Alyssa GoodmanComment

A groundbreaking beauty pageant for those with albinism

Alyssa GoodmanComment
A groundbreaking beauty pageant for those with albinism

A groundbreaking beauty pageant for people with albinism has encouraged confidence and inclusion for people who remain the target of sometimes deadly stigma in Africa.

The first Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa pageant on Friday night in Kenya's capital saw participants from Tanzania and Uganda as well.

Elizabeth James of Tanzania said 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 said.

Event organizer Isaac Mwaura, Kenya's first albino legislator, called the pageant a way to build self-esteem.

"People with albinism are people like any other, and for sure we are also beautiful," he said.

 Kenyan contestant Lucianah Nyawira, 21, does her makeup as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Kenyan contestant Lucianah Nyawira, 21, does her makeup as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Albino girls Shirlyne 7, left, and Rebecca Zawadi, 8, right, stand by a large television screen as they wait for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Albino girls Shirlyne 7, left, and Rebecca Zawadi, 8, right, stand by a large television screen as they wait for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Albino girl Rebecca Zawadi, 8, right, sits next to Marion Jacklin, center-left, who helps train the contestants, as they wait for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Afric contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Albino girl Rebecca Zawadi, 8, right, sits next to Marion Jacklin, center-left, who helps train the contestants, as they wait for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Afric contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 A contestant talks on her mobile phone while having her makeup done as she prepares to perform in the "Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa" contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A contestant talks on her mobile phone while having her makeup done as she prepares to perform in the "Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa" contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 A contestant wears a traditional costume including animal hides and a skull, as he prepares to perform in the "Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa" contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A contestant wears a traditional costume including animal hides and a skull, as he prepares to perform in the "Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa" contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 A contestant checks her makeup in a mirror as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A contestant checks her makeup in a mirror as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Contestants queue up to take the stage in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Contestants queue up to take the stage in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 A contestant performs in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A contestant performs in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 A contestant wearing a traditional costume of animal hides performs in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A contestant wearing a traditional costume of animal hides performs in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Albino girl Shirlyne 7, looks up at her aunt, left, and asks her to paint her nails as she waits for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Albino girl Shirlyne 7, looks up at her aunt, left, and asks her to paint her nails as she waits for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Kenyan contestant Lucianah Nyawira, 21, wears a traditional costume as she performs in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Kenyan contestant Lucianah Nyawira, 21, wears a traditional costume as she performs in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Contestants practice their catwalk moves as they prepare for the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Contestants practice their catwalk moves as they prepare for the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Elsie Lynn, 6, has her makeup done a she waits for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Elsie Lynn, 6, has her makeup done a she waits for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 A contestant checks her makeup in a mirror as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A contestant checks her makeup in a mirror as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Contestants perform at the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Contestants perform at the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 A contestant looks at her mobile phone after having her makeup done as she prepares for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A contestant looks at her mobile phone after having her makeup done as she prepares for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 Shirlyne 7, tries her hand on the catwalk before the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Shirlyne 7, tries her hand on the catwalk before the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 A contestant wearing a traditional costume of animal hides performs in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A contestant wearing a traditional costume of animal hides performs in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)


Text from the AP news story, A groundbreaking beauty pageant for those with albinism.

Associated Press video journalist Joe Mwihia contributed to this story.

Photos by Ben Curtis