A contestant checks her makeup in a mirror as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. The event aims to promote social inclusion and raise the self-esteem of albinos, who frequently face discrimination and stigma. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A groundbreaking beauty pageant for those with albinism

December 01, 2018 - 6:40 am

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A groundbreaking beauty pageant for people with albinism has encouraged confidence and inclusion for people who remain the target of sometimes deadly stigma in Africa.

The first Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa pageant on Friday night in Kenya's capital saw participants from Tanzania and Uganda as well.

Elizabeth James of Tanzania said she was forced to change schools as a child when people, staring and pointing, started trailing her home.

She called for an end to the ignorance that drives some to kill people with albinism for their body parts or even dig up graves in the misguided belief that they will bring wealth and good fortune.

"The threat has reduced greatly, but it's still there," she said.

Event organizer Isaac Mwaura, Kenya's first albino legislator, called the pageant a way to build self-esteem.

"People with albinism are people like any other, and for sure we are also beautiful," he said.

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Associated Press video journalist Joe Mwihia contributed.

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