Commissioner: Commission of Gender and Equality; Founder of Albinism Society of South Africa; Albinism Activist
I was born in Sophiatown, South Africa as one of ten siblings, five of whom had albinism. Having older sibblings with albinism meant that my family and the community I was born into understood my condition and were accepting of me. I salute my parents for standing by us. This changed when I left home.
I wanted to become a teacher so I had to relocate to Kwazulu Natal to get training. I took the train to Durban, it was a 2-day journey. When I arrived there, no one knew anything about albinism. In the teaching and training programs the children would run away from me, because they had never seen anyone with albinism.
When I qualified to become a teacher, I could not get employment. People did not want to hire me, and at that time it was school boards that hired people, so the people’s prejudice about me, as a person with albinism influenced their decision to not hire me.
Eventually, I was employed as a teacher at a school where my sister was the Principal. I taught there for 20 years. When I applied for the vice Principal position I did not get the position despite my experience, I suspect this was also because of my condition. When my sister and I were fired from the school shortly after I made the choice not the dwell on this. I picked myself up and apllied to the University of Witwatersrand to further my studies.
At the University of Witwatersrand I received a scholarship and while I was there I started the organization to educate and provide user friendly information on albinism to the community which is today called the Albinism Society of South Africa. I have achieved much in my professional life since then that I am very proud of. I founded the Pan African Albinism Alliance.I have served as a Social Cohesion Advocate at the Department of Arts & Culture. The President appointed me as a Gender Commissioner. I have travelled extensively advocating for the rights of persons with albinism.
I will never stop working; I will only rest when there’s no more killing of persons with albinism in Africa. Being 68 I am also concious of the issues facing older women with albinism and the need for us to get together and address this.
I am also a phenomenal singer and a mother of four great kids, I am very proud of that. My husband and I were classmates, so we watched each other growth. And when his family met me they were amazed that he chose me. So I had a lot to do to prove myself to them. I took the role of taking care of my husband’s siblings. I had to prove to people that I was like other women, that even though I had albinism I was also still a woman. I am a world phenomenon. I am a wonder.
My advice to young girls with albinism is get an education, look after yourself, and make sure you are safe and practice caution.