Albinism in Cameroon

In honour of the International Albinism Awareness Day, on June 13th, we want to share one of Lekeaka Mabel’s blog posts. Lekeaka Mabel wrote three blog posts, which are all part of her master’s thesis called “Albinism in Cameroon: How persons living with albinism experience social exclusion in Cameroon”. Her other blog posts and the rest of her thesis can be found here.

Albinism in Cameroon written by Lekeaka Mabel


When White Looking is viewed as a curse.

Whiteness is the centre of the world[1]. Although Cameroon is a black-dominated country, proximity to white gives one more advantages. For example in some tribes like the Bamileke in the western province, fairer (whiter) women fetch a higher bride price than darker women. Skin lightening products are very popular as people constantly seek fairer skin tone so as to attract the advantages associated with being white. However, there exist some groups of Cameroonians who were born “white”. One would think that they would be hailed as kings and queens and showered with love and admiration. On the contrary, they are shunned, despised and even hunted. Herein lies the contradiction that is the life of people with albinism in Cameroon.


Albinism is a word derived from the Latin albus, meaning white. It’s a genetically inherited condition where a shortage of melanin pigment affects the eyes, hair and skin[2]. This condition affects the body’s production of melanin, reducing or eliminating pigmentation in the skin, eyes, and hair. This melanin deficiency causes complex visual impairment, altering retinal development and nerve connections to the eye[3]. It also weakens natural defenses against sun damage, placing people with albinism at heightened risk of skin cancer, especially in hot countries. The difference in skin creates adaptation and socialisation problems, with many myths and misconceptions surrounding PWA that have spread over the years within many African communities.


In Cameroon likewise other African countries, people living with albinism are given stereotype names, subjected to stigma and prejudice because there are prevailing myths and superstitious beliefs about them not being humans.


Testimony by my friend Melissa Longla……..VOICES OF ALBINOS 2 – YouTube[4]


Melissa Longla in her interview on YouTube says human relations as an albino have been pretty difficult…….

“People make fun of your person. Some think you’re a curse or product of adultery and all sorts of negative things you can think of. Children chant derogatory songs while you walk past the streets and people wouldn’t eat food touched by you…. You have to survive amidst all these,” she explains.


One incident which particularly hurt Melissa was back in secondary school when her classmate refused to eat just because she was the one who shared the food at the refectory. “This really weighed down on me,” she laments.


“Another incidence was when a boy in my class (form 1) cried all day because he was made to share a desk with me!” Apart from these, Melissa says she has been severally turned down by job officers because employers think people like her cannot fully deliver at work.


The life of people living with Albinism in Cameroon is entrapped with difficulties. In all aspects of social, economic and cultural life, children with albinism in Cameroon remain highly marginalized, stigmatized and excluded by virtue of their condition. They remain vulnerable to violence and remain fearful. Despite all these difficulties, violence against children, girls and women with albinism in Cameroon is very much underreported.


Parents especially mothers of people living with albinism face stigma from the family as well as on a community level. Many women have been sent out of their marriages because their husbands could not understand why two black people could give birth to white skin baby.


The plight of albinism is one that needs to be brought to the lime. People with Albinism must not suffer just because they were born different in the same way black people argue that it is unfair for the world to treat them as inferior because they were born black. Being a person with albinism is not a crime and criminalising them is criminal.


Share the word, share the awareness and share the love.



[1] See Alemanji, A.A (2016). (2016). Is there such a thing…? A study of antiracism education in Finland. University of Helsinki.

[2] See Benyah, F. (2017). Equally  Able, Differently Looking: Discrimination and Physical Violence against Persons with Albinism in Ghana. Journal for the Study of Religion 30,1(2017)161-188

[3] See Benyah, F. (2017). Equally  Able, Differently Looking: Discrimination and Physical Violence against Persons with Albinism in Ghana. Journal for the Study of Religion 30,1(2017)161-188


[5] Picture of Melissa and I

[6] The conversation.


The End of the First Edition of the Monthly Reading List

We have now completed the first edition of the Social Exclusion’s monthly reading list. We have compiled a list of nine books which all include anti-racist rhetorics, discusses justice and equality and overall critical analyses of our society. Many of the books happen to be academic, but some are also written in a more playful way, which makes them also attractive to a younger audience and people who are not familiar with academic writing.


We have strived to make the list as inclusive as possible, but there are still plenty more books we would love to feature. So without further ado, we are announcing that we are continuing with the monthly reading list next September! This list will include even more books that target Racial Justice, Racial Equity and Antiracism in one way or another. Additionally, we would like for our audience to participate in the making of this list, in other words, if you do have a book, which you would like to share and that targets antiracism, feel free to send in your suggestion via email to @ Let’s collectively build this initiative!


Hope the current Monthly Reading List will make for some great reflective readings this summer!

6,765 Summer Reading Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock

Restful summer to everyone!


Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery

Sisters of the Yam : Black Women and Self-Recovery book cover

The last book on our list will be a book from the recently passed author, feminist and social activist, bell hooks. Her book Sisters of the Yam continues to discuss the black womanhood experience and she explores the emotional health of Black women and how it is constantly being affected by sexism and racism. In her book, bell hooks highlight the link between self-recovery and political resistance and how aspects such as joy and healing are a vital need in the struggle for equality.


bell hooks, was a beloved author, respected feminist and social activist who recently passed away at the age of 69. She was a pathbreaking Black Woman and will be remembered through her writings and doings.

A Renewed Call For Language Policy Reforms For International Students


We, the undersigned students of Åbo Akademi University and the Social Exclusion Master’s Program, write to renew the call to reform the university’s English language entrance policy for master’s degree program, MDP, applicants. In 2021, students from the Race, Racism and Antiracism course of the Social Exclusion MA program first opened this discussion, citing the negatively discriminatory effects of current testing policies against English speaking members of formerly colonized nations and the need to challenge the coloniality of language and knowledge-producing institutions in Finland.


The university accepts several tests as evidence of language proficiency. Accepted testing formats, however, have been found to be dubious indicators of actual language proficiency, and additionally do not present a single, equitable standard for all applicants across the provided options. They are equally if not more indicative of factors from financial status and, significantly, anxiety during testing procedures, as well as applicants having access to testing at all. Standards of acceptability vary from test to test, but so do procedures and difficulty, depending on familiarity with specific dialects according to the test and its country of origin, and individual testing protocols over general proficiency. Being solely reliant on these testing procedures, therefore, discriminates against people who share these conditions while those who are not subject to them experience no similar risk.


The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted issues of access to testing as additional barriers for prospective international students. Applicants from some countries had testing options limited or else completely removed. This means that even while general applications were being accepted for ÅAU, the English testing policy alone was and remains capable of obstructing otherwise qualified applicants from applying on academic merit alone.


In addition to the problems with the faults of proficiency testing in practice, the expiration of test results means that those who have already overcome the individual burdens they pose must often do so again. We question the value of proficiency proven by a test if it is expected to be invalid after two years. Individuals who have already proven their capability in English according to the demands of accepted tests should not be made to do so again, as they may already be in professional or academic positions which confirm their capability because of those results. Having an expiry date for language proficiency cannot be limited only to some students. It has to be applied to all students at ÅA and not just those studying in English, but also those studying in other languages including Swedish and Finnish.


The university is now in the process of producing a new Equality and Diversity Plan, reaffirming its commitment to provide an environment, “that is accessible to everyone and without discrimination, racism, and sexism where staff and students with a variety of backgrounds and tasks are treated equally and can safely participate in all activities” (ÅAU Gender Equality, Equal Treatment and Accessibility as an Educational Institution 2022-2024). We believe that these commitments should be made to those in the earliest stages of contact with the university and its institutions, and we present arguments against the current policy and for the consideration of alternatives already being explored within the university today.


As with the previous year’s call, we suggest the university expands current exceptions to the English Language testing requirement for MDP applicants to include countries that were formerly colonies, and where English is a commonly spoken language. To ensure that academic standards are met, we advocate for an interview alternative to also be provided, such as those employed by the MDP in Social Exclusion, and MA/MTh and the MDP in Teaching and Learning to applicants who meet other requirements. Interview options allow those who know best about the individual programs being applied to, directly gauge applicants’ suitability and capacity to perform within their academic settings. A movement toward this option would combat the problems exemplified within existing testing procedures and help Åbo Akademi University in combating discrimination and inequality within Finnish academia.



Adelina Appel, Godfred Gyimah, Maryam Lashgarian, Oghenetega Oke, and Sandis Sitton



For Reference and Further Information:


Having an expiry date for language proficiency cannot be limited only to some students. It has to be applied to all students at ÅA and not just those studying in English but also those studying in other languages including Swedish and Finnish. bo Akademi University: English Language Requirements. Available from:

Åbo Akademi University’s Plan for Gender Equality, Equal Treatment and Accessibility as an Employer 2022-2024 (proposal). Available from:

Cotton, F. and Conrow, F., 1998. An investigation of the predictive validity of IELTS amongst a group of international students studying at the University of Tasmania. IELTS research reports, 1(4), pp.72-115.

Feast, V., 2002. The impact of IELTS scores on performance at university. International Education Journal, 3(4), pp.70-85.

Galletta, A. (2013). Mastering the semi-structured interview and beyond: From re-search design to analysis and publication (Vol. 18). New York University Press.

Hunter, J. (2022, March 9). Changes to the IELTS, TOEFL and Duolingo tests under covid-19. The Student. Retrieved April 10, 2022, from

Neumann, H., Padden, N. and McDonough, K., 2019. Beyond English language proficiency scores: Understanding the academic performance of international undergraduate students during the first year of study. Higher Education Research & Development, 38(2), pp.324-338.

Read, J., 2022. Test Review: The International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Language Testing, p.02655322221086211.

Salehi, M. and Marefat, F., 2014. The Effects of Foreign Language Anxiety and Test Anxiety on Foreign Language Test Performance. Theory & Practice in Language Studies, 4(5).

Sawir, E., Marginson, S. Forbes-Mewett, H., Nyland, C. & Ramia, G. (2012). International Student Security and English Language Proficiency. Journal of Studies in International, 16(5), 434-454.

Solano-Flore, G. & Li, M. (2008). Examining the Dependability of Academic Achievement Measures for English Language Learners. Assessment for Effective intervention, 33(3), 135-144.

The University of Cambridge (2022). The format of interviews for 2023 entry is currently under review. Please check back for further details in due course. Retrieved from:

Zheng, Y. and Cheng, L., 2018. How does anxiety influence language performance? From the perspectives of foreign language classroom anxiety and cognitive test anxiety. Language Testing in Asia, 8(1), pp.1-19.

Registration is open for Social Exclusion’s Annual Seminar: Colour still matters

“Colour still matters” is the name of this year’s Social Exclusion annual seminar. The seminar, as always, is part of the course Race, Racism and Anti-Racism and is arranged by the students in the course. This year the seminar will take place on May 24th and be hosted both on campus, in Arken and online, through Zoom. The seminar is free of charge but does require registration. Click here to register.


Follow Social Exclusion’s social media and the seminar’s own social media for more updates about the seminar, like who are the keynote speakers and panellists.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Caste (Oprah's Book Club): The Origins of Our Discontents by [Isabel Wilkerson]

Isabel Wilkerson


The writer, lecturer and the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Isabel Wilkerson, examines in her newest book, Caste: The Origin of our Discontents, the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. Cast means the lack of respect, attention and human kindness to someone based on their standing in the hierarchy, and Isabel truly captivating explores this notion by reflecting and drawing parallels on oppressive structural systems in the States, India and Nazi Germany.


Isabel Wilkerson is an award-winning journalist and writer. She is a native of Washington, D.C., and a daughter of the Great Migration, the mass movement that she would go on to write her first book about.

Save the Date!!

We are the students of the Race, Racism and Anti-racism course at Åbo Akademi University. Our seminar on anti-racism entitled ‘Colour Still Matters’ will be held on Tuesday, 24 May 2022, and will take place in a hybrid format with presentations both on-site and via Zoom.

‘Colour Still Matters’ will consist of conversations on racism in Finland to raise and expand awareness of existing racist structures in Finnish society. The aim is to engage in a meaningful dialogue with panellists and keynote speakers representing varied specializations and academic backgrounds to address racism, social discrimination, social injustice, and racial disparities in Finland.

Save the date and follow all our social media platforms for further information. We look forward to seeing you there!

Social Exclusion’s Official Instagram Account

We have some grand news!

The Social Exclusion master’s program finally has its very own Instagram account! On this account, we will be posting updates on the program, as well as current news and discussions related to social exclusion, anti-racism and inclusion. Following our Instagram, you will also see more faces of the people in the program and be able to interact with contemporary topics regarding social exclusion and inclusion.


If this is something that interests you, follow us on @soexma_abo! The first post is already up!


Antiracism week – Finland without Racism

This week (21.-27.3.2022) the Finnish Red Cross’ annual anti-racism campaign week is taking place. The Antiracism week always takes place around UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which is on March 21st. The main message of the week is said by the Finnish Red Cross to be SEE, SAY, SOLVE. Additionally, the Finnish Red Cross explains the premiss of the week as follows:

During the week, we encourage people to raise discussion on how to create an inclusive atmosphere to all people with the help of good decisions, positive images, stories, friendships and meetings. The campaign will comment on how a dream society is built through practical acts and decisions.


To recognize the week and its importance, we at Social Exclusion want to highlight a new application that would be beneficial to many and which is suitable for the theme of this week. The app in question is Finland without Racism, which is an antiracism app that aims to be a platform for learning about and reporting racism. The app was developed with the help of the head of the Social Exclusion master’s program Aminkeng Atabong Alemanji and the app developer Kayo Games (programming Sila Kayo Quality Assurance Alida Ines Ouandji). The app works with the principle of antiracism training or Antiracism Apptivism, meaning the goal is to disrupt the structural system of racism through knowledge and actions. The app was published in January 2022 for Androids and the IOS version is still in progress.


The app has four parts to it. Starting off with an image of a privilege walk, which was illustrated by Nam-Ke, to emphasize the different starting points people have depending on their origin, race, religion, nationality, and mother tongue. Followed by a learning section, which includes various educational videos about racism and antiracism. These educational videos are for instance, about the racism Roma and Sami people faces. The third part of the app is a short test, which includes eight questions regarding discrimination, racism, and antiracism to reflect upon. The last part of the app is the reporting of racist incidents, which includes a description and links to whom one can report these incidents to. Each part of the app highlights the antiracist purpose of the app, which is learning about structural racism, testing one’s knowledge, and reporting racist incidents and made understandable and accessible for all ages. In the future, the app is planned to be translated into Swedish and Finnish and to be used as a tool in antiracist training in educational spaces.


During this Antiracism week, a lot can be done and thought about, which should be implemented throughout the year. It can be taking part in some of the existing events of the campaign (found on the Finnish Red Cross website), downloading the new app and becoming familiar with it and its function or doing the work oneself and understanding what it means to be antiracist.

Rasisminvastainen viikko 2019 | RedNet

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race: The Sunday Times Bestseller by [Reni Eddo-Lodge]

Reni Eddo-Lodge


In Reni Eddo-Lodge first book she further explores her own experience and thoughts about race conversations with white people. The book is a continuation of a blog post of her’s posted in 2014 where she states her frustration talking to white people about race, the inequality of those conversations and how the emotions of white people are taken more seriously than the emotions and killings of Black people and people of color. In Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m Not Talking to White People About Race she features seven essays talking about the history of racism, how is it systematically implemented, what white privilege is, feminism and class to mention a few topics. Her bold way of writing calls out injustice many racialized individuals can relate to and situations white people can reflect upon and educate themselves about. Her book has won several awards, like the 2018 British book award and is also a SundayTimes Bestseller. Additionally, her book has earned both longlisted and shortlisted for various other awards.


Reni Eddo-Lodge is an award-winning journalist, author and podcaster. At a young age, she was introduced to feminist activism, which helped her build her political persona, which she still finds useful today. She is born and raised in London, where she still lives.