Albinos: We were almost sold off by our own father

It’s one thing to be born. It’s quite another to be born different. In 1993, a child was born. The following year, another one came.
Patrick Mazimpaka (R) and Fidele Mbekeye in Kigali.  Sunday Times/Joseph Oindo
Patrick Mazimpaka (R) and Fidele Mbekeye in Kigali. Sunday Times/Joseph Oindo

It’s one thing to be born. It’s quite another to be born different. In 1993, a child was born. The following year, another one came.

To a mother, it’s normally one of the greatest moments to be expectant. For those nine months or so, people will be eager to know the kind of child you will be bringing into the world. And expectant mothers normally walk with some pride in their faces. They have managed to achieve what even God said in the Bible: to a woman, you will labour when giving birth.

But then fate comes in.  She gets two different children. And after getting the two children, your husband tells you that they have commercial value and they should be sold. 

The first one to come was Fidelle Mbekeye in 1993. A year later he was followed by Patric Mazimpaka.

The mother must have been very proud at that time – giving birth two children. But instead, she was ashamed that she had given birth to two albinos. Society rejected her and her children.

But God had given her children. And she didn’t mind what kind of children God had blessed her with. And the father was scandalized and asked the mother, “…where are these children coming from?”

And then the father had some “great” idea. When the two children started growing up, their father said that they had commercial value. They had to be sold. “Our father wanted to sell us when were young. But our mother refused,” says Fidelle.

Then there is another side of the story. Both Fidelle and Patric were rejected by their own father and the society at large. The Father did not want anything to do with them. They had to be sold, even at a miserable price. Even their relatives rejected them. Their contemporaries at school rejected them. They were different. They were Albinos. They could not fit anywhere.

So because of this rejection, they did not go far with their education. Both Patric and Fidelle will tell you that it was very difficult growing up with their skin colour. 

They tell of their ordeal: “They called us names. They abused us. They beat us. The whole society rejected us. But God never rejected us. He gave us talent.

“We started singing in churches when we were very young and churchgoers appreciated us so much. People gave us money every time we performed and we used it to buy food. 

“Our parents were very poor, and I think that’s the main reason even our father saw some commercial value in us. But our mother refused. She is the one who defended us from our brutal father. And then our father died a few years later. It was all about the frustrations of having albino children. We think he could not handle that. He was the butt of joke in the whole society. It drove him to his grave.

“However, we stayed with our mother. Then one day, while singing in church, Jean Paul Samputu saw us performing and he said that we were talented.

“He took us to his studio and we started recording songs. We have so far recorded one album, Turi Kumwe (We are Together), which is loaded with nine gospel songs. Our songs talk about our difficult past. They talk about our being born different and how we suffered. But more important, they talk about forgiveness for we have managed to forgive, from deep within our hearts, those who despised us because we are albinos. Those who abused us when were young.  

“Before our father died, we forgave him. Our mother had told us before his death how he almost sold us when we were still young. 

“We are stars now. When we go to Church to perform, people see us differently. People like our music and they don’t mind our skin colour. We are now well appreciated. They give us standing ovation after we have performed. 

“It’s one thing to be born an albino because from your birth, you know that you’re different. Your own father and your own society will reject you. But what we are happy about is that we were born two. And the two of us made our own society. We have been friends from our young days. When the world rejected us, we stayed together, encouraging each other. 

“God gave us talent and it’s through this that we are now spreading the gospel of forgiveness. We have managed to forgive our father – may his soul rest in peace. Our mother is very proud of what we have managed to achieve through music. She rescued us. She managed to survive with us through rejection and poverty. She is now a proud mother.

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