– Muftau Olokoba LL.B B.L
The truth is I wouldn’t have married my wife if her genotype was different. I personally never shared the belief that love is blind, If my love was prone to be blind, I would have purchased it a pair of glasses!
Chess player Muftau Olokoba, 33, is a legal practitioner who believes the unborn child has a right to be protected from the ‘fundamental’ rights of an adult to choose who to marry and have children with – especially if the parents have sickle cell trait! He does not rule out a time when beleaguered children of such unions will go to court to claim damages from their parents. He tells of his own life with sickle cell anaemia, studying law and his reasons for holding maverick views on inalienable human rights.
Marriage and Genotype
I took into consideration the genotype of my wife before we got married. There is nothing I dread more than producing a child with sickle cell. I just couldn’t imagine that the pain I go through is the pain my offspring will go through, in fact I believe I may not be able to forgive myself for doing that.
The truth is I wouldn’t have married her if her genotype was different. I personally never shared the belief that love is blind, If my love was prone to be blind, I would have purchased it a pair of recommended glasses!
I was diagnosed of sickle disease (SS) at age 6. I had a cousin who was also with SS but died at the age of 5.
My parents were dead ignorant of their genotype before they gave birth to me. It was my diagnosis it dawned on them that they were both AS. Before I was diagnosed of the disease my parents told me I used to complain of back pains a lot.
Just about thrice in my 33 years.
Most memorable sickle cell ‘crises’
Most memorable one is the one I really don’t like to remember because it subtly crippled me. It was the crisis that led to AVN and removal of two teeth. More may be removed. That crisis pain was unprecedented in my experience. My utmost prayer is that I should never have such a visitation again. It nearly killed me.
I wouldn’t know about stigma because I don’t carry sickle cell as my identity. When I enter a place I don’t go telling them I’m SS. If they decipher it by themselves, all well and good. I know some of my classmates will be shocked to their marrow to learn I am a warrior.
Daily Life with SCD
It’s tough, but you just have to pull through especially when you see the grounds that your healthy counterparts are covering.
If I say I don’t sometimes blame my parents, I will be lying. I do blame them, but it has happened. Life continues.
Sickle cell carriers getting married and having children with SCD
I think they are enemies of humanity and need to be punished. It shows they are selfish and think only of their own enjoyment without considering the physical and emotional health of the child. I think the criminal code and penal code should be amended to accommodate their punishment.
Studying to be a Lawyer
I was in my second year when I was hit by Avascular Necrosis (AVN). This came on the heels of surviving a crisis that nearly claimed my life.
My dad gave me a car to use on campus to facilitate my movement. If not for that, the AVN could have worsened – maybe I would have had to withdraw from university.
Why do you want to see marital unions of sickle cell carriers discouraged or even criminalized?
The reason I am very vocal on the issue that two sickle cell carriers should not get married is because of the pain children with sickle cell go through. Sickle cell carriers can never understand how it feels for you to be healthy and happy this minute and the next you are writhing in pain.
I wish those people going through with such a union can have just a few moments of the crisis pain of their offspring.
I know people still marry ignorant of genotype. My anger is directed towards those who knew their genotype and still went ahead to marry, robbing a child of a happy and a healthy life. This is pure selfishness.
Genotype is so cheap to verify now in laboratories that no one can say they have given birth to a child with sickle cell because they didn’t know their genotype. Ignorance is not an excuse in this day and age.
In 1995, a military governor in Nigeria (Colonel Chinyere Ike Nwosu, Oyo State) once proscribed AS X AS unions by decree, but the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at the time rose up to say the move was counter to the human rights of citizens. Colonel Nwosu eventually lost out to the outcry of the NBA.
I think Colonel Nwosu’s move should have been welcomed not only by NBA but also by Federal Government.
The beauty of law is that two people don’t have to agree on an issue. Adults should not be the only ones protected by human rights. An innocent child – even an unborn is a human being too!
If we agree that adults have a right to choose whomever they like for marriage, we should also encourage them to choose well so that their children can have an opportunity to inherit good health from them.
I strongly believe that not being bequeathed a bad gene should part of the human rights of an unborn child.