“People with albinism are like any other, and for sure we are also beautiful”, the words of Isaac Mwaura, Kenya’s first albino legislator and organiser of the upcoming pageant consisting of albinism models and is set to take off in Kenya for the first time.
The pageant is also a way of helping people with albinism boost their self confidence and esteem by promoting social inclusion and fighting against the discrimination, killings and stigma they are frequently faced with.
The first Mr and Miss Albinism East Africa was held on November, 30 in Kenya, Nairobi and saw pageants from other East African countries such as Tanzania and Uganda form part of this rare and exciting competition.
Around 1 in 20,000 people world-wide have albinism, a genetic disorder which results in significant reduction or absence of pigmentation in the skin, eyes and hair.
However in African countries specifically Tanzania has people living with albinism get killed as they resemble a curse according to locals and their body parts sold to traditional healers to make muti that is alleged to bring good luck and fortune.
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition which occurs worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender. It most commonly results in the lack of melanin pigment in the hair, skin and eyes (oculocutaneous albinism), causing vulnerability to sun exposure.This can lead to skin cancer and severe visual impairment. Both parents must carry the gene for it to be passed on to their children, even if they do not themselves have manifestations of the condition.
The competition’s main aim is to fight against such social stigmas and for people living with albinism to accepted and seen like any other human being being who play critical roles in the livelihood of our communities.
This East African pageant consists of the young and the old including both male and female models who are not afraid to be themselves in a society that continually derogates their being and creating phenomenons that lead to brutality against people with albinism.
By Ziyanda Yono