In addition to a budding political career, Councillor Sergeant “Yellowman” Kgosietsile, has taken additional responsibility as the Chairperson of the Albinism Society of Botswana. To his detractors however, Kgosietsile has no business talking about albinism because he is not an albino. Rather, they say, he has vitiligo, a hereditary skin condition which discolours the skin. The late United States superstar, Michael Jackson, is supposed have had vitiligo.
Kgosietsile is fighting back against such charges, arguing that his detractors are speaking from a position of ignorance.
“There are five types of albinism and my medical condition happens to be one of those. Some time back there was a discussion about albinism on Btv and the doctor featured on the programme made the same explanation. I have albinism; ke a tola,” he says meaning by the latter that he uses protective topical creams.
At this point, nothing suggests that the Albinism Society of Botswana is expending any energy on identity politics. That may have to do with the fact that the organisation is still new and has limited resources. However, one cannot rule out the possibility of the man popularly known as Yellowman having to defend his yellowness over and over when the money starts rolling in. A first-term councillor, Kgosietsile spoke out on behalf of Sunday Standard editor, Outsa Mokone, when the Department of Immigration and Citizenship withheld his passport without valid reason. When officers from the department visited town hall to make a presentation on immigration-related matters to a full council meeting, Kgosietsile demanded that Mokone be issued his passport with no delay.
It turns out that living with albinism is very expensive. Kgosietsile says that he buys his creams from the Gaborone Private Hospital, paying P150 per 500 gram tube that lasts one week. The price is subsidized because he has medical aid cover.
“You can imagine how expensive these creams are for people who don’t have medical aid cover. There is no option of not using such medication because you will get cancer and die,” he says.
US singer Jackson claimed to have vitiligo but what made his particular case difficult was that he was clearly not comfortable with his blackness. He infamously had his nose surgically reconstructed to make it look like that of a Caucasian.