Saturday, January 16, 2010

Albinos Killed for Body Parts

Albinos in East Africa are being killed and their heads and organs sold as fetishes.  I reported on this in September 2009 here.  The killing continues.

According to the International Red Cross/Crescent (ICRC), 10,000 albinos "have gone into hiding since the killings began in Tanzania, which has the highest known proportion of albinos. In the year to June 2008, 50 were killed in Tanzania. The authorities reacted. In April 2008, the Tanzanian president, Jakaya Kikwete, appointed a 48-year old albino, Al-Symaa Kway-Geer to parliament. Part of her task was to crack down on witch-doctors who encourage the killing of albinos. In January 2009, the Prime Minister revoked the licenses of witch-doctors, many of whom use body parts in black magic.

Why this persecution? The situation is somewhat like when the first whites entered the African interior. People believed that they were half-men, half-gods, that they had some kind of supernatural strength, that they could predict the future, that they could bring sorrow or wealth and that they had either good or evil powers. Since they were different, they were kept at a respectful distance. They were the “pink strangers” carrying sticks that fired and killed.

The albinos must have “powers” too, but the difference is that they are “us”, born among us.

Their body parts, particularly those considered the “most powerful”, such as the head and genitals, are thought to bring good luck and transmit supernatural powers. Unscrupulous businessmen have smelt money. They have been known to sell a complete set of body parts for as much as US$75,000. Illegal miners looking for gems use them; fishermen tie hair to their nets for good luck in getting a catch. Members of the business community in Mwanza, on Lake Victoria, have confessed to buying human body parts from witch-doctors. The word is spreading and traders from the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and eastern Congo are cashing in. Some politicians also regularly consult witch-doctors.

In Tanzania they have been trading in albino organs; in Uganda small children are used by witch-doctors as human sacrifices. A Witchcraft Act has been in force in Uganda since 1931, but it has not been implemented effectively, since some top business people and a few politicians take part in these practices to get rich and further their careers.

Read the full report here.

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