Tanzania Bans Witch Doctors to Save Albinos

Jan 15, 2015 at 3:48 pm |
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Ablinos attend witch doctor trial

Albinos attend a trial of some of 11 Burundians accused of being behind the murder of albinos, whose limbs have been sold to witch doctors in neighbouring Tanzania. (Photo credit Esdras Ndikumana/AFP/Getty Images)

Following insistence from the UN, Tanzania has created a national task force to arrest and prosecute witch doctors, says Tanzanian Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe.

A longtime heated issue in many African countries, especially in the African Great Lakes region, albinos have historically been sacrificed, hunted, and otherwise killed in a trend known as the Persecution of People with Albinism or PWA.

Albinism is more common in sub-Saharan Africa than in other parts of the world, and approximately 1 in every 1,400 Tanzanians are affected by the condition in which an affected person is missing some or all of the pigment from his or her skin, hair, and eyes. This high rate is compared to the world average of approximately 1 in 20,000.

In many East African cultures, an albino may either be regarding as a source of very good or very bad luck. Either way, this makes the albino a target for ostracism, mutilation, and murder. Parents who give birth to an albino child have been documented to sacrifice the infant. But this isn’t the worst of it.

In regions of Tanzania such as Shinyanga and Mwanza, witch doctors are known to buy albino body parts, which they then use to create good luck charms that they sell to willing believers. Albino limbs become common ingredients that are mixed with herbs and other items that customers think bring about good luck. This has created a market that deals in albino lives, leading to a disgusting culture of kidnapping, killing, buying, and selling albinos, often children, for the sake of homeopathic medicine.

According to National Geographic, in 2013, a “complete set” of albino body parts could easily sell for $75,000. Dozens of cases of missing or killed albinos have been reported in Tanzania in the past few years alone, leading to the government being criticized for such leniency. Reportedly, the government has previously helped to hide some of the country’s estimated 17,000, but in Black Africa, that can’t be too easy.

While humanitarian groups such as the Tanzania Albino Society praise the new government task force, many so-called ‘witch doctors’ and homeopathic, traditional healers are up in arms, arguing that this will cause a crackdown on alternative medicine more so than on murderers and traffickers.

Tanzania has created a task force to combat the terrifying persecution of albinos. Read the chilling details!