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Albinism needs State attention


In the midst of doom and gloom, it is really heart-warming to read a success story — any success story!

NewsDay Editorial

Reading through the story of two albino students of the University of Zimbabwe in NewsDay yesterday we were exposed to an extraordinary success story.

In the current socio-political environment it is easy to look for success only in business and in academia. Stories abound about lists; as in the list of the 10 most successful businesspeople in Zimbabwe, or the list of the 100 most influential young Zimbabweans, etc.

There is a tendency to look where everyone else is looking such as in Forbes and other publications that measure success in terms of accumulation of money. These are great stories indeed!

Cinderella Mushambi and Pardon Chitsvori tell their story of fighting prejudice and succeeding, but it is their hope and their achievement against the greatest of odds that makes their story tower over everything Forbes can say about success.

Chitsvori summarises what he had to go through thus: “I have most definitely been discriminated against. I’ve had to deal with name-calling and bullying at school. All my life I’ve been excluded from society because of who I am. A lot of people with albinism are unemployed, and often rejected for jobs because of our condition.”

Mushambi tells a similar story of how because of the discrimination she had to move from the residential area where her family lived and board with an aunt in a
more accommodating suburb.

The two stories mean that the discrimination is based mainly on ignorance and the myths that surround albinism. It also means society is not doing enough to educate the general public about this condition, The University of Zimbabwe should be applauded
for taking a leading role in giving people living with albinism a chance to pursue their dreams.

It set a great example by accepting such luminaries as the late Professor John Makumbe, first as a student and then as a teacher at the institution. Other institutions should emulate this example.

The State, too, should place albinism among special conditions that continually need its intervention. Mushambi’s appeal to government should be taken seriously.

She said: “I urge the Zimbabwean government to recognise the problems we have and get sunscreen lotions and creams for free like they do with people living with HIV. We also
need to encourage families to think positively about albinism, putting aside all the myths and falsehoods that have caused us so much pain. That awareness can bring a lot of change.”

The fight against HIV and Aids has been relatively successful in Zimbabwe, but it is not the only disease or condition that needs continuous attention. Albinism needs the same kind of attention.

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