barriers at birth, âhe said.