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Voices from people with albinism in ‘White Yet Black’

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Shemu Joyah

After three years in production, Short African Stories finally premiered its documentary film titled ‘White Yet Black’ starting off in Lilongwe on Thursday and then Crossroads Hotel in Blantyre on Saturday.

Filmed in three countries –Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the documentary interrogates the harmful attitudes of Africans towards persons living with albinism.

Directed by Zimbabwe’s Steven Chikosi, the film raises issues persons living with albinism suffer in Southern Africa and dispels some of the myths and misconceptions around albinism.

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The documentary ‘creatively crafted in black and white and made available through a grant by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa), features voices from people of all walks of life living with albinism.

Some of the participants in Malawi include Overstone Kondowe, who is a legislator, Boniface Massah, Malawi Human Rights commissioner and artist Charles Mairos.

The screening of the film in Blantyre attracted players in the creative industry, academia and judiciary.

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“It is a powerful film and one of the biggest take is the fact that it identifies persons with albinism as people first and foremost and if we continue to have that message across then definitely there is something that will change the context, our discussions and realities,” High Court Judge Zione Ntaba, said.

Miss Albinism Chikondi Kanjadza also described the film as a beautiful piece of art.

“Not only does it explain abductions and killings of persons living with albinism, it also brings out other issues as well that affect us not only in Malawi but in Africa,” Kanjadza said.

She said there was need for the film to be screened in rural areas as well as consider translating the film to local languages.

Veteran filmmaker Shemu Joyah said he was impressed with the film saying it is dealing with a topical issue of albinism.

“The team did well in trying to pass on the story where they are showing hope and they have brought in a broad section of people. The director made very important artistic choices and the ending with a poem is powerful,” Joyah’ maker of Seasons of A Life, The Last Fishing Boat and The Road to Sunrise, said.

Chikosi said the screenings in Lilongwe and Blantyre have received an overwhelming response.

“This is a documentary film with a very topical issue that has been kept under the carpet for a longtime. We put it in black and white because it takes focus away from colours and reduces them to two colours and we are just saying that we are all Africans and we identify ourselves as black despite the different shades of colour,” he said.

The film’s producer Tsitsi Madhodha said they will translate the documentary to Chichewa, Shona and French.

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