Ntinga wins the national albinism competition

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Gugu Precious Ntinga beamed with pride.

She was honoured at the weekend by the community of Mophela in Hammersdale, KwaZulu-Natal for having excelled in the National Schools Essay on Albinism.

The big occasion was held at the Gabigabi High School where the launch of the 2007 edition of the popular competition took place.

The competition, running for the third year, is sponsored and organised by Sowetan, Albinism Society of South Africa, Development Bank of Southern Africa and the national Health Department.

The nation-building exercise aims to dispel myths, rumours and misconceptions about albinism.

The awards ceremony for the three runners-up was held at Ligege Secondary School, Shayandima in Limpopo. Ligege was the school of last year's overall winner, Tshilisanani Nedombeloni.

Ntinga told Sowetan during this year's launch: "I feel happy and proud to be honoured in this special manner, and I thank all my fellow pupils, my teachers and our parents for having supported me and this important community education and awareness programme.

"I am the only pupil with albinism in the school, but I do not feel left out or misunderstood. Everyone accepts me."

The third-placed winner is Walter Mpho Makole of Teto High School in Motsethabong in Welkom in Free State. The fourth and fifth-placed winners are Khethiwe Mbuyazi of Ekukhanyeni Technical High School in Meerensee in KwaZulu-Natal and Charles Masango of Bonginsimbi Comprehensive School in Ackerville in Mpumalanga

Albinism is an inherited condition. People with albinism have little or no pigmentation in their eyes, skin, and hair, or in some cases only in the eyes.

People with albinism inherit an altered copy of a gene that does not allow the body to make the usual amounts of pigmentation called melanin.

Albinism affects people of all races. The parents of most children with albinism have the normal hair and eye colour of their racial group and do not have a family history of albinism.

The launch was attended by dignitaries including the local nkosi, Thamsanqa Mkhize, Albinism Society of South Africa leaders Tony Ngwenya and Nomasonto Mazibuko, national health manager for women's health and genetics, Barbara Monyemore, South Africa Inherited Disorders Association chairman Arnold Christianson, councillor Sipho Mthethwa and senior officials of the district, provincial and national education departments.