AFRICAS PROBLEMS: ALBINOS IN FEAR OF THEIR LIVES IN TANZANIA!!

9 06 2008

This story is so sad. Oh my god I’m speechless. Completely.

“Mluge is an albino, and in Tanzania now there is a price for his pinkish skin. “I feel like I am being hunted,” he said.
Discrimination against albinos is a serious problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but recently in Tanzania it has taken a wicked twist: At least 19 albinos, including children, have been killed and mutilated in the past year, victims of what Tanzanian officials say is a growing criminal trade in albino body parts.”


Sigh. I have a huge knot in my stomach.

“Many people in Tanzania – and across Africa, for that matter – believe albinos have magical powers. They stand out, often the lone white face in a black crowd, a result of a genetic condition that impairs normal skin pigmentation and affects about 1 in 3,000 people here. Tanzanian officials say witch doctors are now marketing albino skin, bones and hair as ingredients in potions that are promised to make people rich.

As the threats have increased, the Tanzanian government has mobilized to protect its albino population, an already beleaguered group whose members are often shunned as outcasts and die of skin cancer before they reach 30.

Police officers are drawing up lists of albinos in every corner of the country to better look after them. Officers are escorting albino children to school. Tanzania’s president even sponsored an albino woman for a seat in Parliament to show that “we are with them in this,” said Salvator Rweyemamu, a Tanzanian government spokesman.

Rweyemamu said the rash of killings was anathema to what Tanzania had been striving toward; after years of failed socialist economic policies, the country is finally getting development, investment and change.

“This is serious because it continues some of the perceptions of Africa we’re trying to run away from,” he said.

But the killings go on. They have even spread to neighboring Kenya, where an albino woman was hacked to death in late May, with her eyes, tongue and breasts gouged out. Advocates for albinos have also said that witch doctors are selling albino skin in Congo.

The young are often the targets. In early May, Vumilia Makoye, 17, was eating dinner with her family in their hut in western Tanzania when two men showed up with long knives.

Vumilia was like many other Africans with albinism. She had dropped out of school because of severe near-sightedness, a common problem for albinos, whose eyes develop abnormally and who often have to hold books or cellphones just inches away to see them. She could not find a job because no one would hire her. She sold peanuts in the market, making $2 a week while her delicate skin was seared by the sun.

When Vumilia’s mother, Jeme, saw the men with knives, she tried to barricade the door of their hut. But the men overpowered her and burst in.

“They cut my daughter quickly,” she said, making hacking motions with her hands.

The men sawed off Vumilia’s legs above the knee and ran away with the stumps. Vumilia died.

Yusuph Malogo, who lives nearby, fears he may be next. He is also an albino and works by himself on a rice farm. He now carries a silver whistle, to blow for help.

“I’m on the run,” he said.

Many albinos in Tanzania are turning to the Tanzanian Albino Society for help. But the nonprofit advocacy group operates on less than $15,000 a year. That’s not enough for the sunscreen, hats and protective clothing that could save lives.

Mluge, 49, is the society’s general secretary. He grew up with children pelting him with chalk in class. He said he had learned to live with being constantly teased, pinched and laughed at.

“But we have never feared like we do today,” he said.

Al-Shaymaa Kwegyir, Tanzania’s new albino member of Parliament, said, “People think we’re lucky. That’s why they’re killing us. But we’re not lucky.”

Police officials are at a loss to explain precisely why there is a wave of albino killings now. Commissioner Paul Chagonja said an influx of Nigerian movies, which play up witchcraft, might have something to do with it, along with rising food prices that were making people more desperate.

“These witch doctors have many strange beliefs,” he said. “There was a rumor not so long ago that if you use a bald head when fishing, you’ll get rich. There was another one that said if you spread blood on the ground in a mine, you’ll find gold. These rumors come and go.

“The problem is, the people who follow witch doctors don’t question them.”

Mluge said whispers swirled around him whenever he walked down the sidewalk.

“I hear people saying, ‘It’s a deal, it’s a deal. Let’s get him and make some money,”‘ he said.

At home, at least, he is not an oddity. His wife is an albino. So are all five of his children. Some have already had skin cancer, in their teens.

The night used to be theirs, a time when Mluge and his fair-skinned sons and daughters could stroll outside together without worrying about the sun.

Now they bolt themselves in, peering through bars.

Just two weeks ago, while Mluge’s children were sleeping, a car pulled up to their house, and four men got out to look around.”

More HERE

YOU can help, contact:

P.O. Box 9644
Dar es Salaam – Tanzania
Email: smluge@yahoo.com

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: