“When our confidence grows, we can reach our goals!”

Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Maah Koudia KEITA is a 30-year-old musician and activist. Maah is the co-founder of the association ‘Care Albinos’, a Senegalese Association which supports the Albino community. The association has existed since 2012 and has been active in spreading awareness on Albinism issues.

Maah Keita
Maah Keita, co-founder of Care Albinos Association Photo: UN Women/ Alpha Ba

What inspired you to create Care Albinos Association?

I co-founded the Care Albinos Association together with members of my old band called ‘TAKEIFA’. We devoted our first humanitarian activities to albinism after hearing about how albinos were treated in Tanzania. We really wanted to prevent this phenomenon from happening in Senegal. We created this association to bring us closer to people with albinism.

How have the laws and policies supported you in your efforts to protect albinos from discrimination?

The United Nations is working on ensuring that there is zero tolerance against discrimination. In February 2018, I was invited to attend a meeting in Nairobi together with other albino leaders in East and West Africa. We are working with the United Nations on a plan of action, where we can lay down laws that protect people with albinism. The laws will ensure that albinos can defend themselves in case they are attacked. Also, these laws will help them highlight their intellectual abilities. We really thought of a lot of things in relation to that.

What are the gaps in these laws especially in Senegal and in Africa?

The biggest gap is ignorance around the phenomenon of albinism. This is because many people do not know what albinism is and therefore handicaps us, not only families, but also the academic institutions.  There are many people who are in higher positions in our communities who do not understand albinism, and our role is mainly to inform these people about albinism, the problems that we face and our potential to contribute to the society.

As a representative, how do you influence people who face discrimination?

We must take care of them! My family has always been supportive, took care of me and ensured that I turned out to be a very strong woman. I have never been a direct victim of discrimination but now that we are approaching people with albinism, I realize that they are attacked daily because they are considered as disabled which is not the case. I take it as my prime responsibility to motivate them to be more positive. When our confidence grows, we can reach our goals and that is boundless!

While spreading awareness, what is your message to people?

I would like to encourage people to learn more about albinism. This will help us deconstruct all the myths that exist around this phenomenon. There are enough tools to support people to acquire information and mostly, Care Albinos Association is here to provide knowledge and engage with the community.