Photo Credit: Eric Lafforgue
Abushe: The Ethiopian Boy Bullied For His Beautiful Blue Eyes
A young Ethiopian boy named Abushe has captured the attention of photographers and people from all over the world because of his rare blue eyes. He was even named among the 88 people with the most beautiful eyes in the world, a title the young boy still can’t wrap his mind around. However, having the world’s most beautiful eyes hasn’t always been easy for him.
One photographer from Cape Town, South Africa who saw Abushe for the first time described his encounter, “he had blue eyes like [sic] I’ve never seen before in my life! They were like two tiny planets, with the friendliest face to go with them.”
Abushe is from Jinka, located in southern Ethiopia. He was born with a condition known as Waardenburg syndrome, which is a melanin gene mutation affecting the pigment in the development of eye color. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, this condition is very rare and affects an estimated 1 in 40,000 people.
When Abushe was born, his parents were reportedly shocked by his eyes and thought he was blind, but his parents could not afford to get him diagnosed or treated. His parents later saw his uniqueness and rare condition as “a gift from God.”
When French photographer Eric Lafforgue met Abushe in 2016, he lived with his grandparents in a small hut made out of hatch and wood. Unfortunately, a fire broke out, but Abushe and his grandmother escaped without any major injuries. The fire destroyed all of their possessions except one thing that dear to Abushe: a red soccer ball. His dream is to play professional soccer someday.
Abushe’s favorite team is Barcelona, and he’s a big fan of forward Lionel Messi.
“Messi is just like me. He is not like the others,” Abushe told Lafforgue.
Content creator and photographer Cle Hunnigan of Alive Like the Wind, recently traveled to Ethiopia where he was able to sit down with Abushe, now 14 years old.
““When I was born, they thought I was blind,” Abushe told Cle. “When they realized I could see, some people called me cursed and a lot of the children in my village refused to play with me. They used to warn me “you need to fix your eyes” I left home and lived on the streets and got into a lot of fights. That’s how I got this scar here.” He pointed to the arch carved next to his right eye.”
According to Hunnigan, Abushe’s traditional name is Melekamu which means ‘the good.’