People Killing African Albino Kids for Sick Skin Trade Activities

Deadly Skin Trade Preys on African Albinos

by Theunis Bates


LONDON (Nov. 23) — East Africa’s albinos have long suffered because of the color of their skin. Some are abandoned as babies by parents who regard their lack of pigment as a curse. Many more are subjected to taunts of “zeru” (Swahili for ghost) in school and on the street. But now Tanzania and Burundi’s 8,000 albinos face a more horrible threat, fueled by a macabre combination of superstition and economics.

Over the past two years — according to a new report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies — at least 56 albinos in the two countries have been murdered, and their body parts used by witch doctors to make charms and potions. The last known killing took place on Oct. 21, when albino hunters attacked 10-year-old Gasper Elikana in northern Tanzania. A gang of men hacked the boy to death in front of his family and neighbors — who were wounded trying to protect the child — before fleeing with his severed leg.

albino child


Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

Albino children take a break at a school for the blind in East Africa.

In the face of such brutality, thousands of albinos have gone into hiding, including 300 children being sheltered by the Red Cross at police-protected schools. “This is a great source of shame for the region,” says Isaac Mwaura, national coordinator for the Albinism Society in neighboring Kenya, and an albino himself. “These are people who lack melanin, who are vulnerable, who nature has not treated so kindly. To then attack them and deprive them of the right to live is simply barbaric.”

What sparked this outburst of targeted violence is still unclear. Some have blamed local folklore, which says albinos are endowed with mystical powers. “People think that we don’t die and many other things that aren’t true,” says Mwaura. “Albinos are seen as a cure, because they possess something out of the ordinary.”

However, Andrei Engstrand-Neacsu, one of the authors of the Red Cross report, says traditional beliefs aren’t solely to blame. He notes that the murders started in 2007, around the time of a mining and fishing boom in northern Tanzania, when many people launched new business ventures. Superstitious entrepreneurs desperate to succeed may have bought “good luck” albino trinkets from witch doctors. “This is mostly an economic activity carried out by criminals who have seized an opportunity,” he says. “They have found people sufficiently stupid to believe that by using magic potions made of albino body parts they could become rich or more powerful.”

What’s certain is that buyers — most of whom are believed to be Tanzanian — are willing to pay a high price for these horrific charms. Police have reported albino limbs being sold by witch doctors for $200, while a full “albino kit” — consisting of limbs, nose, tongue, ears and genitals – costs $75,000. That’s an astronomical sum in a country where almost 60% of the population lives on less than $1 a day, and it has led many experts to conclude that the demand for these goods comes from the upper-echelons of Tanzanian society. “Poor people cannot afford to spend so much money on a little concoction from a witch doctor,” says the Albinism Society’s Mwaura. “The buyers must be wealthy. They are not even trying to strike it rich, they’re trying to strike it richer.”

Under pressure from campaigners at home and abroad, the Tanzanian government has started to crack down on the grim trade. In January, it revoked all traditional healers’ operating licenses. (Many, however, flouted the ban and continued to trade.) In the spring, President Jakaya Kikwete ordered all adults to fill out a form and name anyone who they suspected of killing an albino. The courts have also been getting tough: So far this year, seven people have been handed the death penalty for taking part in albino murders.

Franck Alphonse, director of the Tanzania Albino Center (which cares for 79 albino children), though, argues that these recent cases have failed to unearth the true criminals who ordered the attacks. “The gangs who kill the albinos, who earn $250 for murdering an albino, have been sentenced to death,” he says. “But the sentence doesn’t touch those wealthy people who sent those criminals to murder the albino in the first place. The source of the crime is still there.”

Despite these doubts, there’s evidence that this hard-line approach is scaring off some albino hunters. The brutal killing of Gasper Elikana in October was the first reported murder in three months.

However, it’s likely that the region’s albinos will only feel truly safe when their black-skinned neighbors regard them as ordinary people and not supernatural beings. “What’s needed is education,” says Engstrand-Neacsu. “We need to make people understand what albinism really is. Ignorance is the origin of discrimination. And ignorance has ultimately led to these crimes.”

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  1. Sad and rediculous.

  2. It is a sad reality that many Africans still rely heavily on these “witch” doctors, all due to promises of financial success.In South Africa there too is occurences of people being murdered for their body parts to be used as muti (magical charms), however this is not aimed at Albinos in particular. There is a phobia of Albinos in Southern Africa though, contrary to the savage acts taking place in East Africa. Under those circumstances the perpetrators of these murders should surely be sent to the gallows, and the masses should be tought and trained by the learned to abandon these morbid and exercrable beliefs. Authentic Pan-Africanism is about uniting the continent, taking over our own resources and replacing Capitalism with Socialism. All the other stuff is merely irrelevant rituals and can be very destructive at times as indicated by the above article. Albinos are as African as any dark skinned negroid, infact my ex-girlfriend was an Albino and the stares we used to receive when were together, proved to me than many of our people still need to be educated.

  3. This is so disturbing I couldn’t even read it. Just another sign the world is ending.

  4. e-scribblah says:

    pretty sick shit. and i thought only America eats its young.

  5. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    This hasn’t just started. Its just beingreported on the albinos. Diamonds, land, and many unknown resources, AIDS destruction. That story doesn’t tell what’s really going on and has happened historically to Africa. The word “caucus” comes to mind after viewing the screen, but the word “propaganda” pops up. Especially when I think about how AIDS was coined through monkeys. I do not believe anything I read without finding out “why’ they allow it to to make the internet or their magazines. Just know “Why” things are written, people. Sad story, but how Africa has beentruly devastated is far worse.

  6. My God, my God, send the angels down to protect these children from these fools that do not have a brain in their sorry body.

  7. On Theunis Bates site, you get a whole different “spin” from those folks. Be careful what you track into your home from off the bottom of your shoe. If these bloggers and wrtiters really care, tell us “why” in the first sentence. If not, consider the source, fellas..

  8. Willy Chee says:

    Yep, what do you expect from a land that sold their own people into slavery! Backwards, stupid, uneducated? Maybe the blacks just want the magic the albinos have to be as successful as the whites. The blacks seem unable to do it on their own, Look at Zimbamwe – in ruins since the whites were run out.

  9. Funny how people are qiuck to call others “Anti-semetic” on here, but when others come on here and say whatever they feel “no one” says a word! Maybe they aren’t worth responding to, Willy Chee. But pick up a book called “The Stolen legacy” by George G.M. James before you start calling people “ignorant”. Racism – started the day some people went to Africa took their religion, “God”, identity, and said these people were cursed. And then took their glory by saying that they were chosen by a god from the caucus mountains and actually started civilization, communication, math, music, religion, science, law, philosophy, secret societies, shipping and sailing across the world, history, sports, culture, dynasties, and had the audacity to say that these “blacks” were “backwards, stupid, and uneducated”. Boy, if we” all” really knew history… Talking about spin?

  10. @Slick

    LMAO! I guess those folks feel safer during “Black Friday” to get the latest pop-junk. They feel more “civilized” with the faux-reality shows and clinging to their govt health care from the so-called socialists. I’m surprised this story was even reported given the attention-spans and memory lapses some of these folks have.

    @Robert Jr. James McClendon

    Yeah, the problems on the continent didn’t just appear like some alien invasion. It took some “outside prodding” for that to occur. Don’t worry though…the next balloon boy story will mind-wipe these folks back to “reality”…SMH!

  11. To the Devil: Willy Chee, We gods dont owe you devils any explanation. Our history speaks for itself, dont even get me started on the Slavery issue, because it is in the nature of the Devil to blame the victims & create confusion. The white-man is and always will be the most brutal, ferocious, exercable and most blasphemous creature to walk the face of the earth. When Charles Darwin walked the shores of Australia in the 1800`s and seeing how the whites were obliterating the Aboriginals he said,”Everywhere the white man sets foot, the natives` blood tend to follow”. All over the world the Devil went around enslaving(Yeah we had some house niggers who helped him out), driving various tribes into extinction. Great men & women like Queen Nzinga, Moshoeshoe, Shaka, the list is endless, never allowed their people to be enslaved by the Devil. Devil blood was spilled and we honour our ancestors for their efforts, from the Maroons to the Holy Nat Turner. And we true Africans support the land distribution, by any means necessary. Hunger with dignity is more virtuous than eating in slavery, the land will be taken from the hands of the oppressor, South Africa and Namibia are next, and Devil & house nigger blood will be spilled in the process. Lets go into into history kracker: Johannes de Grevenbroek of the Dutch East India Comapnay, who was a Dutch settler in the Cape Colony, made this statement in 1695,” Drunkeness, perjury, dishonesty, quarelling, stealing, lying, laziness, all of these are qualities which were unknown to the Natives before our (the Devils) arrival”. So you tell me you Aryan Son of a Bitch, what the hell are you on? Black Power!

  12. Justice4every1 says:

    @Shaka, You sound just as RACIST as Willy Chee, except your more so with your anger at what white people did hundreds of years ago and as long as you hold on to that hate you will never elvolve in to a thought process of people are just people NO matter what colour of your skin, get off the old I’m owed by the white man for what his ancestors did to my ancestors. Tell me Shaka, what would make you happy, what price do you think you are owed, have you yourself been a slave? Because someone is WHITE that makes them the DEVIL, are you an educated person or are you letting your hate speak for you. would you be happy if every white person was wipe off the face of the earth, because whether you or I like it, if all white people disappeared the world would fall in to chaos, my thoughts are, the same would happen if all other races were wiped out except the white people, we all need each other to flourish and evolve in to a world society that has no fear or form of racism, but with people like yourself and Willy Chee there will never be a world without hate. I recently seen a program about the jails in the USA, it is totally unbelievable that the so called super power of the world has the most racist society, I cannot believe life is so cheap to you people that are filled with hate and I worry that my 2 son’s have to grow up dealing with your sort of twisted philosophy, don’t blame others for your own inadequacies, if you don’t like the system then vote to change policy democratically and without hate, because hate just breeds hate, your children and grandchildren will grow up to emulate you, then it will be at least another generation before change can happen for the better. Whether you like it or not your a racist and if your not willing to change for the good will of all, then do not keep on and on blaming the white men for this, blame the white man for that, if you do not like it go to university and educate yourself to a degree that levels the playing field, Or are you using excuses to hide behind the fact that your nothing but a racist person. From your above post and I ’quote’ “So tell me you Black Panther Son of a Bitch, what the hell are you on? White Power!” ‘unquote’. You should be educating Willy Chee the ignorant pig he is, not name calling, it just shows you for what you really are. “A RACIST…

    How do you feel now Shaka, are you now embarrassed of your racist post or are you happy because, your a racist? I petty my children’s children if there are still people like you Shaka and Willy Chee walking the earth, I really do.

  13. Racist this, racist that. HELLO PEOPLE!!! Forget the country or color! PEOPLE ARE BEING MURDERED!!! Isn’t that a more important subject? Isn’t the down right slaughter of innocent beings a little more significant than useless banter about race?

    • They are killing mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and even innocent baby’s. This is not right every has rights, every one deserves a chance to live a long life.


    • You have rights two. Tell them to stop killing people tell them that they need to see what it feels like to be slaughtered. Tell them what it feels like to be an albino. TELL THEM THAT YOU ARE NOT ASHAMED OF WHO YOU ARE. THAT YOU ARE PROUD TO BE AN ALBINO!!!!!!!!!!!!’!!!

  15. this is so stupid, i hope those people that are doing this go to HELL. A human being shouldn’t of have to run away or hide because there scared of being murdered. I think the country there in should put a stop to it. I hope god does change this

  16. Katrina Taylor says:

    I really think that this whole thing is completely horrorfying. I am half black my self and to sit in school and hear about what rough times that African’s had it just makes me SICK!!!!!!!!! I want to beable to help these people any way I could. I came acroos this topic because of a 4 page paper I had to do for my government class. And what i read now about this makes me want to cry my eyes out. People have no heart for anything anymore. Some people have to stop and think about what is really the right thing to do. But for me I’m going to try and help to do something to get my school involed some way. People will see what good can be done. They will see.

  17. Kilimanjah says:

    It is true , The world has gone mad, pretty soon people will be eating people for food.
    instead of selling body parts
    This is not news , they have been killing Albinos for centuries, did you think that because
    it is brought to out attention it just happen. no
    We Africans will fight, we find it necessary, and we know that we shall win, because we are confident in the Victory, of Good over Evil

  18. i did not like what they did to the albino african.

  19. A Khamsini says:

    Thank goodness for Peter Ash and organizations like “under the same sun” for bringing this to light for the world to see. Tanzanian government needs to do more than elect an albino into parliment to show there good faith. They need to irradicate this behavior from their society. Education is key. Fact of the matter is, it boils down to old beliefs and ignorance. I have prayed countless hours for these children. I am touched to the deepest depth of my soul with the horror these people go through. I think about this very thing time and time again, trying to find my way to make a difference. Shame on you all for turning this into a white and black thing- slavery- whatever- it has nothing to do with what is taking place in 2011! It is what it is and you can’t disguise it. God be with each and every person afflicted with albinism.

  20. Ball sack says:

    Fuck live

  21. crack heads

  22. that sucks killing abino

  23. hi angel

  24. waza jordan

  25. penut butter

  26. jordan u are a abino kid.

  27. fuck u

  28. f u

  29. you to.

  30. jordan are u there

  31. jordan HI jordan i see u wrote fu the stupid.

  32. jordan HI jordan i see u wrote fu to stupid.

  33. wendy frost says:

    not good they deserve to live to.

  34. Any one who does this has a sick and twisted mind