International Albinism Awareness Day

Ruth HartleyChildren's Stories, Family, Human rights, Identity, Southern Africa, The Colourless Child, ZambiaLeave a Comment

I’m writing a new story titled The Colourless Child. It’s taking me on a new journey and I’m making new discoveries.

The International School of Lusaka -one of the photographs by Nick Murphy from the book ‘Zambia ‘ published by ANZ Grindlays Bank to commemorate 25 years of Independence

This Sunday 13th June is the United Nations International Albinism Awareness Day and the theme is Strength Beyond all Odds

When I lived in Zambia I taught art at the International School and this wonderful photo by Ian Murphy is of some of the pupils I knew. Among them is a young boy with albinism, As you can see he is wearing a judo outfit. He was a warrior and a hero and was also one of my best and most intelligent students.

It’s time for all of us to join together and end the discrimination against persons with albinism especially those in Africa who face terrible danger and even death from ignorance and fear. Albinos can also suffer illnesses caused by a lack of skin pigmentation and blindness.

What I find most inspiring about the stories of people with albinism are those of the love and support of mothers and of families and of the kindness and help of others. Please be kind enough to share this post and the links and to support the organisations.

Useful links

Here are links to various organisations that provide help, information and advocacy.

Under The Same Sun. International Albinism Awareness Day Action on Albinism Life in the shadows

And here is a brief excerpt from my new story – the theme of the IAAD – Strength Against the Odds fits my story well too!



C’mon Dude!’ Natasha says

She does the thing that my mother does – she arches her back and turns her head sideways like she can see me better when she’s all twisted up and that little bit further away. I wriggle, hump one shoulder towards her and keep my head down as if I’m admiring my new trainers. Then I do my cute look up at her from under my white eyelashes with my bottom lip pushed out.

Natasha laughs, but it’s a sad laugh.

‘C’mon kid!’ Natasha says again.

‘You want to look cool on the plane, don’t you? I’ve got you some mirror shades for your dancing eyes – but which colour baseball cap are you going to wear?’

I point slowly one by one to each of my baseball caps and then waggle my finger up and down slowly at the red one that says ‘VOTE for KASUBA’ in big black letters. Natasha doesn’t know what to say or do. She’s dead worried about my choice but doesn’t want to upset me. She should know I’m not going to be upset about the baseball cap. I’m upset about the plane trip to the Kingdom while the Republic holds its elections.

‘Okay, sister’, I say, flinging out my hand like that gay guy Will on the TV. ‘You choose!’

Natasha is so relieved. How come she doesn’t get it that I’m fooling around? Sometimes grown-up people just don’t know how to behave around someone like me. Right now, I guess – everyone is just scared. Natasha and my Mom are coming with me on the plane. They’re taking me to stay with Auntie Hannah. She’s not even a real auntie – she’s just old like all aunties.

‘We are going to fly First Class!’ Natasha says.

‘I’m too young to drink’, I say, blinking my eyes quickly so that they flutter ‘So what’s good about being in First Class?’ (Like I don’t know!)

I know what’s happening. They are sending me off to the Kingdom because somebody is going to kill me. Chipo told me that at our small private school. He heard it from Mr Nkomo, the security guard at the school gate.

‘Mr Nkomo says they’re going to kill you to stop that Mr Goffle’s magic powers.’

Mr Goffle is my step-father, Carl.

Goffle is not a good word’, Mom says.

They say it about someone who’s not all African like Mom. Carl’s actually Natasha’s father. I suppose she’s a Goffle too but I won’t call her that. I like her.  My Mom is married to Carl and she says that Carl and Mr Kasuba are going to get elected to our government. Carl has no magic powers, according to Natasha.

He can’t even cook,’ she says.

‘I don’t want you to be dead, Busiku,’ Chipo says. ‘You’re my best friend.’

‘I don’t want to be dead either,’ I answer. ‘I’ll scare anyone who tries to make me dead!’

I stare straight into Chipo’s eyes. He puts his hand up to protect them, giggles, blinks and turns his face away.

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