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Monday, 30 November 2009

10,000 albinos in hiding after killings in East Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya — The mistaken belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven thousands of Africa's albinos into hiding, fearful of losing their lives and limbs to unscrupulous dealers who can make up to $75,000 selling a complete dismembered set.

Mary Owido, who lacks pigment that gives color to skin, eyes and hair, says she is only comfortable when at work or at home with her husband and children.

"Wherever I go people start talking about me, saying that my legs and hands can fetch a fortune in Tanzania," said Owido, 36, a mother of six. "This kind of talk scares me. I am afraid of going out alone."

Since 2007, 44 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 others have been slain in Burundi, sparking widespread fear among albinos in East Africa.

At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since the killings began, according to a report released this week by the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies.

East Africa's latest albino murder happened in Tanzania's Mwanza region in late October, when albino hunters beheaded 10-year-old Gasper Elikana and chopped off his leg, the report said. The killing left Elikana's father, who tried to defend his son, seriously injured.

Albinism is a hereditary condition, but occurs only when both parents have albinism genes. All six of Owido's children have normal skin color.

African albinos endure insults, discrimination and segregation throughout their lives. They also have a high risk of contracting skin cancer in a region where many jobs are outdoors.

Owido, a high school teacher in the western Kenyan town of Ahero, says she was forced to transfer from a better teaching job on the Kenya-Tanzania border town of Isebania in 2008 after an albino girl she knew was murdered and her body parts chopped off.

The surge in the use of albino body parts as good luck charms is a result of "a kind of marketing exercise by witch doctors," the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies said.

The report says the market for albino parts exists mainly in Tanzania, where a complete set of body parts – including all limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose – can sell for $75,000. Wealthy buyers use the parts as talismans to bring them wealth and good fortune.

The chairman of the Albino Association of Kenya, Isaac Mwaura, called the murders deplorable but said the killings have given albinos a platform to raise awareness.

Almost 90 percent of albinos living in the region were raised by single mothers, Mwaura said, because the fathers believed their wives were having affairs with white men.

"When I was born my father said his family tree doesn't have such children and left us," Mwaura said.

Story source: Associated Press.


Anonymous said...

see backwardness o!!Gold help us!I hope the government does something to EDUCATE its people..these killings cant go on

Anonymous said...

Africans are so backward in their way of thinking, i don't even know what to say sometimes. It's like killing mentally or physically disabled people over here in the States. Why will you kill albinos? They are human beings just like you. They didn't do anything, they are not harming anyone, they deserve to live, just like anyone. They are even suppose to be given special care. These kind of things, makes me sick, and to be more thankful to God for somewhere like America, and not have anything to do with Africa.

Anonymous said...

this is dishearting. why do such inhuman act keep occuring in Africa? So sad!

Anonymous said...

this just breaks my heart. why slaughter fellow human beings for RUBBISH !???? this our African backwardness is doing us more harm than good. and we expect the western world to take us seriously? May God help us all

Anonymous said...

Why would Africa progress when it stupid things like this they focus their time and energy to illiteracy is a diseases

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