Sunday, October 17, 2021

Against social stigma of albinos, a new film to the rescue

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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Some of the Albinos at the movie premiere… in Lagos.

Onome Okagbare Majaro (OAM) Foundation, in collaboration with Ada Ossai Production, has crafted a socially-conscious and campaign movie designed to change misconceptions about people living with albinism. Title Beyond the Complexion (BTC) and co-produced by Onome Okagbare Majaro and Ada Ossai, the film is a precious gift to albinos in Nigeria and the world at large.

The movie seeks to redress the stigmatisation of people living with albinism through enlightenment. The beauty of the movie project is that it addresses not just a Nigerian problem, but a global phenomenon. Albinism is, however, particularly bad on the African continent, where in parts of East Africa, for instance, albinos had been brutally murdered for ritual purposes, as they are believed to possess ingredients for higher powers and money-making.

At the premiere event held at PEFTI Film Institute recently in Lagos, producers of the movie urged those living with albinism to come out of their shell and explore their innate potentials and rise above the obstacles and challenges that limit them. They maintained that the arts and movies thrive on talents and skills, which they said a lot of albinos have but were shy to display perhaps because of the complex arising from the negative narrative about people living with albinism in the society.

Co-founder, OAM Foundation and co-producer of Beyond the Complexion, Damilola Ogunseyi, challenged people living with albinism to come out of their shell, saying, “If I can do it; if Ada Ossai can do it; if Onome Majaro can do it, then you too can do it and that is our message to all the people living with albinism.”

Beyond the Complexion, directed by Michael Azanno, offers contemporary society insight to the condition of albinism. Through it the producers have striven principally to sensitise the general public and the world at large on what albinism is and what it is not and a call to jettison misconceptions in some society that albinos are outcasts often seen as witches.

Set in Nigeria, Beyond the Complexion examines the bitter challenges and stigmatisation of a little girl living with albinism, but whose parents are not albinos. Although loved and cherished by her mother, she is rejected by her father, as a result of her condition. At some point, he tells his wife to return ‘this thing’ to where she got her, apparently referring to their daughter.

However, the turning point comes when her parents visit a doctor, who educates them about the genetic causes of albinism. This becomes a significant moment in her parents’ life, as the doctor’s enlightenment talk changes the father’s repulsion towards his albino daughter.

The resulting love and affection of father for his daughter spurs him to support her in the development of her talent and abilities. Consequently, the little albino girl grows up to become a highly accomplished woman, who gets to the apex of her life’s dreams.

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