Dar es Salaam. Exciting moments for the Tanzania fashion industry as the first ever models with albinism fashion show took Dar es Salaam by storm.
The inaugural event dubbed “My Skin My Pride” took place last Friday at the Turkish Ambassador, Ali Davutoglu’s residence in Oysterbay whereby five models with albinism made a debut in the event which was organised by Miss Tanzania 2012 winner, Brigitte Alfred Foundation (BAF).
Those in attendance were in awe when models walked on the red carpet displaying elegant ensembles from five famous designers in the country. The designers were Annisa, Enjipai, Lavo Delama, Jacques Collection and Mac Couture.
Apart from Brigitte’s presence, the event was hosted by Turkish Ambassador’s wife, Yesim Ali with the special appearance of Miss Tanzania 2000, Jacqueline Mengi. The former beauty queen, now business mogul commended Brigitte as well as the Turkish Embassy for a well-organized event. Also in attendance were Miss Tanzania 2005, Nancy Sumari as well as Miss Tanzania 2008, Nasreen Karim.
Speaking during the event, Yesim said they have decided to host the fashion gala aiming to give awareness to the general public that people with albinism deserve to enjoy basic human rights.
They greatly discourage brutal cold-hearted occurrences in some parts of the country where, due to misguided beliefs, people with albinism are being killed and their body parts sold for mystical or magical benefits.
Yesim said that she has been touched by the challenges facing people with albinism and through the various events, such as fashion shows, people’s beliefs against albinos can be changed. Respect for people living with the skin condition should be reinstated. In different fields such as political, economic, entertainment, there should be a level of full respect for people living with albinism and anyone else who has been made to feel inferior.
The ambassador’s wife further praised Brigitte Foundation for a commendable job and during her visit in 2013; she was excited to see the dormitories that were built by the former Miss Tanzania in Buhangija in Shinyanga region.
“I visited the Albino camps which are in the region of Shinyanga in 2013. I was touched by the terrible living conditions that people with the skin condition had to endure. I and my country are ﬁghting together against the injustices which Albinos are facing,” she said, adding; “Albinism in humans is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes; it is associated with a number of vision defects. Lack of skin pigmentation makes for more skin cancers.”
People with albinism are not deferent from any other human being. “They too can become successful models. Today you will see their talent and potential.
I support them and will diligently raise more awareness and consciousness in the society, fostering for the preservation of the rights for albinos. Let’s fight together hand in hand to make this world a better place for everyone,” said Yesim.
Yesim further pledged more support for the move initiated by Brigitte in the war against those who kill people with albinism. By working together, she believes that the crimes will eventually come to an end and people living with albinism will live a life free of worries and uncertainties. They will be free to pursue their dreams without the fear of being looked down on or discriminated against. They will have the courage and ambition to chase their desired career goals.
On her side, Brigitte promised to continue in the campaign and calls upon people to continue supporting her great cause.
“This is a continuous campaign that my foundation has been engaged in from the start. We are committed to the initiative and will do whatever it takes to ensure that our dream of seeing albinos living a worry-free life is realized. We would like to thank the Turkish Embassy for being a part of the campaign which is conducted nationally,” said Brigitte.
Miss Tanzania 2000, Jucqueline Mengi had nothing but praise for her fellow former beauty queen who has taken a positive step in changing the lives of many, who have for years been perceived the wrong way by society. She commends all the effort that has so far been put in the campaign, which for the first time took place in the country, but it certainly won’t be the last.
“I’m so impressed by the fashion show; this is a historic moment because it is such a great cause. I will continue to support the campaign aimed at changing the wrong superstitious beliefs of some people in the country.
These beliefs are what prevent our great nation from progressing and making positive steps to a better future,” said Jacqueline.
The modeling industry
Tanzania’s modeling industry is diverse in as far as race is concerned. The runways at fashion shows are filled with people of different race and ethnicities, an indication that doors are not completely closed to those who might not belong to a popular race.
For albinos however, the case has been a bit different. Even though there are a significant number of albinos in the country, and the city, it is very rare to see an albino walking down the runway clad in designer outfits.
Perhaps this fashion show will change that, and as a result, it is hoped that more and more people living with albinism will start featuring on different fashion shows walking down the runway wearing some of the best designed clothes from esteemed Tanzanian designers.
It is time we changed the global perception on how Tanzanians treat people living with albinism. The fashion industry is a good start; the effect should trickle down to other industries as well. There’s a need for a ripple effect for this wave of change to be more prevalent nationwide.