LILONGWE, MALAWI – Malawians have crowned a Mr. and Ms. Albinism during the country’s first ever beauty pageant for albinos, held in the capital Lilongwe. The Association of People with Albinism organized the event as part of efforts to destroy myths which have led to attacks on albinos in Malawi and other African countries.
There were cheers and ululations when beauty contestants with albinism strutted their stuff at a first-ever competition in Malawi.
In a country where they face stigma and the threat of attack because of how they look, some 20 contestants demonstrated that albinism can be beautiful.
Patience Phiri was among them.
“I am here because I have ever experienced the threat. Even my real friends I chat with, they have even said I am money. This has really affected my family because they are there, just to protect me,” Phiri said.
People with albinism in Malawi have been attacked because of false beliefs that their body parts, if used in magical potions, can bring good luck and wealth.
More than two dozen have been killed since 2014 and more than 100 are missing.
Twenty-three-year-old Chikondi Kadzanja won the Ms. Albinism Malawi title.
She told VOA that she will use her position to help end the attacks.
“What I am going to do now is firstly to bring awareness to communities, especially the rural communities that hold negative attitudes, myths and misconceptions about persons with albinism,” Kanjadza said.
Twenty-four-year-old Burnet Phunyanya won the Mr. Albinism Malawi title.
Mr Albinism Malawi Burnet Phunyanya says he will focus his attention towards motivating fellow people with albinism to realize their potential.
He says his task will be to motivate albinos to be self-reliant.
“I am going to stand still and help persons with albinism. First of all making them to trust in themselves, trust their ideas, and believe in themselves,” Phunyanya said.
Pageant organizers plan to hold the event every year.