In April 2019, Raising Malawi supported our dear friend Lazarus Chigwandali, a Malawian street musician with albinism, with a trip to New York City for the premiere of a documentary about his life at the Tribeca Film Festival. Executive produced by Madonna, the film Lazarus follows his journey to record his debut album and documents the challenges faced by people with albinism in Malawi. The film, directed by Oscar-nominated David Darg, garnered support from the United Nations, Amnesty International, Oxfam, the US Ambassador in Malawi and many others in the music and film industries!
Persons with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide, including violence, which puts their security and lives at risk. In Malawi, where there are an estimated 10,000 people with albinism, many continue to face marginalization and social exclusion due to erroneous beliefs, myths and superstitions. From stigma and discrimination, to barriers in health, education and lack of visibility in social and political spheres, these challenges seriously undermine their enjoyment of human rights.
Despite facing tremendous adversity, Lazarus found solace in music at just 10 years old, writing and playing songs on a makeshift guitar with his younger brother. Since his first performance for a large crowd at the Lake of Stars Festival in Malawi last September, Lazarus has recorded his debut album, Stomp on the Devil. The album, which will be released in September 2019, aims to create social change for people with albinism in Africa. The first single from the sessions, “Ndife Alendo” (We Are Strangers), serves as a metaphor for the plight of people with albinism. “We are treated as if we are visitors in their own land,” said Lazarus. “I’m telling people, ‘We are human beings, just like you.”
He also recounts feeling proud about overcoming adversity and finding a calling through music: “For my family, it was one of the biggest moments in our lives. People could not believe how they used to see me walking down the streets and busking, and now there were producers and filmmakers recording these songs at my place. It was the most amazing feeling.”
We proudly recognize, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with albinism around the world. We applaud Lazarus not only for being a talented singer and musician, but for being a powerful voice for persons with albinism and a new generation in Malawi!
To learn more about Lazarus, his music and the documentary, visit: