The Albinism Society of Kenya have held a Mr and Miss Albinism beauty pageant in Nairobi to support those with the hereditary condition.

Albinism is a rare, hereditary condition that leads to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes. Without melanin in their skin, those with albinism are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun.

A make up artist works on a participant
A make up artist works on a participant

Mr and Miss Albinism, held in November, aimed to help combat the discrimination and violence frequently faced by the group.

In Africa, albinism is associated with many negative misconceptions and superstitions. As a result, many albinos suffer stigma, alienation and even physical abuse.

A make up artist works on a participant
A participant backstage

The pageant, called “Accept me, include me, I can”, included participants from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and aimed to boost the confidence of young people with albinism.

Participants are seen backstage at Mr and Miss Albinism beauty pageant

This year saw 30 participants compete for the pageant crowns.

Participants are seen backstage at Mr and Miss Albinism beauty pageant
A make up artist works on a participant

Elizabeth James, a Tanzanian national, told Nairobi News how she was forced to change schools as a child when people stared and trailed her home. “The threat has reduced greatly, but it’s still there,” she said.

A participant backstage
A participant on a catwalk

Okwii Simon Peter, 26, a lawyer from Uganda, told Reuters news agency that he was taking part in the pageant to show that living with albinism does not make him different.

He said “We are here mainly to create awareness, to do advocacy … showcasing our beauty and talent.”

A participant backstage

Valencia Bosibori, 25, a customer care executive at a telecom firm in Kenya, took part in a similar event held in 2016 that was open only to Kenyans.

She told Reuters she wanted to “reach people who don’t have that knowledge of what albinism is”.

A participant backstage

Emmanuel Silas Shedrack, 20, from Tanzania and Maryanne Muigai, 19, from Kenya were crowned the winners.

A participant at the beauty pageant

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Story originally at BBC.com

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