Risikat Abdulwasiu and her kids
In Ilorin, blue-eyed Risikat Abdulwasiu was bullied in school and claimed she was rejected along with her children by her in-laws for their unique eyes. Now their eyes are drawing a crowd and that might have turned their lives around
In Toni Morrison’s bestselling novel, The Bluest Eye, the Nobel laureate tells the story of Pecola, an African American girl whose greatest desire was to have blue eyes so she could be considered white and enjoy white privilege.
In the remote Alagbado area of Ilorin, Kwara State, Mrs Risikat Abdulwasiu Oloye, 30, standouts in a crowd. Her eyes are blue, like the colour of the ocean. So are those of her two children.
They stand out so much that during the Eid, a young woman noticed this and took photos with the little girl. The photos went viral and Risikat and her children, who have been scrapping for a living since she left her matrimonial home, became overnight sensations.
But her blue eyes have caused her so much agony.
“About a year ago, my husband told me to pack out of his house,” she said. “He told me that his parents said that they could not live with children with strange eyes.
Her husband had apparently been told to marry a woman who would give him children with normal eyes. On account of this, Risikat said she was kicked out and had to move back in with her parents.
When she was born, her parents discovered that her eyes are blue. Since her vision seemed normal, they did nothing about it until she was bullied in school and called names.
“I remember my classmates in school used to make fun of me,” she said.
“I used to report them to our teachers and I also told my parents at home. Because of this, my parents took me to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital to complain to the doctors about my eyes.
“But after examining me, doctors said my eyesight was normal and that there was nothing wrong with them. The doctors at the hospital even took pictures with me.”
Her relationship with her husband was normal at first, she said. And then she had her children who, like her, have blue eyes. Her husband became uncommunicative and stopped taking care of them.
“My first daughter Kaosara is about five years old and she was born with blue eyes. It is natural, Allah made it to be so,” she said. She then had a set of twins. The girl, Hasanat Kehinde, had blue eyes, the boy, Taiwo, had regular brown eyes.
However, he got ill and died. She said this was because she didn’t have money to pay the medical bills as her husband was not supporting them in any way then.
Representatives of Toyin Saraki presenting cash gift of N250,000 to Risikat and her daughters
“He was sick and we took him to the hospital for treatment, but I had no money to take care of the children because their father refused to give me money to take care of them and Taiwo died because I couldn’t take care of him,” she said.
Now seperated from her husband, she is left with her blue-eyed daughters.
“I don’t feel bad about their blue eyes because I believe it is hereditary. They inherited it from me. There is no discrimination from people about the colour of the eyes of my children they have no problem with their playmates. They mix freely with them,” she said.
The story of her neglect by her husband did not start today, she said. “When I was in his house, he didn’t use to give me money for food,” she said.
“My parents would bring food to feed us. My mother used to bring foodstuffs from our house and would also give us money. That was how we were living.”
Even when she moved back in with her parents, when he visited, he often left them with nothing.
Risikat insisted she and her husband were not fighting but his parents pressured him to kick them out.
“It was his parents who instructed him to eject me and the children from the house because they could not live with me and my children because we have blue eyes,” she said.
The children have never been enrolled in school and this is something that has been bothering their mother.
“I wish to put them in public school but there is no money,” Risikat said. “We have only been surviving on what my parents are giving us. It has not been easy because I have no means of sustaining myself and the children.”
Risikat herself was educated up to secondary school at Amule Secondary School but never completed her studies. She dropped out and was enrolled by her parents at a pharmacy where she studies for a while until she was graduated by her boss.
Her parents set up a medicine store for her and it was while working there that she met her husband. They dated and then got married six years ago.
But while married to him, she had to close down her store because she used the profit to feed herself and the children when the husband stopped taking care of them, she said.
For about a year now, she has been living with her parents and her children often ask her about their father.
“He comes to visit them once in a while and when he does, he only brings Bobo drink for them. He doesn’t give them money to feed,” she said.
However, the husband, Abdulwasiu Oloye, denied his wife’s claims.
“I married her because of the colour of her eyes so why would I drive her out of my house because of it,” he said. Wasiu, a vulcaniser, said he spent his savings and even sold a property he was developing to get health care for their son who later died.
He insisted that Risikat decided to leave on her own and since then, he had been going to their family house to play his role as husband and father but she refused to come back to him.
His brother, Dauda Aje, said, “Wasiu didn’t abandon her at all. He did his best for her. If she said it is not enough, that is fine, but saying he abandoned her and the children is not true”
His other sibling, Saheed Jimoh said, “My brother was proud of her and he showed her off at any given opportunity. Why she has decided to malign him now is what we don’t understand. After all, she was the one who packed out of his house.”
Whatever the case, Risikat seems intent on not reconciling with her husband.
“If he and his parents come for forgiveness, I will never accept it. No. It is no longer possible, I won’t go back.”
However, the attention on Risikat’s blue eyes recently paid off when last week she was visited by the wife of the Kwara State Governor Dr Olufolake AbdulRazaq, that of the former state governor and immediate past senate president, Toyin Saraki and Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare visited Risikat at her parents’ home.
During their visits, they gifted her cash while her daughters got a scholarship from the minister to pursue their education to any level.
Last week, representatives of Toyin Saraki Well-Being Foundation Africa donated cash gift of N250,000 to empower Risikat and her children.
Wife of the Kwara State Governor, Dr Olufolake AbdulRazaq rallied medical and social intervention support for the family through the Kwara State Ministry of Health and the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria.
Since the story broke, the remote Alagbado area has seen an increase in traffic as people have been visiting to see the blue eyes for themselves.
What had caused them so much agony might just have saved their future.
Source: Daily Trust