One of the media stories buzzing in Nigeria since it broke last week is that of a young woman abandoned by her husband because she and their two kids have blue eyes.
Risikat Azeez, who lives in the central Nigerian state of Kwara, was dumped by her husband, Abdul-Wasiu Omo-Dada.
The PUNCH, a daily newspaper, had reported in an exclusive video that Omo-Dada rejected his wife and two daughters because of the colour of their eyes.
Azeez, who said she sees clearly with her eyes despite the colour, lamented that her husband, who married her that way, changed when she gave birth to two kids with the same set of eyeballs.
She narrated her experience of living with blue eyes which is alien to the dark eyes that most people have in Africa to The PUNCH in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The mother of two, who spoke in her native Yoruba language, said, “I was born with these eyes and I also gave birth to my children with same pair of eyes. Since I was born, I have never had any challenges with my eyes. I have never been to the hospital due to any discomfort. I thank God.
“No one had this set of eyes before me in my family; both from my mother and father’s side. I’m the first to have this kind of eyes. And when I started bearing children, they also have it and I did not regret that I have this set of eyes with my children.”
Also, her sister, Balikis Azeez, whose eyes’ colour is black, said, “When my sister was born, people thought she had eye problems but upon medical examination, the opticians said there was no problem with her eyes; they said she has foreign eyes.”
The blue-eyed mum added, “As a young girl, I was later taken to the hospital for medical examination and came back home with lots of gifts because the doctors liked my eyes. They also said there was nothing wrong with it.”
She further stated, “My husband is very aware of the condition of my eyes and he loved me for who I am. Things started getting bad when I had my first child and later my second child. He totally changed and he would shut me up and walk out on me whenever I tried to start a conversation with him.
“His parents even told him, ‘Will you keep on giving birth to children with this kind of eyes?’ He changed to the extent that he would leave the house for a whole week before coming back home. There was no food and no provision that I had to go to my parents’ place to feed.
“My parents later asked me to leave his house. Since I left till now, he has not shown up to ask why I left or ask after me.”
Azeez’s pathetic story has elicited the intervention of members of the public who have promised to help her. Among the good Samaritans is the wife of Kwara State Governor, Olufolake Abdulrazaq, who has offered to assist the poor blue-eyed mum.
Black people, especially those with no Caucasian ancestry, with blue eyes are very uncommon. Almost everyone in Africa and Asia has brown eyes. In fact, brown eyes are the most commonly occurring eye colour in the world.
Research has found that almost everyone with blue eyes is linked to “an ancient genetic mutation”, and a small fraction get their blue eye colour as a result of a health condition such as ocular albinism, which affects the pigmentation in the eye, Edmund Custers, a world-renowned researcher on the phenomenon, writes.
“Research argues that, at one point in time far in the past, everyone on the planet had brown eyes. The first light-eyed human emerged only about 10,000 years ago, says Professor Hans Eiberg and his team of Danish scientists from the University of Copenhagen.
In their study, Eiberg and his team recruited 800 blue-eyed men and women across different countries. They studied the genes that coded blue eyes in all of these individuals.
They were able to conclude that all blue-eyed people have the exact same DNA sequence to account for their blue eyes. They also found that this DNA sequence contains an ancient genetic mutation which presumably occurred 10,000 years ago around South-Eastern Europe.
Black people are affected by this genetic mutation in the same way any other human is, but because the mutation originated in Europe, it is rare to see a Black baby born with blue eyes,” he explained.
Europe has the widest variety of eye colour, and the largest proportion of people with blue eyes. In fact, over 80 percent of the inhabitants of Estonia and Finland have blue eyes.
Kola Tella & Sola Jolaoso