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Shades of Africa

23 February 2017

Toki Mohoto; he is a social commentator, author, developmental specialist, human rights activist and community developer. He has written and self-published 3 books titled; Muthi Wami; Father, Hear My Cry and Shhh! We Don’t Call it Abuse.

Many of us have an ability to see, but few are gifted to understand and craft solutions to what we often bemoan. It is easy to always point fingers, engage in taxing rants, declare a violent departure from what plagues us in theory, yet rarely do we put into practice or institute tangible solutions in place.

When time comes for us to put our money or actions to where our mouths are, many are found wanting; such that even speaking our minds becomes a daunting exercise. There comes a time in our lives when the call for change rings loud, in audible strings none dare ignore for in such moments cosmic forces cannot beg for change.

In June 2016, I sat in a meeting with a community who had come to anticipate an attack, kidnapping, abuse, isolation and ridicule and in extreme cases gruesome murders.Rarely do we stand up against something nor sympathize with an afflicted person or community until such ills directly threaten our own lives, or those of our endeared circles of kinship.We tend to find some deranged justification of comfort, untested conclusions and even when confronted with our own illusory security borne out of an idea of our assumed exceptionalism.

Having engaged in extensive research, personal encounters and intimate experiences with people living with the condition of albinism, I may claim some authority in my analysis.Not only is a person with Albinism plagued with an unpredictable, challenging, insecure, painful, and limited development; but even functioning as a normal human being is debatable and impossible on many counts.

Allow me to highlight that over and above the challenge of being born within a community, family, social circumstances with a skin cancer of sorts, your eyes might also not perform optimally, which pose certain restrictions on you. Added to that you are then confronted with superstitions, stereotypes, insults, arrested development, violence, abuse, discomfort and the possibility of being abducted and murdered for your body parts.

When you find love, you wonder if its genuine- whether they are merely curious to confirm if you are normal or if the relationship will be on condition of secrecy, infrequent public encounters and on rare occasions, outside of a fruitful family life or future with “normal children”. In cases where you want to further your education and pursue a career of interest, rarely would you find educational institutions which would accommodate your “limitations” and the prospects of employment are slim to none.Further to this; you’re labelled “disabled”, which to some people is synonymous with “incapability or incompetence”, essentially disqualifying you from given a fair chance. A contentious affair indeed!

When you’re granted “assistance” from government by way of welfare (which I still argue is not enough), some people misconstrue this as undeserved payment or income. The fact is, you cannot even survive a full month on it and accessing bare necessities is impractical. From a health perspective; the sunscreen currently off ered by government is at least an SPF25 and those sold at shops go up to SPF50. Now to access enough to last a month from the meagregrant offered by government would immensely curtail one’s budget.
Socially, you’re an outcast! Your own black community does not always embrace you as their own. Your life is a daily struggle, imposed through ignorance, arrogance, superiority, disdain and rejection. Your skin is similar to that of whites, but you’re not one of them! Asserting your personhood and human rights as an individual deserving of dignity, inclusivity, justice, support, tolerance, normalcy, freedom and life, comes at a struggle. Now those who claim to know better have no clue about the depth of struggles a person with albinism face. It does not end while one is alive, but even after death your body may be exumed and used to concort certain alchemical portions by witchcraft practitioners.

You have certain sects of society who reject you openly whilst they crave and procure your body parts in secret. They claim you are sick, cursed, a ghost, sub-human, deserving of murder, use you to cure AIDS through rape, abduct to dismember you while alive, failed by family, friends and society as a whole. My appeal to sane, thinking people is for us to introspect as individuals and desist from participating (direct/indirectly) from abusing persons with albinism.

You may claim; “but I have never!” Hence I ask;

1. If you’re a manager or employer how many have you hired?
2. If you’re a member of a community, how many are your friends?
3. If you’re a jurist/ legal professional how many have you represented or fought for?
4. If you’re a health professional how many have you helped and advocated for better health benefits?
5. If you’re a police, how many arrests and security have you provided?
6. If you’re a politician, how many policy introductions have you instituted aligned with their plight?
7. If you’re a teacher how many have you empowered and mentored to succeed?
8. If you’re a traditional healer have you educated and scolded your colleagues who violate them?
9. If you reject them what if your grandkids, or future inlaw or person your child will marry will you have control over?
10. If you have Albinism and can aff ord best medical care and have admirable social capital, how many more do you help to be like you?

Board Member: African Heritage Collective(NGO), Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre(KCAP), Road Exchange PTY LTD, Indonya Yesizwe(Co-op) and EYACO(Empowering Youth to Act and Change Outcome, NGO) Email: tokimohoto@gmail.com