Feature: Tanzania's albinos seek recognition through sports

2021-06-19 09:05:48 GMT2021-06-19 17:05:48(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

DAR ES SALAAM, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Deogratias Ngonyani, a 33-year-old man with albinism, is a regular visitor to the karate training room at the Albinism Sports Club in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

"I am training karate to keep myself fit," Ngonyani told Xinhua in a recent interview, adding that his main objective of karate training is to enable him to attend international competitions.

He said his ambition is to participate in the Paralympic Games in the next five years, proving to the world that with determination, people with albinism could do wonders.

Ngonyani is among 10 people with albinism who are taking karate training at the club, which also trains albinos to play football. There are 25 members in total.

Joseph Magutu, the secretary general of the club, said a group of people with albinism established the club in August 2019 with the mission of enabling them to train hard and subsequently participate in international sporting competitions.

"At the moment our chance of participating in international sports competitions, including the Paralympic Games, is very slim, and Tanzania's albinos have never participated in such competitions," he added.

Magutu said in the next five years, people with albinism that are training for karate, football and athletics under the Albinism Sports Club wish to break that ceiling and start participating in international events.

He said the Albinism Sports Club has launched a campaign called Albinism Sports and Culture Tour 2021-2025 that aims to spot talented people with albinism across the country and develop their talents.

"We have started our tour in the Lake Victoria zone regions and our intention is to visit six regions in each year," he said, adding that these tours are supported by the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports through the National Sports Council.

Asked about challenges that the club is facing, Magutu said many people with albinism wanted to join the club but they lack travel expenses that will enable them to travel to training sessions and back.

"Lack of funding for our members has also forced the club to schedule only two days of karate training a week, on Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm to 6pm," he said.

Magutu said another challenge was a lack of sponsors for their training in karate and football.

According to Mussa Kabimba, national secretary general of the Tanzania Albinism Society, the population of people with albinism in Tanzania is about 16,000, recorded during the 2012 national census.

He told Xinhua that between 2006 and 2014, at least 70 albinos were killed and 30 others had lost limbs. But after the government heightened their security, only one killing has been reported since 2015.

Over the years, people with albinism have been subjected to a spate of brutal killings in Tanzania, driven by the belief that their body parts possess magical powers capable of bringing riches. Enditem