Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, it is located in eastern Africa, in the great lakes area. It has a population of about 50 millions of people, and its inhabitants have diverse ethnicities, languages, and religions.
Like other people from African countries, some Tanzanians frequently practice witchcraft: superstitions play a major role in their lives; from ordinary citizens to politicians and influential businesspeople –most of them believe in magic.
One of these superstitions is related to people with albinism –a genetic disorder characterized by the lack of pigmentation in skin, eyes, and hair.
Being albino in Tanzania
In Tanzania, there is one albino per every 1400 inhabitants; a number above the world average (one albino per 20000 inhabitants). According to experts, this the high number of people with albinism is due to endogamy.
The hunt of albinos is a tradition ingrained among the population. Albinos are pointed as immortal spirits, and some people believe they bring luck.
According to the researcher Giorgio Brocco: “In Africa, people with albinism have always been stigmatized and considered divine figures.”
The Tanzanian Justice and Peace Commission pointed: “Many believe albinos’ body parts have mystical or magic powers and have the power to make people rich.”
The market of albinos
In Tanzania, many people think organs from albinos have magical powers, and those people use the organs to make amulets to bring good luck in business and politics. This situation creates a sinister business involving hunting, mutilation, and murder of human beings.
Albinos’ bodies are highly priced. This fact proves politic and economic elites are involved in murders of people with albinism.
In Tanzania, where the annual per capita income in 2010 was 442 USD, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, an arm or a leg can cost 3000 euros, while a whole body can cost around 60000 euros. Boys are hunted with machetes. A black market of dealers operates in several local countries.
According to activists, since 2006 71 persons with albinism have been murdered, another 29 have been attacked, while only ten convictions were issued.
Going out armed and alert
20-years-old Maajabu Boaz has to carry knives every time he leaves his house, just to protect his life. His reputation has protected children from his town, for now.
At least 10000 albinos in Africa have been forced to relocate or escape.
Even after the Tanzanian government banned witchcraft since January and campaigns are being made to stop this barbarity, some politician still resorts to witchcraft during election campaigns to gain the advantage over their adversaries.
However, since authorities started to protect albinos, dealers realized the price for witchcraft would have to increase.