Albino people are too white to be African and too white to be a human being.
Albinism is an inherited genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair and/or eyes. Note: The term Person with Albinism (PWA) is the correct term to use and not albino for people living with the condition. Historically albino is a derogatory term putting their condition before the person. PWA puts the person before their condition.
What is Albinism
|African albino people are facing the daily horror of a rapidly growing industry in the sale of albino body parts|
The mutations in at least 12 different genes have been identified in different types of albinism in humans. Most people with albinism have pale skin, eye conditions, and are sensitive to the sun; this occurs in about 1 in 20,000 and 1 in 50,000 people worldwide depending on the type of albinism with Africa having the highest rate of both types of albinism.
There are two types of albinism; Oculocutaneous Albinism (OCA) affecting 1 in 20,000 worldwide involves the eyes, hair, and skin, whereas in Ocular Albinism (OA) affecting 1 in 50,000 worldwide visual involvement is accompanied by only slightly reduced pigmentation of skin and hair. There are multiple forms of oculocutaneous albinism.
Skin can be protected and eye conditions can be treated, however, albinos have an increased risk of skin cancer. Melanin plays a major protective role against ultraviolet light and persons with albinism are subject to severe sunburn and eventual development of skin cancers induced by long-term solar irradiation, particularly in parts of the world with high rates of sun exposure.
People with Albinism most often have white or light skin and hair, and eye color varying from dull gray-blue to brown. In one kind of albinism, (OA), only eye color is affected. The pink eyes often associated with albinism are due to the reflection from blood vessels behind the retina. With pigment lacking in the iris of the eyes, the reflection seen is similar to red-eye in a flash photograph.
Encouraging African children living with Albinism
|Ukerewe Island is home to a large community of people with albinism|
Amnesty International states on their website, “Edward Snowden is a hero, not a traitor, he stood up for our rights, prompting a global debate on mass surveillance that changed the world – yet he faces decades in prison for it.”
Whether you believe Edward Snowden is a whistleblower or a traitor, he wrote a heartfelt letter to Annie Alfred, a 10-year-old child living with albinism in Malawi Africa who is also on Amnesty International’s list of 12 cases of “Write for Rights”.
Throughout Africa, albinism is much more widespread than the rest of the world. Albinism is genetically inherited resulting in a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin, and eyes. Persons with albinism (PWA) are extremely sensitive to sun exposure and bright light, and some are visually impaired.
PWA’s like Malawi’s Annie Alfred is like any other child in Africa except people think she’s unhuman calling her names like ghost or money. Annie is at risk of being hunted and killed by people who think their body parts will make them lots of money.
In Tanzania, PWA’s are killed and dismembered due to a widespread belief that charms made from their body parts bring good fortune and prosperity. There is a booming black market demand for the body parts of people with albinism selling for around US$600. On 1-1-15, Police in Tanzania arrested four people over the kidnapping of a PWA girl from her home in the Mwanza region of Tanzania; her father is accused of orchestrating the offense.
In Africa PWA’s are facing the daily horror of a rapidly growing industry in the sale of albino body parts where more than 70 PWA’s have been killed since 2000. In Annie’s country of Malawi, 2015 alone, there were 45 reports of actual or attempted murder and abduction. In Malawi 2016, the bloodiest month was April this year, when Amnesty says four people were murdered, including an infant.
“It is shameful that people are being persecuted for being different” - Snowden to Annie.
Snowden, who tells Annie “Your differences are not weaknesses, they are strengths.” “Never stop defending the right to be different, no matter how difficult the times. Each of us is a treasure of the earth, and perhaps you most of all.”
The letter was published online by the human rights advocacy group, Amnesty International. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor charged with espionage after leaking documents revealing US surveillance programs, wrote Annie’s letter as part of a day of action on December 10, 2016 “Write for Rights”. Snowden has lived in exile in Russia since 2013.
“Embrace the thing that separates you from the crowd of the ordinary, and never stop defending the right to be different, no matter how difficult the times. Each of us is a treasure of the earth, and perhaps you most of all.” Snowden wrote in his letter to Annie.
Tanzania has one of the largest populations of people with Albinism in the world with an estimated 170,000. In the heart of Lake Victoria, Ukerewe Island is home to a large community of people with albinism.
In Tanzania, persons with albinism are also facing the daily horror of a rapidly growing industry in the sale of albino body parts. Buhangija Albinism School, 116 children are separated from their families and placed for their own protection due to simply being born with albinism.
Living Day-to-Day With Albinism
|Abandoned baby with albinism in Tanzania being cared for by a kind stranger|
According to NOAH, the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation “The first aspect of albinism which most people notice is the person’s lack of skin color leading to being called names like whitey, snow-white, casper, four eyes, blind eyes, grandma, and grandpa.
People with albinism are commonly asked why their heads shake, did they pour bleach all over themselves, and other embarrassing questions. As children, they are excluded from games because they weren’t good enough. As adults, they are not considered marriageable because they are not real human beings.
In Africa especially where most people are heavily melanated with darker skin tones, the coloring of the baby with albinism is a dramatic contrast to the family and community. Color is a highly charged characteristic in all cultures to the point where strangers will often make unwanted and unkind comments about the appearance of a child.
Beyond color, a child’s eyes may be moving rapidly and not focusing together. The child may have to squint, tilt his or her head, and hold things close in order to see. Children with albinism often use glasses and optical aids to enhance their vision. Therefore, the child with albinism often feels isolated not only in physical appearance but also in the conduct of everyday life.
The evil albino in the media, including literature and film, have contributed to stereotypes of albinism. The character with albinism is often portrayed as villainous, deviant, supernatural or sadistic. NOAH stated that there were sixty-eight films from 1960 to 2006 featuring evil albino characters with The Da Vinci Code and The Matrix Reloaded being two classic examples.
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