The Mothering and Albinism project team expresses our deep regrets at the recent passing of Dr. Bhekisisa Maxwell Thabethe. He was the chairperson for organizations such as the National Albinism Task Force, Albinism Society of South Africa, and Albinism Society KwaZulu-Natal. With his PhD in Education (his dissertation is titled Learning of mechanical systems in grade 9 technology classroom by deaf learners in KwaZulu-Natal: An exploration of a learning of technology in a non-hearing environment, 2018, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), Dr. Thabethe advocated greatly for the education of children. He worked tirelessly to provide the public with information about albinism to enhance a scientific understanding and debunk the myths and misconceptions associated with the condition. He raised awareness on the various human rights violations experienced by persons with albinism through speaking on social media platforms, participating in public awareness campaigns, and engaging with government and other key stakeholders. He strived to change the perceptions of the general community about albinism to ensure persons with albinism be recognized as normal individuals and part of the society. He advocated for the safety and security, as well as social justice, for persons with albinism with such perseverance which was so inspiring.
Dr. Thabethe joined our research-advocacy-policy network in 2020. His knowledge of the albinism movement in South Africa and his perspectives as a person with albinism brought in-depth insight to our project. During the global pandemic, we were unable to extend our data collection to his networks in KwaZulu-Natal but we were hopeful to visit during future fieldwork. Recently, Dr. Thabethe co-authored a publication with our project team (“Access to Healthcare by Mothers Impacted by Albinism in South Africa” by Buyco et al.) in the new Journal of Albinism in Southern Africa. Our project team from Canada, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, and United Kingdom is deeply grateful for his contributions to our work and are richer for having known him. He is truly missed, and his legacy will live on.