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Sacrifice and Salvation: Albinism in ...
By Federico Roscioli
13 Jul 2014

“I was pretending to be asleep, but I saw them cutting her throat and drinking her blood, and then cutting her arms and legs…” These are the words of Mmindi, recalling the night in December 2008 when her 5-year-old sister, Mariam, was murdered in front of her.

Mariam had albinism. In the inner regions of Sub-Saharian Africa people with albinism have a very hard life. Not only do they need to fight against the cancer-causing rays of the harsh tropical sun, but they must also fight stigma and discrimination. Myths and stigmas about Albinos sometimes have horrific results. For examlpe, in recent years, traditional medicine has furthered the belief that albino body parts have elements with magical powers that give success and fortune. This myth has resulted in brutal killings of albinos with the aim of harvesting their body parts. Mariam was a victim of such an attack.

Another major struggle for albinos is protecting themselves from the sun. Those living in areas with little access to health care also struggle to protect themselves from the sun and treat problems arising from UV exposure. 

From the Lake Victoria region, where killings and discrimination still infringe upon these people's human rights, to the Iringa region tormented with an absence of healthcare, albinos in Tanzania are increasingly at risk as of late. The lack of proper information about albinism, in a country in which 1 out of 2.000 people is albino (in Europe and North America the ratio is 1 out of 20.000), leaves the doors to discrimination wide open. For these people, the Tanzanian government has never been able to guarantee health, education or security. Only through the help of N.G.O.s like Under The Same Sun and Tulime does a bright future seem possible for the albinos.