PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY FRANCK VOGEL
Around lake Victoria in Tanzania, the evil is driven by the belief that albino body parts possess magical powers to bring riches if used in potions produced by local witchdoctors. Most « clients » are rich businessmen eager to get more gold out of their mines or politicians, who want to be elected. Since 2007, official reports indicate that 47 people with albinism have been brutally murdered and their body parts hacked off and sold to witchdoctors for huge amounts of money: 2000$ a leg, an arm or the blood...that makes a whole albino body worth 10 000$. The horror business is even now crossing the borders (Congo, Burundi, Kenya).
Albinism is defined as a genetically inherited disorder resulting from lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes. Tanzania has the highest rate of albino in the world, 1 in 3,000 are affected, compared to 1 in 20,000 in Europe and North America. Besides the horrible killings, African Albino suffer daily discrimination in the street, at school, and due to vision problems face difficulty in completing educational programs resulting in chronic unemployment. Most of them are therefore poor and cannot afford sun creams or proper clothes to protect them from the sun that kills them through skin cancer. Albino life expectancy is here 30 years, with only 2% living beyond 40 years.
The Tanzania Albino Society struggles to help and teach their members but suffers from corruption and the Tanzanian government is still divided despite President Kikwete and Prime Minister’s efforts (albino MP nominated, police operation to arrest witchdoctors,...). The Minister for Interior Affairs still says about Vicky Ntetema (BBC journalist, who brought the story on air), “she is a shame for the country!”
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