"LACK OF MELANIN IS NOT LACK OF CAPABILITY"
Peter Ogik was the first person with albinism to be born into his community in Uganda. His story is one of determination and leadership in the face of prejudice.
From the moment he was born, Peter's family faced abuse from the wider community. People stopped doing business with his father; his mother's friends stopped visiting the house.
At school, Peter suffered. Other children refused to sit next to him, and teachers never acknowledged his condition, leaving him to sit at the back of the classroom alone. Peter's poor eyesight meant he couldn't see the board properly. Teachers interpreted his underperformance as disobedience, punishing him with the cane.
"Whenever I tried to move closer to see the board, others would shout that I was obstructing their view. I was treated as an exile, distanced from everyone."
Eventually Peter's father intervened. He advocated for Peter, and told his teachers how to care for his needs. Attitudes in school began to change: Peter was allowed to share notes with other students, who agreed to help him read. He began to succeed, quickly revealing himself to be bright and capable. Other children became open-minded and welcoming, and would challenge their own parents' views on albinism. There was an outward ripple effect, a "tug of war in the village between discrimination and acceptance."
At university, Peter ran for Student Prime Minister. With a groundswell of popular support, he was elected to the position, which he hoped would inspire others with albinism to overcome challenges and pursue their own dreams.
It wasn't until adulthood, though, that Peter realised the true extent of suffering experienced by others with albinism. Despite his struggles, he'd always had the love and support of his family, who fought to ensure he received a proper education. Others weren't so fortunate: some, he remembers, were hidden away in houses, and even locked in kennels. Discovering this hardship inspired Peter to speak out and do something.
"I became a human rights advocate
before I even knew what the term meant."
Now, Peter is the Chairman of the Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism, a position he uses to provide advocacy and lobby the Ugandan government to defend the rights of people with albinism.
Peter also uses music and entertainment to reach communities and spread awareness of albinism.
These were skills he brought to the table in his recent collaboration with Standing Voice. In a project funded by the Wellcome Trust, Peter worked with other musicians and artists from across Africa to spark dialogue around albinism in communities across Tanzania, capturing hearts and transforming minds. Peter treasured this opportunity to meet new people with albinism, and to interact with communities outside Uganda.
"People with albinism are capable of anything when we are given the opportunity. Discrimination comes from
ignorance; we fight it by spreading truth."