European Interest

Protecting people with albinism in Africa
Awareness poster against the prejudice of albinos in Africa.

A new public information campaign in Zimbabwe aims to reduce the stigma experienced by people with albinism. Launched by the government in collaboration with mining company Zimplats, the “Beyond This Skin” campaign hopes to demystify albinism and educate people about the dangerous practices of targeting them for their skin.

As reported by Quartz online, the government hopes to encourage Zimbabweans to stop labelling albinos, and to understand that character and actions matter more in life than height, skin colour, or ethnic group.

The campaign revolves around a powerful commercial that showcases the daily life of two sisters, one of whom has albinism and one without. With their mother’s encouragement, the girls believe they should care for each other, help their classmates, and treat everyone the same – even if they are “mean to us”. The advert, shot in one day, conveys both the oddities facing people with albinism, and posits a feel-good belief that change of behaviour can actually take place.

Simon de Swardt, who directed the commercial for the advertising agency Dicomm McCann, told Quartz that they wanted to convey the complex and difficult reality faced by albinos every day. “But you also want to suggest avenues for change and growth. You want to underline the potential for positive change in a community, and to show the opportunities for this to take place,” he added.

In a separate report, Nigeria’s The Premium Times reported that dozens of people in Tanzania have been sentenced to death by hanging for killing people with albinism between 2006 and 2016.

“Several other cases of people accused of killing people with albinism are still pending in courts throughout the country,” Beatrice Mpembo, a state attorney from the DPP, told a two-day consultative meeting to strategise on countering brutality and killings of people with albinism.

“Most cases related to the killings of people with albinism involve some family members, as a result it has been difficult to get sufficient evidence due to lack of cooperation from the relatives thus contributing to delays in delivering ruling on the cases,” Mpembo said.

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