Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. Most albinistic humans appear white or very pale as the melanin pigments responsible for brown, black, and some yellow colorations are not present. The most common term used for an organism affected by albinism is “albino”. Additional clinical adjectives sometimes used to refer to animals are “albinoid” and “albinic”. The albinistic are generally as healthy as the rest of the population (but see related disorders below), with growth and development occurring as normal, and albinism by itself does not cause mortality, although the lack of pigment increases the risk of skin cancer and other problems.
Roberto by Gustavo Lacerda
Thyfany by Gustavo Lacerda
In physical terms, humans with albinism commonly have vision problems and need sun protection. But they also face social and cultural challenges (even threats) as the condition is often a source of ridicule, discrimination, or even fear and violence. Cultures around the world have developed many beliefs regarding people with albinism. This folklore ranges from harmless myth to dangerous superstitions that cost human lives. Cultural challenges can be expected to be vastly higher in areas where pale skin and light hair stand out more from the ethnic majority’s average phenotype.
Miguel by Gustavo Lacerda
Italo And Renan by Gustavo Lacerda
In African countries such as Tanzania and Burundi there has been an unprecedented rise in witchcraft-related killings of albino people in recent years. This is because albino body parts are used in potions sold by witchdoctors. Numerous authenticated incidents have occurred in Africa during the 21st Century. For example, in Tanzania, in September 2009, three men were convicted of killing a 14-year-old albino boy and severing his legs in order to sell them for witchcraft purposes. Again in Tanzania and Burundi in 2010, the murder and dismemberment of a kidnapped albino child is reported from the courts, as part of a continuing problem. In Zimbabwe, belief that intercours with an albinistic woman will cure a man of HIV has led to rapes (and subsequent HIV infection).
Igor by Gustavo Lacerda
Livia by Gustavo Lacerda
Certain ethnic groups and insular areas exhibit heightened susceptibility to albinism, presumably due to genetic factors (reinforced by cultural traditions). These include notably the Native American Kuna and Zuni nations (respectively of Panama and New Mexico); Japan, in which one particular form of albinism is unusually common; and Ukerewe Island, the population of which shows a very high incidence of albinism.
Thyfany by Gustavo Lacerd
Rick by Gustavo Lacerd
A number of people with albinism have become famous, including historical figures such as Emperor Seinei of Japan, and Oxford don William Archibald Spooner; actor-comedian Victor Varnado; musicians such as Johnny and Edgar Winter, Salif Keita, Winston “Yellowman” Foster, Brother Ali, Sivuca, Willie “Piano Red” Perryman; and fashion model Connie Chiu.
There have also been some famed albino animals, including Migaloo, a humpback whale off the coast of Australia; Snowflake, a gorilla from a zoo in Barcelona; Snowdrop, a Bristol Zoo penguin; a pinkdolphin in Louisiana; and an albino buffalo known as Mahpiya Ska which is Sioux for White Cloud, in Jamestown, ND. and the sperm whale Mocha Dick, the inspiration for Herman Melville’s novelMoby-Dick.