Culture, Africa

Malian singer Salif Keita calls on artists for raising awareness of albinism

Albinos are 'ostracized, targeted, persecuted, sacrificed'. So artists should 'definitely be more concerned with these issues', says Golden voice of Africa

Faruk Zorlu   | 06.06.2022
Malian singer Salif Keita calls on artists for raising awareness of albinism


On the front lines of the albinism movement, Salif Keita, also known as the Golden voice of Africa, calls on more artists to join awareness-raising efforts.

Establishing The Salif Keita Global Foundation in 2015, the Malian singer-songwriter has made great contributions to the albinism movement.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Keita, called on more artists across the globe to support and "be more concerned" with the albinism issue.

Committed to working for better conditions for albinos, Keita said: "They are ostracized, targeted, persecuted, sacrificed. There are too many who were being sacrificed. For this reason, we, the artists, must be partners in this cause so that society will abandon such sacrifices."

"This year, five albinos were sacrificed for elections in Mali. This is because there is no election. When there is an election, we must do whatever it takes to keep them safe," Keita noted.

"It is necessary to find a solution to this issue because when a leading figure asks to sacrifice an albino, it is not punished. Society should embrace this cause so that those who are involved in albino sacrifices receive the necessary punishments," he said, dedicating himself fully at a global level to the cause of albinos after he retired from recording his final album, Un Autre blanc, or Another White, that was released in 2018.

The 72-year-old singer was born albino -- an inherited condition that leads to someone having very light skin, hair, and eyes -- in southern Mali. "It's not nice. Being an albino isn't very well welcomed. Being an albino means being born with problems, both in health and social aspects," he added.

Meanwhile, significant progress in the perception of albinism has been made across Africa in past years, he said, adding: "There is a change in the situation of albinos today. Because it was not even considered a problem before, but today, the problems which albinos are going through are more known, and people are becoming more and more interested in this issue."

Thanks to many awareness-raising efforts, "I think there has been a huge change. For example, People with albinism didn't use an ointment to protect their skin before; today, they use it and they're happy. On the other hand, they had great difficulties in fitting into social life, both at school and in society. They were ostracized too much. I think there is positive progress in this sense," he said.

Muhammed Ali

Keita's soundtrack, "Tomorrow-Ali," was featured in the 2001 movie "Ali," which is based on the life of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and starred Will Smith.

Regarding the soundtrack, he said: "Ali is a great source of pride for Black people and for this reason, we all support his fight against racism and discrimination."

"When I was offered to compose the music for the movie Muhammed Ali, I was very happy that the piece I prepared with great love and courage was chosen."

Touching upon a common point he has with the boxer, Keita said: "I'm not White, I feel Black. Our blood is the same. Of course, we have similarities in terms of the fight. He was fighting for a community who were ostracized and exposed to racism. I am fighting for the cause of albinos."

He went on to say: "I loved his arrogance the most and his rebelliousness[…] and of course a very good boxer."

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