In continuing my story profiles on Tanzanian albinos in their struggling experiences to find love and get married (read more here: Love in a Time of Fear: Albino Women’s Stories from Tanzania), I’d like to introduce Josephat Torner. Torner is a prominent activist in Tanzania for the rights of people with albinism.
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When Josephat Torner married his bride, only one of her family members attended the wedding ceremony. An uncle of hers. No one else in her family supported her marriage to an albino. However, more than 1,000 people came out to witness Josephat get married at the Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania in the Tabora Region.
Today, the couple has three children: an 11-year-old daughter named Glory, and his sons Harry and Goodluck. None of them have albinism.
For Josephat, living with albinism has not been easy. In his childhood, family members tried to poison and kill him he says and his classmates teased him. He drives a Nissan X-Trail compact SUV with heavily tinted windows so that people outside the car will not realize he is an albino. Albinos in Tanzania are targets for violence and persecution. Superstitious beliefs hold that albinos bring wealth and killing an albino for their limbs can fetch up to $2,000, according to local rumors.
None of this has deterred Josephat’s activism. Nor has it hindered his pursuit of love and happiness. In that pursuit, he fell in love with three women at different times and had proposed marriage. Each one of them rejected him. He said he was about to give up his search until a friend, who is not an albino, introduced him to a young lady.
“I started making my personal SWOC analysis by which I analyzed the strength I have, my weaknesses, opportunities,” he said. “She was so beautiful that many men were after her…but I am the winner, trying to forget whatever type of discrimination I have experience.”
Today, Josephat says he is happily married and helps other albinos to find life partners. He recommends for them to marry non-albinos to reduce their chances of having albino children. He also counsels albinos dealing with low self-esteem.
“They must first accept the fact that they are persons with albinism but confident that they can do anything that others without albinism do,” he says.
And when it comes to advice on finding love, Josephat says, “Confidence is very important and love is a two-way traffic. Fighting self-stigma also matters, in order to be confident and find love.”
By Chika Oduah
Chika Oduah traveled to Tanzania as a fellow of the International Reporting Project.