There is no scientific proof that skin color can affect intelligence. However, people living with albinism continue to suffer discrimination. They continue to endure sub-human treatment in some parts of Africa. Thankfully, there is increasing awareness of the condition. This time, it is Mr and Mrs Albinism Beauty Pageant and Talent Show. The event will hold in September 7, 2019, in Lilongwe. The venue of the event will be the Bingu International Convention Center (BICC). Hopefully, the growing awareness of albinism will fast-track their integration into the society.
The organizer of the event is the Association of Persons with Albinism (APAM). According to Mike Kanyenda, the head of programs and events organizing committee focal person, the theme of the Mr and Mrs albinism beauty pageant will be “We are just like you”. Furthermore, Kanyenda said the event was in response to the recent attacks of Persons with Albinism (PWA) in Malawi. Such attacks submerge the victims in trauma.
“PWAs remain the target of serious human rights violations that include merciless killings, tomb exhumations, abductions, stigma, and discrimination in the country and beyond. The contest is not just a pageant but a way to raise awareness and inclusion of people with albinism who are profoundly misunderstood in our communities. The condition is associated with myths and superstition deeply entrenched in cultural beliefs which lead to marginalization and socioeconomic exclusion of PWA.”
Mr and Mrs albinism beauty pageant and reward
The Mr and Mrs albinism beauty pageant and talent show will help PWA showcase their hidden talent. Due to their sight limitations and sensitive skin, PWA are often considered weak. However, beneath those weakness lies a great strength and a bundle of talent. Highlighting some of the gains of the Mr and Mrs albinism beauty pageant, Kanyenda said,
“Persons with albinism will showcase their hidden talents and gain personal recognition and development, self-confidence, interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills, stress management skills, personal grooming skills, and exposure.”
The first edition of Mr and Mrs albinism East Africa was in 2018, in Nairobi. There were 30 contestants in that edition. The contestants were from different countries including Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. Kanyenda said they are studying similar past events so they can replicate their success.
“We have studied and we continue to study how similar events have been conducted. Zimbabwe, Kenya, Guinea, and other countries have successfully done it. We have cast our net as wide as possible targeting 40 contestants for both the pageant and talent show. The organizing committee is still thinking through the different categories. Judges are being engaged as their input need to be solicited.”
The winner of the Mr and Mrs albinism will go home with K2 million. However, there will be other prizes like phones and laptops.
Amplifying the voice of PWAs
Kanyenda noted that the Mr and Mrs albinism event will help amplify the voice of PWAs. This is necessary for the promotion of their rights. The Mr and Mrs albinism has become an annual event bringing in the government, international organizations as well as the corporate world. Kanyenda said,
“One way of the partnership will be that the winners will be brand ambassadors for such organizations.”
Records show that there are 146 attacks on persons with albinism in Malawi so far. In the opinion of Grace Massa, the APAM board of trustee member, promotion of PWAs as role models will help to fast-track their integration. She said,
“The event is there for us to showcase our skin-deep beauty and talent in us.”
Also lending a voice to the plight of PWA was Simon Munde, the head of programs, Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA). Munde said,
“The myths surrounding PWAs have disturbed their lives. We have to be exhaustive as possible in ensuring that rights of PWAs are safeguarded.”
There is a popular saying that people are afraid of what they don’t understand. Consequently, the stereotype meted to PWAs is often as a result of this. Hopefully, the growth in enlightenment will help solve this problem.