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Malawian Musician Lazarus Chigwandali on Violence Faced by People with Albinism

 

Musician Lazarus Chigwandali is shattering stigmas around albinism.

“I started singing and making music at the age of 15,” he said. “In the beginning, it was myself and my 10-year-old little brother.”

People with the condition face violence in parts of Africa and the Malawian musician uses songs to highlight the persecution, verbal and physical, they deal with.

“We were discriminated against, and people gave us mean names,” he said. “The reason we were discriminated against was that we looked different from everyone in our village.”

Albinism is a genetic condition that impacts melanin pigment in the hair, skin, and eyes. It’s most prominent in parts of Africa, where between one in 1,000 and one in 15,000 people inherit the condition, depending on the region and population. But it can also carry a stigma that leads to violence and discrimination. Lazarus says he uses music to escape the harassment.

“When I would perform on the street, I would make about 1,500-2,000 kwacha a day (USD $2-$3,)” he said.

Lazarus hopes to release a full album by fall 2019.