Photos: Kenyan pageant for people with albinism fights social stigma

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. Contestants said they saw the groundbreaking event as a way to end discrimination, violence and even murder of people with albinism because of their hereditary lack of pigmentation.

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST 9 Photos
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Kenyan contestant Lucianah Nyawira, 21, does her makeup as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, in Nairobi, last Friday. The aim of the event was to encourage confidence, affirm the dignity and promote inclusion of people who remain the target of sometimes deadly stigma in Africa. (Ben Curtis / AP)

Kenyan contestant Lucianah Nyawira, 21, does her makeup as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest, in Nairobi, last Friday. The aim of the event was to encourage confidence, affirm the dignity and promote inclusion of people who remain the target of sometimes deadly stigma in Africa. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST
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A contestant watches as another performs during a rehearsal for the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa competition, a couple of days prior to the event. A groundbreaking beauty pageant, the first Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa pageant also saw participants from Tanzania and Uganda. (Ben Curtis / AP)

A contestant watches as another performs during a rehearsal for the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa competition, a couple of days prior to the event. A groundbreaking beauty pageant, the first Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa pageant also saw participants from Tanzania and Uganda. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST
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Contestants practice their catwalk moves on the day of the event. Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, inherited condition leading to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light. (Ben Curtis / AP)

Contestants practice their catwalk moves on the day of the event. Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, inherited condition leading to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST
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Shirlyne 7, (L), and Rebecca Zawadi, 8, (R), stand by a large television screen as they wait for the start of the contest. Albinism is said to be more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere. The UN estimates that 1 in 1,400 people are affected in Tanzania and 1 in 1,000 in Zimbabwe. (Ben Curtis / AP)

Shirlyne 7, (L), and Rebecca Zawadi, 8, (R), stand by a large television screen as they wait for the start of the contest. Albinism is said to be more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere. The UN estimates that 1 in 1,400 people are affected in Tanzania and 1 in 1,000 in Zimbabwe. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST
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A contestant waits to have her makeup done backstage. Contestants said they saw the groundbreaking event as a way to end discrimination, violence and even murder of people with albinism because of their hereditary lack of pigmentation. (Ben Curtis / AP)

A contestant waits to have her makeup done backstage. Contestants said they saw the groundbreaking event as a way to end discrimination, violence and even murder of people with albinism because of their hereditary lack of pigmentation. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST
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A contestant performs on stage. 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 bring wealth and good fortune. (Ben Curtis / AP)

A contestant performs on stage. 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 bring wealth and good fortune. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST
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Rebecca Zawadi, 8, (R) sits next to Marion Jacklin, (C-L), who helped train the contestants. “The threat has reduced greatly, but it’s still there,” James said. The competition for 30 participants was organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya with partners in Uganda and Tanzania. (Ben Curtis / AP)

Rebecca Zawadi, 8, (R) sits next to Marion Jacklin, (C-L), who helped train the contestants. “The threat has reduced greatly, but it’s still there,” James said. The competition for 30 participants was organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya with partners in Uganda and Tanzania. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST
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Contestants queue up to take the stage. 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. (Ben Curtis / AP)

Contestants queue up to take the stage. 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. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST
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A contestant wearing a traditional costume of animal hides performs on stage. Emmanuel Silas Shedrack, 20, a Tanzanian, and Maryanne Muigai, 19, a Kenyan, were crowned the winners. They will get cash prizes and act as ambassadors for the partner organizations for a year. (Ben Curtis / AP)

A contestant wearing a traditional costume of animal hides performs on stage. Emmanuel Silas Shedrack, 20, a Tanzanian, and Maryanne Muigai, 19, a Kenyan, were crowned the winners. They will get cash prizes and act as ambassadors for the partner organizations for a year. (Ben Curtis / AP)

UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2018 10:03 AM IST

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