“Tonight as we celebrate the lives of persons with albinism, we choose to stand united against all sorts of stigma and abuse towards people living with albinism. This pageant is about brains, boldness and confidence among other criteria and it also celebrates the uniqueness of persons with albinism in our society,” said the Malawi First Lady.
Mutharika was speaking when she presided over the first ever Mr and Miss Albinism and talent show on Saturday at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe, which was organised by the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM).
The pageant, which attracted 30 contestants, saw Chikondi Kadzanja emerging as the winner of Miss Albinism while Bennet Phunyanya emerged as winner of Mr Albinism.
The First Lady pointed out that the event sent out a message to the mothers holding a little baby with albinism that given the right care and nurturing, the little ones grow to the persons they want to be.
APAM President, Ian Simbota said persons with albinism in the country have endured systematic rights abuses and discrimination as such faced barriers in pursuit of their rights.
He said despite all odds persons with albinism are still standing strong and that the event was the testimony to the strength, courage, resilience and hope that persons with albinism carry.
“Tonight we are challenging the prevailing negative narratives of persons with albinism and through the beauty pageant we are sayingthat, persons with albinism are just like anybody and if given opportunitiesand support they can excel and shine,” Simbota said.
Both Kadzanja and Phunyanya went home with K1million and laptop each, for winning the contest.
Hilda Mcheso got the position of first Princess while Fergus Makawa won the position of first Prince and both walked away with K 500 000 each while Geoffrey Phunyanya won the talent show and walked away with K500,000 as well.
Accepting the crown, Kanjadza said as the new Miss Albinism she is going to engage Ministry of Finance to allocate funds for loans to young persons with albinism.
“Most young persons with albinism in our localities have nothing to do as such they fail to be independent, so the loans will help them start small business that will enable them be independent,” she said.
On his part, Mr Albinism Phunyanya said with the money he has won he is going to boost his small firm which deals with graphic designing.
“I will come up with a team so that persons with albinism should be engaged in sporting activities,” Phunyanya added.
He advised persons with albinisms to work hard and believe in themselves because persons with albinism in Africa are looked down upon.
United Nations Representative Maria Torres Jose commended APAM for the event as it was human rights centred and was celebrating the difference.
“We have to acknowledge that before the census, we thought that they were 15,000 people with albinism but as of today we know that they are 150, 000 people and this is an amazing number of people with talent, brains and beauty,” she said.
Jose said through the contest they have learnt that beauty is not only in the skin but it is in the way that one sees oneself.
“It has been emotional to see all of you teaching us how you are bringing Malawi to the centre of human rights agenda and also projecting the country forward,” she said.
“This beauty contest reminds us that we come in many colours but at the end of the day there is one planet and one person,” Jose added.