Zimbabwe’s first ever Miss Albino gets $85 as prize payout
Oozing charm and confidence, 22-year-old Sithembiso Mutukura with her crown (AFP)
Zimbabwe has crowned its first-ever “Miss Albinism’’ in a beauty pageant that aims to tackle the stigma faced by people with the congenital disorder.
The winner received $85 as her prize payout.
Undaunted, competition winner, Sthembiso Mutukura, said, “I want to fight for the rights of children with albinism.”
The 22-year-old social work student receives a cash prize of $85 – far less than was originally planned, said event organiser, Brenda Mudzimu, who is paying the sum out of her own pocket.
Mudzimu criticised Zimbabwe’s government and the private sector for not supporting the initiative.
People who live with albinism have lighter skin and hair due to the absence of pigment in the skin, eyes and hair.
The condition is also associated with vision problems.
Albino people face discrimination and violence in many African countries, where superstition says their body parts possess magical powers.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has counted 600 attacks on people with albinism since 2006 in 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Many African countries have a dark relationship with albinism — a genetic disorder inherited from parents who both carry a faulty gene that prevents the skin from making melanin properly and thereby giving it colour.
They are hunted down in some African countries by witch doctors for their body parts which are used in potions to bring good luck or riches. Some are even kidnapped and sold by relatives out to make a fast buck.
Mutukura said she entered the pageant to raise awareness.
“The people with disabilities are always looked down upon even in schools. I have gone through a lot but I want people living with albinism to be brave and persevere in life,” the social work student at the University of Zimbabwe told AFP after winning the crown.
“We must continue to advocate for our rights and I hope my win will empower the girl child. People with disabilities must not look down upon themselves.”