South African born Thando Hopa is now a successful fashion model in New York. She recently made the front cover of Marie Claire magazine and has just finished a photo shoot of an all-black cast for the 2018 Pirelli calendar. She has also appeared at the South African Fashion Week and the New York Fashion Week.
Thando Hopa has poise and beauty: she is also an albino.
Albinism is a condition in which the pigment melanin is not present in a person leading to an ultra fair appearance.
Unfortunately many of those with albinism are often confronted by prejudice, discrimination and social ostracism. Tragically and terribly some albinos are even killed in East Africa and their body parts used in witchcraft practices.
But Thando Hopa is challenging all of that.
“There is a lot of prejudice and superstition about albinism, but I’m hopeful that things can change”, the 28 year-old model told the The Times newspaper in the UK.
Thando’s mission is to portray albinism positively and “in a way that is empowering”. With her emergence as a top model on the international fashion scene she is doing just that.
Some people, Thando Hopa told The Times, have often thought that she is white. During her rise in the fashion world some designers also wanted her not to wear make-up.
Thando struggled at school because her teachers did not understand her condition but she went on to graduate from university with a degree in law and worked in a sexual crimes unit.
Thando Hopa has proved that albinism is in no way an indication of a lack of intellect.
Thando Hopa and Goldalyn Kakua are examples to us all and worthy challengers to the ignorance and prejudice that for too long been associated with attitudes to albinism.In Kenya the top student nationally in the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education results was 14 year-old Goldalyn Kakuya from St Anne’s Junior School in Luba, Kakamega, being awarded 455 out of a possible 500 marks.