MY REFLECTIONS COMMEMMORATING THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ALBINISM AWARENESS

Hello Friends welcome to Day 9 of #WinterABC2022. This week we are raising awareness regarding the various issues and causes that are near and dear to our hearts and I look forward to reading what my fellow bloggers will post. 13th June is International Albinism Awareness Day and today’s prompt comes from Miss Albinism Zimbabwe Trust. I decided to write about this prompt with the story of MacDonald Masambuka, a 22 year old Malawian man with albinism who was murdered in 2018 for his body parts at the center of it. You can read my previous #WinterABC2022 posts here.

MacDonald Masambuka was a 22 year old man with albinism from Machinga district in Malawi who was murdered in 2018 by a group of people that included his brother. 12 people were arrested in connection to this horrible murder. They had planned to sell his bones for financial gain as human parts belonging to people with albinism are reportedly used in witchcraft rituals to supposedly bring riches and other good fortune. One of the things about this particular case which makes it very enraging and sad is that apart from his brother, a Catholic priest, a police officer and a hospital worker were among the 12 people arrested. These are the very people that are supposed to be the guardians of society and yet they could not be trusted with MacDonald’s life. Since 2014, over 20 people living with albinism have been murdered in Malawi according to Bonface Massah, a Disability Rights advocate and commissioner with the Malawi Human Rights Commission.

If you are not safe with your own family, what hope can one have in terms of safety when it comes to the larger community and society. I remember about a year or so ago, there was a case of a toddler with albinism in the Northern part of Malawi who had gone missing. I do not want to imagine the anguish the mother went through, to know that the odds of your child coming back to you alive are not in your favour is not something anyone would want to experience. To keep their children safe, some parents of children with albinism have resorted to not enrol their children in school for fear of being abducted when they are at school and away from their watchful eyes.

Apart from the anthropogenic harm people with albinism face, they also have to contend with an increased vulnerability to health issues such as skin cancer. I have read news reports of people with albinism advocating for the easy availability and access to sunscreen lotion, wide brimmed hats among other things in Malawi. It is imperative for such materials and health services for people with albinism to be provided for free or at a subsidized rate.

Some years ago, I was in minibus travelling from Lumbadzi to Old Town in Lilongwe, one of my fellow passengers was a woman who was carrying a child with albinism. When we reached Kanengo, one of the stops on our route, the woman disembarked but got into an argument with the conductor regarding her luggage. I do not remember the exact cause or specifics of the argument. But as with all arguments conducted in public, people usually throw in comments and I distinctly remember one of the other passengers saying “nde ali ndi mwananso wachi albino (she has a child with albinism).” This was said in an insulting manner meant to demean the woman as not worthy as she had borne a child with albinism. Cases of husbands leaving their wives when they bear a child with albinism are very common in Malawi as children with albinism are deemed as not normal and something to be embarrassed about. I find it shameful and appalling to dwell in a society that does not value the lives of people living with albinism and I hope we can do better.

People with albinism deserve to have a life full of rights and liberties just as people without albinism do. We need to do more as a society and ensure that all human beings are able to lead a good quality of life. MacDonald Masambuka and all the other people with albinism whose lives were cut short by greedy, evil humans who did not think them worthy enough to live deserve justice. May all Malawians not rest until justice is delivered.

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