August is Womxn’s month in South Africa and to celebrate the power of womxn, our latest feature is South African actress, presenter, activist and all-round powerhouse Puleng Molebatsi. Puleng is a seasoned South African media practitioner with over 10 years experience!
Tell us about yourself and the people that have influenced you growing up.
I was born and raised in a small town called Thabanchu in the Free State. My mom passed on when I was 14 years old. I was then looked after by aunties and school teachers who ensured that I got what I needed in order to do well in school. People who played a vital role in my upbringing are my English teacher Alice Leserwane, my late mom Matshediso Molebatsi and adopted mother Carolyn Carew
Share a bit about the Albinism Report, what is your intention with the show?
I present and produce a current affairs show called the albinism report on channel Africa, The show focuses on all the issues that affect people with albinism, the aim is to shift negative perception on albinism and introduce an enlightened narrative. To get people with albinism talking about ways to tackle challenges they face.
How has the work you do as a media practitioner – particularly the focus you have on issues around albinism in Africa – changed/challenged you?
I have learned to not live in a vacuum, to understand the stories of other people with albinism and how I can best be a mouth piece to those who still don’t have a voice. I have learned to stop complaining about what is wrong and start implementing ways to correct the wrong.
You’ve spoken a lot about the importance of representation of people with albinism in the media industry, what has been your experience as a practitioner, and in what ways do you think the issue of misrepresentation can be tackled?
The media has always portrayed people with albinism as the other. The misrepresentation of people with albinism has always been there in films, music videos, and other media platforms. People with albinism were portrayed as aliens, ugly, with a low self-esteem and outcasts in society, this is still continuing in mainstream media because the roles created for people with albinism are still not portrayed in a human way.
The first step would be for every person in the media space to educate themselves about the condition and start introducing characters that are like us. Vibrant, intelligent, beautiful sexy…I can go on and on but I think you get the picture.
What major issues do you believe we still need to tackle on the continent, for women with albinism?
Empowerment of people with albinism is vital. Its time that women with albinism find their own voice and use it to fight the stigma attachment in Africa
What have your guests with albinism on your show, and your interaction with the public, taught you about the condition and people’s perceptions?
That people fight multiple battles, and some of those battles are internal. We all have a common thread but individuals fight different battles.
What are you hoping young people with albinism take away from your story?
We are who we’ve been waiting for. The change we are seeking for begins with us.