Risikat Moromoke Azeez was born with blue eyes. Though rare, it’s not entirely out of place for a black African to have blue eyes. However, because it doesn’t happen so often, there are many misconceptions surrounding black Africans having blue eyes.
As a result, Risikat and her children who inherited her blue eyes, have faced discrimination from family and their community in Ilorin in Nigeria.
‘My husband sent me and my children packing because of the blue eyes we have. When my child goes for her Arabic lessons children laugh at her and say “see the eyes of a witch”.’
His family were asking him if these are the kind of blue-eyed children he wants to keep having. My second child came with blue eyes too and they asked him, “can’t you see how you children’s eyes are?” These things they were asking him made him change his mind about us.’
‘When people see me in the neighbourhood they say, “see how her eyes are and so on.” I could be walking for instance and a child could just run away suddenly after seeing me and calling other children, saying, “come and look at their strange eyes.” Some would just run back.
I was born this way with blue eyes. No one from my maternal and paternal family ever had them.’
Contrary to popular opinion, blue eyes are not a preserve for Asians or Europeans. Africans can also have blue eyes and there are many reasons for this. For example, it can happen as a result of genetic mutation or can be caused by Waardenburg Syndrome.
Risikat however does not know what caused her or her children’s eyes to be blue. She is not bothered by it.
‘I am the first in my family to have these kinds of eyes. In fact when I was in high school they did several eye tests for me, thinking they are abnormal. But I see clearly. I see very clearly and I know my children also have very good eyesight.
Because you would definitely know if a child can see well when you’re with one and my eyesight has never been bad. Since I was born, my parents never spent a dime on anything for my eyes. I also never took my children to the hospital for any eye problem.’
‘There are no problems with their eyes. That is why I give thanks to God and I don’t blame God for the blue eyes my children also have. Risikat’s husband says he didn’t abandon his family because of their blue eyes. ‘She is just not contended,’ he says.