Yaoundé — International Albinism Awareness Day on June 13 has been observed in Cameroon, with albinos asking for more government and community care and protection. Those living with this hereditary genetic condition that reduces melanin pigment in skin, hair and eyes, say stigma, violence, superstition and killing have greatly lessened, but abuses have not been eliminated.
One hundred and sixty albinos and their family members assembled at the World Association for Advocacy and Solidarity of Albinos office in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, to mark International Albinism Awareness Day.
Among them is 16-year-old albino Ronald Essi, who said he was abandoned because of his condition.
Essi said he wants to become a police officer to defend his country Cameroon and punish civilians who abuse albinos’ rights. He said his mother abandoned him when he was two years old. He said his grandmother resisted family pressure to kill him. He said he has been living in the streets since 2015, when his grandmother died.
Essi said a Catholic priest rescued him from the street and sent him to a school in Yaoundé.
Essi is one of the about 2,200 albinos the government says live in Cameroon.
This year Cameroon reported that prejudice and discrimination against albinos in employment and social life had lowered drastically. The government said hunting down albinos for their body parts has been eliminated from many communities.
Witch doctors who claim that albinos bring wealth and good luck to people who have access to their body parts are disappearing. In many communities, albino babies are no longer considered signs of misfortune and buried alive or starved until they die.