Odinachi Chiji-Okoye’s mother Sally died in 2005, when she was just 12 years old.
But as Odinachi, who lives in Abuja, Nigeria, has grown up over the past 13 years, it’s become increasingly clear just how similar the young woman looks to her late mother.
To honour Sally on what would have been her birthday, Odinachi, 25, decided to recreate some of the final pictures taken of her mother.
After sharing them on Twitter, the photos swiftly went viral, with many people expressing their disbelief that the mother and daughter could look so similar.
Sally died from brain cancer in March 2005 as she wasn’t able to leave the country for treatment. “She had recurrent headaches and little did we know what caused the headaches most of the time,” Odinachi explains to INSIDER.
Tragically, Odinachi and her three brothers also lost their father 10 years later to pancreatic cancer. “It’s been three years and seven months since he passed,” she explains. “He couldn’t make it out of the country for treatment either, due to the fact that the tumor had spread and he had just six months to live.”
As Sally’s only daughter, the two had a strong bond.
“When my mom passed, I felt alone because I am the only female child she had, we were close,” Odinachi says. “I looked in the mirror most of the time and I saw her. Initially I wasn’t so happy I looked exactly like her, because it constantly reminded me of my best friend (my mom), I would always cry and wish the reverse was the case.
“It took me a while to pick up myself and take pride in the striking resemblance. I began to love it, I would always look in the mirror and smile, happy that I am her doppelgänger and happy that I am growing to be like her everyday.”
So to mark her birthday, October 27, Odinachi came up with the idea of recreating her final photos. Odinachi, a pharmacist and YouTuber, nearly didn’t go through with it, though.
“The night before, I almost gave up, I had cold feet,” she says. “I didn’t want the world to pity me, I didn’t want a pity party. But then again, on my mom’s birthday I decided I was doing it in her honor, not minding what the world would say and I would stay strong despite it all.
“Posting the pictures made me realize it’s not just about falling, it’s about how you pick yourself up. I realized I am stronger than I thought I was, and the world didn’t pity me, the world encouraged me. I am grateful for all the words of encouragement I got from people. I really am.”