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Social problems

The situation of “White people” in Africa

Hereby saying “White people” I don’t mean people who come from western countries, but from the local communities in Africa who have white skin instead of black skin. So how come this could happen in Africa? Actually, It is a well-known disease called albinism, which is a disease caused by gene dysfunction. Wikipedia defines albinism as a congenital disorder characterized in humans by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. Albinism is associated with a number of vision defects, such as photophobia, nystagmus, and amblyopia. Lack of skin pigmentation makes for more susceptibility to sunburn and skin cancers. In rare cases such as Chédiak–Higashi syndrome, albinism may be associated with deficiencies in the transportation of melanin granules. This also affects essential granules present in immune cells leading to increased susceptibility to infection.

Back when I was in hong kong, I know such disease exists but I can hardly find them in my daily life, and information come mostly from the media. I don’t know whether it’s because they are too exclusive by their look to avoid coming out in modern society or it’s really due to fewer cases here. But I can see lots of cases in Africa, especially when I was in a refugee camp.

Although albinism cases are rare in the western world, but it’s quite common in sub-Saharan Africa, likely as a result of consanguinity. Both parents, who may or may not be albinos themselves, must carry the gene if it is to be passed on to the child. Albinism occurs in both males and females and is not specific to any race or ethnic group. Statistics show that fifty percent of albinistic people in Tanzania have a known albinistic relative, although very few understand or are educated about the medical and genetic causes of this condition as Wikipedia says.

For ordinary people to understand albinism, I can show you what I saw in Africa. People with albinism have totally different looks compared with their African local people, with the white face, hairs, and the eyes are even somehow different but they still have thick lips. It was such a surprise when I saw them because I have never seen them at such a close distance. As I remember, their eyes focus is not stable and most of them always wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun, and they also use the sun cream because they cannot resist the ultraviolet light from the sun, apparently, it’s not affordable for those people. So you could imagine their situation, especially with this disease, plus they are out of nutrition especially in that refugee camp, their life is nearly miserable.

As history shown that those “white people” had a very bad situation in the old time. African had less knowledge about this disease and controlled by superstition at that specific time, so they believed that their body parts of those albinistic people obtain some superpower and can bring futures, that’s why there had so many kills, people chasing behind them and try to get their body. It was unimaginable for them to live in such a circumstance at that time, some people even flee from their own country and seeking protection from outside.

Tanzania, East Africa, Dar es Salaam, baraka cosmas a boy with albinism at under the same sun house, he lost his right hand in a witchcraft attack

In the 21 century, the situation is much better but the killing is still happening in some African countries like BBC reported that police in Tanzania have arrested 65 “witchdoctors”, or traditional healers, in connection with the ritual killing of at least 10 children with albinism, tragedy with no basic human rights and they still go through discrimination to some extent. Fortunately, some doctors delivered education about those misunderstandings and superstitions around communities and US congressman Gerry Connolly in 2010 introduced legislation to protect albinos and urge local governments to protect albinos from the political level. Some NGOs also take the initiative to promote their human rights locally.

There is an NGO in Uganda, who is supporting those people with albinism, through education, skills training and also social interaction. But I think the important thing needed to be done is to address this issue by educating the public and have a mutual understanding in society, most importantly, the government should take the more responsibilities to protect its citizens and maintain the social harmony. Those innocent lives should never vanish by ritual killing in this century, and everyone deserves equality.

courtesy to Fidele Kasaranga

Actually, there is an African woman Sethu with this disease and came a long way to hong kong to share her stories, who owns an NGO called Love, This Skin, mainly to connect people who have the same issue as her and let them feel love. Check here if you want to know more. It is a misfortune for them to live with albinism, and they want to live like normally and peacefully. The society should be inclusive enough and open opportunities for them to support and nurture. I truly hope this inclusive society can be achieved soon, the society which is generously embracing equality with the whole world together.

This article was edited by the original author without their consent, and should not be reproduced.

By Social Innovation Insight

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3 replies on “The situation of “White people” in Africa”

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