An 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.