Good people, persons with albinism are people.
Unfortunately, those born in this part of Africa, south of the Sahara, grow up in societies that often do not treat them like any other person.
Mpho Tjope, from South Africa, realised this at a very young age, he says.
The author of Life with Albinism Filled with Pearls-a book demystifying albinism—a lack of skin pigment which leaves these people hunted and killed like game—was born in a family where he was the only one with albinism. This confirms that every family can have a child with albinism if the genetics dictate so.
He grew up in a community where he was the odd one because people with albinism are few and often far apart.
“Everywhere I went, people were calling me demeaning and dehumanising names,” he recounted on the Albinism Awareness Day in Lilongwe.
His real-life book confronts widespread misconceptions and superstition that fuel discriminatory attacks on his minority population.
The myths have left a trail of bloodletting in Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa and the rest of the south and east African region.
Many have been killed for their bones where some minds think people with albinism have pearls to make them rich.
But the greatest pearl about albinism is that the people under attack can become anything the majority of skin colour become if given quality education and necessary empowerment.
They crave a society in which they can become police officers, teachers doctors, lawyers, cabinet ministers, journalists, principal secretaries and all those work forces creating the room anything they want.
Mpho envisages increased representation and participation of people with albinism in the public service to show that they are no different and they have the potential to achieve what everyone else can.
The highest-ranking Malawian civil servant with albinism I have seen in my lifetime is Thoko Malunga, the chief energy officer in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, whom I met at the global Sustainable Energy Forum in Portugal last month.
Let there be more like him in the public service, even in cabinet where people with disabilities are wrongly confined to the Ministry of Disability.
Why not make them ministers of health, justice and many others ministries that remain when hilarious and make-believe ones vanish.
Time has to come when the likes of agronomist Boniface Massa, the national coordinator of Association of People with Albinism (Apam), must be appointed the Ministry of Agriculture because of his expertise instead of being excluded or disqualified because of his skin.
But Mpho has one novel idea to ensure every child is aware that albinism does not make anyone a lesser being: meet President Peter Mutharika, give him the book and he will be happy if it is students learn in school to unpack albinism beyond the science of heredity and genetics students learn in secondary school.
“With the on-going killings, make it compulsory for children to learn the truth about albinism so that they do not grow with myths that endanger our lives. Now, people have an option not to know burning issues about albinism,” he says.
It is up to Mutharika to open the gates of Kamuzu Palace to the writer who personifies his stance that reducing albinism as a lucky charm is senseless.
But people with albinism are a voice crying for a listening ear and a protective hand. They cry for role models, defenders and ambassadors in power. They yearn for a generation which shall butcher them no more. They just want you to appreciate they are just like you. This is not asking too much, is it? n