The Albinism Foundation of Zambia Coordinator Baidon Chaponda has called on the Government to work in close collaboration with existing organisations that advocate for the welfare of persons with albinism in order to promote and raise more awareness on albinism.
Mr Chaponda noted with concern on how persons living with albinism have been facing so many challenges which needs the Government’s intervention therefore, the Government needs to take steps that will promote awareness on albinism in the country, adding that there are albinism organisations that are doing different types of activism work by acting as a mouthpiece for all persons with albinism in Zambia, and each organisation has there own area of concern for example the Albinism Foundation of Zambia there main area is to advocate and raise awareness by giving people comprehensive information on what albinism is.
“When we talk about the engagement of the Government with these existing organisations, when the Government comes in, they will be able to work at the same pace with these organisations who are experts in this area and will be able to advise the government well on how they are supposed to conduct awareness programmes on albinism and how the Government is supposed to conduct themselves when it comes to dealing with issues of albinism,” he said
He cited that the sensitization programmes will also be extended to schools because they have cases where persons with albinism are being bullied in schools and are not being given the attention that they deserve.
Mr Chaponda has commended the Government together with the existing organisations not only for albinism but also other disability organisations who are enforcing the issue of inclusive education, because persons with albinism a long time ago used to be taken to schools for vision impaired pupils, which was not supposed to be the case.
“That’s the reason why this time around we have the issue of inclusive education which is a situation where people with different types of disabilities and people without any disability are able to learn in the same class without any discrimination, and segregation, so the issue of school is also an important issue,” he said
Mr Chaponda mentioned that whatever their organisation is doing, they will endeavor to consult from organisations in countries such as Tanzania who have taken a step further and made tremendous progress in raising awareness on albinism.
“Since early this year we have been having virtual meetings with other countries who have made progress when it comes to albinism issues, we are more like trying to consult on how they have managed to deal with issues of attacks on persons with albinism in their countries, and they were able to give comprehensive advice to the albinism organisations here in Zambia,” Mr Chaponda said
Meanwhile, Disability Rights Watch Director Wamundila Waliuya stated that if the Government has to take steps, they have to go back to look at the cause and take a lot of awareness raising on what albinism actually is in terms of the scientific explanation and that there’s nothing spiritual, ritual about the skin, hair or any body parts of a person with albinism, it should first be understood from there.
Mr Waliuya explained that in order to develop a strategy there’s need to develop a cause, for instance what is the cause of these ritual killings, mutilations and all that, it’s a historical issue where in Africa every person was black and then suddenly one gives birth to a person who is white and originally there was no explanation on how a black person would give birth to a person who appears white or of different in colour therefore, it became like a curse, a non-understandable issue, an issue of spiritualism, and the issue of it came from God.
“When you study the history of categories of different person with disabilities, albinism and other categories of disabilities were thrown and that’s where the history of the evil forest came from because in that time, they were no elderly person with albinism and that’s where the belief came from that persons with albinism do not die instead, they just disappear, when they were thrown away as children they were carried by spirits,” he said
He added that because of the spiritual belief that persons with albinism carry certain powers and were created by God therefore their body parts can be used for ritual practices, this has been happening for a long time but it came to surface when some of the countries in Southern Africa started identifying and discovering that persons with albinism are used for ritual practices.
“It’s unfortunate that when we were doing some follow ups on some of the arrests which were made in Malawi, Tanzania and in the Eastern Province of Zambia, it was discovered that traditional healers, politicians, business men and families are all involved in these ritual killings of persons living with albinism on the belief that they will acquire wealth, win elections and many other beliefs,” Mr Waliuya mentioned
The duo highlighted this when they made an appearance on Tuesday’s edition of the Hot Seat Programme on HOT FM.