The myths surrounding people with albinism in South Africa and Zimbabwe

Charlotte Baker, Patricia Lund, Richard Nyathi, Julie Taylor

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    35 Citations (Scopus)


    The myths associated with albinism in South Africa and Zimbabwe have a profound influence on the lives of people with the condition, from the moment of their birth until their death. The beliefs and superstitions surrounding the condition affect family life and interfere with access to education, employment and marriage. Drawing on a common interest in albinism, specialist research interests, and recent multi-disciplinary studies and research carried out in South Africa and Zimbabwe, we examine these myths and trace their impact on the lives of people with albinism. We trace the actuality of living with the condition in parts of present-day southern Africa, as reported in the first-hand accounts of people with albinism. We compare attitudes to albinism in different cultures and groups, and suggest ways in which the myths that have surrounded people with albinism for so long, which frequently have very negative connotations, can be challenged by a more scientific and culturally neutral explanation.(1)

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)169-181
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of African Cultural Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • oculocutaneous albinism
    • myth
    • pathography
    • South Africa
    • Zimbabwe
    • HEALTH
    • SKIN

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