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Title: The Darkness of Living With Albinism

Currently albinos in Tanzania are suffering persecution, unfortunately this is not new, in fact this has been happening for decades. Tons of innocent albinos are hunted and killed by witch doctors for ritual purposes. The reason behind the mass attacks on albinos is rooted in cultural myths. According to legend killing an albino can bring a person good luck or even riches, even just having a body part form an albino is also considered a lucky charm. Tanzanian miners believe that certain body parts can help them find precious gems, while Tanzanian fishermen believe that the parts will bring them a greater number of fish in there net [1]. Luckily people across the world have started to pay attention to the struggle of Tanzinan albinos. Jake Epelle founded The Albino Foundation to work with the Tanzanian government to put an end to the tragic slaughter of albinos [2]. This issue is deeply connected to roots of inequality because albinos are treated as lesser than human because they look different.

 

Albinos are a minority that is treated as inferior by the majority of the population of Tanzania. They have suffered from such horrible and extreme racism that it is a common practice in Tanzania to kill an albino baby just minutes after they are born because death is considered a better fate than life as an albino[5]. “In Tanzania, albinos are frequently referred to as zeruzeru, which is believed by some to derive from the English word zero.”[5] The fact that they are referred to as zero (the equivalent of nothing) showcases just how racist the society they live in is. There is a long history of racism towards albinos in Tanzania. Doctors have published medical reports pointing out how albinos are different from the rest of mankind. Miners in Tanzania carry around the body parts or bones of murdered albinos as good luck charms. Witch doctors in Tanzania hunt and kill them to use there body parts for witchcraft to provide expensive lucky charms to Tanzanians. Albinos are also forced to be human sacrifice. The root of all these evil attacks and racism towards albinos all stems from the myths created by Tanzanian witch doctors who’s only real goal is to make money. The trading of albino parts for money further dehumanizes them in the eyes of Tanzanians

 

 I analyzed a monograph, detailed medical report, on an albino man. The intended audience is other doctors or anyone who’s interested in learning about albinos. The purpose of this source is to shed light on the mysterious workings of Albinos bodies and back up ideas of scientific racism. [3]. This source was published in 1911, which was a time when there was little know about people with albinism. The early 1900s was a time of widespread racism. The doctor who wrote it spoke as if he looked down on the person he was studying. He like many others viewed albinos as less than human. The author views himself as different to the person he is writing about. The author is not an albino and is of a higher socioeconomic class. The most important thing to understand about this source is that it is biased. The doctor has an unspoken racist assumption that albinos are of a different species than humans [4].
 It’s a well known fact that mining is a dangerous job, so it should come as no surprise that miners seek out a form of protection. The only form of protection that the Tanzanian miners can rely on is luck. The miners get there luck from a very unusual source: the body parts and bones of murdered albinos. The concept is similar to the western superstition of carrying around a lucky rabbit’s foot, except the albino body parts are believed to be much more powerful. “The bones are commonly pulverised and either buried in the mine pit, often in the belief that they will turn into gold or gemstones, or alternatively applied on the body during bathing or carried on the body in various forms of amulets for protection or increased luck.”[5]  These are the most common practices of using albino body parts for good luck. These lucky charms can only be bought from witch doctors for very large sums of money. These witch doctors are very highly respected members of society in Tanzania and are seen as critical to society’s well being. [5] They use there power to their advantage to make money for themselves regardless of who gets hurt in the process. 

Although these practices seem medieval they are still happening to this day. “Increasing reports of witchcraft involving body parts in southern Africa (Vincent 2009), and a recent spate of murders of Kenyan taxi drivers associated with mutilation and missing body parts,14 point to a growing trade in African body parts.” [5]  As you can see in figures 1, 2 and 3 people who hunting albinos go for the young children because they cannot protect them self like an adult man can. Witch doctors have long sense brain washed the people of Tanzania to see Albinos as less than human. The fact that adult men can go after young children and hack off their arms shows just how powerful the effect of the which doctors have been on their society as a whole. 

Figure 1: A 12-year-old albino boy who was attacked in Tanzania by a man with a machete trying to cut his arm off.
Figure 2: Two albinos from Tanzania, one 15 years old and the other five years, wait to be fitted for prosthetic limbs at a hospital in the United States.
Figure 3: A 15-year-old albino girl in Tanzania who was attacked by three masked men who hacked off her arm.

-Paragraph 4: Human sacrifice of albinos is practiced for one reason and one reason only in Tanzania. And that reason is the belief in supernatural powers that witch doctors perpetuate.[9] The witch doctors might not even believe in the magic behind what they do, but there followers sure do.  [10] Child sacrifice of albinos also occurs in many parts of Africa near Tanzania.[7] The child sacrifice occurs solely because of the legends the witch doctors have created and spread across countries in the region.[8]

Albinos have had to struggle alone in silence for many years. Now the suffering that they have endured is being noticed globally and people are rallying together to stop the murder of innocent albinos. In Tanzania on October 19th, 2008 albinos held a peaceful protest against the cruel and violent murders target at them. They threatened to leave the country and move to safe country if the government did not take action to ensure their safety. President Jakaya Kikwete responded to this protest by giving an address on tv and proclaiming that the ritual murders are dumb and need to be put to an end. He also said “education is crucial to ending albino killings.” [11] The president stirred up nation wide support to help end the killings. He also started up a police crackdown and made sure each albino death was thoroughly investigated and the culprit was held responsible. [11]

Many people might not see why this is important to them. This is not surprising people have always pushed away the issue of of racism because “it’s not my problem” or “there is nothing I can do to fix it”. Both these statements could not be further from the truth. The reason why people say things like this is because they are scared and don’t want to feel helpless. We are all members of the same global community. And as community members it is our responsibility to help one another. Albinos are being murdered and it is our responsibility to do something to stop it. There are steps that can and must be taken to create real change.

Without witch doctors in Tanzania Albinos would be able to live their lives in peace without fear of men with machetes sneaking into there homes at night. The countless murders and attacks of innocent albino men, women and children would never have happened and they would be able to feel safe in their own homes. Alas this is not how the world works and all because of witch doctors and their selfish desire for money Albinos cannot even feel safe in their homes. The legacy of hatred and racism witch doctors have left behind has lead to so much hardship for so many humans living with albinism. Witch doctors in Tanzania have made it so Albinos are viewed as less than human and there body parts are sold for tons of money.

End Notes

[1]“Ending Violence Against Albinos,” All Africa, 11 Nov 2015, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1732278831?accountid=14902 (Feb 6 2017).

[2] All Africa, 11 Nov 2015

[3]Pearson Karl, “A monograph on albinism in man,” Wellesley College Library, 1911, https://archive.org/details/monographonalbin11pear (accessed February 6, 2017).

[4]Wellesley College Library, 1911.

[5] Deborah Fahy Bryceson, Jesper Bosse Jønsson and Richard Sherrington, “Miners’ magic: artisanal mining, the albino fetish and murder in Tanzania” The Journal of Modern African Studies Vol. 48, No. 3  (SEPTEMBER 2010): pp. 353-382

[6] Byceson, Jonsson and Sherrignton, Miners’ magic: artisanal mining, the albino fetish and murder in Tanzania” pp. 353-382

[7] Pat Caplan, “‘Child sacrifice’ in Uganda? The BBC, ‘witch doctors’ and anthropologists”, Anthropology Today Vol. 26, No 2 (April 2010): pp. 4-7.

[8] Caplan, “‘Child sacrifice’ in Uganda? The BBC, ‘witch doctors’ and anthropologists”, pp. 4-7

[9] Lawrence E.Y. Mbogoni, Human Sacrifice and the Supernatural in African History (Tanzania: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, 2013), pp. 115-185.

[10] Mbogoni, Human Sacrifice and the Supernatural in African History, pp. 100-200

[11] “Tanzania: Campaign to Help Albinos” Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and  Cultural Series, Vol 45, No 10 (November 2008) pp. 17724C-17724C

 

 

Illustrations

Figure 1. A 12-year-old albino boy who was attacked in Tanzania by a man with a machete trying to cut his arm off. On October 14, 2011, http://www.universalif.org/mutilations/

Figure 2. Two albinos from Tanzania, one 15 years old and the other five years, wait to be fitted for prosthetic limbs at a hospital in the United States. August 18, 2015,

African Children with Albinism Hunted for Limbs in Tanzania

Figure 3.  A 15-year-old albino girl in Tanzania who was attacked by three masked men who hacked off her arm. October 21, 2011, http://www.universalif.org/mutilations/