East Africa: Albinism Society of Kenya Launches Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa

The Albinism Society of Kenya has launched Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa a beauty pageant to help create awareness and encourage inclusion by showcasing the beauty and talent of people with albinism. #BeautyBeyondtheSkin

The Albinism Society of Kenya (ASK) has launched Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa a beauty pageant to help create awareness and encourage inclusion by showcasing the beauty and talent of people with albinism. The pageant is being organized under the stewardship of ASK National Coordinator Senator Hon. Isaac Mwaura.

This year's event, which will be held in November will bring contestants from east African countries, which include Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

People with albinism (PWAs) have faced unprecedented discrimination and persecution in parts of Africa, particularly in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi in recent years. The event is part of wider efforts to fight the stigma by celebrating the beauty of people with albinism.

In 2016, Kenya's Albinism Society held its inaugural Mr and Miss Albinism beauty pageant, an annual campaign meant to embrace and promote self awareness of PWAs in the society to stop the persecution, abuse, discrimination and stigmatisation. Held under the slogan "my beauty my pride", and promoted under the hashtag #BeautyBeyondTheSkin, the beauty pageant was touted as a great opportunity to help build the confidence and self esteem of PWAs. This year, the event has been expanded to include contestants from the east African region.

The pageant was created to raise funds to promote education for PWAs, and the organisers said the funds will help to create employment opportunities and open a wider job market for people with albinism in both social and political responsibilities.

Mr. and Miss Albinism East is being sponsored by various organisations including Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB). Dr. Ezekiel Mutua, KFCB's CEO attended the launch of Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa 2018 at the Sarova Panafric Hotel in Nairobi.

Dr. Mutua said KFCB will be the main sponsor of this year's Mr. and Miss Albinism east Africa beauty pageant, and the KFCB will give five full scholarships to ASK members joining Kenya Film School. The CEO also announced that the Board will waive filming, examination and classification regulatory fees on films produced by ASK members.

"We are also supporting two contestants in the film MISFIT nominated for the Zebra Poetry Film Festival Münster, Berlin Germany," Dr. Mutua said on Facebook.

The Board will offer internships every year to people with albinism as part of the continued partnership programs with ASK.

Campaign to promote inclusion

Kenya's Albinism Society says most of the people with albinism live with low self esteem due to the difference in colour and the numerous challenges they face such as stigma and discrimination.

The pageant offers a wider platform for them to showcase their beauty, and modelling talents, to encourage and promote social and economic inclusion of people with albinism.

The campaign is a timely and commendable initiative considering the pain and suffering that people with albinism continue to endure in many parts of the continent. PWAs continue to experience persecution a result of misleading misconceptions, and superstitious beliefs systems on albinism. Some of these prevailing attitudes perpetrated by some witchdoctors that body parts of people with albinism bring good luck and wealth have been blamed for the attacks.

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