Boniface Massa, president of Albino Persons Association of Malawi (Apam), has won the Bari-Bari Outstanding Albinism Advocate Award.
Under the Same Sun, a Canadian special interest group which has been instrumental in the fight against attacks on albinism in Tanzania, presented the $1 000 (about K600 000) award to Massa during last month’s Pan-African Albinism Conference in Tanzania attended by participants from the African continent and beyond.
This is the first presentation of the yearly prize in recognition of people or organisations which have produced the most tangible and impactful results in albinism advocacy.
Massa, who has been instrumental in the fight against a wave of abductions and killings of people with albinism in the country, said he was delighted to be the inaugural recipient of the award in memory of the late Dr Yusuf Mohammad Bari-Bari (1958-2015) of the Permanent Mission of Somalia to the United Nations in Geneva.
Despite his tragic death amid armed attacks that engulfed his country in July this year, Bari-Bari remains a respected fighter for the rights of people with albinism, especially the placement of issue at the core of the UN agenda, the installation of the International Albinism Awareness Day on June 13 and the appointment of the independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.
Massa, who outrun 20 nominees to win the prize, said: “I thank God for this feat. This is a highly competitive award. This shows our work has helped change lives and raised the visibility of issues of people with albinism.”
Massa thanked his colleagues at Apam for their support, asking government and the civil society to join hands with the association to eliminate the attacks thought to be buoyed by a superstition that body parts of people without skin pigment constitute good-luck charms.
Nearly 20 people with albinism have disappeared while 20 have been killed this year, according to Apam. n