By: Augustina Coleman
A child may be born an albino when there is a defect in one of the several genes that produce and distribute melanin. The defective gene according to research leads to Albinism.
Discrimination against albinos here in Ghana and Africa at large is nothing to write home about. This is as a result of the rare appearance of albinos, having white pale skin, brownish hair colour and are sometimes believed to have visual problems coupled with sunlight sensitivity. Individuals living with albinism must be regarded just like all persons and hence society must avoid stigmatizing albinos.
Africans have lots of beliefs about albinism, some say they are spiritual creatures and hence do not die and buttress their claim with the fact that it is rare to see an obituary of an albino. Women and children living with albinism are often the worst to suffer discrimination and stigmatization. A Nigerian activist who is also an albino by the name Ikpanwosa Ero filled a report in Nigeria which described the stigmatization and abuse women with albinism whose children are albinos go through.
The most heartbreaking part is when these women are blamed for their condition and even accused of witchcraft. These women are also physically and sexually abused relative to the belief that Albinos help in curing HIV/AIDS.
One of the questions soon to be answered is do albinos die?”
Yes, they like every other living being die. Most people have the perception that albinoes are spirit creatures hence they vanish and rather do not die. The death of an albino is not made public probably because they are hunted by some as they believe their blood is potent for money rituals. It is worth to note that there has not been any proof to that claim and hence must be regarded as a mere myth.
Research has proven that albinoes have a shorten lifespan due to lungs disease and their activities are limited because they can’t withstand the sun rays. Most albinos are killed for their body parts which are sold and believed to have magical powers.
Here in Ghana, Atebubu a suburb in the Bono East Region was one of the areas where discrimination against albinos was often practised. A secondary school in the community even failed to admit people living with albinism.
A 15-year-old girl, Winnie Jelimo from Kenya was denied admission into High School by 5 different schools basically because of her lack of melanin. Those who manage to graduate from schools are also not employed because they are seen as threats and will drive away customers.
Discrimination against albinos in Ghana and Africa at large is based on the religious beliefs and myths surrounding albinism. It is therefore also a human rights issue that needs to be addressed since it undermines the rights and dignity of individuals living with albinism. Even though Ghanaians are highly devoted to their culture and customs, we must also bear in mind the rights and privileges entitled to every individual.
Emmanuel Klottey an albino who resides in Chorkor a suburb of Accra shared his experience, “I am no longer worried about people discriminating me. it doesn’t affect me, because that is how
I was also created.
“My life has been very good even though most people tease me and say I am disabled and have visual problems I have become used to that. After completing SHS I tried applying to some companies but I was denied because of my condition. Whilst in school most of my colleagues encouraged me to be bold and never give up on my capabilities, I was also in the sports team which I really excelled. Even though my parents were not albinos I realized it was inherited in the genetics of my family”, he said.
“I have become used to discrimination by society and I am no longer bothered by what they say. If society thinks discrimination against albinos is the best then they should keep on with their wrongdoings.”