Generally regarded as the father of sign language studies in Africa and a leading light in the field of Nilotic Language Studies, Prof Okoth Okombo died on November 2 while undergoing treatment at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi.

Born on November 8, 1950 on Rusinga Island, the founder and director of the Kenyan Sign Language Research Project, exited the stage aged 67.

He was a passionate proponent of teaching young children in their mother tongue and believed that a language policy that favoured English had condemned millions to illiteracy when many were, in fact, “geniuses”.

The University of Nairobi-based lecturer was revered as the ‘Noam Chomsky of Africa” because just like the father of modern linguistics, he dabbled in such varied disciplines as mathematics, philosophy and politics.