While many people choose to have babies after getting married, it’s natural for hopeful parents to expect their children to look like them. However, science fiction became a reality for one Nigerian immigrant family in England. The couple were both black but gave birth to a perfectly healthy white baby. Not only did the baby not look like Ben and Angela Ihegboro and their other two children, who were black, but their newborn daughter looked nothing like their race. Instead, the baby daughter, whom they named Nmachi, was blue-eyed, blond, and white.
Though the parents and doctors were baffled by baby Nmachi’s traits, geneticists thought the baby might have a recessive gene that causes albinism, hence why she was white, unlike her parents. Yet when the geneticists ruled out albinism as the cause of the baby’s whiteness, they were left with more questions than answers.
The bewildered doctors investigating baby Nmachi’s mystery came up with two other possible theories to explain the family’s dilemma. The doctors surmised that one of the parents had dormant white genes due to a white ancestor somewhere in their gene pool, or there was the possibility that baby Nmachi’s had a unique genetic mutation.
About baby Nmachi’s mystery, Oxford Professor of Human Genetics Brian Sykes said,
“We are all of us genetic mixtures to some extent and occasionally you’ll have a convergence of the pale versions of these genes in African Americans and African Caribbeans who have a mixed black and white ancestry. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here. The parents are Nigerians with little known white ancestry at all.”
Nonetheless, Professor Sykes further explained that genetic mutation within baby Nmachi was the most likely explanation and further professed that the mutated gene will also be passed on to baby Nmachi’s future children. So, in a nutshell, the mutated gene will pass on to Nmachi’s progeny.
Throughout the mystery, Mr. Ben Ihegbero conducted himself admirably and stood by his wife, who was worried that she might be accused of infidelity. Explaining how he dealt with his mystery baby, Ben Said,
“The first thing I said was, ‘What the flip? We both just sat there after the birth staring at her for ages — not saying anything.”
After that, he quickly came to the rescue of his wife’s honor by dispelling any speculation. When the uncomfortable question was eventually asked, he said,
“Of course she is mine. My wife is true to me. Even if she hadn’t been, the baby still wouldn’t look like that.”
Whether genetic mutation or not, baby Nmachi’s mystery shows that, unlike the differences, we impose on ourselves, we are all one big tribe called mankind who, according to the most widely practiced religions, are descendants of one man and woman. For those who believe in the theory of evolution, the tribe remains the same but carries the scientific name of homo sapiens.
However, like Ben Ihegbero and his wife, another couple in Australia was also presented with a mystery. The white couple gave birth to a black child. But unlike Ben Ihegbero, the husband walked out on his wife and accused her of infidelity moments after the black child was born to them.
The jilted husband took his case to the court of public opinion that is the internet, where besides accusing his wife of indulging in an affair, he spread the accusation by calling both sides of the family and stating that he wanted a divorce.
The poor wife, however, recounting the ordeal, said, “His family and a lot of our friends all called to say how upset they were at me and called me really nasty names.” Nevertheless, when the angry husband agreed to a paternity test, the DNA test revealed that he was, after all, the father of the baby. The DNA also showed that the man had 30 percent African ancestry despite being white.
As complicated as such mysteries involving children can be, it’s quite prudent not to jump to conclusions and risk crossing lines that, once crossed, cannot be uncrossed. At such times, it’s better to be like the supportive Ben Ihegberos’ of the world and not like the Australian man who accused his wife after walking out on her and the baby whose DNA proved to be his.