Never Heard of Albino Victimisation? Here’s What You Need to Know
In Tanzania, albinism – being born with light-colored skin – is widely misunderstood. This ignorance has terrifying consequences including high levels of infanticide, child abandonments and marital relationship breakdowns.
Much of this comes down to lack of education about albinism. Thanks to the lies spread by witchdoctors, fathers often suspect the mother of an albino child of infidelity or believe that the child is the ghost of a European colonist. This can cause immense strain on families and relationships.
An albino child is often seen as a bad omen and often abandoned. Many albino babies are killed because of these superstitious views.
Research Findings into Tanzanian Albinism.
Albino youths universally report having had nasty experiences during infancy and difficulties in attaining education. They condemn society for stigmatizing them but blame the government for failing to take action against suspects and accomplices accused of killing people with albinism.
Mothers of children with albinism say that, following the birth of their baby, they were treated with hostility by their families, relatives, neighbors and society at large. Some were suspected of infidelity, some were accused of being sorcerers and some were banished. However, with strength and determination, they continued nurturing their children.
At school, their children are mocked, stigmatized and have difficulty studying because of the poor eyesight that is one of the characteristics of albinism. One notable thing the children have in common is that they are intelligent and eager to learn.
Adults with albinism report suffering great hardships as youngsters but going on to be productively engaged in different economic enterprises with a resulting improvement in their lives.
Albinism in Our Local Area
Ukerewe, at 530 sqKm, is the largest island on Lake Victoria and the largest inland island in Africa. It has a large population of people with albinism, around 400.
Many of the first to live there were taken to the island by their families as children and abandoned.
Despite comprising high numbers of the island’s population, they are still, as throughout Tanzania, an oppressed minority. Witchcraft predominates on Ukerewe and the native people – the Kerewes – are ardent believers. This has led to the economic stagnation of the island largely because the people equate education with sorcery and fear being ‘bewitched’. The prevalence of superstition and witchcraft has paralyzed and ruined the entire social structure of Ukerewe.