Congratulations Angola “It is in your hands now.”
For years, individuals with albinism, like Joel, a Human Rights Defender of People with Albinism* have been bravely advocating for albinism rights in Angola, especially for the adoption of the National Action Plan (NAP) on albinism.
Joel, like so many other individuals with albinism, has experienced and witnessed firsthand the discrimination faced by people with albinism in Angola, including harmful stereotypes and myths. Over time, these societal biases have shaped Joel today and fueled his advocacy drive.
In 2018, the movement for the National Action Plan on albinism in Angola gained momentum when the first National Conference on Albinism was convened. This conference was attended by 10 Secretaries of State, thanks to the invitation extended by the then Secretary of State for Social Communication, Mr. Celso Malavoloque (Who is a person with albinism and a social activist). During this conference, Joel courageously introduced the Regional Action Plan on Albinism. From this conference emerged a memorandum, which was presented to the Vice President of Angola and laid the groundwork for the National Action Plan on albinism.
Meanwhile, in 2020, Joel was also selected in a collaborative engagement between the African Union, the UN Expert, and Albinism Groups, as one of the members of the working group (casually known as the “G12”), who crafted the implementation matrix of the African Union Plan of Action on Albinism.
Two years later, in 2022, Joel’s journey toward advancing Angola’s National Action Plan reached another significant milestone when he and members of other albinism groups in Angola secured an audience with the Minister of State for Social Affairs, who in turn facilitated a meeting with the President of Angola. During this meeting, the President declared his commitment to implementing the AU Plan of Action.
In February 2023, the Africa Albinism Network (AAN) Forum was held in Tanzania, which was an opportunity for Joel and his Colleagues from The Pro-Albino civil society group, to strategically inform the Ambassador of Angola in Tanzania about the significance of the National Action Plan on albinism. The AAN Forum featured various speakers from fourteen countries, most of whom had already adopted a National Action Plan on albinism and who shared their success stories. It was at this forum that the Ambassador sent his secretary to participate and draft a report, which the embassy sent back to Angola.
Upon their return to Angola, Joel, Eugênio Cardoso, and Celso Malavoloque who are members of The Angola Pro-Albino group engaged key Government Officials (The Former Secretary of State for Social Communication, The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of State, and the Minister of Health) to present the AAN forum report. The Minister of State, following the guidelines of the President, called Joel and his team to participate in the discussion to prepare the general State budget, considering the needs of people with albinism at a national level. Following this, the Minister of State selected a multisectoral team for the drafting of the National Action Plan on albinism.
May 2023 was a defining moment; a formal public presentation of the National Action Plan on albinism was made by the Minister of Health, and the Minister of State forwarded the document to the Council of Ministers.
In August 2023, after six years of active advocacy, setbacks, and a series of bureaucratic processes, the Council of Ministers approved and adopted the National Action Plan for people with albinism.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela.
Joel’s advocacy journey was not without challenges; attitudinal barriers and the struggle to prioritize the National Action Plan on the government’s agenda. Yet, the most significant challenge lies ahead in the implementation of the plan itself.
Angola’s National Action Plan
12 priority areas of support and protection for people with albinism were identified, namely:
All these efforts are not Joel’s alone. We recognize the important role played by Movimento Pró-albino de Angola, 4As, Tribo Global Kwenda (TGK), OYO-Huambo, Associação de Apoia à Pessoas Albinas (ALPA), and the Fundação Joel Tchombosi (Fraternidade Albinista) and AAN who supported the movement with methodological support in advocacy as well as technical support to ensure alignment of Angola’s National Action Plan with the AU Plan of Action on Albinism. There are probably many others who were involved in this process, and to them all, we say congratulations.
Photo Credits: Joel Tchombosi – L-R: Joel Tchombosi, Human Rights Advocate, Eugênio Cardoso, Human Rights Advocate, Téte Antônio, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elsa Vicente and Márcio, Foreign Affairs Ministers Consultants.
*Joel Tchombosi is an experienced activist, passionate about defending the rights of people with albinism and making real and meaningful changes in their lives.
He is the founder of Fraternidade Albinista association and the Joel Tchombosi Foundation in Angola. He coordinates several projects aimed at improving the living conditions of people with albinism. He is also a member of the Albinism Movement of Angola, leading external relations work and strategic engagement with the State and other actors. He was a member of the “G12” working group that drafted the African Union Action Plan for albinism (2021-2031). Joel Tchombosi now has more than 7 years of experience in the albinism movement in Africa.
He has a degree in Applied Linguistics and Teaching Methodology from Agostinho Neto University and a Certificate in Civic Leadership from Superior Wagner College in New York.