I was raised on an island where albinism isn’t uncommon so I love when organisations put an effort in celebrating the uniqueness of Albinos dispelling some of the sometimes deadly stigmas associated with these beautiful people.
Last month Nairobi Kenya hosted the world’s first Albino beauty pageant with 10 female contestants and 10 male contestants.
The first event of its kind attracted over 1,000 spectators to watch contestants from all over the country compete for the title of Mister and Miss Albinism. Albinism is a genetic disorder affecting over 15,000 Sub-Saharan Africans which leaves their hair, skin, and eyes without pigment.
“For so long albinos have been treated as half-humans because they [are] different. In turn this has affected our self-esteem and the ability to utilize and explore our skills and talents,”Loyce Lihanda, Miss Albinism Kenya, said. “We come from a mentality that we cannot achieve what normal people can because we are different. Yet time has proven that we can excel.”
The contestants used the occasion to petition the government to better recognise and respect their condition. Some dressed up as army officers, waiters and police officers to highlight that albinos belong in every part of society.
“A time is coming when we will have people with albinism serving in the army and police force. We already have some in the National Youth Service, and this is a milestone in achieving inclusion despite the difference in skin colour,” he said.
“We have come to say that people with disability are beautiful people. We can have the names ‘beautiful’, ‘handsome’ and ‘albinism’ in one society.”
The Albinism Society of Kenya chair, Alex Munyere, said more needed to be done to dispel myths about the condition. He said intimidation and harassment had serious repercussions in the lives of many albinos, leading to trauma and, in extreme cases, suicide.
“People with albinism suffer a lot of stigma and grow up without parents,” Munyere said. “If we can appreciate them more, we can break the cycle of low self-esteem and help them achieve their dreams.”
This is only the beginning!