Zimbabwean born, South African based media personality and entrepreneur, Simba Gozo speaks with Sethu Mbuli about his work, how African media perceives albinism and advice to young people with the condition.
Tell us a bit about yourself and the work you do
[I am] a creative entrepreneur as well as a model, actor, MC and motivational speaker. I believe we can be who we want to be as long as we believe in ourselves. Some would say I am over confident but I just know what I am capable of. I love to learn and to experience. I studied Information Technology and went on to be an IT Project manager, and ended up in real estate. I am [also] currently running a digital marketing company, I know its a a lot, I just do what I love or what I fall in-love with.
Do you remember the moment you realised your “difference” from others around you?
I believe I was in preschool when other children would refuse to play with me due to my appearance. I remember getting home and crying and telling my mom what happened, she told me not to worry, [that] there was nothing wrong with me, [she] made me look in the mirror and asked what I saw; she told me I was looking at a handsome and intelligent young man so there is no need to cry.
There’s often a struggle between being vulnerable in talking about one’s experience with having albinism – and protecting yourself, have you ever struggled with this and how have you navigated it?
There was a time when I would never speak about my albinism at all, but now you can’t get me to shut up about it. I see it as my super strength and I love to tell my stories and experiences which are mostly negative, as I believe there will be someone who will either learn or realise they are not alone and keep moving forward.
What have been your biggest frustrations with South African media and how they’ve portrayed your story?
The lack of research and just plain ignorance to what albinism is and what we have to go through just to be ourselves.
What role do you think the media should play on issues around albinism in Africa?
The major role media should be playing is showcasing albinism for what it is: a skin condition. It is not some mythical alien illness. We should be seeing shows that have a doctor or lawyer being played by someone with albinism, for lack of better words: normalise albinism.
How do you navigate the day-to-day demands of your life with being partially sighted, and what has helped most for you?
Well, that has been one of my greatest challenges; I am not partially sighted but short sighted enough to still be able to be granted a drivers license. What helped during school which was tough, was to make sure I was seated in the front row at all times to be able to see the board. I suggest that [people with the condition] go to a low vision optometrist.
To young people with albinism who view you as a role model, what would you like to say?
They need to know that there is nothing wrong with them and that they are able to achieve anything they put their minds to. They will face challenges that most won’t and that is OK, we are all different and that’s where are power lies. Take pride in your skin, allow no one [to] take your pride away from you.