Siphenathi’s Journey

Siphenathi has a condition called albinism. The condition affected his sight and skin pigmentation. He is a professional actor and dancer who has worked with renewed South African artists and professors. Catch the rest of his interview on Instagram

1. How has it affected your life?

I grew up in a community which didn’t understand my reality. I had to constantly fight to be recognised and accepted. As a child some kids were afraid of me, some cried and ran when I appeared. The same community gave me a name that I will unfortunately carry to my grave. They labelled me Mlungu (a Nguni word meaning a white man)

2. Has it inhibited you/your child from joining any engagements?

Growing up, I always looked for answers. My parents never spoke to me about my condition. The term ‘exclusion’ is interesting. I was never excluded as in ‘left out’ but I was highly doubted by the people around me. So I felt excluded because of their attitudes. One can be included physically and excluded emotionally.
I never uttered this to anyone. Many men don’t see me as a real man due to my condition up until they have a talk with me. Many woman whom I have dated told me that they were just taking a chance and were never fond of me from the beginning.
I cannot run away from the fact that I am a black man covered in “white” skin.This makes it hard for people to accept me and my appearance is sometimes new to people. There are many superstitions which also play a vital role in excluding people with albinism.

3. What can society do to make it easier for you?

I do what I like, how I like. I rebel against acts of prejudice. As an artist I developed a way of not entertaining mediocracy. Honestly, I do not care if people accommodate me, as long people recognise the fact that I am human. There are also people living with a disability and are afraid of mentioning it. I wish they would own it.
What would you like society to know?
That I am human. I love. I breath. I am sexually active. I bleed just like you…