Albinism occurs in both animals and humans. As you probably already know, albinism is a genetic disease characterized by a lack of pigments in the skin, hair and eyes. As the substance melanin is absent in albinos, their skin is very sensitive to radiation from the sun. Therefore, it is extra challenging for albinos to live in warmer regions, such as Africa. In today’s article, we will share the touching story of a young, South African model named Thando Hopa. She puts into words what it is like to live life as an albino.
Model Thando Hopa
Thando Hopa is 24 years old, and is both a model and a lawyer. She took her education in Johannesburg. There she attracted a lot of attention due to her remarkable appearance, which looked good both on stage and on the cover of fashion magazines. Hopa is one of the few black albino models in the world.
Incidence of albinism
It may surprise you that Africa has the largest prevalence of albinos in the world. This is especially true of Tanzania. Experts have not been able to find the cause of the phenomenon, but it is believed that European settlers during the colonial period who practiced inbreeding are to blame. In Africa, the incidence of albinism is 15% higher than in the rest of the world.
According to Hopa, albinism in Africa is primarily considered a physical problem, but also a social problem. Due to the strong sunlight and lack of resources, many albinos develop diseases such as cancer and blindness. In addition, they are met with great contempt.
The curse of Africa
Albinos are often called “Zeru-Zeru”, meaning “child of the devil” or ghost. Many in Africa believe that albinism is a curse, in which the sins of the albino child’s parents are reflected in the ghostly appearance of the child. This leads to social stigma, exclusion, and in some cases the children are dumped and left behind.
Worst of all, a living albino is worth zero in Africa, while a dead albino is just as valuable as diamonds. Certain tribes, ethnic groups and healers in Africa believe that the blood and organs of an albino have magical healing powers. Albinos are therefore as big a prey as rhinos and elephants. Large sums of money are paid to get maimed, and in the worst case, kill an albino.
Several human rights organizations confirm that the problem is real. Troops with armed men arrive at night and kidnap albino children and adults to maim them. Many end up being brutally murdered. Very large sums are paid for body parts, blood and internal organs. These heinous crimes violate human rights at the absolute highest level.
Life as an albino
Life as an albino in Africa is truly a true curse, and that is precisely why people like Thando Hopa stand out as albino. They, together with human rights organizations, want to put atrocities on the international agenda. In Tanzania in particular, the persecution of albinos is a serious problem. Despite international efforts, many albinos still die each year, either as a result of homicides or diseases directly caused by albinism. Sun damage, infections and cancer are among the many dangers albinos face every day.
Today there are many children who have to learn to live without hands and feet. The children live hopefully that one day they will be able to live a dignified life, despite the fact that they live life as albino, the worst stigma imaginable.