‘Al­bi­nos are God’s cre­ation’

Lesotho Times - - News -

THE Al­bino Aid Mul­ti­pur­pose As­so­ci­a­tion (AAMA) has been fight­ing for the rights of its mem­bers — and high­light­ing their chal­lenges — since its for­ma­tion three years ago. Al­binism oc­curs when one of sev­eral ge­netic de­fects makes the body un­able to pro­duce or dis­trib­ute melanin — a nat­u­ral sub­stance that gives colour to the hair, skin, and eyes.

The de­fects may be passed down through fam­i­lies and could re­sult in com­pli­ca­tions such as crossed eyes, light-sen­si­tiv­ity, rapid eye-move­ment and vi­sion prob­lems. In this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, AAMA pres­i­dent Mot­latsi Mosaase ( pic­tured) speaks with the Le­sotho Times ( LT) re­porter Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane about the or­gan­i­sa­tion, the chal­lenges al­bi­nos face in their lives and how the as­so­ci­a­tion re­ceived news that one of their own — Dr Kananelo Mos­ito — had been ap­pointed Pres­i­dent of Le­sotho’s Court of Ap­peal.

LT: Could you please give us a back­ground of the Al­bino Aid Mul­ti­pur­pose As­so­ci­a­tion?

Mosaase: The Al­bino Aid Mul­ti­pur­pose As­so­ci­a­tion was es­tab­lished in April 2012 un­der the So­ci­eties Act of 1966. It is a na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion which mainly seeks to help al­bi­nos in their chal­lenges, as we all know that they have spe­cial needs.

For in­stance, they are peo­ple with sen­si­tive skin to sun­light, poor vi­sion and, to a cer­tain ex­tent, you find that oth­ers can­not cope with this con­di­tion at all. So ba­si­cally, the Al­bino Aid Mul­ti­pur­pose As­so­ci­a­tion wants to en­sure Ba­sotho who are al­bi­nos get the nec­es­sary as­sis­tance they might need.

LT: How pop­u­lar is the AAMA in Le­sotho? Are your ac­tiv­i­ties well-known among com­mu­ni­ties and also, how have Ba­sotho re­sponded to the as­so­ci­a­tion?

Mosaase: We are cur­rently do­ing coun­try­wide tours to in­tro­duce our­selves to the na­tion. Things are very slow at this point be­cause we are still a very young or­gan­i­sa­tion. In fact, it has been very dif­fi­cult to get by and func­tion as an or­gan­i­sa­tion but still, we have been able to visit places such as Pit­seng, Morija, Ha-mokhalinyane, Thupa-kubu and Ha-’math­oloana.

These tours are ba­si­cally to find out where al­bi­nos are be­cause we are try­ing to grow our mem­ber­ship, which is very im­por­tant for an or­gan­i­sa­tion if it is to be ef­fec­tive in its man­date. At the same time, be­cause this con­di­tion does not nec­es­sar­ily af­fect al­bi­nos alone; it af­fects ev­ery­one be­cause we are re­lated, so we also need to pass on the mes­sage and teach peo­ple what ex­actly al­binism is.

You see, peo­ple don’t be­lieve that al­binism is nor­mal. And I al­ways beg to dif­fer. Peo­ple need to un­der­stand that al­binism is nor­mal be­cause we also have al­bino plants, and al­bino an­i­mals, so the way I un­der­stand this is that it was God’s cre­ation from the be­gin­ning. So this is what we also teach peo­ple as we go around the coun­try. Like I said, we also find new mem­bers and try and see how we can help them.

Nor­mally, af­ter teach­ing peo­ple about al­binism, we give those with the con­di­tion items such as hats to pro­tect them from sun­light. We some­times also give them sun­screen and proper lo­tions which will help so much in pro­tect­ing the skin.

LT: What chal­lenges are you fac­ing as you con­duct these tours?

Mosaase: One of the main chal­lenges we face is that we have not been able to find these lo­tions in bulk so that ev­ery­one who might need them can ben­e­fit. The other prob­lem is we can­not say for a fact how many we are in the coun­try.

How­ever, we are hop­ing that with the next cen­sus, which is next year, 2016, we are try­ing to work to­gether with the gov­ern­ment to see if we can be part of that and help es­tab- lish how many al­bi­nos are in Le­sotho. Al­bi­nos are in­cluded in the cen­sus but we are not sep­a­rated from the rest of the com­mu­nity so that there can be of­fi­cial de­ter­mi­na­tion of the num­bers.

There are some ques­tions which, if asked dur­ing the cen­sus, can ac­tu­ally bring an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of the num­ber of al­bi­nos in the coun­try. Peo­ple just need to go deeper into that and un­der­stand what al­binism is. This would also help the gov­ern­ment to set poli­cies re­lated to al­binism, just like other coun­tries do.

LT: What keeps you strong un­der such chal­lenges?

Mosaase: It is ba­si­cally the sup­port sys­tem I have. Since the be­gin­ning, my fam­ily has re­ally sup­ported me. That re­ally helps to boost your self-es­teem. How­ever, you find that other peo­ple may not have the same kind of sup­port. That is why there is an as­so­ci­a­tion such as ours that can be this miss­ing sup­port sys­tem for peo­ple who might not en­joy the

same com­pas­sion that I have.

LT: Your as­so­ci­a­tion has is­sued a state­ment show­ing sup­port to your fel­low al­bino, Dr Kananelo Mos­ito, fol­low­ing his ap­point­ment as pres­i­dent of the Le­sotho Court of Ap­peal in Jan­uary this year. The ap­point­ment has been chal­lenged in the courts by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and he has lost the case. Tell us about this state­ment and why you found it nec­es­sary to is­sue it?

Mosaase: The state­ment just shows that even though the ap­point­ment of Jus­tice Mos­ito was chal­lenged, he has the cre­den­tials needed for the job as stated by the judg­ment of the Court of Ap­peal. As an as­so­ci­a­tion, in which Ntate Mos­ito is an honorary mem­ber, we feel so much ex­cited by his ap­point­ment to the helm of the apex court, as well as about him be­ing an al­bino. We even thought that he could be the first al­bino on the African con­ti­nent, even in the world, to be ap­pointed Pres­i­dent of an Ap­peal Court. So as al­bi­nos who grew up in Le­sotho, we were so much taught about him as a role model. We were lit­er­ally told by our par­ents and guardians that we should go to school to be like Ad­vo­cate Kananelo Mos­ito. So ba­si­cally, by is­su­ing the state­ment, we wanted to con­grat­u­late Ntate Mos­ito and also make it known to other al­bi­nos that no-mat­ter who you are, you can even achieve the high­est of dreams.

We wanted to pass the mes­sage that any­thing is pos­si­ble for as long as you do not look down on your­self be­cause you are an al­bino and pity your­self. As an al­bino as­so­ci­a­tion, I think we just wanted to pass that mes­sage of con­fi­dence to the rest of the al­bino com­mu­nity in col­leges, univer­si­ties and all over, us­ing Dr Mos­ito as an ex­am­ple.

LT: Tell us ex­actly how im­por­tant it is for al­bi­nos to be recog­nised and ap­pointed to po­si­tions as high as Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent?

Mosaase: It is such a good feel­ing for us as al­bi­nos. As an hon­ourary mem­ber, Dr Mos­ito can give a lot of coun­sel to us. And as an as­so­ci­a­tion we feel that with Dr Mos­ito be­ing in that po­si­tion and other fel­low al­bi­nos as well achiev­ing great things, we will be get­ting more recog­ni­tion. It is ac­tu­ally a con­fi­dence-booster to ev­ery al­bino liv­ing in Le­sotho.

LT: There is an al­le­ga­tion that fol­low­ing the dis­missal of Jus­tice Michael Ramod­ibedi, as Chief Jus­tice in Swaziland, and his sub­se­quent re­turn to Le­sotho, the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho could re­in­state him to his pre­vi­ous po­si­tion of pres­i­dent of the Le­sotho Court of Ap­peal and re­move Dr Mos­ito. What is your po­si­tion over this spec­u­la­tion?

Mosaase: I don’t know much about how far the law says about that. As an as­so­ci­a­tion, you know we were just so much happy that His Majesty (King Letsie III) ap­pointed Dr Mos­ito to that high post.

Now if, through our gov­ern­ment, it would hap­pen that Dr Mos­ito is re­placed, I think there would re­ally be some changes in our na­tional con­sti­tu­tion. I don’t think His Majesty would ap­point Dr Mos­ito and then be happy if all of a sud­den he is be­ing re­placed by some­one who has held a sim­i­lar po­si­tion be­fore.

I would say it would say a lot about our con­sti­tu­tion. And if it hap­pens we will def­i­nitely not be happy. It will kill all the ex­cite­ment that we have had since Dr Mos­ito was ap­pointed to the post early this year. For us it would be a set­back.

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