Award-winning Model Ayanda Candice Sibanda: How I Rose Above Bullying & Discrimination Due to Albinism

“Refuse to be defined by someone else’s belief of what is possible.”

This is a mantra that Ayanda Candice Sibanda, a phenomenal young woman, has lived by through every ordeal she has faced. She has faced bullying and discrimination but has managed to come out on top. Ayanda spoke to The Weight She Carries about how life has been for this award-winning model.

My name is Ayanda Candice Sibanda. I am a 20-year-old second-year law student at the University of Zimbabwe. I am also a professional model, humanitarian activist, a motivational speaker as well as an advocate for the rights of girls.

Born and [raised] in Bulawayo, [Zimbabwe] I grew up in the western suburbs where everyone’s life is out in the open. It was hard. People have different opinions on who I am since I have albinism. Because I am the youngest of three siblings, I spent most of my school years alone. I was bullied a lot and did not know how to react to what was said to me.

I used to be called ‘Khiwa’ which means white or ‘nkawu.’ Nkawu is a monkey in my native language. Although my brother would stand up and defend me, he still left school before me, and so I had to learn to stand up for myself and be vocal about what was going on in my life.

I grew a thick skin, and as I got involved in various clubs such as public speaking, debate, drum majorettes, I learnt to stand up and speak out. I wanted to do sports but ended up hating them because people around me dictated what I could or could not do.

No one really listened to me or what I wanted. But my involvement in these activities taught me to channel my thoughts through speaking out. They gave me skills to handle any hurdle I face. I’m still called Khiwa by the kids I meet. I don’t mind them at all now because I know that they do not have an understanding of who I am.

After I completed Advanced level, whilst waiting to go to college, I decided to rekindle my passion for modelling, which I had only done in school.

In 2017, I ventured into professional modelling. I began by attending modelling school. After graduating, I worked in fashion shows and was awarded Most Promising Model at the Summer Fashion and Style awards in 2018. In 2019, I participated in the Miss Albinism Zimbabwe and won the whole pageant. In 2020 the Miss University of Zimbabwe came along and I won once again. I have also done a bit of acting as well.

Pageantry has definitely given me a platform to be a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves, a platform where I can empower other women to stand their ground and speak out against issues to do with abuse and discrimination.

The mantra I live by, which is ‘refuse to be defined by someone else’s belief of what is possible,’ has helped me through a lot of trying circumstances.

I like to repeat and affirm this statement because it relates to different situations one can be facing. Whether one is disabled, is being abused or [is] even perceived as a curse, the affirmation gives one strength to pave their own path no matter how society has labelled you. I am where I am today because I refused to be confined by society’s perceptions of who I am supposed be.

Ayanda aspires to win the ultimate pageant, Miss Universe, in the near future.

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