On growing up with albinism in Africa: "I didn’t want to be seen as nonhuman"

Like Jane Waithera, an advocate for the rights of people with albinism
Monday, December 18, 2017 - 10:57

By Justice Hub

Jane Waithera is an advocate for the rights of people with albinism. At a recent Hague Talks themed on “How do we break social taboos”  Waithera told a packed audience how, right from her birth, the society she was born into made her feel like she didn’t belong.

"I remember growing up and being the only kid who looked like me,” she said.

“I recall so many memories and some of them are of children coming to pinch me and watch my skin turn white and red. Others actually using razor blades and knives to cut my skin to see if I could bleed.”

The treatment wasn’t any different from the adults who were supposed to know better. Even her own “mom" and teachers at schools treated her as a spectacle at times. 

“I recall my mom every time I was with her she would actually call people to come closer to look at me,” says Waithera.

“Even the teachers in the school that I went to were not at my defence,” she says. 

In the video below Waithera opens up further about her difficult childhood and the unsettling news that she got at 18. Waithera also speaks to the threat people with albinism face from those practising witchcraft in Africa and what she’s doing to change things for the better.

You might also be interested in watching this talk by Leiden University Professor Judi Mesman from the same Hague Talks event. Mesman expertly dismantled the fallacy of colourblind parenting and explained why it is important for parents to be careful how they act and what they say about 'others' including other races, in front of children.

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