Felicity Sibbo Chataa
It appears that over the years, albinism has been an object of social stigma. There are so many misconceptions around these genetic phenomena. Can you imagine giving birth to an albino child? What would people around you say? Imagine the stereotype this child would encounter at school or in the community. Perhaps we are all wrong about this phenomenon. Albinism may not be what we think it is.
Well, albinism is not a malady which will hurt you. So, get to know individuals, regardless of their shading. A change in skin tone does not change the individual; get to know them for their identity, and not for what they look like. An albino-born somebody may have an alternate shading, yet they have a similar soul like ours. Let us acknowledge them as normal beings of a society.
Societal attitudes about albinism have a tremendous influence on the person with such a genetic disorder, which influences vary from person to person, and at different stages of life. Having this genetic disorder also has a dreadful impact on the person, which likewise varies from person to person, and again at different stages of life.
In Namibia, the word “albino” is commonly used in many languages, including English. Some people are comfortable to be referred to as an albino in any of the native languages, whilst others get hurt when referred to as such. However, people often use the word albino with the intention of hurting the carrier of that genetic disorder (albinism). Many feel it is dehumanising to refer to a person in terms of their condition. Although slightly cumbersome, the terms “people with albinism” and “person with albinism” put the person first and the condition second.
It is vital that the family with such a child has accurate information about albinism. Parents, specifically first-timers, need support and time to understand the condition of their child. Parents and other family members may need to face some unpleasant stereotypes they have learnt with regards to albinism. Siblings need to understand why their brother or sister looks different, and why they seem to be getting so much more attention than them. There is no single force greater than the family helping a child understand and accept himself or herself.
In conclusion, albinism is unique; we are all created differently for different purposes. The reason God created us differently is because God wanted to show the world through us just how mighty he is. So, let us love, care and embrace people living with this “no melanin” condition. Let us not judge, shame or tease one another.