REIGNING Miss Albinism Zimbabwe, Ayanda Candice Sibanda is working tirelessly to curb stigma and discrimination of persons with albinism.

BY GRANT MOYO

Her positive attitude and no-nonsense approach towards prejudice is helping her succeed in her drive.

Sibanda first got recognition in the modelling industry in 2018 when she was awarded Most Promising Model at the Summer Fashion and Style awards.

Last year, she was crowned Miss Albinism Zimbabwe and was second runner up in the Miss Teen Zimbabwe contest.

The 19-year-old law student is set to represent Zimbabwe at the upcoming Miss Continents to be held in Las Vegas, the United States, in July this year if it goes ahead.

Sibanda acknowledges that being different has made her understand that not everyone will tolerate her and be accommodating.

Besides modelling, she is the founder of the Ayanda Candice Foundation and an English Access Micro-scholarship programme alumni.

She is also a motivational speaker, humanitarian activist and a girl child advocate.

Myths on albinism

We have old cultural myths that have existed for a very long time. It is believed that people with albinism do not die and there is misconception that our body parts can be used to heal chronic diseases.

We have stereotypes that say we are not as equally capable as other people. I have made it my job as an activist to spread the message that we should refuse to be defined by unjustified harmful cultural conspiracy beliefs.

I am saying as persons with albinism we should not allow someone else to dictate to us. Like all humans we have the freedom of expression, let’s utilise it. I am advocating for change in society and the world at large.

We have to understand that as citizens of this global village we are all different. There is something unique about each one of us. For persons with albinism, it is their skin. There is need for society to embrace this uniqueness.

If traditional leaders, churches, local authorities, policy makers and ordinary citizens start spreading the message of tolerance and inclusiveness, the world will be a better place.

On being different

I discovered in primary school that I was different when other children started asking me questions like, ‘Are your parents white?’ ‘Why is your brother black?’

My teachers would make me sit in front because I was short-sighted and then I started questioning all these occurrences. It was painful being the only child in a school of 1 500 pupils who looked different, and people made fun of me.

At a very young age, children of my age were asking me questions like, ‘What happens to you when you die?’ ‘When will you turn black again?’ ‘What happens if I beat you?’ ‘Why is it you and your sister are different from the rest of your family, are you from another planet?’

Discrimination experiences

I had sisters and mothers who told their children and siblings not to play with me. I had relatives who pretended to like me. I was overwhelmed with confusion, I never really knew who honestly cared about me.

I have told myself that I am equally capable as the next model. Whichever designer, photographer or promoter who will exercise prejudice will miss out on an opportunity to work with this wonderful, hardworking individual. I have also made it a point to bring out my very best when I get a modelling gig.

We live in a world that questions our capability as women and, in turn, set to marginalise, abuse as well as discriminate against us, but that very same world is diversifying. We have feminists and humanitarian activists who are advocating for change as well as inclusion. It is awful that we spend most of our time fighting but it is also great because we are fighting for something bigger than us. A good course that will not benefit only us, but generations to come as well.