Living with albinism in Africa remains one of the greatest challenges. Albinos continue to suffer from a heightened rate of stigmatization, ritual murders and sexual abuse. A disturbing report by Amnesty International summarizes the pain and torture that most female albinos across the African continent continue to experience.
“Women and children with albinism are particularly vulnerable to abductions and killings by criminal gangs, who see them as easier targets. Women also face the danger of rape and sexual abuse as a result of beliefs that having sex with a person with albinism will cure HIV/AIDS,” the report reveals.
Despite the wave of torture and stigma, some African albinos have succeeded in living up their dreams to the fullest, proving to the world that a skin pigmentation defect can never be an obstruction to one’s self-actualization! Here are five such African personalities.
Isaac Mwaura of Kenya
The popular politician remains the first-ever Kenyan member of parliament living with albinism. Raised a by single mother, Mwaura’s natural make-up never distracted him from achieving his dream of being a politician even after his father disowned him for being an albino. The astute politician served as a senior adviser to Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on matters of public policy relating to special interest groups such as disabled persons, minorities and marginalized groups. Mwaura is the co-founder of the Albinism Society of Kenya.
Salif Keita of Mali
Talk of well-established Afro-pop singers or songwriters across the world and Salif’s name surely comes to mind. But all was not as rosy as it is today for the Malian albino. In fact, he was banished from his home and village at a very young age as his albinism was considered bad luck in the Malian culture. Driven by an urge to prove that living with albinism was not the end of the world, the singer upon winning the Best World Music 2010 at the Victoires de la musique for his album “La Différence” dedicated his award to the global albino community.
Thando Hopa of South Africa
Being one of the most well-known lawyers and fashion models in South Africa, brave Thando took it upon herself to fight head-on the prejudice and social injustice against persons living with albinism in South Africa.
“I now realize that I have a platform to inspire young girls, and as someone who never had a role model who looked like me when I was growing up, I now hope to be able to show that albinism can be beautiful and is just another kind of normal,” she stated.
Today, Thando is hailed as the very first albino model in South Africa with the country’s fashion industry describing her as “fashion’s new color.”
Salum Khalfani Bar’wani of Tanzania
Just like Isaac from Kenya, Salum is also the first-ever albino member of parliament in the political history of Tanzania. The lawmaker has since expressed his resolve to address issues related to the discrimination against albinos and other minorities in Tanzania.
“I am going to fight for their [albino] rights first and foremost,” Bar’wani said. “But besides that, I shall also fight for the rights of other people with disabilities – like those with impaired vision and hearing,” he revealed to CNN.
As an attorney and astute sports analyst, Moses has been on the front line advocating against the discrimination albinos in Ghana face. He is the best point of call whenever an analysis of Ghana’s local league or the English premier league is needed. Living in a West African country where the stigma against persons living with albinism remains suffocating, Moses has succeeded in proving to the world that the color of one’s skin has nothing to do with his or her mental or physical capabilities.