Stop the Killing of Tanzanian Albinos

albino_226An article appeared in this week’s New York Times about the plight of albinos in Tanzania which  reminds us that supernatural beliefs sometimes lead to appalling acts and that witchcraft is not always a harmless foible of human belief.

Since 2007, more than 40 albinos have been killed by gangs of men who hack off legs, heads and genitals to be used in various muti practices. Apparently the going rate for an albino corpse is $2,000. One trader caught with the head of an albino baby was taking it to a businessman who was prepared to pay for it by weight.

Even though 170 have been arrested for these attacks, not one has been prosecuted demonstrating a lack of conviction to stamp these atrocities out. Last month the Tanzanian government banned traditional healers and revoked licenses but with such supernatural beliefs deeply ingrained in the population, it will be a difficult practice to eradicate. Four of those charged with these crimes are police officers.

There are 17,000 albinos in Tanzania, so the potential for slaughter of these ostracized individuals is not acceptable. It is bad enough to have medical problems associated with albinism, but  to be feared and shunned with the constant threat of mutilation or death seems outrageous.

Thankfully, former Baptist minister Peter Ash, himself an albino from Canada has stepped in to try and help the situation with his charity “Under the Same Sun.” I have signed the online petition to help embarrass the Tanzanian government into doing more to stop these attacks. I hope you do as well.


Filed under supernatural

17 responses to “Stop the Killing of Tanzanian Albinos

  1. Lauren

    I suppose you’ve seen this, on child witches? It is devastating to watch, and while the whole programme is no longer available from this link, the video clips are, and they tell you enough.

  2. brucehood

    Welcome Lauren,
    So good of you to stop by. Yes, I knew about the child witches. I have tried to avoid stigmatizing Africa as a continent of witchcraft, but the truth is that these practices are all too common. At least the albino campaign has been mobilized and so I feel there is some small thing I can do to give support. Bruce

  3. All signed up !

    This is an interesting piece following the Geronimo post, because it parallels one indigenous culture that was cut off before it could develop in the modern world and another (African tribalism) that has survived, but resists modernism at so many turns.

    It’s difficult to feel that there is any cohesiveness or ‘benificence’ to tribal culture in Africa. I completely admit that a lot of this is due to my ignorance, but there don’t seem to be any consistencies in the way that the continent is portrayed in the news or documentaries.

    I want to someday have as much attention paid to an unbiased and comprehensive understanding as is currently happening with America (which is also a highly complicated pressure cooker of superstition often cited for it’s acts of inhumanity). The current representation makes it look as if Africans themselves are ambivalent toward a lot of these atrocities and require Western intervention, which I’m sure isn’t the case.

  4. Bluemoon

    All signed up…who wouldn’t??!

  5. poietes

    Maureen and I were just having a discussion about racism on my site in reaction to the disgusting editorial cartoon in the New York Post.

    While I realize that the killing of albinos is for supernatural practices, it is also a form of racism. These individuals are hunted and slaughtered because of the color of their skin, something over which they have absolutely no control. It’s appalling that they are being singled out and killed in this way.

    Of course I signed the petition. Thank you for posting another good one.

  6. tothewire

    Signed, sealed and delivered… or rather typed, and clicked!

  7. Gosh darnit! Did they have to bless me for this?

  8. Bluemoon

    Bruce this really should be more public. I am really really horrified that this is going on …. As many people as possible should sign this petition but do petitions really work? I hope everyone reading your blog signs up it is one of the very few Internet or multimedia causes I have felt so concerned about. I have to confess I rarely sign up to this sort of thing but felt absolutely compelled to and hope all your readers do too.

  9. Sorry not to have done sooner, but I posted this as an item on my Facebook wall – hopefully bring in a few more sigs

  10. brucehood

    Bluemoon, I know the problems of Africa often seem too overwhelming but this one seems so easy to force officials to act. I really think it is possible to make a difference here. They don’t need aid, or medicine just a recognition that they are not bewitched.
    And big shout out to the rest of you,

  11. Pingback: Bloggers Helping Bloggers « A Different Kind of Blog

  12. Arno

    Read and signed. Thanks for the link, Bruce.

  13. Pingback: “Witch-Burning” in Africa « Bruce M. Hood

  14. Phoebe Wright

    I am a student and very passionate about this topic! I am doing a theology project on the topic and part of it is to contact a person who has made a difference concerning the issue. Would you be willing to help me with an email interview? Just a few questions, probably 5 or 6 at most. Thank you and I’m all signed up—thank you for all you’re doing to help!!!

    • brucehood

      Email me your questions at my university account
      – you can find me on google. I am not an expert on muti or the albino murders but I’ll do my best.

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