Albino in Tanzania – Statistics, Persecution, Superstition and More

Albino in Tanzania – Statistics, Persecution, Superstition and More

Persecution of Individuals with Albinism

People with albinism [also known as PWA] are persecuted because it is believed that particular body features of albinistic people might convey magical powers. Such superstition is prevalent in some regions of Africa’s Great Lakes region. It has been propagated and exploited by native doctors and others who utilize body parts as components in rituals, potions, and concoctions in the hopes of bringing success to the consumer [muti or medicine killings].

Individuals who are considered albino in Tanzania have all been hunted, killed, and mutilated as a result, and albinos’ graves sites have been dug up and vandalized. Albino persons, additionally have been shunned and even murdered for the exact opposite reason: they are thought to be cursed as well as bring bad luck. People with albinism are typically persecuted in Sub-Saharan African groups, particularly among East Africans.

Albinism is an uncommon genetically inherited illness that affects about one in every twenty thousand persons globally. Albinism is extremely frequent in Sub-Saharan Africa, owing to consanguineous partnerships while being rare in the overseas territories. If the trait is to be passed down to the child, it must be carried by both mom and dad, who may not even be albinos themselves. Albinism affects both men and women and is not limited to any one race or ethnicity. According to statistics, half of Albino in Tanzania have a confirmed albinistic family member. Yet, few people are aware of the genetic and medical reasons for the condition. Many people feel it’s a god’s punishment or bad luck and that an albinistic individual’s “illness” is contagious, which is a common belief among medical and professional people. These misunderstandings, combined with a lack of proper education, are a few of the main reasons for albinism’s widespread persecution. Because many local Africans, afflicted by albinism or not, lack information about albinos, superstitions and folktales in the name of black magic take the place of scientific and medical facts in their minds, which has a significant impact on albinistic people’s social integration into African society. By the youthful age of forty, 98% of albinos have died for circumstances that could easily be avoided.

Current Data on Albinistic Persecution

On April 1st, 2014, the Dar region, Tanzania, headquarters of the Canadian NGO, UTSS [Under the Same Sun], released a report. The research, titled Reported Incidents on People with Albinism, examines 180 nations and cites 129 recent homicides and 181 other assaults, all of which occurred in 23 African nations. These attacks comprise of mutilation, brutality, grave violations, and instances of asylum seekers.

Tanzania

Albino in Tanzania accounts for 1 in every 1429 new-borns in the country, a substantially higher percentage than just about every other country. There are 6977 legally registered albino in Tanzania, as per the account of Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer, a parliamentarian with the albino gene. However, it is estimated that up to 17000 people are undocumented. A good number of albinos have relocated to the Dar region, where they believe they will be safer. Tanzania is claimed to have Africa’s largest albino population. Albinos are particularly persecuted in Mwanza and Shinyanga, where native doctors have pushed the concept that albinos’ bodily parts have supernatural and mystical characteristics. This can put a ton of tension on relationships and families. A child with albinism is frequently regarded as a bad sign and treated as undesirable. Because of these superstitious beliefs, many albino in Tanzania babies are killed as infants.

Malawi

Malawi has witnessed a “steep rise in homicides” since 2015 when a stronger measure was imposed on Albino in Tanzania. There have been 18 documented murders since November 2014, with the toll likely to be higher due to unreported murders and missing persons. The Head of State, Mr Peter Mutharika, has set up a commission to investigate the incident. Furthermore, in recent history, Malawi has had a large number of tombs belonging to Albino individuals being looted. In 2017, authorities discovered at least 39 incidents of Albino people’s bodies being illegally removed from tombs or having their body parts stolen from their bodies. There has also been an increase in the amount of religious leaders, police officers, and government officials charged and found guilty of murdering Albino individuals in Malawi. As of the beginning of 2018, there have been some rumours that President Mutharika is considering imposing the death sentence on convicted murderers of Albino individuals. As a way to drastically reduce the number of attacks by instilling fear in folks who do it for profit or religious reasons and making it less desirable to native doctors and other superstitious people. The death penalty is still in effect, although it hasn’t been used since the country transitioned to democracy in early 1994, and those sentenced to death have instead been sentenced to life in prison. This, according to the president, is a measure to enhance judicial oversight and try to eliminate hate crimes towards Albinos.

Zambia

According to the assessment of Zambian Albinism Organizations like AFZ and others, the country’s last survey, performed in 2010, revealed that there are roughly 25,324 persons with albinism in Zambia.” Noting the Zambian government’s efforts to promote the well-being of PWA in the country, including prohibiting racial prejudice and crimes causing bodily harm via the Constitution and the Zambian Penal Code; Supporting the publication of a handbook titled “Staying with Albinism in Zambia: Knowledge for Children and Young Adults,” which goal is to teach children about healthcare practices, sun damage, as well as the aspects that make them different from their families and peers; Including People With Albinism in the 2010 Population and Housing census; Purchasing and distributing sunscreen body lotion to PWA on an as-needed basis; and organizing cancer clinics where People With Albinism go for cancer care, with some of their medical bills covered. However, a number of difficulties have yet to be effectively addressed.” The most recent homicide in Zambia was recorded in March 2020.

The Origins of the Beliefs and Superstitions That Lead to the Persecution of Albino in Tanzania

Albino teen whose hand was cut because of superstitious reasons - at the hospital
Albino teen whose hand was cut because of superstitious reasons – at the hospital

Innocent men, ladies, and kids have been brutally murdered and attacked as a result of African traditions and spiritual ideas concerning albinism. These beliefs have been passed from parents to children for decades. Still, in recent times, witch doctors have begun spreading myths about the expectation of wealth, power and success when albino limbs or hair are mixed in a concoction as part of voodoo practices. So, these offenses have been classified as violations of human rights. They have attracted domestic and global attention. “Infanticide, amputations, decapitations and kidnapping, committed in order to produce very valuable body parts for charms, which are subsequently sold in the black witchcraft market.” As a result, there is much unrest and unhappiness among the albino community, who must be guarded and frequently live in isolation solely to defend themselves and avoid being slaughtered like animals.

In 2010, United States Congressman Gerry Connolly presented legislation that protects albinos and urged state authorities to protect albinos, noting, “With their support and the passing of this resolution today, perhaps we can put a stop to these awful and heinous acts.”

It is apparent that “ignorance, superstition, and myth, such as the notion that people with albinism have superpowers and that their parts of the body can give wealth and fortunes,” are “the fundamental driving causes underpinning these profiling crimes.” Superstitious ideas inherited from old spiritual practices and reinforced by domestic native doctors have been perpetuated through centuries of ceremonial actions and mythological beliefs in various communities, primarily in Tanzania and areas of east Africa. Albino in Tanzania and other people with albinism face a high risk of death because many believe it will grant them fortune, power, health, or success, depending on how it is interpreted. Officers estimate that a pair of albino’s arms, ears, legs, and genitals might fetch as much as $75,000 USD on the underground market. As a result, there have been numerous albino in Tanzania killings. More than seventy verified albino murders occurred in 2007, and 150 albino body parts were alleged to have been sliced off. The number of albinos who have had their limbs chopped has risen to well over a hundred, with poor conviction rates, and many have been left handicapped or badly disfigured, traumatized, and tormented as a result.

This threat to people with albinism has the potential to create significant stress and trauma in their everyday lifestyle, which is already being damaged by the hardship of their condition, which affects skin and vision, and leaves albinos feeling insecure and distrustful. As per Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner on HR [Human Rights], people with albinism generally have very poor educational levels as a result of social and educational exclusion, resulting in a lack of social and economic instruments to live successful lives. It’s also “a common misconception that people with albinism have low mental capacity and can’t function at a similar level as “regular people.” As a result, their capacity to study is frequently limited, as 100% of albinos have some sort of impaired vision, and there are frequently insufficient educational institutions, learning supplies, or funds to accommodate children with impaired vision. This results in widespread bullying, isolation from friendship groups, low self-confidence and low self-esteem, as well as emotional and mental disorders as a result of society’s rejection, as well as family members who have superstitious beliefs about albinos. It is clearly demonstrated that despite what spiritual or mythical mantra an individual may be practicing or believing in regarding albinos, “almost all tribes in the province of East Africa maintained and some now hold the belief that people with albinism are less desirable individuals who are less human.” As a result, homes and schools for people with albinism, including Buhangija Albino College, have been established to provide secure surroundings for study, growth, and permanent residence. Many youngsters are afraid to return back to their families, fearing that even their closest family members will murder them.

Ukerewe Island, shown in the film as a big colony of persons with albinism and home to 62 albinos, most probably will remain in solitary and away from hunters, is a prime illustration of this.

Albinos are frequently seen as “ghosts, not humans, who can be erased off the global map,” as per the United Nations declaration submitted in support of Human Rights Committee resolutions 23\13 of June 13th, 2013.

They’re frequently branded as devils, bad omens, or cursed persons. Contact with an albino is “thought to bring bad luck, illness, or death” in some groups. As a consequence, even in the lack of terrible physical persecution, this is prejudice and emotional and mental persecution alone, with severe bullying of kids, isolation, and abandonment.

However, the killings of albinos for medical purposes and dismemberment, as well as attacks and murders of people with albinism, have drawn the attention of the UN Human Rights Committee. Another myth that puts persons with albinism at risk is that having “sexual intercourse with an albino girl or woman can cure HIV/AIDS.” When a volcanic eruption is feared, albino sacrifice is said to “appease the deity of the mountain,” and removing albino hair is thought to bring good fortune. “Miners utilize the bones of people with albinism as charms or bury the bones where they are digging for gold,” according to reports. The attacks usually result in the albino’s death or severe mutilation, which can “in some circumstances involve trafficking in individuals, sale in organs, and the sale of infants, infanticide as well as the abandonment of kids,” as per the Human Rights Committee.

Action Against Persecution

With the number of murders increasing, President Kikwete has openly and frequently chastised witch doctors, their accomplices and intermediaries, as well as the clients, who include officers of the police force. Children who have been snatched or kidnapped from their parents are among the victims. Hair, limbs, skin, genitals, legs, eyes, and blood are used in rituals and witch potions by the killers and their collaborators.

A preliminary investigation on discrimination against individuals with albinism has been released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. This report was filed in response to Human Rights Committee Resolutions 23/13, which was adopted on June 13th, 2013. “States would adopt special measures to protect and defend the rights of individuals with albinism to life and security, as well as their rights not to be subjected to abuse and ill-treatment, as well as ensure their access to good health care, education, employment, and justice,” it said. Albinos are frequently discriminated against by close family members and relatives, especially from birth. Poor treatment by the general public is common in areas where social isolation and stigma are severe. The HRC’s [Human Rights Council] concern over “attacks against individuals with albinism” is explained in Resolution 23\13. As a result, the OHCHR [United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights] was encouraged to submit a report by the Council. Navi Pillay is the present High Commissioner for HR of the United Nations. As the spokesperson, she sent a message on March 11th, 2014, outlining the existing State of discrimination against people with albinism, as well as potential paths for change and progress in the safeguarding of albinos. “Albino citizens have the freedom to exist without fear of being bullied, discriminated against, socially excluded, killed, or dismembered.” This video was released on March 13th, 2014, to provide a summary of the present situation involving albino people who live in terror of being killed or kidnapped for the aims of murder medicine as well as native doctors’ belief in the mysterious potential of albino limbs and hair.

A major issue is the impact of educating the general public to urge the elimination of the societal stigma attached to people with albinism in a community that does not fully comprehend that albinism isn’t a spiritual ghost or a curse but rather a skin condition. Albinos in Zimbabwe are known as “sope”, which means “possessed by bad spirits,” while Albino in Tanzania is called “nguruwe”, which means “pig,” or zeru zeru, which means “ghost.” The report covers the “most significant human rights violations encountered by people with albinism, with a particular emphasis on ritual deaths and attacks.” It also includes advice to the international global community and member states on how to deal with people who have albinism.

Future Plans

“Albinism is among the most unfortunate weaknesses… and needs to be handled urgently at the international level,” says International Federation General Secretary Bekele Geleta. This is a call for international attention and assistance in protecting people with albinism from cruel and brutal killings and from ruthless hunters of albino organs for spiritual medicine and potions. “The primary issues that should be handled include skin cancer treatment and prevention education, discrimination and stigma condemnation, and swift convictions of albino hunters as well as their corporate partners. “As a result, it is apparent that albinos face many challenges in their lives and must be safeguarded on the foundation of human rights, despite the fact that they look unusual and are unlike any other social group on the globe.” It is “critical to educate the healthcare providers and the wider national as well as international community about the tragedies encountered by albinos in designed to safeguard them from contacting skin cancer as well as ritualistic murders committed by those seeking cash through underground markets promoting witchcraft.”

The government has taken a variety of actions to safeguard the albino in Tanzania. At the beginning of Spring of 2008, the president launched a crackdown against witchdoctors. In addition, Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer, an albino lady, was elected to the Tanzanian parliament, making her the first albino to hold such a position in the country’s history. Police officers have also been told to compile a registry of all albinos and assess them with extra security.

The albinistic’s graves were to be cemented with concrete to deter graverobbers. By October 2008, however, the killings had not stopped, and while some individuals had been captured, no convictions had occurred. Since March 2007, there have been an estimated 50 killings, the majority of them in the fishing and mining towns along Lake Victoria, particularly in Mara, Mwanza, and Shinyanga.

“Prime Minister Pinda had waged war on albino in Tanzania killers in an attempt to curb the trade in albino body organs. He had canceled the licenses of all the nation’s witch doctors who utilize the body organs in their black magic rituals,” according to a press release from January 2009.”

Convictions Against Hunters of Albino in Tanzania

On September 23rd, 2009, the High legal Court in Kahama handed down the first-ever verdict for the murdering of an albino in Tanzania. This was a “monumental conviction” because there had been more than Fifty known killings at the time, and this stood as the first actual prosecution. The verdict came after the killing and mutilation of Matatizo Dunia, a 14-year-old child, by three grown men in the Bukombe area, Shinyanga Province, in December 2008.

Dunia, an albino in Tanzania was kidnapped from his house late at night and brutally murdered by the men. Dunia’s leg was later discovered in the possession of one of the men. The remainder of Dunia’s body pieces were found hidden in the woods. Despite the fact that the guys admitted to wanting to sell Dunia’s body parts to a native doctor, their legal team did not expect the three men to be sentenced to death by hanging.

The UTSS [Under the Same Sun] albinism campaign organization, located in Canada and Tanzania, applauded the breakthrough. Still, its creator Peter Ash stated: “This is just one conviction. There are another 52 families who are still waiting for justice “. The leader of the Albino in Tanzania Association, Ernest Kimaya, has requested for the hanging process to be done in public in order to show others that killing albinos is a serious matter.

This problem with sorcery and its influence and power is that a native doctor is nearly always “regarded by society as a divine truth-teller”. Most ancient tribes would have killed an albino child believing it to be a terrible omen, like the Sukuma, Maasai and Digo did. On the other hand, PWA [People with albinism] were sacrificed to the deities or used as potions in some tribes, which is why they’re still being hunted in the twenty-first century. “One of the deadliest misconceptions, and the heart of recent attacks upon PWA, is that their organs and tissues may be turned into potions that grant users good fortune and prosperity.”

In 2006, the media reported several of the first public recorded killings, such as Arithi, a 34-year-old albino ub Tanzania lady killed and her legs and arms cut and sold. In recent memory, some of the more notable examples began in 2008, when a Tanzanian husband attempted to sell his beautiful albino bride to Congolese traders for US$3,000. Despite the fact that the business people eluded capture, Interpol has been tasked with tracking them down. This is what prompted President Jakaya Kikewere to order a strengthening of the Police force and protection from punishment. However, due to corrupt practices, there is evidence that even Police officers are being paid and “bought off” to look away over certain crimes provided they are paid. Despite the fact that 170 native doctors have been jailed for inhumane intentions and interactions with albinos, according to BBC News.

Another incident involved two moms who were attacked with machetes by gangs in order to kidnap their albino babies. In the quest for the children, the guys broke into a migrant camp in Kigoma, a.k.a the Lugufu Camp; while the children were unharmed, the mothers were severely injured. Another case found by United States member of Congress Gerry Connolly was the case of a six-year-old albino in Tanzania child who was fatally shot, and her limbs and Head chopped off, leaving behind only dismembered corpses in November 2008 at Ruyigi, Burundi.

Organizations to Control Persecution of Albino in Tanzania

Catholic Sister Mosha of Saint Francis of Assisi Primary School via Dear Foundation started a school special for Albinism
Catholic Sister Mosha of Saint Francis of Assisi Primary School via Dear Foundation started a school special for Albinism

Many institutions have been formed to aid in protecting and providing for albinism-affected populations. Films have been made to educate, encourage, and create a worldwide understanding of the challenges that people with albinism face in a modern world that is nevertheless plagued by old rituals and traditions that advocate murder for medical purposes. This is in violation of all IHRL [international human rights law]; therefore, it is critical that people with albinism be jointly protected. NOAH [National Organisation for Albinism & Hypopigmentation] and TAC [Tanzania Albino Centre], both located in Arusha, Tanzania, aim to “enhance the quality level of life of albinos by providing medical and educational help and support so that they can live safe, welcomed, and comfortable lifestyle in the community of their choice.” Other organizations include the AFZ [Albinism Foundation Zambia], located in Lusaka, which was founded by music producer John Chiti, who has albinism, ACN [Assisting Children in Need]; and UTSS [Under the Same Sun]. Where Ash, who also has albinism, expresses his purpose and aspirations for the mission: “I have a vision that one day in the African continent, PWA [people with albinism] will assume their rightful place across every sector of society, and that the periods of bias against “PWA in Zambia exercising and enjoying their rights and basic freedoms on an equal ground with the rest of the inhabitants without any type of discrimination based on their condition,”. According to the Albinism Foundation Zambia’s website.

The IFRC [International Federation of Red Cross] is an essential part of the albino protection campaign that is trying to integrate PWA back into the day-day life of the society safely in Burundi by “minimizing their weaknesses to hunters, skin cancer issues, and social and educational marginalization.” The IFRC focuses on protecting women and babies who are fearful of persecution, assisting them in finding safe homes and providing protection for kids who are afraid of attackers. By creating a unique arena for people with albinism, the IFRC ensures protection, safety, and an atmosphere of love, comprehension, and unity in the fight against persecution and racism. In their publications, the Red Cross has said profoundly clearly that the State must also take urgent measures to safeguard people with albinism in order to end the persecution. They have claimed that the State must “provide adequate legal protection for PWA [people with albinism], use the local institutional system to discover and protect albino in Tanzania in their hiding places, launch public anti-discrimination programs, and offer medical treatment to albinos in need,”

Another organization is Asante Mariamu, founded after Mariamu Staford’s survival from an anti-albino assault and is dedicated to ensuring “quick prosecution and sentencing of their perpetrators,” thereby fostering justice. This tale was brought to the United States lower house of congress [House of Representatives] in March of 2010. It “motivated me to take action,” according to United States Congressman Gerry Connolly. He proposed a bill to address the serious violence perpetrated against Albino in Tanzania and people with albinism in Eastern Africa, as well as to bring criminals to justice and punishment. In March 2010, he addressed the house, calling his coworkers to “join him and Mariamu Stanford to draw global attention to this heinous human rights violation.” This law condemns any damage, death, or mutilation of people with albinism, as well as expressly calls on local governments in East Africa, particularly Burundi and Tanzania, to “take prompt measures to prevent additional violence against people with albinism.” There are plenty more organizations working to protect people with albinism from victimization, as well as to provide adequate healthcare, sun exposure protection, and educational opportunities, in order to ensure that people with albinism are fairly treated and with all human and civil rights, rather than being hunted like animals in constant fear of their lives. Dr Aisha Sethi, a professor of dermatology at the Pritzker Institute of Medicine, founded Albino Recognition Day, which takes place annually on May 4th. The Head of State has also chosen Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer, an individual with albinism, as a Member of Parliament [MP]. Who seeks to be a spokesperson in the Tanzanian national assembly for the safety of PWA [persons with albinism] in society, as well as services and support for their medical, physical, and educational protection and improvement.

Under the Same Sun (UTSS)

UTSS [Under the Same Sun] is a Dar es Salam-based Canadian organization with a focus on Albino in Tanzania. It was created in 2008 by Mr Peter Ash with the goal of improving the lives of Tanzanians to “advance the well-being of people who are typically marginalized or misunderstood through advocacy and education. We are inspired by the belief that all people have moral worth and that they were made in God’s image.” As a result, they are acting on ethical and human rights ideals to assist victims and put a stop to the racism and persecution of innocent albinos.

To end attacks on albino in Tanzania, “it is vital to focus on removing the reliance on witchcraft ideas by expanding the provision of facilities such as hospitals and schools while improving the sense of fair play by upgrading the justice system,” according to UTSS. As a result, reclaiming the rights of PWA [people with albinism] to be treated as human beings, decently as functioning groups in society who may appear different and suffer extreme vulnerabilities as a result of their physical state, but who do not require to be killed or hurt in any shape or form because of ancient mythology claiming that their sacrifice will benefit another person in the future.

Albinism Foundation Zambia [AFZ]

In Lusaka, Zambia, the AFZ [Albinism Foundation Zambia] is located. John Chiti, the first man with albinism to step out in the limelight in Zambia as an awarded musician, is the CEO of the AFZ [Albinism Foundation of Zambia]. He then used his own resources to mobilize the albinism community, eventually forming this organization where they could voice their concerns about governance issues to the state and stakeholder representatives. As a result, in 2008, the AFZ was founded as an NGO dedicated to improving the lives of people living with albinism syndrome in Zambia. It’s also the country’s first albinism support group.

Amnesty International (AI)

AI [Amnesty International] has waged a number of campaigns to end the persecution and prejudice of albinos. Albinism in the Republic of Malawi, “Stop the Killings”, is an initiative organised by the organisation to “prevent ritual murders of Albinos.”

Albinism is Depicted in Several Films

Movies are also helping to increase awareness and highlight the tales of persecuted PWA [people with albinism], starting from “In My Genes”, the Kenyan Documentary directed by Lupita Nyong’o in 2009 [ who later acted the principal role in the movie “Twelve Years a Slave” in 2013].

It was accompanied in 2010 by the movie White and Black: a.k.a “Crimes of Color”, a documentary by Canadian producer Jean-François Méan about Vicky Ntetema, an Albino in Tanzania who was a reporter that investigated the trafficking in albinotic body organs in Tanzania. This movie became the centerpiece of a nationwide campaign funded by UTSS [Under the Same Sun] to put an end to the tide of violent attacks. Following the film’s release, the homicide rate, which had been stable for three years, fell by 90 per cent.

White Shadow, an Italian-German-Tanzanian drama movie written, directed, and produced by Noaz Deshe in 2013, was streamed at several movie festivals and won the award called “Lion of the Future ” at the Venice Movie Festival, drawing worldwide attention to the subject. In the documentary “Shadow of the Sun”, filmed in Tanzania over a period of 6 years by Harry Freeland, pictured the challenges of Josephat Torner, a rights activist for the demystification of superstitious beliefs about albinistic individuals and their use for black magic, and teenage Cosmas Vedastus M, who wishes to survive the oppression of albinistic people to adulthood. Also, “The Gorgeous Ones are Born”, a short movie by one of Nigeria’s most promising filmmakers, Dami Taiwo, that is yet to be released.

In My Genes Documentary Directed by Lupita Nyong'o
In My Genes Documentary Directed by Lupita Nyong’o

Other African Countries

Killings had been recorded in Kenya and possibly DR Congo as early as June 2008. The AFP reported in October 2008 that albinos were being killed in greater numbers in Burundi’s Ruyigi district. Subsequently, the victims’ body parts are smuggled to Tanzania and used in native doctor potions and rituals. Nicodeme Gahimbare, who constructed a domestic safe harbor in his reinforced house in Ruyigi, remarked that albinos are now “a commercial commodity.”

Incidence had also been recorded from eSwatini by 2010.

South Africa

Biology

The most prevalent gene type of albinism hereditary problem among the Bantu people in southern Africa is oculocutaneous albinism or OCA2. It occurs 1:4000 times in a lifetime. With a frequency of 1:1500 in new-borns, the incidence of Sotho natives in north South Africa stands at an all-time high. With a ratio of 1:1900 amongst some of the blacks in north South Africa, albinism is the leading cause of infant visual impairment. Albinism statistics in South Africa are scanty, although research cited by the WHO [World Health Organization] in 2006 estimated that 1:4000 people were born with the condition, compared to roughly 1:20 000 worldwide.

Trefor Jenkins, a South African human geneticist, has made significant contributions to the knowledge of albinism’s social and cultural context, medical risks and ramifications, and addressing the molecular foundation and aetiology for oculocutaneous albinism in Southern Africa.

Skin Cancer

In rural locations, kids with albinism are open to extreme levels of UV light without proper protective gear, causing skin damage. For youngsters with albinism, just 12% of state schools offered SPF15 sunscreen. The most prevalent type of cutaneous tumour among African people with albinism is squamous cell carcinoma affecting the Head and neck. Non-melanoma malignancies, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal, which are uncommon in black populations, are widespread among the albino population. According to a South African survey of 111 people with OCA, 23 percent of them had skin cancer, with the head section being the most frequently affected area. Many persons with albinism in rural locations, such as the Eastern Cape, are ignorant of the precautions that must be taken to guard their skin, while most white South Africans come with skin cancer only after 60 years of age. According to Dr Willie Visser, most albinos get it as young as 20 years old, chief of the dermatology section at Stellenbosch Institute and Tygerberg Medical centre. Albinos are supposed to be provided with sunscreen lotion on a monthly basis by a government hospital; however, this need isn’t really met due to running out of stock and a lack of awareness on the side of health staff.

Racial Classification

During Apartheid, racial features, as well as lineage, played a significant role in racial categorisation. Skin colour also has a wide range of sociological and psychological consequences. Skin colour has long been used to indicate ethnicity and racial distinctions quickly. Traditional conceptions of race imply that colour and race are inseparable; however, race and colour are not linked for those with albinism. Despite the fact that colour and race are sometimes utilised interchangeably, they are nevertheless separate grounds for discrimination. Individuals with albinism syndrome should be safeguarded from unjustified discrimination based on their skin tone as well as their race. Individuals with albinism face prejudice, stigmatisation, and discrimination based on their skin colour and also their race. Discrimination based on skin tone can be inter-racial or intra-racial. Scott suggests that a new class of colour should be established because present race classifications do not provide appropriate protection to those living with albinism. Additional racial divides and categories, according to Mswela, will worsen racial issues.

Discrimination

A child with albinism has socialization and adaptation issues as a result of his\her looks. The phenotypic difference between black [African] people living with albinism and the remainder of the demographic group creates social integration obstacles, resulting in ostracism. South Africans with albinism syndrome are among the country’s most vulnerable people, with little effort made to safeguard them from human rights abuses, threats and violent crimes. Although the number of violent hate crimes against persons with albinism isn’t quite as severe as in other African nations, there have been spikes in violent hate crimes against PWA [people with albinism]. The social and physical isolation of children with albinism is worsened by their sensitivity to sunshine, which restricts their ability to partake in recreational activities. Following the constitutional court’s judgment in the Carmichele versus Minister of Safety and Security trial, the state has a duty and an obligation to protect vulnerable persons. The Carmichele case establishes a mechanism for filing a preventive suit against the government, based on the claim that the government owes a duty to safeguard people with albinism against violent acts. The South African authorities have recognised the September month as “Month of Albinism Awareness”. Thando Hopa is an albino Public Prosecutor as well as a model who is 24 years old. She is one of the world’s rare black albino models and albino activists.

Myths

Rather than a biological explanation, many African groups rely on traditional explanations for albinism. This frequently results in the individual living with albinism being socialised in a negative way. People with albinism are frequently referred to as “inkawu,” a Nguni word for a “white baboon”, “isishawa,” a Zulu word of a “cursed person,” and “zeru zeru,” which means ghostly. The Swahili word ‘zeru.” is also predominantly used in the republic of Tanzania.

Thandazile Mpunzi, a 20-year-old woman, was murdered by three people, including her 17-year-old boyfriend. On the midday of August 1st, 2015, Mpunzi was lured to a remote spot in the Phelandaba region of Emanguzi in the north KwaZulu-Natal by her boyfriend. She was strangled, killed, and dismembered. They intended to sell Mpunzi’s body parts for a large sum of money. They said that a traditional doctor advised them that mixing Mpunzi’s blood and organs with “muthi” would make them wealthy. 2 of the accused persons pleaded guilty to murder and were condemned to a total of twenty years in prison. There have been numerous reports of albinism-related murders and disappearances. Albino in Tanzania body organ trading has become a profitable business.

International Reaction

The European assembly strongly denounced the killing of Albino in Tanzania on September 4th, 2008, after incidents involving three Tanzanian men were published by the BBC news and others. On February 22nd, 2010, the United States Congress passed H. Agreement 1088, introduced by Congressman Gerry Connolly, by a unanimous vote of 418-1. The resolution denounces the attacks and killings, classifying them as crimes against humanity and urging the Tanzanian and Burundian governments to vigorously penalize such cases as well as conduct awareness programmes to fight against the superstitious assumptions that underpin the violent attacks\assault.

For more articles related to Laws of Tanzania (Acts), click here!