Achievers with albinism- Tume Mphepo

Tume talks about albinism at an awareness day in Malawi

Tume talks about albinism at an awareness day in Malawi

This is Tume, she’s twenty years old and has recently (2016) graduated with a degree in Social Sciences, majoring in Economics. She is one of seven children, four of whom have albinism. Her parents and siblings are very supportive of her.

Tume’s early education 

Tume learned about her albinism when she was in standard 8, until then she just knew that she was short sighted and had to keep out of the sun because it hurt her skin. The area Tume grew up in was particularly hot; this caused her problems and meant that she could not go out to play with her friends. She now uses sun cream, an umbrella, hats and sunglasses to protect herself from the sun.

Tume always sat at the front of the class because of her poor eyesight; students made fun of her and called her ‘teacher’s pet’. She was provided with large print papers for exams but always had to ask for materials, they were never just given. Even now that she is at college, some of her lecturers are not supportive and some students won’t let her sit at the front.

What helped in Tume’s success

Tume faced discrimination when she went to church or to the market and people would call her names. Her parents are very supportive and have worked hard to get her to where she is. Their support, her determination and faith in God have got her to where she is today.

“God has kept me going”

 Tume’s role in advocacy for people with albinism

Tume is an advocate for the local Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) and this has helped her to realise she is not alone and she is not the only person going through these struggles.


Tume  gives her views on an information booklet for children as part of the Albinism in Africa project

Tume gives her views on an information booklet for children as part of the Albinism in Africa project

Bryony (DASH to Malawi trip 2015)  comments on meeting Tume and Emmie (also one of the Achievers with Albinism highlighted on this blog):

It was wonderful to listen to Emmie and Tume tell us about their lives and the challenges that they have faced, and over came, as a result of their albinism. They have demonstrated that although they have albinism, it does not define them. 

Emmie and Tume are not only role models within albinism; they are role models for all. They are strong and determined women who have overcome what the world has thrown at them while aspiring to help others in similar positions. Through all of this, they have become the successful women that they have – we could all learn from them.

Achievers with albinism: Emmie

“I am proud that I have albinism and have managed to get where I am”


This is Emmie, she is a larger than life, chatty character who lights up the room

 At school Emmie had difficulty reading the board and textbooks, so always sat at the front of the class. A few friends copied notes for her and helped her to read from the board.

“You are treated like you are not a human being, but you get used to it”

Emmie has an advanced diploma and worked hard to get to where she is today. She works for the Ministry of Tourism, has been in her job for five years and is well accepted (she suspects that holding an important position helps!).

Emmie joined the Association of Persons with Albinism (APAM) in 2005 and is now the Vice Chair of the association. She is an advocate for albinism and is an inspiration, not only to those with albinism, but to all. She explains to communities about albinism and says that she has seen a change in attitudes over the years.

Other difficulties for those with albinism include relationships. Emmie has experienced acceptance from a partner, but discrimination from his family, she felt that “someone is discouraging him”. Fortunately, she is now in a new relationship. They plan to visit relatives as ‘friends’ to get to know them first. Her new partner says:

“it’s okay for me, I don’t see any difference between you and me”.

Written up by Bryony Downes