By Rufaro Rufaz Chinyanga
As I look into the mirror the reflection that beams back to me is that of a white man, skin snow-white, hair yellow in colour but the features don’t quite fit the Caucasian skin. I look just like my father, that big flat African nose from my mother will never be pointy and the baggy chicks from my uncle’s side seem to be a family mark on all of us. Thus I am white yet black.
My name is Rufaro, the last remaining white boy from Bindura rural in Zimbabwe. I am a young man with Albinism.
Albinism is a genetically hereditary condition characterized by lack of melanin or colour in the hair, skin and eyes. This makes persons with albinism become vulnerable to the sun and the development of impaired eye vision.
However, the condition is manageable through the application of hats and protective clothing and sunblock lotions to protect against skin marks and wrinkles and skin cancer as well as the use of spectacles for visual aid.
It is sad to note the host of myths, discrimination and segregation remarks and attacks on persons with albinism in Africa since time immemorial.
Many have lost their lives just for looking like me, for example in East Africa due to ritual attacks. In broad daylight persons with albinism are attacked and mutilated for their body parts. It is from such background that the United Nations in 2013 declared 13 June International Albinism Awareness Day.
This day is meant to celebrate and promote the rights and dignity of persons with albinism and give awareness on what albinism is, and how it is a manageable condition worthy of celebrating.
This year’s theme is “Made to Shine”. Given the numerous persons with albinism that have contributed immensely to socio-economic and political development world over, persons with these conditions are made by God to shine not only due to their skins but the gifts they have. This year’s theme calls upon anyone who has a relative, friend, or partner with albinism to encourage them to rise above their challenges and shine.
The world needs their gifts and African need their minds for development. The fact that God has created you with albinism, you are a jewel and you should take your rightful position and shine in the Motherland of Africa just like Salif Keita the world-renowned Afro-pop legend, just like Yellowman from Jamaica, the reggae dancehall godfather, just like the late professor John Makumbe the academic par-excellence Zimbabwe has ever known, among many others who have albinism but are living beyond their challenges