By Temitope MUSTAPHA
“At birth, a doctor told me that my daughter’s eyes were blue due to what he called congenital cataract, I gave birth to her in a neighbourhood hospital, in Okelele Ilorin, Kwara State.
“As you can see, I don’t have the blue eyes and my husband does not have it, neither do we have anybody in our lineage with the kind of eyes,” Risiqot’s mother, Saudat Azeez narrated on my arrival at her residence in Aiyegbami community, Ilorin.
The family house of the Azeez in less than 8 days has turned to Mecca of sort where people travelled from Lagos, Abuja and other parts of Nigeria to see the Blue Eyes Family.
The blue eyes have been a source of rejection and trouble to the woman and her children in the past years.These same eyes have contributed to the good fortune of Azeez family.
Risiqot, 30-years-old and a mother of two, woke up to a new life after 18months of leaving her marriage.
Narrating her daughter’s ordeal, Mrs. Saudat Azeez told me that she passed through a lot of pains carrying her daughter from childhood until recently when fate found her.
She suffered shame from the people of their community. “Most people said I gave birth to an “abnormal child, while others said she is possessed.”
Risiqot is the first child in a family of four and barely finished her secondary school education due to the inability of her parent to pay for her WAEC fee.
“Those days I would cry and feel afraid about my daughters’ eyes, each time I saw other children’s’ eyes I used to feel sad until we met another medical doctor who invited us over to his home and celebrated my daughter, the man organised a mini party and said it was for a white woman in the midst of the black that year,” Risqot’s mother said.
Though this word of encouragement gave Mrs. Azeez some relief over the years, it did not stop the stigma from the community, families, and school mates. At school, she was known as “cat eyes” and in the community a “strange girl”.
Risiqot whose dream was to be a professional nurse turned out to be an apprentice in a pharmaceutical retail shop.
Also, the younger brother Abdul Ganey Azeez, said when they were in basic school, the teachers invited the mother over the eyes and they were more concerned if his sister’s sight were good.
Saudat’s challenge over the rejection of her daughter increased when she began to give birth in the same area and the grand-children shared her daughter’s pair of blue eyes.
“Most people in Aiyegbami community would not relate with my daughter or even want to have anything to do with my grandchildren. They tagged them names and instructed their children not to play with them.”
Recounting her experience, Risiqot said, “after I had my first child, Kaosara, my husband’s attitude changed and I discovered that my inlaws also changed towards me, my husband would leave home for days and not return without leaving food for us, I was treated like an outcast and nobody would carry my baby, I was abandoned. This development prompted my parents to come for me and moved me and the baby to the family house. My parent converted our kitchen to a bedroom for me and my children so as for me not to feel dejected.
“ I became pregnant again and the children turned out to be twins, (a boy and girl) and the girl among the twins Kehinde came with my kind of eyes also. At this point my husband walked away and abandoned me totally to my parents. We lost the other twin due to poor health and negligence of their father,” she added in Yoruba language.
“Since I left my marriage, my husband has not come back to seek reconciliation neither does he care about the children, not even to mention anything about my daughter, Kaosara’s education” she added.
Mrs. Saudat Azeez also confirmed that her son-in-law, Wasiu Omo Dada had visited the Azeez family house on Wednesday the 5th of August, alleging that the wife and the mother-in-law are using his children to plead for money from Nigerians.
Kaosara, about 6years old has never been to school. She is yet to be aware of her special eyes but she is already dazed with the crowd of people trooping to her grandparents’ house to take photographs with her and her sister. For now all that little Kaosara seems to care about is acceptance of her friends which seems to have been made possible by the awareness created on social media on her mother’s condition.
Fashion outfits from Abuja and other Brands have engaged Risiqot and her first daughter in few modelling skills. Also non-governmental organisations such as The Wellbeing Foundation Africa and a few others are giving the family financial supports.
The Aiyegbami community also seems to be responding positively to the new condition of the blue eyes family but the worries of some other family members who pleaded anonymity remain.
The story of Risiqot Azeez brings one to the quick remembrance of Jumoke Orisaguna, also a mother of two and now a Nigerian model, who received public attention while hawking bread on the streets of Lagos and unknowingly walked into a photoshoot session of British rapper, Tinie Tempah.