The fairest of them all

The ar­ray of tal­ent on dis­play showed that con­di­tion is no hin­drance to liv­ing a full life

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - [email protected]­tion­ BY HI­LARY KIMUYU

Thirty par­tic­i­pants from across East Africa on Fri­day night took part in the in­au­gu­ral Mr and Miss Al­binism beauty pageant or­gan­ised by Kenya Al­binism So­ci­ety.

The pageant, which aims to fight the stigma as­so­ci­ated with al­binism, was ti­tled “Ac­cept me, in­clude me, I can” and was touted as a great op­por­tu­nity to help build the con­fi­dence and self-es­teem of peo­ple liv­ing with the con­di­tion.

The ar­ray of tal­ent dis­played by var­i­ous con­tes­tants at the Keny­atta In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre (KICC) was a huge state­ment that peo­ple with al­binism are beau­ti­ful, be­yond the skin.

Em­manuel Si­las She­drack, 20, from Tan­za­nia and 19-year-old Maryanne Muigai from Kenya were crowned the win­ners. They won cash prizes of undis­closed amounts and were named am­bas­sadors for the part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions for a year.

The ground­break­ing pageant calls for in­clu­sion of peo­ple liv­ing with al­binism who re­main the tar­get of some­times deadly stigma in Africa.

It was a bid to af­firm the dig­nity of a group that has faced dis­crim­i­na­tion, vi­o­lence and even mur­der be­cause of the hered­i­tary con­di­tion. The event is part of wider ef­forts to fight the stigma by cel­e­brat­ing the beauty of peo­ple with al­binism.

In 2016, Kenya's Al­binism So­ci­ety held its in­au­gu­ral Mr and Miss Al­binism beauty pageant, an an­nual cam­paign meant to pro­mote aware­ness of peo­ple liv­ing with al­binism in the so­ci­ety to stop the per­se­cu­tion, abuse, dis­crim­i­na­tion and stig­ma­ti­sa­tion.

The pageant was cre­ated to raise funds to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion for PWAS, and the or­gan­is­ers said the funds will help to cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and open a wider job mar­ket for peo­ple with al­binism in both so­cial and po­lit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

The pageant was or­gan­ised un­der the ste­ward­ship of ASK Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor, Sen­a­tor Isaac Mwaura.

Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Labour Ukur Yatani, who was the chief guest, said that the coun­cil will pro­vide sun­screen, lip balm, wide brim hats and can­cer screen­ing ser­vices to all per­sons with al­binism across the coun­try. “My min­istry will work with all the other spon­sors rep­re­sented here to­day to en­sure all other ac­tiv­i­ties of the al­binism so­ci­ety are suc­cess­ful.”

Al­binism is a rare, non-con­ta­gious, ge­net­i­cally in­her­ited con­di­tion that leads to a lack of pig­men­ta­tion in the hair, skin and eyes, caus­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity to the sun and bright light, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions.

In sev­eral coun­tries in south­ern and eastern Africa, such as Tan­za­nia, Malawi, Bu­rundi and Mozam­bique, per­sons with al­binism are sub­jected to numer­ous at­tacks.

Some even seek their limbs and other parts of their bod­ies for rit­u­als be­lieved to bring wealth and luck. This type of at­tack is, how­ever, rare in Kenya.

Al­binism is a rare group of ge­netic dis­or­ders that cause the skin, hair, or eyes to have lit­tle or no colour.

Mr and Miss Al­binism East Africa 2018 win­ners Em­manuel Si­las She­drack from Tan­za­nia and Maryanne Muigai from Kenya and other fi­nal­ists on Fri­day at KICC in Nairobi.

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