Kenyan Beauty Pageant Promotes Self Confidence For People With Albinism
By Sharelle Burt
Everyone wants to feel beautiful in the skin you’re in. The Albinism Society of Kenya decided to put on a different type of pageant to show the world that beauty is more than just skin deep.
The “Accept me, Include me, I can” pageant is a beauty contestant catering to those who have the hereditary skin condition known as albinism. The condition causes a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin, and eyes. With no melanin in their skin, albinism causes people to be more vulnerable to the sun.
The pageant, located in Nairobi, took place in November and its purpose was to fight the discrimination and violence that the group constantly faces. In Africa, albinism comes with negative misconceptions and superstitions, suffering from stigmas, alienation and even physical abuse.
With 30 participants from countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, the contest crowns a Mr and Miss Albinism. Some contestants told their stories of what it is like living with this condition, hoping to encourage others and help boost their confidence. Elizabeth James, a participant from Tanzania, said growing up she was forced to change schools because people stared and followed her home.
“The threat has reduced greatly, but it’s still there,” James said.
Okwii Simon Peter, a lawyer from Uganda, said that he was taking part in the pageant to show living with albinism does not make him different. “We are here mainly to create awareness, to do advocacy … showcasing our beauty and talent.” Valencia Bosibori participated in something similar back in 2016 that was only open to residents of Kenya. For Bosibori, it was more about education. She wanted to reach people who don’t have that knowledge of what albinism is.
This year, Emmanuel Silas Shedrack, a 20-year-old from Tanzania and Maryanne Muigai from Kenya were crowned Mr and Miss Albinism.