In 2010 when white baby Nmachi Ihegboro with blonde hair and blue eyes was born to a Black couple in Britain with no known white ancestry, medical experts were amazed, and so were her parents, who are originally from Nigeria. “What the flip?” “Is she mine?” the father of the child, Ben Ihegboro, jokingly asked.
Doctors at Queen Mary Hospital in Sidcup said that Nmachi is not an albino, though subsequent reports said they did not rule that out. Baby Nmachi’s parents had two Black children at the time, and so they were fascinated as they just “sat and stared” at their white newborn, they told The Sun in an interview.
“She is beautiful, a miracle baby,” Angela Ihegboro said of her daughter while the dad, who had jokingly asked if the child was really his, said: “Of course she is mine. My wife is true to me. Even if she hadn’t been, the baby wouldn’t have looked like that!”
In recent years, there have been cases of different coloured twins born to parents with mixed-race ancestry. However, Ben and Angela do not have such origins that medical experts could have used to explain their situation.
So three theories were offered: Nnamchi is the result of a gene mutation unique to her, and if that is the case, she would pass the gene on to her children if she has any in the future, and they would also likely be white. The second is that she is the product of dormant white genes which entered both of her parents’ families long ago, and they never surfaced until now. And then the third — albinism.
Professor Ian Jackson of the Human Genetics Unit at the Medical Research Council explained that both parents could be carrying a copy of the albino gene that has not surfaced in any known family member for years.
“This is perhaps one of the most common recessive disorders in Nigeria, and we have to remember that it comes in different forms,” Jackson told BBC. “In Type 2 we would see creamy skin and yellow hair or light brown, which in some cases would darken with age.”
Essentially, Nnamchi’s skin could darken over time, experts believed. “She doesn’t look like an albino child anyway. Not like the ones I have seen back in Nigeria or in books. She just looks like a healthy white baby,” Ben later said in the interview with The Sun.
“My mum is a black Nigerian although she has a bit fairer skin than mine. But we don’t know of any white ancestry.
“We wondered if it was a genetic twist. But even then, what is with the long curly blonde hair?