Congolese wrestler and albino rights campaigner dies at 53


Alphonse Mwimba Makiese, Democratic Republic of Congo’s wrestling champion who campaigned for fellow albinos facing stigma, is being paid tribute by his countryman following his death at 53.

Makiese, whose sporting wrestling name was ‘Texas Mwimba’, died Sunday in Kinshasa after a year-long illness, his son, Claudy, told the BBC.

Albinism is a rare, hereditary condition that leads to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes. Without melanin in their skin, those with albinism are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun.

There are also a lot of superstitions in Africa associated with the condition and in some countries people with albinism are killed for their body parts.

In 2016, Texas Mwimba told the BBC that where he was from fishermen thought that his hair would bring them good luck if added to their nets. He refused the offer of money in exchange for his hair.

He said he spent his life fighting prejudice and “silly beliefs and superstitions”.

He became a wrestler because he was bullied at school over his condition.

Initially he was told that he was too fragile to become a wrestler, but he ignored their complaints.

He went on to set up the Texas Mwimba Foundation to fight for the rights of people with albinism.

One Twitter user described Texas Mwimba as the “pride” of the country while another wrote about his sadness on hearing about the death of the wrestler. (Source: BBC)