- Despite albino people often suffering persecution and taunting at the hands of their community, beauty Michelle Mosalakae claims she never suffered such discrimination
- Instead of fearing for her life through her childhood, she was raised in a home with love and understanding, where she was encouraged to follow her dreams
- Her own life echoes that of the character she plays on the popular TV show, Isibaya
People who lack melanin in their skin, a condition known as albinism, are often seen as odd, freakish and a source of potent magic by those too ignorant to know better, especially in Africa where darker skin is the norm.
However, South African beauty, Michelle Mosalakae is proving that albinism doesn’t need to be a deterrent to her dreams.
Briefly.co.za gathers that among the topics covered by the interview with the Isibaya actress was how it was to grow up with the condition which caused her to have lighter skin than all of her friends and family.
"I was never discriminated against in my community,” she said in an interview with DRUM magazine late last year.
The lighter skin also didn’t stand in the way of her following her dreams and in the entertainment industry. In fact, she ended up using it to her advantage in her breakout role in Isibaya and by becoming Revlon’s first ambassador with albinism.
She attributes her success to the grounding she received through her upbringing which built her confidence and left her with the tools to seek her success.
She explained that she received nothing but love and support growing up as an only child and attending a school where she was surrounded by intelligent people who understood the condition for what it is.
“I have wonderful parents. My mother told me I’m not different or less than anyone, she taught me self-love and planted that seed that’s stayed with me. As a person living with albinism you need to find self-love first, irrespective of what other people think. It’s a lesson that was reinforced at school.”
However, she does know that not everyone is as lucky as she has been. Many people with albinism suffer cruel attacks. “The attacks on us come from unfounded assumptions from people who are arrogant,” she said adding that each report of ritual killings she hears breaks her heart. “But I grew up without fear. I was protected by people who don’t give in to stereotypes. I think the killings are based on a lack of understanding.”
“Growing up, I always I knew I had albinism. But I was never shameful about it. I was never discriminated against in my community.”
Like Zakitha, the character she plays on Isibaya, Michelle is focusing on herself and living her dream. “For now, it’s necessary for me to be in my own space, loving myself first. I’m still learning from the opportunities that have been given to me by God.”
“I understand the complexity and stereotypes that come with albinism that are embedded in our society. The discrimination is based on the belief that certain body parts of people with albinism can bestow magical powers,” explained Michelle.
She said the beliefs, while irrational, are widely held in part of the African continent including South Africa. “It has been exploited by witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, fabrications and medicines with the claim that their magic will bring prosperity to the user,” she said.
“Because of these cruel and irrational beliefs, people with albinism have been hounded, killed and dismembered, and graves of albinos dug up and ruined. People with albinism have been ostracised because they are presumed to be cursed and bring bad luck,” she explained.
Another famous South African with Albinism, Refilwe Modiselle, is a firm fan of the show featuring Michelle based on her twitter feed.
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