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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
What do you know about albinism?
Two girls with albinism in Zimbabwe
As Nigeria's albino community launches a national campaign to end discrimination, what do you really know and think of albinism?

Albinism is a hereditary condition that causes little or no pigmentation in people's eyes, skin or hair. In some parts of Africa it is estimated to affect as many as one in every 1,000 people.

Albinos struggle with poor eyesight, and on the continent are much more prone to skin cancer and have shorter life expectancy.

They also have to contend with stigma and discrimination as in many African societies they are seen as bearers of bad luck. Often albino people are abandoned at birth and are shunned throughout their lives.

What do you really think of people with albinism and are attitudes changing in your country? If you have albinism, how do people treat you? When did you first become aware that you were different? Tell us about any initiatives that are helping to improve the lot of people with albinism.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

Albinism is a lack of melanin in the skin. So discriminating people with this condition is unfair because they are human beings like the rest of us.
Joce, Eindhoven,The Netherlands

It is commendable that albinos in my country, Nigeria have taken this initiative to end whatever stigma or discrimination they still may be facing in their communities. It may be true that some old African traditions do discriminate and stigmatize people with albinism; today however, such traditions are fast dying out. Albinism is not an unnatural phenomenon!
Francis Monye, Berlin, Germany

I think people with albinism are just the same as ordinary poorly people and it is terrible that they are treated in the way it is written. There should not be a barrier in communication with them. We should help them to cope with this difficulty. There are a lot of people with albinism not only in Africa but all over the world. They are the part of this world and have the same rights as we have.
Inna, Moscow, Russia

No human being should be discriminated against based on colour or tribe. As human beings, we should respect the work of God. It is ignorance that makes people to discriminate against others. Awareness and education are the keys to overcoming discrimination. Albinos are like any other human beings except for the colour of their skin. It is the content of the heart that matters rather than the outward appearance.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Albinism is a natural occurrence so we should not stigmatise the sufferer.
Kingsley, Maiduguri,Nigeria

Albinos are human beings like us. The only difference is their lack of pigmentation on their skin, eyes and hair. An initiative should be launched to educate people on albinism and it's sufferers. They should be accorded the respect they deserve.
Enock Maturwe, Nairobi, Kenya

It is high time that cultural myths and superstitions surrounding albinos be changed. After all, everyone is created by God.
Ali Fazal, Tanga, Tanzania

I speak as a mother of a very beautiful two - year old albino girl. Albinism is hereditary and not disease .We love her, and don't treat her differently from her three brothers.
Nejay Dosumu, Bowie, Maryland, USA

It is wrong and sinful to discriminate against albinos. I have come across albinos that are extra-ordinarily intelligent. They should be tolerated and understood as not been responsible for their plight. An insight I have often heard about though not proven scientifically, is that people with this condition should avoid taking salt in their meals, to improve their pigmentation level.
Ashipa James Olashupo, Abuja, Nigeria

In my school days in the south east of Nigeria, one of my closest friends had the condition. And he was also a friend to anyone I knew. It certainly was not regarded as a "condition," though there was the occasional good-humoured name-calling. We called him "the unfortunate European" and he called us all sorts of names too. It sounds pretty nasty now, but all it was all good fun at the time.
UE, Kent, UK/Nigeria

Albinos are much healthier and responsible than us. What they need to do is to come out of their shell and not feel inferior. I'll rather live my life with an Albino than a non -albino.
Zandre.S.K, Stockholm, Sweden

The cave days should, by now, be over and done with superstition and discrimination should not rule our thought.
Olaoluwa Nelson, Lagos, Nigeria

Albinism in my view is not a curse but Albinos in Africa especially in Nigeria have suffered neglect, abuse and widespread discrimination. So I believe launching the campaign in my country, Nigeria is a welcome development.
Akinwale Keji,Lagos,Nigeria

Long before now albinos in some African tribes were considered demons and abandoned in the wild to die. Therefore, it is a good thing that these people are coming out and making themselves visible. Like all kinds of prejudice, the best way out is educating the masses.
Ernest, Gothenburg, Sweden

Albinos are regarded as highly spiritual people and they are bound to be treated as such in the Yoruba traditional religion. If they are being discriminated against today in Nigeria, it is the fallout from the decline in our traditional values.
Adigun Olosun, Ostbevern, Germany(Nigerian)

All human beings are equal and are made in the image of God. In Zambia albinos are treated in the same way we treat each other. Moreover our first republican president brought a philosophy which bordered on humanism-'One Zambia, One nation.' This really integrated and united the nation irrespective of colour, race and status quo.
Francis Chibwinja, Kitwe Zambia

It is the content of our heart that matters and not the outward appearance, so Kenyans stop discriminating against us- the albinos. We love you please love us.
Tawakal Muslima Hassan, Mandera,Kenya

If we can accept people with HIV/AIDS, I don't see how we should discriminate against a fair skin person known as an Albino. Discriminating against them is showing disrespect to God.
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Kitwe/Zambia/Central Africa

There shouldn't be any stigma against people with albinism. In the first place, nobody should be discriminated on the basis of colour; race, or social statue. Before God all humans are equal.
Onyema, Libreville Gabon

My best friend in high school was an exceptionally brilliant albino. She was never given preferential treatment in school but she did get one or two "Unfortunate European" jokes.
Kelechi, Abuja, Nigeria

Although albinism is a condition that can not be cured, there are few things that can be done to improve the quality of life of those affected. In Africa, the use of sunscreen can be used to prevent premature skin aging or skin cancer. Otherwise sunglasses and hats with wide brims can make the strong sunlight outside bearable. The largest problem facing these people today is social, but in countries where albinism is seen as normal these people are capable of doing their day-to-day duties and even excel. Malian musician Salif Keita is an example of an albino who has risen to the pinnacle of his calling.
Leo Juma Sibala, Nzega, Tanzania

A person is an Albino through no fault of his own. To that extent people should not discriminate against Albinos unless they are blaming God for that condition. In my country the Government do not discriminate against Albinos. Most people feel free with them.
Obiechehie Ozioma Good, Umuahia, Nigeria

I know several albinos of same sex who are married and have healthy children, and some have considerable public influence and are not discriminated against. Societies everywhere need to know that they are as normal, and capable as anyone else.
J Keletso, Botswana

It's not by choice to be born albino. They should not be discriminated against in anyway. Let's support them for the betterment of their living as we are all equal before our creator regardless of our skin colour.
Gerald Tasauka, Malawi

It's a great pity how people treat Albinos badly since they are in no way responsible for their albinism. It is also a kind of physical disability and therefore it is duty of everyone to give special care and respect to them. I know an albino teacher in my son's college who commands very good respect due to his best teaching capability.
Ashwani Roy, Bikaner, India

I think albinos in Africa should be treated fairly like anybody else. They should enjoy every right; after all they are not responsible for their skin pigment.
Linford Aagon Gweh, Norway

It's not fair the treatment meted against albinos in some tribes in my country. For instance, the Bakweri's in the South West Province in Cameroon , sacrifice them to the 'Epasamoto' (god of the mountain- Mount Cameroon).I am indifferent about them, but frankly speaking, I pray to God not to give birth to one.
Lizette Betanga, Yaounde,Cameroon

I come from a country which has recently come together to mourn the passing of one of the greatest DJ and radio personality in the country. He was an Albino. There was no reservation as to his contribution and exceptional skills in the country's broadcasting and entertainment. All recognized him as a fantastic guy.
Almo, Serowe, Botswana

I have a thirty five year old cousin and a twelve year old nephew who have albinism. The attitude of people towards them is astounding to say the least. People think they have a right to make derogatory comments about their condition. This year I had a visitor who insulted my nephew just because he had albinism. I sternly told the visitor he was not welcomed in my house.
Jane, Nairobi

If one can bleach and change the colour of their skin then why can't we accept the Albinos? After all it's only hereditary and not contagiously contracted. It is high time we stopped looking down on this people.
Lakuma Lawrence Onen, Kampala

It's very sad hearing albino people tell their story and the treatment meted out on them. I think what people need is education about albinos, their struggles and the challenges they face. I hope people will understand them and treat them just like others.
Ikran Ahmed, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Humanity has no discrimination.So everyone before God is the same and what matters is the heart. One would gain nothing from discriminating against people with albinism but also albino people should be open, free and should not appear to suspect that other people are discriminating against them.
Okello Lawrence, Gulu, Uganda

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