Poverty and ignorance are harming Nigerian children with non-conventional features

Ilorin blue eyes

By Uroupa Kiakubu

 

Why do some Nigerian parents reject their kids for the very things others would cherish theirs for? All too often, we have heard stories of kids who were abandoned by their parents for seemingly ridiculous reasons. From the labelling and stigmatizing of children as witches in Eket, Akwai Ibom in 2010 to the neglect of Hope, a malnourished toddler who was labelled a witch and abandoned on the streets of Akwa Ibom until he was rescued by a Danish Humanitarian worker.

And now we hear of Kaosara, a harmless eight-year-old in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, who was abandoned by her father simply because she was born with blue eyes. Just how ridiculous can this be? To a large extent, ignorance and poverty must play into her father’s actions towards her. But should such things still be happening in our society today?

Recall that in July 2010, a Nigerian couple, Ben and Angela Ihegboror, were in the news for giving birth to a baby with Caucasian features. Nmachi their daughter was born white with blue eyes and blonde hair. In fact, she could pass for a white baby. But did her father reject her for that? No. What could have been his reason for accepting this unique child despite her looks.

Some good level of exposure, social class and literacy must have played a role in Ihegboro’s decision to accept his child the way she was despite pressures from friends and family who said that there must have been some foul play somewhere. Ihegboro said he believed there would be some form of medical explanation for his child’s looks, which was confirmed by genetic experts who said the child’s looks could be a result of gene mutation or she probably has white ancestors in her lineage, although the couple said they do not know of any white ancestors from their bloodline.

Even though the Ihegboros were taken aback at first when Nmachi came out looking all white, blonde and blue-eyed at birth, they never rejected her but accepted her as a rare gift from God.

How does this compare to Kaosara’s case? As we have already established, ignorance on the part of her father must be responsible for his decision to reject his blue-eyed daughter.

The child’s plight was made public after a Nigerian woman known as Alabi Rukayat Oyindamola shared her story on Facebook recently. Rukayat claimed that she witnessed the incident when she travelled to Ilorin on holidays. She also said that one of Kaosara’s sisters had passed away due to lack of proper care.

Kaosara and her elder sister were born with blue eyes and this infuriated their father who rejected them because of that feature.

Kaosara’s mother, Risikat, disclosed in an interview that her husband sent her packing after he bitterly complained about their daughters’ blue eyes. Well-meaning Nigerians are now calling for donations to help Kaosara and her family. All donations will go to her mother. Also, the First Lady of Kwara has reportedly been in touch with the family through and are doing everything to support Risikat and her children and possibly unite the wife and the children with her husband.

If there was ever a better time to protect the rights of children, it is now. To stop the victimization of innocent children in Nigeria, child rights groups and all stakeholders involved must create campaigns to sensitize Nigerian parents, particularly those in the rural communities on the need to accept their children the way they are while celebrating their uniqueness.

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