Sickle Cell Disorder is one of the most common chronic yet treatable genetic disorders in Nigeria and several other parts of the world. Millions of those who encounter this disease often have tales of woe and lamentation to tell. Living with this disorder is the only life that Alhaja Ashiata Aduke Onikoyi-Laguda has ever known since she was born on the 1st of November, 1925.
Widely acknowledged as the oldest person with Sickle Cell Disease in the world, Madam Onikoyi-Laguda has had a fulfilled life regardless of the chronic disorder.
With antecedents in the famous Onikoyi family of Isale Eko, in the heart of Lagos, Mama Ashiata (the righteous one) is a celebrity of international repute. Unarguably one of the oldest persons living with Sickle Cell Disorder, her home is a Mecca of sorts, people coming from all over the world to pay obeisance. As she turns 92 in a few days, the matriarch is as full of life as ever even as she remains a relentless fighter against the enervating illness.
A recent encounter with the nonagenarian was a pleasant surprise. Mama Onikoyi-Laguda, as she is fondly called, was having a late morning nap when Saturday Vanguard called at her residence, a story building in the heart of Ilasamaja, a Mushin suburb on Lagos Mainland. She sat up in the double bed that was placed at one end of the spacious living room of the 3-bedroom apartment on the 1st floor of the modestly adorned building. Unhurried, she spoke: “You are welcome to my home.” Her voice was soft but firm and steady.
A bit wrinkled but not for the worse, Mama Onikoyi-Laguda exuded an aura of resoluteness, courage and determination. “Sit by my side,” she gestured, smiling to reveal a complete set of healthy dentures. Scattered on the bed are various items including a rechargeable fluorescent lamp, clothes, a walking stick and different volumes of the Holy Koran and the Holy Bible. In the midst of the exchange of pleasantries, a young man in dreadlocks entered the room bearing a tray with a steaming hot plate of rice and spaghetti. He announces it’s lunch time and Mama requests to be excused to take her lunch.
She introduced the young man as Bolaji Alakija, one of her grandsons. “Bolaji takes care of me. He cooks, washes and cares for me. “ After eating up half of the contents of the plate, Mama requested for an orange-flavoured bottle of soft drink. “I eat and drink whatever I want. I’m allowed to indulge as long as it is edible,” she announced to her guests. Continue from SOURCE