Mr and Miss Albinism East Africa 2018 crowned

Mr and Miss Albinism East Africa 2018
Mr and Miss Albinism East Africa 2018 Emmanuel Silas Shedrack, 20, from Tanzania (seated) and Maryanne Muigai (seated right) and other finalists

The array of talent displayed by various contestants at Mr and Miss Albinism East Africa 2018 on Friday night in Nairobi was a huge statement that people with albinism are beautiful, beyond the skin.

A groundbreaking beauty pageant for people with albinism which was held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) has encouraged confidence and inclusion for people who remain the target of sometimes deadly stigma in Africa.

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The competition for 30 participants was organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya with partners in Uganda and Tanzania.

Newly-crowned Miss Albinism East Africa 2018, Maryanne Muigai, gets emotional after winning the title

Tanzanian national, Elizabeth James, says 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 says.

A model on the runway during the event

The beauty pageant, which aims to overcome that stigma, was titled “Accept me, include me, I can”.

Emmanuel Silas Shedrack, 20, also a Tanzanian and 19-year-old Maryanne Muigai from Kenya were crowned the winners.

They will both get cash prizes and act as ambassadors for the partner organizations for a year.

Models on the runway during the Mr and Miss Albinism East Africa 2018