Did you know that Albinism is genetically inherited and passed down from previous generations? It is not a curse or caused by infidelity as assumed. It is caused by a lack of melanin that affects the skin, hair and eyes.
”A person is born with albinism; it is not something that you can develop over time. Albinism should not be confused with vitiligo, which can develop over time. Vitiligo is an auto immune disease where the immune system fights against its cells that make pigment, there are no clear studies that show what the exact cause is but it is hereditary,” explains Khethang Morimoholo.
Khethang is Mr Albinism 2022, he was crowned last year October. He has had an extensive modelling career that started at the age of 14; it was mostly high fashion and catalogue modelling.
“I was never a pageant model prior to my recent title but someone believed that with the tittle next to my name, it will accelerate my journey in spreading awareness “says Khethang. He will be traveling to Zimbabwe on 27 August 2022 to judge Mr/Miss Albinism Zimbabwe as well as to do a few activations in Harare. “We are seeking sponsorship for transportation to Zimbabwe as Mr/Miss Albinism SA does not have enough funds for the trip however accommodation has been sorted for us,” says Khethang.
What he enjoyed the most about his competitors is that most of them entered the competition with an end goal to raise awareness but not just to win. Albinism has suffered a harsh stigma but Khethang from Ekurhuleni in Katlehong plans to shed some light and put the stigma to rest. “I can’t wait for the day when I start seeing a lot of people with albinism put their hands up, I’m starting to see it but I’m not yet satisfied “adds Khethang.
Morimoholo has joined forces with an organisation called Hands That Give. The foundation was established in 2018 by Caroline Komana. “The foundation had barely scratched the surface with just a few activities in-between when I joined them this year February. We immediately started planning on how to position the foundation for maximum impact,”says Khethang.
The foundation lobbies for children with albinism however, they also cater for children with disabilities. The NGO seeks to collect sunscreen, assist in a skin care regime and when the need arises, they refer children to certain dermatologists and optometrists for further assistance.
Mr Albinism is proud that a conversation has finally broken out around the condition. There are groups in communities like The Flo Foundation where information is shared. Khethang is a peer educator in the foundation. Most parents that have children with the condition are encouraged to engage is such groups and foundations. Khethang’s parents do not have the condition; however, one of his aunts dating 2-3 generations back had albinism. This generation has slightly increased awareness on albinism however; Morimoholo wants to see a drastic change particularly in the schooling field.
“I know this is a long shot but let me shoot upon a shooting star. There are schools for special needs but education is a right and should have no prejudice towards a particular child. It would be great to see children with albinism attend mainstream schooling because after high school, higher education is mainstream for all,” expresses Khethang. He believes that it will make it easier and acceptable for society to exist with people with albinism.
“I encourage you not to sleep because you are not yet amongst the dead but work hard enough to raise a generation that does not have to heal from any childhood trauma” concludes Khethang.
For sponsorship towards The Hand That Gives Foundation or the trip please contact Khethang:
081 534 2391 and firstname.lastname@example.org
By Sandra Lesenyeho