Living with albinism and being a mother has not deterred Ditsame Bannabotlhe from snatching a beauty pageant crown at the first attempt.
The 25-year-old mother of an 18-month-old boy proudly speaks to Voice Entertainment about her beauty and what she wants to achieve with it.
“I don’t see myself as a disabled person, I am capable of doing more and I am confident that I can get whatsoever I set my goal on,” she says as, together with 1st Princess Lizzy Dichauto and their mentor, Philadelphia Motladule, she eagerly joins us for an interview on the eve of the International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD).
This year the United Nations sanctioned day was commemorated on June 13th as the much-persecuted minority composed of people with a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes, came together calling for an end to all forms of injustice against people living with albinism.
Miss Albinism which was held for the first time in Botswana earlier on May 25th this year looked at, among others, using beauty to dispel any lingering myths surrounding albinism.
As she explains her future plans following her conquest in the pageant, Ditsame’s beauty is also expressed in her words; she is a goal-getter and she has risen above all odds stacked against people living with albinism to achieve her goals.
During the interview, the beauty queen tells us of how she has had to face all forms of stigma and discrimination in her society as a young girl. “I did not go out much, let alone participate in beauty pageants. I was afraid of what people would say but now I’m not. In fact they should be afraid of what I will say to them. The same stigma is still around, people look down upon us and some even get disgusted when we pass by them. We are struggling. When someone has cancer the nation pities him/her but when an albino child is born they speak of being cursed.”
Other than stigma, Bannabotlhe tells us how weather conditions are a challenge to their daily survival. “It’s hard being albino. We get skin burns, rashes and we mostly suffer from the cold.”
Philadelphia who is also the Director of Tshimologo Association for People Living with Albinism adds that they occasionally get sponsorship from various organisations, with some donating skin creams which help protect them against the harsh weather conditions.
With the optimism, there is also the belief among the three women that the pageant will go a long way in restoring not only dignity and pride among people living with albinism, but also spread public awareness among various communities.
Now with the crown on her head, Ditsame says she aims to reach out to other albino girls and help them find comfort and pride in themselves.
Using her capacity building campaign, Miss Beauty With Albinism hopes to join hands with other albino women across borders to fight the stigma and help other albino people to live comfortably, “My dream is to see an albino president,” she confidently says with a smile that suggests she’s prepared to give it a try!