Rokibat Adefabi, who seems to have been humbled by life and cast out on her own by a struggle that is robbing her of the best years of her youth, seeks solace every day inside an old dilapidated “family home,” watching helplessly as her hopes fade away like sand in the wind.
The 20-year-lofty old’s ambition is to follow in her late father’s footsteps and pursue a career in law, or to excel in any of a variety of other admirable fields. However, reality, like a swinging whip in the hand of fate, intervened when she was in Primary 3, shattering her life. It all started in 2008 in Lagos, Nigeria, where Rokibat was living with her father, a lawyer.
As she recounted, her ailment started with what looked like a boil inside her nostrils when she was in boarding school.
Her father found the odd bulge and began treating it with earwax, as is customary in Africa, only for the boil to grow larger and the pain to become intolerable. She was taken to the hospital for treatment in the end. When the boil refused to respond to earwax care and started to swell, Rokibat and her father pursued medical treatment, which took them to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). A doctor at LASUTH, who also happened to be a former secondary school student of Rokeebat’s father, recommended that the girl be moved to the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan.
They were given a referral letter in 2019, signposting the beginning of miserable sequences in the life of an innocent young girl. Rokibat told Legit.ng correspondent:
“At UCH, I was referred to the ANT clinic where we conducted several tests for a year.
“Later, my two consultants (Dr Adeosun and Ogunkeyede) said it was a fungi infection. I was admitted for four years for treatment.
“The mystery behind is that if they give me treatment today, I will feel relieved but the next day the pain will come back again. Later they said I should go home and be reporting occasionally.”
Losing her dad who was the only hope
In 2016, Rokibat was referred to the MPO (a skin clinic) in the same UCH, Ibadan. It was there a cream was recommended for her when the infection was eating up her face and she could not move out again to play with her peers. Her dad had visited two radio stations to seek a public donation from well-meaning Nigerians. According to Rokibat, N700,000 was raised and the donation was used to do the first stage surgery on her festering face. Later, due to financial constraints, she embraced the orthodox alternative. Months after the face showed a sign of getting dried up and comfort beaming back to Rokibat’s face, life struck— she lost her dad.
Before his death on January 16, 2018, Barrister Adefabi was a lawyer at a Lagos law firm. Rokibat’s strange illness, however, forced her father to sell his car after he had exhausted his savings trying to treat his daughter. Sad to say that he also resigned.
“He was rushed to UCH Ibadan. But after we could not gather the money needed to treat his kidney problem, we were told to go back home.
“Three days later, my father died. Since then I have been leaving in Iseyin with my grandma.”
Facing stigma and rejection almost led me to suicide
Since the infection started to spread over Rokibat’s face, life has been miserable for the 20-year-old Iseyin-born. Her face always gets people scared and she has been accused of witchcraft. Apart from public ridicule which she is already used to, at a workplace where she is learning tailoring, her co-apprentices do not move closer to her. And she was once told not to come to work again because her face “looks terrifying and ugly.”
Impregnated by irresponsible “husband”
Rokibat told Legit.ng that when she relocated to Iseyin, Oyo state after the death of her father, things became difficult and she had to stay with her old grandmother in their “family house.” It was there she met a young man who is a motorbike mechanic. It was all love initially despite her illness. But immediately she got pregnant, the man took to his heels.
When I got pregnant, he denied it. It was when I delivered a baby boy that his family members came and gave the boy a name. The boy is five months old living with me.”
I will need N2m for surgery and medication
Speaking further with Legit.ng, Rokibat, who showed high intelligence and brilliance, said she will need up to N2million to do her second correctional plastic surgery at the UCH, Ibadan.
The mother of one pleaded:
“I cannot breathe. I only breathe through my mouth most times. I need people to help.”
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