Ex­pos­ing the myths of al­binism

Vuk'uzenzele - - Youhtehalftohcus - Adele Schor­mann

PEO­PLE WITH AL­BINISM are at risk of iso­la­tion be­cause the con­di­tion is mis­un­der­stood.

Whilst many cul­tures be­lieve that peo­ple who have al­binism have magic pow­ers, presents the facts about this ge­netic con­di­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Al­binism So­ci­ety of South Africa, al­binism is an in­her­ited ge­netic con­di­tion that re­duces the amount of melanin pig­ment formed in the skin, hair or eyes.

This means that a per­son is un­able to pro­duce nor­mal colour­ing and their skin is light or pale, with freck­les, whilst their body hair can vary from white to yel­low or light brown. They may also have sen­si­tive eyes or be visu­ally im­paired.

Al­binism is not con­ta­gious, it is in­her­ited. A child with al­binism re­ceives the de­fec­tive gene from both par­ents and it is com­mon for par­ents with nor­mal skin colour to have a child with al­binism.

Al­binism oc­curs in all racial and eth­nic groups through­out the world.

Set­ting the record straight

No­ma­sonto Maz­ibuko, the founder of the Al­binism So­ci­ety of South Africa, re­cently ad­dressed var­i­ous myths about the con­di­tion.

She used an ex­am­ple of a per­son with al­binism stand­ing in a queue at the su­per­mar­ket and said that peo­ple stare, which makes the per­son very un­com­fort­able.

“There are myths that peo­ple with al­binism do not die, they dis­ap­pear, and if one has sex­ual in­ter­course with a per­son with al­binism, their HIV sta­tus is cured,” said Maz­ibuko.

“An­other myth is that when you drink the blood of a per­son with al­binism, you will have su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers and very good luck. There is even a be­lief that if you chop up the body parts of a per­son with al­binism and take them to a witch­doc­tor, you will have luck,” she added.

Most peo­ple turn a blind eye to peo­ple with al­binism.

“We need to have more ed­u­ca­tion and ad­vo­cacy pro­grammes to ad­dress the is­sues fac­ing peo­ple with al­binism.”

Maz­ibuko be­lieves that these myths will cease to ex­ist once the older gen­er­a­tion, who clings to them, have passed away.

“This is a gen­er­a­tion gap is­sue. Grad­u­ally and even­tu­ally it will come to an end. In the past, mur­der­ers could get away with what they had done be­cause peo­ple be­lieved that those with al­binism dis­ap­pear. Be­cause they were traf­ficked or killed, no one would tell the story. But the po­lice are work­ing day and night to track down these killers,” said Maz­ibuko.

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