Interview

A Day With The Oldest Woman Living With Sickle Cell Disease – Mama Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda

   

Just as we stepped into her sitting room, she hurriedly tried to sit upright on the couch she was lying on, it was obvious she had been waiting for us and was glad to see us.

She was helped to sit by the one of us, and as she sat, she smiled, welcoming us into her home.

I didn’t believe I was standing face-to-face with Mama Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda, the woman living with sickle cell disease, who will be 92 in November.

She was looking so healthy and beautiful. Her pictures that I had come across did not do much justice to how healthy and beautiful she looks.

I had heard about her but never thought I would meet her one day until I interviewed Bukola Bolarinwa, who is a Blood Donation & Sickle Cell Awareness Advocate, and she told me they were going to visit Mama.  I asked if I could come along. She said yes!

And that was how my journey to meeting the world’s oldest woman living with sickle cell disease began.

She remains an inspiration to people living with sickle cell disease and a hope that they also can live beyond their crisis and the limitations that come with it.

“From today, you’re no more sickle cell. I’m not a sickle celler o; how can a 92-year old be a sickle celler?” she asked and then added a word of prayer, “And you’re all going to be 100 years and carry your children. I’m not going anywhere yet. I’m here to encourage you.”

She had a genuine smile plastered across her face as she jiggled her head to a Korede Bello song playing on the TV, and I couldn’t help myself… I asked her why she looked and talked so positively.

Looking almost shocked at my question, she said, “Life is what you make it. Why won’t I make it lively? It is better you make it happy no matter the circumstances, even when I used to have serious crisis, let alone now. There’s nothing like sickle cell again. Your mind tells you what you are. Until I fell down, I would walk from here to Mushin, Oshodi and everywhere. It was amala I finished eating that day. I thank God that it didn’t go to my brain. I had a fall and I got up.”

I was not only stunned at her ‘positivity’, her smile all through our visit also left my mouth agape.

The journalist in me would not stop probing. There must have been a time she wanted to give up, I thought.

But mama strongly retorted, “I never gave up. Onikoyi, we are warriors. We are strong. I never gave up, even when the crisis used to be bitter. Sometimes, I had my baby on the bed when I had a crisis. It was only once when I was abroad that I thought I was going to die.”

Recounting the experience, mama said she just didn’t know how she came about that thought.

“When I had my daughter, Mrs. Adeniji, I didn’t know when I was expecting her. I began to have a feeling that I was going to die.”

“On the day I gave birth to her, I was bleeding. I told the doctors I was going to die but the doctors said, ‘You are not going anywhere; you are not dying.’ All the doctors in that hospital that day were attending to me, and I joined them for lunch and they said, ‘Don’t you see?’ All my children came by natural birth.”

Mama also recounted another experience where she was told not to go to England because of the cold, which is one of the things sickle cell patients avoid because of their condition.

“When I was going to England, people told my mum that the cold there was too much but I told my mum that the God in Nigeria is the God in England. The God that lives in Nigeria is also living in England,” mama said.

She explained that she traveled to England and didn’t experience any crisis until she returned back to Nigeria.

“You are a strong woman,” I said to mama.

“I think I’m a strong believer.” Mama responded quickly. “I pray a lot and I fast a lot until now that I’m old. In fact, I used to fast 90 days in a year. I performed hajj 13 times.”

Just after she said that, she asked us to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

“But you are a Muslim,” I stated, amazed.

“I was brought up by a Christian but I remained Muslim all my life,” mama said. “I don’t know what to say, but anytime you remember me, just say ‘Amen!’” mama told us.

“Does it explain the big bible lying on her center table?” I thought. I didn’t ask her as she had already established herself as a strong believer who doesn’t joke with God.

Because she is a strong believer in God doesn’t mean she has not had her fair share of life’s challenges as she lost her only son at a young age.

However, mama is consoled by her grandson, the one her late son had before his death. Mama’s love for her grandson, Bolaji, was so evident that she kept talking about him.

“I lost my only son. Have you seen Bolaji? Bolaji’s father was my only son. Bolaji is the only son he left for me. So, I hope Bolaji will marry quickly.”

Coincidentally, Bolaji, who is a recording artiste and an entrepreneur, came in. Just as mama laid eyes on him, her face shone and her eyes lit up and she beckoned on him to sit on the couch with her.

“I have many grandchildren but I’m just in love with Bolaji. I once ran away with him to England, because I didn’t want anybody to carry my baby,” recalling how she lied at the embassy that Bolaji’s mother eloped, leaving Bolaji for her.

“I married Bolaji’s granddad because of my crisis. I was married to a doctor, although he was a chest doctor. He was a lovely man and a great lover. He took good care of me. I didn’t even ask what his genotype was when I married him and none of my children is SS. I named Bolaji after him.”

After mama lost her first husband, she later remarried.

“He was a nice man and he drew all my children to him. I didn’t have any child for my second husband because I always miscarried,” she said.

You could tell mama also loved her second husband, Alhaji Laguda, so much as she recalled his death and the memories they shared.

However, mama wasn’t going to let that dampen her spirit as she quickly chipped in memories from her childhood.

“I am the only sickle cell child in my family. When I was younger and living with a guardian, I ground pepper with my knees on the ground before going to school,” referring to the strength she had despite her health status.

“If my father was alive, I wouldn’t have gone to school because he would have kept me at home, pampering me. My father would make ‘eba’ for me with sugar,” mama recalled.

Mama had some encouraging words for some of us who are living with the sickle cell disease.

“Sickle cell is not a death sentence,” she said. “When I had pains in my legs, I couldn’t walk. When I had pains in my hands, I couldn’t even feed myself,” she added, assuring them that the phase shall pass.

“Before now, I couldn’t sleep with the fan on. Now, I can even have the AC on,” she said, pointing to a fan standing close to where she sat.

“I don’t sleep under mosquito net again. Mosquitoes don’t come near me; they know I’m a  forbidden fruit.”

She also advised them to avoid what may trigger crisis.

“You are what your mind says you are. Live well. Know your dos and don’ts. Don’t drink cold water.”

We all embraced mama one after the other as we all found hope and strength in her words.

We did not leave mama’s house without another session of prayers.

This time, in the Muslim way.

 

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59 Comments

59 Comments

  1. Uche Chikodi

    Uche Chikodi

    August 7, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I tape into your grace on the behalf of all young sickle cell anaemia people that they will live up and more than your age.

  2. Fidelia Akeru

    Fidelia Akeru

    August 7, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Great.

  3. Esther Chioma

    Esther Chioma

    August 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    I claim this kind of grace upon your life

  4. Juliet Oghenekevwe

    Juliet Oghenekevwe

    August 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Abe Shola Rebecca u r sighted

  5. Olawunmi Amusan Balogun

    Olawunmi Amusan Balogun

    August 7, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Amazing

  6. Olasinde Folasade

    Olasinde Folasade

    August 7, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Grace of God.

  7. Amitty Amarachi

    Amitty Amarachi

    August 7, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Gracious God

  8. Amarachi Ighoruemu

    Amarachi Ighoruemu

    August 7, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I tapeinto your grace on behalf of my sister.

  9. Chizoba Gift Josiah

    Chizoba Gift Josiah

    August 7, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Oluwa its involved

  10. Folukemi Olugbemi Aliu

    Folukemi Olugbemi Aliu

    August 7, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    You are a great testimony

  11. Chinyere Nwosu Oddie Ndeche

    Chinyere Nwosu Oddie Ndeche

    August 7, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    God is Awesome. Its all His grace

  12. Esther Sherry

    Esther Sherry

    August 7, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    On your behalf I give biggest TWALE to BABA GOD

  13. Folashade Abosede

    Folashade Abosede

    August 7, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Dat is d work of doctor jesus. .Wot a mighty God u serve

  14. Mary Urum

    Mary Urum

    August 7, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    To God be all the glory

  15. Kelechi Akuneziri Okafor

    Kelechi Akuneziri Okafor

    August 7, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Parise be 2 God Almightly

  16. Kelechi Akuneziri Okafor

    Kelechi Akuneziri Okafor

    August 7, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    I tap into dat grace

  17. Omonomose Obehi

    Omonomose Obehi

    August 7, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Hello,gudevenin…just in case u nid a cake for any special event,such as Birthdays,Weddings,Anniversaries, Engagement,etc…..we @ Cakes World are readily available @ur service ..u can contact us on here via inbox or numba 08161708685..its affordable n wowing

  18. Nwaubani Sylvia Ifeyinwa Igwe

    Nwaubani Sylvia Ifeyinwa Igwe

    August 7, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    I know Alhaja Laguda very well,she’s my landlady,I couldn’t believe it the first day she said she’s an SS coz shes so healthy n agile, I believe there’s hope for those living with sickle cell .

  19. Uche Okoye O

    Uche Okoye O

    August 7, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Thank God for you.

  20. Jemilat Funmilayo Sulyman

    Jemilat Funmilayo Sulyman

    August 8, 2017 at 4:44 am

    Quite interesting. God bless you and Mau you live longer to carry Bolaji’s babies.AMIN.

  21. Princess Isabella Osagie-erese

    Princess Isabella Osagie-erese

    August 8, 2017 at 7:07 am

    I tape into your grace & claim this kind of grace upon your life for my grand daughter & son. IJN. Amen

  22. Chinecherem Iheukwumere Chinecher

    Chinecherem Iheukwumere Chinecher

    August 8, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Serious there something called grace ma our grace is really divine may those with same sickness see reason from u to live and achieve their life dreams

  23. Adenike Lanihun Ajagbe

    Adenike Lanihun Ajagbe

    August 8, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Amazing, it’s God almighty grace.

  24. Adija Momoh

    Adija Momoh

    August 8, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Sharon Terry an inspiring story!

  25. Chizy Enebechi

    Chizy Enebechi

    August 8, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Oluwa is involve, thank God for your life

  26. Okeleye Adekemi Olufunke

    Okeleye Adekemi Olufunke

    August 8, 2017 at 8:27 am

    The Lord is her strenght

  27. Tampriye Afiesimama

    Tampriye Afiesimama

    August 8, 2017 at 8:44 am

    True talk mama. I’m an SD patient, I’m 5′ 7″ tall lady in my Fourties with kids. I think sickle cell disease is what you make of it.

    • Temitope Ariyike Ajayi

      Temitope Ariyike Ajayi

      August 8, 2017 at 8:45 am

      Hmmmmm you’re right. I have a friend who is SS, olumide lives a full life. He was 52 last month.

    • Amoo Oluwabusayo Sarah

      Amoo Oluwabusayo Sarah

      August 8, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      I feel God gave you that grace, just lost a friend I never knew was SS, hale, hearty and huge but death came knocking in my own presence last week Friday but we took solace in the fact that he knows God

    • Oluwabunmi Adeyemi

      Oluwabunmi Adeyemi

      August 8, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      Tot it was only SS or SC, whih one is SD? Hearing it for d first time

    • Joy Emmanuel

      Joy Emmanuel

      August 9, 2017 at 6:51 am

      Adeyemi which one is SC?pls

    • Oluwabunmi Adeyemi

      Oluwabunmi Adeyemi

      August 9, 2017 at 11:17 am

      same thing as heamoglobin SS just dat its not as cronic. Ppl living wit heamoglobin SC suffer less crisis, according to wat some researchers say tho I beg to differ. I’ve seen SS hardly ever falling sick

  28. Abosede Olajumoke

    Abosede Olajumoke

    August 8, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Wonderful God

  29. Uchenna Ugochukwu

    Uchenna Ugochukwu

    August 8, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Wow this God for you he is faithful

  30. Titilola Meddy Okedeyi-Alimi

    Titilola Meddy Okedeyi-Alimi

    August 8, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Titilola Meddy Okedeyi-Alimi

  31. Comfort Ehiorigie

    Comfort Ehiorigie

    August 8, 2017 at 10:31 am

    for realllll. oh bless you mama. God bless you

  32. Ezeuchu Valentine

    Ezeuchu Valentine

    August 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

    God please I tap into this grace and blessing to pray for all the sick in the world especially for our dear president please heal him and all sick Nigerians amen

  33. Ayodele Aarode

    Ayodele Aarode

    August 8, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Yes there is hope for them but don’t let us walk into such ordeal I mean to those young ones know your genotype before going into marriage don’t allow love to enter your mind or brain too much .
    Despite the awareness we still have babies that are SS so pathetic I was at the prediatric department in Lasuth some years ago and I met mothers that came with SS babies pls why are we still having SS with all this awareness ? Is it not wickedness why are you making this children to suffer? I have seen some in their crisis you will pity them .
    Let us join hands to have SS free nation

  34. Joan Philip

    Joan Philip

    August 8, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Victoria Nwaogu Chinonyelum-O’diwe

  35. Alvaro Murari

    Alvaro Murari

    August 8, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Just beautiful! ❤

  36. Adeola Banjo Akin-Jay

    Adeola Banjo Akin-Jay

    August 8, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    By HIS grace and mercy; My nephew Olamiposi too will live to a ripe old age. Remain blessed ma

  37. Ife Ola

    Ife Ola

    August 8, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    What a mighty God.he is a miracle worker.thats whom u are .

  38. Oladipo Abiodun

    Oladipo Abiodun

    August 8, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Ayodele Aarode l saw this online….can it be true?…how possible it is?

  39. Charles Okungbowa

    Charles Okungbowa

    August 9, 2017 at 12:34 am

    I tk God for you dear life entirely ….!!!!Amen!!!!

  40. Oluyede Oladele Ife

    Oluyede Oladele Ife

    August 9, 2017 at 6:45 am

    As many, younger ones that are battling with this infinity, JESUS CHRIST,the hope of the hopeless,will have mercy on you all ijn

  41. Ojuola Mary

    Ojuola Mary

    August 9, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Thank God for His faithfulness unto you. May His name continually be praised IJN.

  42. Adeniyi Folakemi Abolarinwa

    Adeniyi Folakemi Abolarinwa

    August 9, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Ur name is testimony

  43. Aduke Salako

    Aduke Salako

    August 9, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Mama as you Live Long my daughter too will Long Amen

  44. Alhaja Iyabo Lawal Bolanta

    Alhaja Iyabo Lawal Bolanta

    August 9, 2017 at 11:34 am

    NICE FAMILY

  45. Olatokunbo Makinde

    Olatokunbo Makinde

    August 9, 2017 at 11:54 am

    grace, grace of God mama. my immediate senior sister was SS but died at 19 after several health crisis

  46. Oladoja Foluke Bamijola

    Oladoja Foluke Bamijola

    August 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Hummm, interesting, I thank God for you mama, and to the sickle cellars i pray that may you also live longer than this mama with sound health IJN. just believe in God nothing is impossible for him to do, love you all.

  47. Olarenwaju Ibitoye

    Olarenwaju Ibitoye

    August 10, 2017 at 6:57 am

    I tAp into ur grace for my son too.. in Jesus’s Name

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