Why people tend to have pale blue, brown or

 

Why
are albinos stigmatised in Africa?

 

Nelson
Mandela had stated wise quotes about discrimination and one of them it was
that: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin,
or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can
learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the
human heart than its opposite.” However, in the same nation that was taught by
Nelson Mandela to extinct the barriers of the discriminatory regime known as
apartheid, there are several stigmas against albinos. In order to understand
whether this attitude is justified or not, it is necessary to look in some
details the scenario and the sociological theories about it.

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Albinos
are people who were born with albinism which is a genetic disorder caused by
the faulty of the genes that gives pigmentation to skin and hair colours, the
melanin. Consequently, people with albinism have a partial or total lack of
melanin, leaving them with physical characteristics different from the most
part of people such as white hair and pale skin. Albinism also might affect the
eyes because melanin is responsible for the develop of the retina which is the
thin layer cells located at the back of the eye. Hence, there are some possible
eye problems that are commonly linked to albinism. These are: poor eyesight,
astigmatism, photophobia, nystagmus, and squint. The
eye colour depends on the type of albinism, but albinos people tend to have
pale blue, brown or grey eyes. Albinos in Africa usually have darker coloured
eyes because of their ethnic group. Another problem that people with albinism
confront everyday it is the sun. The sun could be very prejudice to albinos
because the lack of melanin in their skin exposure them to get sunburn and skin
cancer. A study from the Bugando Medical Centre(BMC) Dermatology reports that
skin cancer is the major cause of albino’s death in African. The BMC studied a
large group of albinos who got skin cancer treatment in a hospital in Bugando
/Africa between March 2001 and February 2010. The study result shows:  13% of patients who got treatment at Bugando
Medical Centre(BMC) were Albinos, the male to female ratio was 1.5:1, the
median age of the patients were 30 years old, the median duration of the
illness was 24 months and the commonest reason for late presentation was
financial difficulties.

 

There
are different types of albinism but the two most commonly are the
Oculocutaneous albinism(OCA) and Oculocutaneous albinism 2(OCA2),
tyrosine-positive albinism, being the last one the most predominant type found in
the African Continent.

 Around the world, 1 in 17000 people are
albinos and Hong et al (2006) report that the prevalence as high as 1 in 1000
in some African countries.

The
stigmatisation against albinos in Africa has been occurring for decades. In
some part of African continent, those who are born with albinism have been
socially discriminated because it is widely believed that people with albinism
are not human instead they are creatures with healing powers and their limbs
can bring luck. This myth is mainly influenced by witch doctor in rural areas
of the continent. Therefore, many albinos are persecuted and murders, so their
bodies parts are dismembered to be sold. Last year, Amnesty International
stated: “The macabre trade is also fuelled by a belief that bones of people
with albinism contain gold, noting another belief is that sex with a person
with albinism can cure HIV”.

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