Albino beauty pageant redefines beauty amid persecution

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Beauty pageant for people with albinism held in Nairobi

In some African countries, albinos are abused -- and even killed

"I am confident. I hold my head high," said Miss Albinism, Loise Lihanda

Nairobi CNN  — 

In some parts of Africa, albinism is considered a curse, but last weekend in Kenya it was redefined as a sign of beauty.

In a first for the country, a beauty pageant for people with albinism was held in Nairobi, on October 21, where 20 contestants sang, danced, and flaunted at-times flashy costumes for a crowd that included political leaders.

It was a stark contrast to the discrimination suffered by albinos in some African countries, where albinism can mean abuse – and even death.

The UN reported that 40 attacks on albinos took place across Africa in the eight months prior to March 2016. Advocacy group Under the Same Sun estimates that 207 people with albinism were killed between 2007 and 2013 in Africa, some in relation to the belief that albino bones can bring wealth, happiness and good luck.

Many more Africans with albinism are victims of violence, rape and mutilation.

Kenya’s first and only albino MP, Isaac Mwaura, spearheaded the event and said he wants to change the narrative.