It took forever for Kenyans to join the rest of the world in celebrating International Albinism Day. This was the first time the awareness day event to be celebrated in the country since its establishment in 2006. Kenyans came together to raise awareness of the skin condition, which has caused many to face different forms of discrimination in their day-to-day lives.
Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized in humans by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes. It is a genetic condition that can be inherited only if both parents carry the gene, even if they do not have albinism themselves. People who suffer from albinism are more prone to eye problems and severe skin conditions like skin cancer.
Statistically, it is estimated that 1 in every 5000 to 15000 people in Africa suffer from albinism with selected populations having estimates as high as 1 in 1000. The prevalence of albinism is estimated to be 1 in 1400 and 1 in 19 carry the gene.
Albinism is a condition that is often misunderstood and people with the condition mostly face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide. Many people took their thoughts and messages of encouragement to social media under the hashtag #AlbinismDay. Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, under his tweet, says: “As we mark the World #AlbinismDay, my admin today honoured persons living with albinism and dwarfism. I donated sports kits to various teams of people living with albinism and dwarfism as we mark the day. Let’s demystify stereotypes associated with people living with albinism.”
Corporate companies like Safaricom also joined the conversation on social media in support of people living with albinism: “On this day, we recognize, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with albinism to support their cause – from their accomplishments and positive practices to the promotion and protection of their human rights.”
In an event to celebrate and raise awareness on people living with albinism that was held in KICC, Isaac Mwaura, the KDPA Chair, expressed his support on people living with albinism:
“Ulemavu sio kulemaa; nikunyanyapaiwa”.
A negative attitude is the greatest challenge for people with disabilities.” He encouraged people living with albinism not to let their condition stop them from achieving great things in life.