Zim crowns albino pageant king and queen

Zimbabwe crowned a king and queen of a unique beauty pageant Friday night.

Edson Mambinge and Ayanda Sibanda were announced the winners of the African nation’s second-annual albino competition.

Mambinge, a 21-year-old fitness trainer, heard plenty of hoots and hollers from female audience members at the Harare ceremony.

“My God, he is such a hunk!” shouted one spectator, while another one blurted out, “That’s what I call a real man!” as Mambinge rocked the catwalk.

Sibanda, an 18-year-old model with albinism, said she’s had to overcome hurtful slurs by friends and family, who have referred to her as “yellow” or “white.”

“I am black, that’s what I thought,” said Sibanda on Friday. “But then I am always made to feel otherwise.”

At the pageant, both competitors and organizers spoke candidly about the prejudice they face on a daily basis due to albinism.

Approximately 70,000 of Zimbabwe’s 16 million residents are born with albinism, according to government figures. Standing out amid a predominantly black populace subjects them to discrimination, ridicule and misguided beliefs, reported The Associated Press.

“Some have superstitions that we can bring luck or cure HIV,” said the organizer of the pageant, Brenda Mudzimu.

In other African nations, notably Malawi and Tanzania, albinos have been murdered for their body parts for use in witchcraft.

But Sibanda is hoping her victory can alter opinions and misconceptions about herself and other albinos.

“I want it to be normal for an albino girl to achieve without it being a newspaper headline,” she said. “They never say a black girl won Miss Zimbabwe. But if I were to win it, they would all say an albino girl won.”

Mumbinge and Sibanda received cell phones for their triumphs. While Sibanda gets to attend a women’s worship in Botswana, Mumbinge will travel to South Africa for a grooming session. – Wires

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