BY ISAAC MWAURA
Fellow Kenyans, today, June 13, 2021, marks a very important day in the calendar of our struggle for recognition and equal opportunity for all.
Today is the International Albinism Awareness Day
This year’s theme is, “Strong Beyond All Odds.”
We have made strides in showing the world that persons with albinism are human beings just like any other being and should be accorded dignity and respect.
We have been able to showcase our talent and participation as teachers, lawyers, politicians, artists, beauty models, servicemen, medics etc, but also fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, and members of various communities.
Today marks the 6th celebration in Kenya and the whole world, having celebrated our first IAAD on 13th June 2015.
Awareness creation has really increased over time and a new paradigm shift has been witnessed across the country in the way persons with albinism are being treated.
However, as Nelson Mandela said, “if you climb one hill, you realize that there are several others to climb”.
It is true that we have recently witnessed unwarranted and unsolicited attacks in the political arena by leaders whose worldview on us remains traditional and backward.
Junet Mohammed and David Murathe have insulted us.
They and those who think like or follow them have demonstrated a very high level of ignorance and backward thinking, to the effect that they think that persons with albinism do not deserve any rights in society.
They find it difficult to reconcile their myopic uninformed views with the abilities of persons with albinism versus the perceived inabilities conferred by the society that they were brought up in.
Using the charity model, they aver that persons with albinism are objects of pity on one hand, and if any one of them displays strength of character and fortitude, they want to obliterate the difference in morphology and physiology to ridicule and diminish their stature and contribution in society.
They find it difficult to process the fact that we can have strong divergent opinions contrary to those held by them and their associates.
That we too can call out ills in society and that our quest for equality is also equally informed by the realization that in our quest for recognition, we have realized that if there is no equality for everyone, there can never be equality for us as persons with albinism as a marginalized group of people.
What is good for the goose, is good for the gander.
There is a generally widely held view that persons with albinism and indeed disability should not be loud and opinionated, they should be humble for them to be likeable.
They should be quiet, good, and apologetic.
They should not be ‘too strong’ to be ‘disabled’.
This view is anchored upon the subconscious belief that indeed disability is inability.
We strongly want to disabuse this backward and retrogressive notion and condemn it in the strongest terms possible.
To the Murathe’s and Junet’s of this world and those who think like them, we tell them, do not judge someone by the color of their skin or physical ability, but the content of their character.
Slavery was built on colour differentiation and they should know better as fellow Africans.
We are black people with a white skin, black but not black enough, white but not white, enough, disabled but not disabled enough.
We suffer from that in-betweenness.
Attacking people based on natural attributes reeks of the ineptitudes of imagination, and lack of moral understanding either out of sheer ignorance or advancing ad hominem arguments to cover up the real issue that bedevil our great country, Kenya.
Persons with Albinism are Kenyans like any other and have a right to freedom of expression and association.
We are too aware that the challenge of representing a marginalized group of people is that you must claim marginalization for you to get a seat at the table, while at the same time working hard to overcome the very barriers that hinder you from starting out on an equal basis with others, yet the very marginalization is affirmed by being thrown at you when competition sets in.
To Person with albinism, lets continue to stand strong beyond all odds.
Be yourself and never allow others to define you.
Do not allow people to use their lenses to tell you who you are or to see yourself through their eyes: for they will always have a low opinion of you, trying to tame the giant and greatness that is in you.
You may have to pay the ultimate price, and make sacrifices, but that is your journey, and you must move forward to fulfill your life’s purpose towards your destiny.
Stand up, get up, and make yourself count.
The future belongs to the bold and courageous.
Fan your flame, keep burning, keep shinning.
As Mahatma Gandhi said “never apologize for being correct, or for being ahead of your time. If you are right and you know it, speak your mind.
Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.
Be strong beyond all odds.
Happy International Albinism Awareness Day.
Isaac Mwaura is the Chairman of the Albinism Society of Kenya and sits in the Technical Board of the Global Albinism Alliance, the global voice of persons with albinism across the world.