Albinos decry being objectified and used for ritual purposes in Cameroon

Persons with albinism are one of the most discriminated and stigmatised people on the African continent and Cameroon in particular.

Aside the societal stigma they have to deal with on a daily basis, there are still individuals who think parts from the bodies of people with albinism could be used for various fetish practices.

On the programme, ‘Parole des femmes’ on Equinox TV with host Julie Ngonde, invitees made some shocking revelations as to the terrible predicament of persons with albinism in Cameroon, ranging from their love life right down to the way society treats them.

“Persons with albinism in Cameroon have faced stigmatisation in almost all aspects. For instance in a relationship, they must at times discover at the end of the day that they are simply being used as some sort of experiment by their partners for various discoveries” explains Carine Laure Ngeumo, a person with albinism on the programme.

“People believe some properties of our skin such as our hair and our nails can somehow be used to make money” explains Carine.

“I once met a man whom I discovered was planning to make money by associating himself with me. He was influenced by his friends to cut my hair for money-making purposes. I even caught him one night with a scissors trying to cut my hair to sell. It was actually very horrific for me,” she recounts.

“To him that was all I meant to him. I have come to realise that as a person with albinism in any given relationship, it is as though we are naturally obliged to do extra in order to keep the relationship going. We have to deal with familial hatred, cheating husbands, even physical abuses; not to talk of the constant teasing on the streets and more”.

Carine, a mother of a 17-year-old boy equally said she could not end up with the father of her child because of the obstacles posed by his parents. She confessed that the hatred borne by the mother of her son’s father, is so intense that she hasn’t even met her grandson 17 years after he was born.

There is another cluster of people who see persons with albinism as potential ritual objects from which they could make money. Miss Albinos Cameroon, Huguette Monga on the programme revealed she had been approached by people who blatantly told her they are interested in her because she could bring them good fortune.

“Many have approached me for fetish reasons. They somehow have this superstitious belief we could bring them good fortune” she narrated.

“There are a crop who absolutely believe that getting intimate with a person with albinism will make you rich or bring you luck. Those are all lies. We are normal people like others and not objects for fetish rituals” she stressed.

Manuella Ndogmo, another person with albinism on the show sought to clarify the misconception that housing a person with albinism required more money.

“Our skin maybe fragile yes, but that does not mean that it will cost extra to take care of a person with albinism. We use baby ointments and simply avoid consuming what our skin may be allergic to and that is it. No extra cost or expenditures. We are just like everyone else except for the light skin” she explained.

Huguette Ndogmo was equally regretful of the fact that their colour also limited their chances in the job market. She said employers tend to trust a person with albinism less because they assume these persons would not be competent enough to handle their jobs. There are people who do not want persons with albinism to offer them services because of such prejudices.

In the same vein, Carin Laure who is a nurse by profession revealed that “at the hospital where I work, there is the tendency by patients to deny me attending to them especially giving them injections as they feel I don’t see well and might probably not do it the right way.”

“There are equally some traditional beliefs in Cameroon that see a child with albinism as evil and they are therefore killed from conception” reveals Huguette Monga.

“My dad told me that when I was very young, I fell terribly ill. His friend recommended a traditional healer somewhere in the East Region. He said when we got there, all the villagers started running away and when he asked why, they told him all albino children were killed from birth. Even the woman we had gone to see refused to attend to me. I was smuggled out of that place else I would not be alive today” she testified.

Persons with albinism as well as other minority groups such as the “Mbororos” (Nomad Peulhs) and those with various physical impairments all suffer the same plight in Cameroon. The dejection incurred by this group of people breaks their morale. Most of the times, they are unappreciated and not well recognised by society. They deserve better.

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