The struggle of Albinos with the daily misconceptions, myths and social prejudice against their condition seems to have no end, despite...
Albinos suffer a lot of discrimination with regard to employment, marriage and even natural rights like inheritance in some parts of the country.
It is an abominable act in many cultures in Ghana for albinos to be enstooled or enskinned as Chiefs – even when they are supposed to be the legitimate successors. Now it has become more dangerous and callous as some traditional areas consider the existence of Albinos as abominable, to the extent of banishing them.
Such callous acts against Albinos was manifested at Atebubu in the Atebubu/Amantin District of Brong-Ahafo Region, where the Traditional Authority is denying a seventeen year old first year student of Atebubu Senior High School a residential access.
Master Yussif Fatau, an Albino, who resides at Gyato Zongo, a village in the Atebubu/Amantin District successfully gained admission into the Atebubu Senior High School as a Day Student.
Speaking to The Chronicle, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Coordinator of the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA), Joyce Gyamfi disclosed that Yussif Fatau did not get access to the boarding house and so his father had to look for accommodation for him in town.
However, Master Yussif Fatau’s landlord was approached by the traditional elders of Atebubu that it is a taboo to have an Albino in the town and that he should eject the poor SHS first year student from his house, in order not to incur the wrath of the Traditional Authority.
The Landlord had no option than to inform Yussif Fatau about the order from the Traditional Authority. Fatau later reported the issue to his father and the District and Regional Executives of GAPA.
According to Joyce Gyamfi, Albinos suffer a lot of social prejudice in Africa and the situation of Yussif Fatau is not an exception and this should be a test case on how effective the Human Rights laws in Ghana are.
She said the term used in Akan to refer to Albinos is derogatory. Also, several myths are held about albinos. Some say it is the result of premature birth; whiles others believe they do not attend to nature’s call on Friday and they do not die but rather vanish.
Ms. Joyce Gyamfi continued that GAPA has asked Fatau and the father to report the matter to the Police, whilst the Association also seeks legal intervention.
She added that the Headmistress of Atebubu Senior High School has assured the father that Fatau will be admitted into the Boarding House if only he pays the boarding fees of GHc1,000.
She asked Ghanaians to intervene to ensure equity and equality in the dispensation of human rights in the country, whilst appealing to NGOs, philanthropists and lawyers to help get Fatau back to school.
When contacted, the Ankobeahene of Atebubu Traditional Area, Nana Owusu Gyimah told The Chronicle that it is a taboo for an albino to live at Atebubu and that the boy must leave the town, as ordered by the Traditional Authority because his safety is not assured in the town.
He said the best the parents of Fatau can do is to take the boy to another SHS in another town, but if people want to insist it is his fundamental human rights to access education and stay in the town, then one day the parents would meet an empty room, without knowing who to ask or blame about the whereabouts of their son.
The Paramount Chief of Atebubu Traditional Area, Nana Owusu Achiaw Berempong, on his part, admitted it is a taboo to have an albino in the area, since there is a history and reason to it.
According to Nana Owusu Achiaw Berempong, the existence of Yussif Fatau has not come to his notice, but he believes the Traditional Council would not be too strict on the banishment of the boy but would cordially ask him to leave the town for his own interest.
According to Joyce Gyamfi, who is leading the fight on behalf of the boy, GAPA was established on 2nd February, 2003, and was previously known as the Society of Albinos Ghana to promote the rights of persons with albinism (PWA).
The objective of the organization is to demystify or break the myths and misconceptions of persons with albinism in Ghana and to sensitize and create awareness about the challenges facing them.
The Association was granted a membership status of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled in December 2007. The vision of GAPA is to adopt a holistic approach towards addressing problems peculiar to persons with albinism in Ghana and the world.