By Ikeddy ISIGUZO, Chairman Editorial Board
FAME has chosen Mrs Precious Donatus Ogbonna.
She has no choice in the matter. How she would handle her incredible birth of seven children in 11 months is another matter entirely. People do not believe her story, nor would the scientific community that ignores whatever it cannot prove.
How could she have delivered seven children within such intervals? Were these different pregnancies? How did she carry out this assignment? What do people who know her think about her abundance of children after waiting for 12 years for the first child?
Bizarre births abound in different parts of the world. A Russian woman is officially credited with the highest recorded number of children born to one mother – 69. Between 1725 and 1765, in 27 pregnancies, she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets, 67 of them survived infancy.
We are not Russians and this is the 21st century. A Brazilian woman reportedly had 10 children in a single pregnancy, decaplets, in 1943. Two other women preceded her with such births. That was in the last century.
The current matter defies logic. Some think it is a gimmick. We should not stop at speculating. The medical experts need to wade in and see what could be learnt from the births that were safely executed outside a hospital, or not one that Mrs. Ogbonna would name until the Almighty directs her.
The website Oddee has stories of strange births, children born in circumstances that still baffle medical science. Jayne Bleackley, according to Oddee, is the record holder for the shortest interval between two children born in separate pregnancies. She gave birth to Joseph Robert on September 3, 1999, and Annie Jessica Joyce on March 30, 2000. The babies were born 208 days apart.
Mrs. Ogbonna will be contending for that record with her deliveries: first baby, August 25 2009, Amarachi (died after five days); second baby, May 6, 2010 (Conqueror, female); third baby, June 3, 2010, (Chizitere, female); fourth baby, August 16, 2010 (Ekpereamaka, male); fifth baby, September 19, 2010, (Fineseed Angel, female); sixth baby, October 19, 2010 (Evidence, female); seventh baby, January 13, 2011, ( Flourish, male), eight baby, April 2, 2011, (Ebenezer, male).
Her story is unique and is worth more attention. Scientists should be interested in these births, there may be a lot for humanity to learn from them. Hers is not a case of multiple births. Medical expertise would be tasked to find an appropriate name for it.
Nigerians are not total strangers to making headlines with births. Udobi and Nkem Chukwu, a US-based couple, had octuplets in Texas in December 1998, seven of the children survived. They added another child in 2002 sand now have eight from two pregnancies. The octuplets were delivered within 12 days. They are doing well and have a website (worldsfirstoctuplets.com). The Chukwus had undergone fertility treatment.
Who says the Ogbonnas cannot follow in the track of the Chukwus and make hay with their fortune?
Before the Chukwus, Lyall Archibald’s 1936 book, The Future of Taboo in These Islands, on page 114 recorded a Nigerian with the sassy name Mum-Zi, a member of Chief Akkiri’s harem on the island of Calabar, Nigeria, as a mother at eight years and four months. She still ranks third as one of the world’s youngest mothers. Her daughter also delivered a child at age eight years and eight months, making Mum-Zi a grandmother at age 17!
Who knows, Mrs. Ogbonna may challenge for another record that Australian Elizabeth Ann Buttle holds. Mrs. Buttle parades the longest interval between the birth of two children. She gave birth to Belinda on May 19,1956 and Joseph on November 20, 1997. The babies were born 41 years, 185 days apart. The mother was 60 years old when her son Joseph was born.
It is obvious we are in the morning of the Ogbonna story. The mother has petulantly thrown back the challenge to those who doubt her, she is ready to subject the children to a DNA test.
What is stopping the doubters from making their point more scientifically? I am excited that Nigeria is set again for the record book, even if I am not sure what record.