African Albinos are killed for their body Parts…(a tragedy of double discrimination & persecution)


Albino boy

Albino Boy (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Every day, normal Africans get up and complain of either partiality, discrimination, unfairness, lack of love or partners, segregation etc etc. But what if you were born an Albino in Africa? Maybe with a little thought and consideration, normal Africans should look into the mirror and thank God for not being in the shoes of an African Albino especially in countries such as Tanzania.While we may from time to time complain of some kind of discrimination, African Albinos suffer the worst form of discrimination and persecution…what this writer sees as an extreme tragedy. While Albinos suffer discrimination in many countries, a few other countries have allowed Albinos to be persecuted, killed like animals and their body parts used for rituals and superstitious practices. Read on to learn about the worst countries in Africa to be an Albino in.  But first of all…..

Who are Albinos and what is Albinism?

Albinos are humans or animals who suffer from what is called Albinism. On the other hand Albinism is a defect due to the lack of melanin production in the body that results in little or no color (pigment) in the skin, hair, and eyes. Albinism originates from the Latin word “albus“, which means “white”.  Therefore with no pigment in their skin, Albinos turn to always appear “White”.

Worst Countries to be an Albino in

Tanzania has been listed as one of the worst, if not the worst country in Africa for an Albino to live in. africdating adTanzania has one of the highest, if not the highest rate of Albino Persecution, discrimination and killings in Africa followed by countries such as Burundi, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo etc. In Tanzania and countries such as Burundi and DRC Congo, to a lesser extent, Albinos are persecuted, killed, dismembered and at times their graves are dug up and desecrated based on the belief that certain of their body parts transmit magical powers. The main people in East Africa promoting these evil superstitions are the witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, concoctions and potions with the claim that their magic will bring prosperity to the user.

Body parts reportedly used for such evil rituals include: feet, blood, sexual organs, fingers, bones etc. Think for a moment… the idea of killing another human being just to use some parts of his body for your own convenience or because Witchdoctors want the parts for potions they claim make people rich or healthy, especially when there is no evidence that this is true.  To this writer, these are extreme cases of man’s inhumanity to man without limits.

In Tanzania in 2008 alone, just between January and July 26 known cases of Albinos were killed. The most shocking aspect of the Tanzania situation as reported by an undercover BBC correspondent Vicky Ntetema in 2008 is that clients of these witchdoctors also included police officers.

In Burundi, as reported by www.afroline.org, 57 known cases of Albinos in that country were killed between 2007 and October 2010 including a 9 year old boy. As a result, thousands of albinos were estimated to be in hiding as they live in constant fear for their lives.

Just like the case of Tanzania, the number of killings could even be double because certainly, there were cases of Albinos that were probably not reported…of those who were dead, missing or unaccounted for. It gives the chill when we speak of Albinos (fellow humans) being killed as if they are chicken. What makes it most gruesome is the notion that they are killed in Tanzania and Burundi mostly for their body parts.Lovers Empire advert

Albino as an Expensive Commodity in Tanzania and Burundi

As suggested in a report by by Pius Kamau in the huffingtonpost on 05/01/2012, there are reports about Tanzania and Burundi where “Albinos are being treated as an expensive commodity because of their body parts. They are basically being hunted down and at times there is the trafficking of albinos across borders for sale” or the illegal trafficking of their body parts across borders as people would traffic drugs.

In collaboration with Al-Jazeera Richard Mgamba investigated the case, of one Adam Robert Tangawizi, a 14-year -old Tanzanian albino boy who on October 14, 2011, was sold by his own father Robert Tangawizi to two strangers who “came for his blood, fingers and bones”.

According to Richard Mgamba’s  report on IPPMedia.com, Adam’s father had sold him to the attackers in a secret contract only attended by his second wife just two days before the deadly attack took place for a purported amount of 10 million Tanzanian Shillings (Sh10million), estimated at about $6,000. It was all about making more money to improve on his financial standing…no feeling…no remorse…no apologies.

On that faithful day, the buyers attacked poor Adam and ran away with some of his body parts including three fingers…leaving him in terrible pain and an everlasting psychological scar. Luckily the 14 year old survived the attack and with external help was taken to Canada for treatment although he now has permanently lost those fingers.

According to the author of that story, the young Adam reacted later by saying that…“I am a rejected person; a condemned child…may be that’s why my father sold me.”

This story was broadcast by Aljazeera English network in December 2011 as part of Aljazeera’s new initiatives called ‘Africa Investigates’, which is a groundbreaking new series that exposes corruption, violation of human rights and abuse across the continent.

It is estimated that over 150,000 albinos live in Tanzania. Tanzania is thought to have the largest population of albinos in Africa. A number of albinos have fled to the capital city, Dar es Salaam area as they feel safer in an urban setting.

Other Countries with Similar Stories

Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo by June 2008 also featured as countries that have experienced Albino killings. Later that year, Agence France Press (AFP) reported on the further expansion of the killings of albinos to include Burundi. By 2010 cases had also been reported from Swaziland.

Convictions for the Killing of Albino in Tanzania

It is indeed very sad that the first ever conviction for the killing of an albino in Tanzania only occurred on 23 September 2009 at the High Court in the town of Kahama following the murder and mutilation of another 14-year-old boy, Matatizo Dunia.

It was also reported that 173 witchdoctors were arrested in March of 2010 following international condemnation by the European Parliament and the United states House of Representatives in february 2010. Weeks later President Jakaya Kikwete ordered a crackdown of all those involved in these ritualistic killings for riches. But the strange part according to that same report is that the minister was not able to give details about what had happened to these arrested 173 witchdoctors. The evident suspicion (although not confirmed) is that they were later released.

Where there are few or no killings, it is total Discrimination

In other countries with little or no killings of albinos for witchcraft or ritual practices, people with albinism have also been ostracized or even killed for exactly the opposite reason. While they are killed in countries like Tanzania and Burundi because their body parts are claimed to make people rich, in other countries, they are killed because they are presumed to be cursed and therefore are claimed to bring bad luck.

In a number of African countries e.g Nigeria, Albinos are classified amongst the vulnerable groups of society, which includes people living with various kinds of physical disabilities. According to the “Albino Foundation of Nigeria” over two million albinos live in Nigeria. The foundation states that statistics show that over 600,000 Nigerians living with albinism suffer discrimination from their families, schoolmates and peers. In some cases albino babies are killed after birth by family members. If not, they are deliberately neglected; abandoned; never educated; and sometimes isolated. Nigeria is not an exception. Cameroon too has seen this phenomenon, just like other black African countries.

What is so true about this tragedy is that so few people know about the plight of Tanzanian and other African albinos. Those who know only pay lip service to it. The torture and murder of albinos is such a low priority item in the grand scheme of pain and suffering that calls attention to the world.

International Condemnations

The greatest irony in this saga is that, the Tanzanian Government and other African countries even allowed this to happen. It was mainly after the killing of albinos in Tanzania on 4 September 2008 as investigated and reported by the BBC that the European Parliament strongly condemned the act. This was followed by a resolution (codenamed: H. Resolution 1088) introduced by Representative Gerry Connolly (Democrat from Virginia) passed by the United States House of Representatives by a vote of 418 to 1 on February 22, 2010 condemning the attacks and killings of those Albinos. This resolution categorized the wicked acts as human rights violations, and urged the governments of Tanzania and Burundi to vigorously prosecute such cases and to conduct educational campaigns to combat the superstitious beliefs that underlie the violent attacks.

In writing this article, African Celebrities Magazine (ACM) is officially adding its voice to that of all individuals, groups or governments fighting for the complete human rights of all African albinos. ACM insists that all albinos are humans and have equal rights as all other humans. Join us in adding your voice to this struggle by liking this article and commenting your opinion.    

 Other Articles on the Issue

http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/10/15/bringing-albino-killers-to-justice/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8270446.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7518049.stm