Whyare albinos stigmatised in Africa? NelsonMandela had stated wise quotes about discrimination and one of them it wasthat: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin,or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they canlearn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to thehuman heart than its opposite.” However, in the same nation that was taught byNelson Mandela to extinct the barriers of the discriminatory regime known asapartheid, there are several stigmas against albinos. In order to understandwhether this attitude is justified or not, it is necessary to look in somedetails the scenario and the sociological theories about it.Albinosare people who were born with albinism.
Albinism is a genetic disorder causedby the faulty of the genes that gives pigmentation to skin and hair colours,the melanin. As a result, people with albinism have a partial or total lack ofmelanin, leaving them with physical characteristics different from the mostpart of people such as white hair and pale skin. Albinism also might affect theeyes because melanin is responsible for the develop of the retina which is thethin layer cells located at the back of the eye. Hence, there are some possibleeye problems that are commonly linked to albinism.
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These are: poor eyesight,astigmatism, photophobia, nystagmus, and squint. Theeye colour depends on the type of albinism, but albinos people tend to havepale blue, brown or grey eyes. Albinos in Africa usually have darker colouredeyes because of their ethnic group. Another problem that people with albinismconfront everyday it is the sun. The sun could be very prejudice to albinosbecause the lack of melanin in their skin exposure them to get sunburn and skincancer.
A study from the Bugando Medical Centre(BMC) Dermatology reports thatskin cancer is the major cause of albino’s death in African. The BMC studied alarge group of albinos who got skin cancer treatment in a hospital in Bugando/Africa between March 2001 and February 2010. The study result shows: 13% of patients who got treatment at BugandoMedical Centre(BMC) were Albinos, the male to female ratio was 1.5:1, themedian age of the patients were 30 years old, the median duration of theillness was 24 months and the commonest reason for late presentation wasfinancial difficulties. Thereare two main types of albinism. The Oculocutaneous albinism(OCA) andOculocutaneous albinism 2(OCA2), tyrosine-positive albinism, being the last onethe most predominant type found in Africa Continent. Around the world, 1 in 17000 people arealbinos and Hong et al (2006) report that the prevalence as high as 1 in 1000in some African countries.
Thestigmatisation against albinos in Africa has been occurring for decades. Insome part of African continent, those who are born with albinism have beensocially discriminated because it is widely believed that people with albinismare not human instead they are creatures with healing powers and their limbscan bring luck. This myth is mainly influenced by witch doctor in rural areasof the continent. Consequently, many albinos are persecuted and murders, sotheir bodies parts are dismembered to be sold. Last year,Amnesty International stated: “The macabre trade is also fuelled by a beliefthat bones of people with albinism contain gold, noting another belief is thatsex with a person with albinism can cure HIV”.