Summary: Andreia Solange Sicato Muhitu, an Angolan model, triumphs in the first-ever Mr. and Miss Albinism Southern Africa pageant in Zimbabwe. She hopes to inspire young girls with albinism and fight against stigma and discrimination in the region.
A Celebration of Beauty and Purpose
Andreia Solange Sicato Muhitu, a 28-year-old Angolan model, has been crowned the co-winner of the inaugural Mr. and Miss Albinism Southern Africa pageant. While she has participated in beauty pageants in Angola before, this event held in Zimbabwe had a deeper impact on her. Muhitu believes that this pageant is an opportunity to promote beauty and acceptance among people with albinism, who often face prejudice and violence in parts of Africa.
Changing Perceptions and Challenging Superstitions
The pageant aims to challenge the misconceptions and superstitions surrounding albinism. People with albinism, who have pale-colored skin, hair, and eyes due to a genetic condition, are often subjected to harmful beliefs and practices. Some believe that engaging in sexual intercourse with a person with albinism can cure HIV or that their body parts possess supernatural powers. These dangerous myths have led to violence and killings in countries like Malawi and Tanzania. By celebrating the beauty and talents of individuals with albinism, the pageant seeks to change mindsets and promote acceptance.
Confronting Discrimination and Inspiring Change
The contestants of the pageant shared stories of rejection, discrimination, and the lack of access to affordable skincare services and cancer treatment. They emphasized the need for a shift in societal perceptions and the importance of providing equal opportunities for people with albinism. Andreia Solange Sicato Muhitu, who holds a position in the tourism department of Angola, believes that modeling contests and art forms can be powerful tools to challenge stereotypes and change mindsets. She hopes to use her title to drive change not only in her country but across the entire region.
The Impact of Albinism in Africa
Albinism is more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, affecting approximately 1 in 5,000 people. In certain populations in Zimbabwe and other southern African countries, the prevalence can reach 1 in 1,000. This is significantly higher than the rates in North America and Europe. The pageant brought together 18 contestants from countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Angola, and Tanzania. These individuals, representing diverse professions like fashion designers, health workers, and models, aimed to showcase their talents and highlight the challenges faced by people with albinism in the region.
Empowering Individuals and Promoting Equality
The pageant, held under the theme ‘Into the light,’ aimed to shed light on the boundless talents of individuals with albinism and combat the harsh treatment and stigma they often experience. Event organizer Brenda Mudzimu, who also has albinism, emphasized the need to change societal perceptions and end the mental and physical torment faced by people with albinism. The contestants were judged on their charisma, confidence, poise, quality of walk, and intellect. The event also recognized winners in categories such as Miss Personality and the People’s Choice awards.
Inspiring Dreams and Encouraging Talent
Andreia Solange Sicato Muhitu, the co-winner of the pageant, expressed her appreciation for the growing number of events that celebrate people with albinism in Africa. She sees beauty pageants as powerful platforms to showcase the potential and talent of individuals with albinism. Muhitu hopes to inspire young girls to follow their dreams and believes that everyone, regardless of their skin color, deserves a chance to shine.
Tags: Angolan model, albinism pageant, stigma, discrimination, Africa, superstitions, prevalence, empowerment, acceptance, talent