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A contestant checks her makeup in a mirror as she prepares to perform in the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest in Nairobi. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A young boy watches as a contestant dances. (Ben Curtis/AP)

It was not the largest or most well-known beauty pageant in the world, but it was the first of its kind. Last November, 30 people came together to compete in the world’s first Mr. and Miss Alibinism Kenya pageant. Titled “Accept me, include me, I can,” the pageant was created by the Kenya Albinism Society to boost the self-confidence of people living with albinism in Africa, a place where the condition often comes with a stigma.

Albinism is a rare genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment in a person’s skin, hair and eyes. The condition affects every racial and ethnic group throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20,000 people in Europe and North America have the condition vs. estimates of 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 15,000 in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Africa, albinism can result in discrimination; the pageant was held in part to help battle that.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency, contestant Okwii Simon Peter, a 26-year-old lawyer from Uganda, said he hoped his participation helped to show albinism did not make him that different from most people. “We are here mainly to create awareness, to do advocacy . . . showcasing our beauty and talent,” Peter said.

To underscore that sentiment, Isaac Mwaura, one of the event’s organizers and Kenya’s first albino legislator said, “People with albinism are people like any other, and for sure we are also beautiful.”


Shirlyne 7, tries her hand on the catwalk before the start of the contest. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A contestant checks her makeup. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A contestant wearing a traditional costume of animal hides performs. (Ben Curtis/AP)

Contestants perform at the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A contestant wears a traditional costume. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A contestant helps another adjust his suit. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A contestant performs. (Ben Curtis/AP)

Contestants practice their catwalk moves. (Ben Curtis/AP)

Kenyan contestant Lucianah Nyawira, 21, wears a traditional costume as she performs. (Ben Curtis/AP)

Contestants line up to receive lunch after a rehearsal. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A contestant wears a traditional costume including animal hides and a skull. (Ben Curtis/AP)

Elsie Lynn, 6, has her makeup done as she waits for the start of the Mr. & Miss Albinism East Africa contest. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A contestant performs. (Ben Curtis/AP)

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