A teacher or was it a wise man once opined that the greatest threat to humanity is…no, not natural disasters and incurable diseases; its man’s inhumanity to man.
From centuries past, man has been at the vanguard of eliminating man; from the Napoleons to the Hitlers; the Crusaders and the Jihadists; Whites on Blacks; Blacks on Albinos; it has always been another man at the helm of the killing instrument.
If you did a double-take at ‘Albinos’, then stay with me and be inspired by the tale of Tanzanian Josephat Torner; Albino, Activist and Mountain Climber.
Though albinism occurs around the world, it is most ubiquitous in Africa. The World Health Organization reports that as many as one in a thousand people are albino among certain African ethnic groups and in Tanzania, Albino advocacy groups put the number somewhere above 100,000, out of a total population of roughly 48 million people.
A UN report says that there are tens of thousands of albinos in Africa. Albinos-in case you don’t know- suffer from a genetic condition that deprives their skin, hair, and eyes of melanin, making albinos vulnerable to the sun and to bright light. Almost all albinos suffer from poor eyesight and are prone to skin cancer. There is no cure, though the U.S. National Institutes of Health says that albinism doesn’t usually affect life span. [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/]
For some reason-based in my humble opinion on stark illiteracy and ignorance, – the lives of albinos are threatened in Tanzania on a daily basis, like they don’t have enough struggles already.
Tough times however call for tough people and Josephat Torner, a true African star is leading the drive to educate and correct the deadly misinformation that justifies killing albinos. He is not an investment guru, or business mogul or sterling actor- he is just a man like you and I who has refused to die in silence.
Josephat has dedicated his life to raising awareness about albinism and bringing attention to the unwholesome conditions albinos encounter in East Africa.
In his drive for sentience, Josephat defied medical statistics and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro; just one of the many tasks undertaken to achieve his goals and prove albinos can do anything. “It was really very difficult to climb,” he stated. “But I was climbing because at that time I had an agenda behind for what is happening to this world. We are killed, we are hunted, we are chopped. So I climbed with a special message … to the African countries: that we are able. But [also] protect us, give us a chance, don’t stigmatize, don’t isolate, don’t hide us to the darkness room — just open the way.”
As an activist for the Ukerewe Albino Association, located on Tanzania’s Ukerewe Island, one of Josephat’s most important functions is to work with those who suffer as he does to help them understand they are not limited by the misconceptions and false assumptions of others. It is to teach his fellow albinos that they can achieve, they can get an education, they can raise families and start businesses, and they can live normal, productive lives.
Josephat has travelled all over the world to shed light on the plight of African albinos through United Nations demonstrations, personal interviews, and speaking events. His efforts have also been captured in the recently released Documentary –In the Shadow of the Sun- which follows two men- thirty-four year-old Josephat Torner and fourteen-year-old Vedastus Zangule- afflicted with albinism as they pursue their dreams in the face of lethal prejudgment.
“It’s my dream in my life that people with albinism are respected and given all rights which other human beings are being given. This is what is in my heart — when I would see justice to people with albinism; when I would see the lifespan of people with albinism increasing, this is still a dream to my life.”
Josephat is married and is the father of three children- none of whom have albinism.
May Josephat’s dream come to fruition.
© 2014 – 2017, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.