The news last week about a Kenyan man caught trying to sell an albino person in Tanzania brought back to the forefront a disturbing issue that many would rather ignore. Many albinos in East-Africa are in hiding since money-hungry witch doctors in Tanzania have convinced the neighboring population that albino body parts bring luck and prosperity to any household in which it is kept.
Albinism is a congenital disorder that renders the affected partially or completely devoid of pigment in the hair, eye and skin. Black people are more commonly affected by this condition, although there are occurrences in the Caucasian population as well as in other ethnic groups. Once upon a time, an albino’s main problem, a part from puzzled stares and possible prejudice, was the sun, which due to their lack of melanin production [making them more prone to cancer], gives them a general life expectancy of 30. Now albinos have to worry about being kidnapped, murdered and then chopped into pieces to be sold. As disgusting and gruesome as this may sound, a complete “set” includes the ears, nose, tongue, genitals and four limbs and can sell for as high as $75, 000.
Just last week, an 11-year-old girl in Swaziland was shot and decapitated by a group of masked men. Women and children are more vulnerable to these senseless attacks; they are also sexually abused since sex with albino virgins is marketed as a cure for HIV/AIDS. I’ve read up on shelters that exist for albino children, and it’s horrible that they have to live in fear because of something they have absolutely no control over i.e the color of their skin.
People may read up on these stories and simply think: “Once again Africans are exhibiting how truly backward they are.” But, the issue is much more complex than that silly generalisation could ever portray. The witch doctors are taking advantage of people in dire situations, the type of situations that would force you to believe that something as ridiculous and cruel could possibly better your current living conditions and health. These deceptors are taking a group that is already a minority, thus weak, and making them the enemy, well more so in this case, the remedy.
A mother cries upon hearing such atrocities as my mother did. Either you’re Black, or you’re a woman, or you’re gay or “ethnic” as in non-White, somewhere around the globe you are considered as less than. I am just glad that the Tanzanian government is prepared to take action against these criminals.
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