â€˜Malekhotla Mahooe also known as â€œMimiâ€ hopes to make history by winning the Miss Albinism Southern Africa beauty pageant to be hosted by Zimbabwe on October 28 this year.
The Mr. and Miss Albinism Southern Africa is the first beauty pageant for the Southern Africa region strictly for people with albinism, and Mimi is the first and only Mosotho to participate in this yearâ€™s contest.
The pageant is meant to create awareness and fight discrimination, stigmatisation, and marginalisation against those having albinism.
Mimi currently tops the pageant voting standings with over 3440 votes and is in a good position to make the cut as a finalist for the regional beauty contest.
â€œI have learned that even though we live in different countries, people with albinism face similar challenges, and the contest is another form of fighting the albinism stigma,â€ Mimi said.
A media practitioner by profession, she said being a beauty queen is not her childhood dream, but finds herself into it for the sake of advancing her albinism advocacy.
Mimi is a Broadcasting in Radio and Television graduate from the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT).
â€œI just wanted to be a fashion model, but through my albinism advocacy I found myself participating in a beauty contest.â€
She said living with albinism was confusing when she was growing up as people would call her discriminatory and derogatory names.
â€œGrowing up, I attended schools where I would be the only person with albinism, and I always wondered why I did not have the same skin tone as others.
â€œSometimes it was confusing because people would call me names like lekhooa, lesofe, lecusturu and some would say I am Mosotho. I actually did not know who exactly I am, because in my family there has always been oneness so I never felt like I am different.
â€œIt is only when I am grown up now that I learn why my skin is pale and why my eyesight is this weak. This is because of a condition called albinism.â€
She said most people with albinism come from vulnerable families hence their skin is not so good as they cannot afford to buy the expensive sunscreen lotions they need.
She said many of her kind also cannot afford to buy spectacles to aid their poor vision.
â€œSome people still think we are some kind of lucky charms, and believe that hugging us or shaking our hands will bring them good luck. We are also sometimes denied career opportunities because some people believe we are less capable compared to people without our condition.â€
Although she is excited about the beauty contest, she first needs to raise the money to cover the trip expenses, without which she may not make it.