23 July, 2008

Tanzania's Albinos in Dire Straits

This is shocking. Dreadful. Atrocious. And beyond belief or understanding. In Tanzania, the tens of thousands of Albinos are being hunted, and butchered by those who believe in witchcraft; believing that - the use of body parts of albinos in potions would 'help' them 'succeed' in business, politics etcetera. Watch this Al Jazeera video:



Recent reports on the plight of albinos, have been shocking. Some excerpts:

Some witch-doctors also say they can use albino body parts in a potion to make people rich.

A teacher in the northern town of Arusha has been arrested for killing his own child, who was albino.

As well as the four killings, the body of an albino has also been exhumed. It was found with its limbs cut off. The BBC

Discrimination against albinos is a serious problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but recently in Tanzania it has taken a wicked twist: at least 19 albinos, including children, have been killed and mutilated in the past year, victims of what Tanzanian officials say is a growing criminal trade in albino body parts. The New York Times

Many people in Tanzania - and across Africa, for that matter - believe albinos have magical powers. They stand out, often the lone white face in a black crowd, a result of a genetic condition that impairs normal skin pigmentation and affects about 1 in3,000 people here. Tanzanian officials say witch doctors are now marketing albino skin, bones and hair as ingredients in potions that are promised to make people rich. The International Herald Tribune

Albinism in Tanzania has long been regarded as a curse. Albinos have been tortured and killed throughout the country and their body parts used in magic potions prepared by witch doctors. Now Tanzania's president Jakaya Kikwete has appointed the first Albino member of parliament in a nationwide effort to eliminate discrimination. Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer discusses her recent appointment and her struggle for justice. NPR

Albinos here are seeking audience with President Jakaya Kikwete to brief him of predicaments as victims of sporadic killings. AllAfrica

Under President Jakaya Kikwete, the Tanzanian government has been trying hard to change the plight of Tanzania's albinos; but, it's people's mentality, that can make some - including even ministers, as reported - to seek the 'advice' of witchdoctors, that has to be changed. Otherwise, albinos will continue being in danger and living in overwhelming feeling and anxiety for as long as they are being hunted. Not by animals. Or aliens. But by their own fellow Africans.

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