Many people don’t think that there are Africans with blue eyes. When people encounter any, they don’t believe it’s real. In fact, I’ve heard people say “there is no way these aren’t contact lens”, and in cases where people can obviously tell that it’s not a contact lens, they conclude that the blue-eyed African is no ordinary human. This doesn’t come as a surprise because blue eyes are globally considered as a rare trait, with only an estimated 8% of the world’s population having them and the majority being Europeans.
However, it is a “YES”, to the question “can black people have blue eyes?” Contrary to the general belief that only Europeans and Asians have blue eyes, there are as a matter of fact African blue eyes with justifications to prove it.
ORIGIN OF AFRICAN BLUE EYES
A new research carried out by Professor Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine of the University of Copenhagen and his team of Danish scientists has found that a genetic mutation which took place between 6,000 to 10,000 years ago is responsible for all the blue eye colored people all over the world.
According to Professor Eiberg “Originally, we all had brown eyes, but a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a “switch,” which literally “turned off” the ability to produce brown eyes.” The P protein which plays an integral role in the production of melanin is coded by the OCA2 gene.
Melanin is the pigment that gives color to our hair, eyes, and skin. The more melanin, the darker our color. The “switch,” in Professor Eibergs description does not entirely stop the gene’s function, it rather mitigates its action by limiting the production of melanin in the iris, which lightens the eyes from brown to blue, a milder dilution would produce green eyes instead of blue.
The result of the switch on OCA2 is very definite, we can be sure of this because if the OCA2 gene had been completely destroyed or turned off, human beings would be without melanin in their hair, eyes or skin color. That would be the condition we know as albinism.
There are obvious variations in the color of the eyes from brown to green and blue, all determined by the amount of melanin in the iris. But blue-eyed individuals only have a small amount of melanin in their eyes relative to others.
WHY IS BLUE EYES RARER IN AFRICA THAN IN EUROPE
All blue-eyed individuals, African or not, have acquired this unique trait from the exact same reason explained above, however, it is very rare to see a black blue-eyed baby because the mutation emanated from Europe and is more commonly seen in Europe. As a matter of fact, the report has it that 80% of the population in Estonia and Finland have blue eyes.
Another probable reason why it is more common in Europe is that it is reported that in ancient Europe there was “sex selection”. This had to do with people choosing partners because of unusual traits that do not necessarily have anything to do with health, traits like eye colors other than the usual brown color and blond hair.
Professor Eiberg and his team assembled 800 men and women across different races in the cause of their research and to this Professor Eiberg say “From this, we can conclude that all blue-eyed individuals are linked to the same ancestor. They have all inherited the same switch at exactly the same spot in their DNA.”
In other words, if you are black with blue eyes, you are in some way distantly related to the European or Caucasian with blue eyes.
It is important to know that the gene mutation which is responsible for lightening brown eyes to blue is in no way negative nor positive as it does not pose a threat to our health in any way. It is as other mutations like hair color, baldness, freckles, dimples or gap teeth.
As Professor Eiberg puts it, “it simply shows that nature is constantly shuffling the human genome, creating a genetic cocktail of human chromosomes and trying out different changes as it does so.”
OTHER CAUSES OF BLUE EYES
Other than genetic mutation, black blue eyes can also be as a result of Waardenburg Syndrome, it is a rare disorder that comes with sensorineural deafness which is associated with pigmentary anomalies and defects of neutral-crest-derived tissues. This deficiency is usually inherited from a single parent who may display similar characteristics.
Some researchers also believe that blue eyes are a result of ancient interbreeding with the Neanderthals, a species of archaic humans that went into extinction about 25,000 years ago.
CAN A PARENT WITH BLUE EYES HAVE KIDS WITH OTHER EYE COLORS?
Yes, a parent with blue eyes can have children with other eye colors, especially if the other parent doesn’t have blue eyes. In fact, blue eye mutation, though existing in a family can be dormant in offsprings for generations, one can’t be exactly sure when a mutation will take place.
ARE THERE TRIBES IN AFRICA WITH BLUE EYES
In conclusion, there is no specific tribe in Africa with blue eyes, however, you will find people across several African countries and among African Americans with blue eyes.
Examples of Famous Black People With Blue Eyes Include
Ronnie Cash, Stephan Belfonte, Chris Williams, Vanessa Williams, Michael Ealy, Amara Santos, Stacey Dash, Denise Vasi, and Shane Mosley.