In some African countries (Kenia, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Malawi and Mozambique) albinos are considered spirits. It is believed that they disappear when they die. And they are right: nothing remains of them after their death. Everything is sold with total impunity because they are not considered human beings. But the most serious things is that they are kidnapped to be mutilated, because it is believed that their fingers, eyes and other parts of their body bring good luck and witch doctors use them to make expensive amulets.
*If you want to know more about albinos in Africa, you can watch the documentary: Hombre negro piel blanca (Black man white skin).
During September 2017 Ana Cristina Herreros and Daniel Tornero travelled to Matola (Mozambique) and visited the places where albinos go to receive help.
* The house of the Mercedarian Sisters of Matola where the albinos go.
There they contacted albino women who told them their stories and held illustration workshops with albino and non-albino children where they illustrated, with the collage technique, the characters that inhabit their stories.
*Susana lives from by selling charcoal, which she makes by burning wood.
*Susana knows a lot of tales.
*Illustration workshop with albino children.
*Ana Cristina Herreros with one of the children
After they were in Maputo, in a center called Hakumana, where street children are helped. They arrive in the morning; they have breakfast and receive school support. They also have a kitchen garden and a trade house where the women sew. And a community nursery where they take care of the babies of working mothers.
*This is Sebastiao, a street boy who every morning arrives at Hakumana.
And they also visited the House of Gaiato, in Boane, a home for children who do not have one.
* The canteen for the youngest children of the Boane school in the House of Gaiato
In these places they listened to children and adults tell their stories and tales. They also chose albino and non-albino people because the aim of this work of collecting oral memory is to show that albinos are people and not spirits because they tell the same stories as non-albino people in Mozambique. And spirits do not tell stories but human beings do. This is how, through literature and painting, we want to show the humanity of these black people with white skin, who have so many difficulties because they are different.
* Daniel Tornero listening to Mr. Maganha, father of an albino girl.
After this compilation work, we are working in the edition of a book to be titled: Los cuentos del conejo y otros cuentos de la gente albina de Mozambique (Rabbit tales and other tales from the albino people of Mozambique), which we will publish in Libros de las Malas Compañías in their Serie Negra (Black Series). It will be titled like that due to the more than 50 stories we collected, more than 30 of them feature the rabbit, a small and defenceless animal, without claws or sharp fangs, but who manages to defeat all the beasts of the jungle thanks to his cunning and intelligence. A hero on a par with the albinos and street people of Mozambique.
* Rabbits and other creatures that come out of Daniel Tornero’s illustration workshops.
A percentage of the sales will go to a project working for albinos. Here we introduce you to the team that made this possible.
* From left to right: Carmen Mormeneo (our fairy godmother and bridge, who made he trip possible), Peruka (social worker from the Matola centre), Daniel Tornero (the illustrator), Vicente Wayve (president of the albino association in Mozambique), Ana Cristina Herreros (the writer), Fátima (Mercedarian sister).
The authors returned from Mozambique, but this journey has only just begun because, in addition to working on the book, from the senior citizens’ centres in the Chamberí district (Madrid) and with the help of Mercedes Fuentes, sewing machines have been collected and sent in a container to Matola, which is the beginning of an occupational centre for albino women, where they will sew cloth books that will help them have a salary and dignity.
Benita Prieto is building a virtual library for the albino people, which we will put inside tablets that we will collect or buy.
And Cristina Esmoris, a young designer from Madrid, she is designing an albino bunny that will hace glasses, a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long-legged trousers and a sun cream so that albino children can learn how to look after themselves and avoid skin cancer.
We will keep on telling you how we continue with this project that we are so excited about.
If you want to read more about albinos, here is an article published in El Mundo: