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#ICanBe, with albinism

5 December 2019

The I Can Be Campaign gives hope to learners with albinism

Story by Khumo Moyane

The #ICanBe campaign is an initiative created by Mpho Tjope, a speaker, published author and albinism activist.

He says he created the campaign “because high numbers of learners with albinism are dropping out of school and attempting suicide, and the fact that albinism was always portrayed from a negative narrative, like killings, and struggles, but when we do well, graduate, own businesses, it was never highlighted”.

The programme brings together learners with albinism from various schools and professionals and entrepreneurs with albinism to share their lives, and the journeys they have taken to be where they are as lawyers, doctors, engineers and other professions.

“I felt the importance of challenging this narrative and inspiring learners by bringing these professionals in one space to inspire learners, and also learners to see that they can be all they can dream of,” says Tjope.

The campaign was launched at Freedom Park in Pretoria in June, the venue chosen because “it symbolises freedom and hope”, according to Tjope. About 30 people were in attendance.

The next event for the campaign took place in September at the Durban Playhouse, in KwaZulu-Natal. This was attended by 77 people, including pupils from both urban and rural areas of the province

The occasion was also graced by Nigerian lawyer and United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero. She was joined by professionals with albinism including Puleng Molebatsi, a TV presenter and actor, and Sanele Xaba, an international model.

Ero encouraged Tjope to “continue doing the great work” and said she was happy that the campaign was visiting different provinces.

One of the learners from the Open Air School in Durban, Xolise Mazibuko (15), said, “Growing up I never saw role models and professionals with albinism visiting my school or even speaking to me. Now to have people I always see on TV coming to me and sharing how they overcame their challenges is an amazing experience and I am motivated to study hard.”

Tjope said the campaign received support from the department of social development which provided transportation and food for participants. However, he is still looking for funders who can assist in rolling out #ICanBe countrywide, as he would like to take the campaign to Northern Cape, Free-State and Limpopo next.

Follow the #ICanBe campaign: @AlbinismFor on Twitter