The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) fears that this will increase the already fragile position of people living with albinism in Malawi. History teaches us that attacks on people with albinism increase during election campaigns. The Malawian government fails to react properly. Since 2014, 171 attacks against people with albinism were carried out of which 25 persons were killed and 13 were reported missing. Hence, the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi has launched an anti-killings campaign. (webmaster FVDK).
Malawi persons with albinism launch anti-killings campaign
The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) has launched a campaign to condemn killings of people with albinism for rituals ahead of the fresh presidential polls in the country.
APAM President Ian Simbota, told local media Sunday after the launch that members of the Association fear for their lives as some study showed that persons with albinism are targeted for rituals during elections. Simbota told Xinhua Monday that as of March 23rd, 2020, APAM had recorded 171 cases of attacks against people with albinism of which 25 persons were killed and 13 were reported missing since 2014. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK)
“We received the February 3 judgement with mixed reactions because on one hand we were happy that we will be given back our ballot power but on the other hand looked at the threatening times that we always go through because of the same election exercise,” said Simbota.He said during the campaign the APAM members want to sensitize mostly political leaders to desist from beliefs that killing a person with albinism and getting their body parts for rituals can make them win an election.
“Those things don’t exist, it’s just some evil way of thinking. We are the voters and politicians should use us as such and not as rituals; it does not work,” said Simbota.”We are a population of 134,636 people and those are the votes that we are worth,” he added. In 2015 UN Human Rights Expert on Albinism Ikponwosa Ero, linked the killings of persons with albinism in Africa to elections, saying many political hopefuls believe that body parts of persons with albinism can be used as charms for one to win an election. (bold added by the webmaster FVDK)
Africa’s Shameful Acts of Racism: The Plight of Persons with Albinism (PLWA) in Africa
Published: December 2, 2019 By: Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor, The Daily Observer (Liberia), Webmaster Admin
Racism is the belief that a particular race is superior to another, and that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. On the African Continent, we have seen the impact of colonialism and its attributes of racism and discrimination.
The former Apartheid system in South Africa and its institutionalized racial segregation was an extreme expression of European treatments of Africans. The miserable treatment of people living with Albinism by fellow Africans is not only unfortunate, it is shameful.
The condition known as ‘Oculocutaneous albinism’ (OCA) is a genetically inherited autosomal recessive condition and OCA2, tyrosine-positive albinism, is the most prevalent type found throughout Africa. Due to the lack of melanin, people with albinism are more susceptible to the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation exposure.
The National Institutes of Health reported that about 200,000 Americans are affected; and around the world, it is between one in 17,000 and one in 20,000 people are people living with albinism. However, it is prevalence in parts of Africa, but it is far higher than the global average. People living with Albinism makeup about one in 4,000 people in South Africa and perhaps one in 5,000 in Nigeria. According to a 2006 review published in the journal BMC Public Health, the prevalence in Tanzania is one in 1,400, but this estimate is based on incomplete data. Since Tanzania’s total population is more than 40 million that would suggest an albinism community of about 30,000. A census is underway, however, and the Albinism Association of Tanzania believes the total figure could be more than 150,000.
People living with Albinism suffered in the hands of fellow Africans
The human rights organization Amnesty International quoted the Malawian police’s description of the gruesome murder of Mr. Machinjiri: “About four men trafficked him to Mozambique and killed him. The men chopped off both his arms and legs and removed his bones. Then they buried the rest of his body in a shallow grave.”
There are superstitions in some parts of Africa that albino body parts bring wealth, power or sexual conquest, and that having sex with a person living with the condition of albinism cures HIV and AIDS. Attackers sell albino body parts to witch doctors for thousands of dollars, according to Amnesty International. In Tanzania, some 75 people living with albinism were reported killed between 2000 and 2016.
Also, there have been reports of people living with albinism killings in South Africa; although such crimes are less common there than in Malawi, Tanzania and Burundi. Last February, a South African court sentenced a traditional healer to life in prison for murdering a 20-year-old woman living with albinism.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN agency that deals with human rights issues reported in 2016 that hunters of people living with albinism sell an entire human corpse for up to $75,000, while an arm or a leg could fetch about $2,000”.
In many African countries, it is sad and shameful the atrocious manner in which people living with albinism are treated; their lives are compounded by “exclusion, stigmatization, and denial of basic rights such as the right to education and health,” according to Amnesty International. People living with Albinism continue to experience social isolation and stigma which includes name-calling, mockery, and exclusion from certain community activities.
It is reported in Zambia that at least ten people living with albinism are murdered in ritual killings every year. Some believe their body parts bring wealth or luck. Those born with the genetic condition are calling for an end to this madness. There are more than 25,000 people living with the condition in Zambia.
According to the Albinism Foundation of Zambia (AFZ), Executive Director John Chiti, more than 25,000 persons with albinism in Zambia are currently in need of sunscreen lotion.
In an interview with Africa Renewal, Ms. Ero, said that the albinism situation in Africa, “is a tragedy.” She referred to the 7,000 to 10,000 people living with albinism in Malawi and thousands of others in Tanzania, Mozambique and other countries as “an endangered people”, facing a “risk of extinction if nothing is done.” Tanzanians call people living with albinism zeru,zeru, meaning “ghosts.”
Prevailing Superstitious Mindsets
Superstitious mindsets in some African countries continue to seek murdered for body parts, including infants and babies. Most of the attacks have taken place in Tanzania. Murders and attempted attacks, though in smaller numbers, have also been documented in Burundi, Kenya, Swaziland, Guinea, Nigeria, South Africa, Congo, Zambia, Namibia, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso.
The Converson.com conducted research and looked at media reports published between 2008 and 2011 on albinism and murders in Tanzania. It published a data set of 563 media reports in both English and Swahili from Tanzanian national newspapers.
The data showed that the Tanzanian press portrayed and explained violent attacks against persons with albinism in four ways. They were:
“When I was at primary school, people used to laugh at me, tease me – some didn’t even like to touch me, saying that if they touched me they would get this color. People used to abuse me on the road when I took the buses to school. They would run after me – crowds of kids following me – shouting ‘zeru, zeru’. (zeru, zeru, is a derogatory term).
The Conversation.com has identified the following recommendations.
There is an urgent need to address the violence faced by this vulnerable group. Public health awareness is an important first step.
Adequate health services for skin and vision disabilities should be prioritized.
Putting out messages that counter the stigma against people living with Albinism is also important, as is access to education.
Interventions must consider Albinism’ human rights. For example, putting children with albinism in camps may protect their right to life and security,but it restricts their rights to freedom of movement, and family life.
In addition, African Governments should seriously advocate against harmful practices against people living with albinism. State parties should take all appropriate measures and offer support and assistance to victims of harmful practices, including legal sanctions, education, and advocacy campaign to eliminate harmful practices perpetrated on persons with albinism, such as witchcrafts, abandonment concealment, ritual killings, etc.
One thing for sure, the people living with Albinism did not create themselves; they were created in the same way you and I were created by the God who doesn’t make a MISTAKE. Their birth process is the same as you and me! Their mothers’ carried them for nine (9) months in their wombs before giving birth to them.
Who are we – be it an individual or government to decide that they should not live because they are different? Did God ask he needs our HELP to make His decision? The Almighty God does not need the assistance of mortal humans to run his affairs. The actions of those individuals perpetuating violence against persons suffering from albinism are no different than King Leopold II of Belgium, Adolph Hitler of Germany, Napoleon Bonaparte of France, and White racists today.
In Genesis 1:31(NIV): “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…” God himself said it was Good, NOT bad. God doesn’t create anything UGLY! So, why individuals, including governments, are killing these innocent people? In addition, 1 Thessalonians 5:22 instructs us to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Accordingly, the GENOCIDE against these poor innocent people must be STOPPED!
Now, take a closer look at the beautiful tapestry of the people living with Albinism provided here. The question that readily comes to mind is any of you better looking than the people living with Albinism provided in these photos? I DOUBT IT! Therefore, let the persecution and killing of people living with Albinism STOP before the wrath of God descends upon us.
As Africans, it is embarrassing to read or hear that other Africans are discriminated against due to their race. Racism is contrary to God’s plan for humanity. The divisions we face today in contemporary Western nations are due to Race, the color of one’s skin or ethnic background. And obviously, this perception is not part of God’s plan.
In the words of Maya Angelou: “We, the black people, the most displaced, the poorest, the most maligned and scourged, we had the glorious task of reclaiming the soul and saving the honor of the country. We, the most hated, must take hate into our hands and by the miracle of love, turn loathing into love. We, the most feared and apprehensive must take the fear and by love, change it into hope. We, who die daily in large and small ways, must take the demon death and turn it into life.”
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition that leads to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light.
Persons with albinism in Ghana are dying at an alarming rate as a result of climatic change and harsh weather conditions.
The association of Persons with Albinism (PWAs) in Ghana has lamented the harsh weather condition. It said although global warming is a worldwide headache, its members are the hardest hit by its effects.
This is because persons with albinism have peculiar skin condition.
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition that leads to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light.
The condition is characterized by lack of melanin pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes.
Global warming records
According to co2.earth, the temperature across the global land and ocean surfaces in the year 2018 was 0.86°C (1.55°F).
That is above the 20th-century average and places October temperature as the second highest since global records began in 1880.
Director of the association of Persons with Albinism in Ghana, Newton Katseku told Africafeeds.com that the current era of global warming is a very unbearable time for his members.
He explained that due to the absence of melanin in their skins, they suffer skin cancers as a result of direct exposure to the ultraviolet rays.The association is, therefore, calling on the public to engage in tree planting and other environmental health support programmes to remedy global warming.
Newton Katseku has also called on the government of Ghana to commit resources to Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDGs 13) which enjoins all nations across the world to adopt environmentally friendly policies to help salvage the increasing rise in global temperature.
He believes fulfilling the goal will bring relief to persons living with albinism as they will have a congenial ecosystem to survive and also contribute their quota to the well-being of the society.
Anti-albino cultural practices
According to recent statistics, as of 2009, between one in 17,000 and one in 20,000 people were albinos globally.
But in parts of Africa including Ghana persons with albinism also suffer various forms of discrimination.
In certain parts of Africa including Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa among others, albinos are killed for ritual purposes. The belief is that, using their body parts for ritual sacrifices engender success in businesses and other endeavours. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK)
In some communities in Ghana, they are not welcomed and supported.
There are ongoing public engagements with traditional rulers of some communities to amend their cultural practices that are inimical such persons.
Newton Katseku told Africa Feeds that his outfit intends to expand the engagements to other parts of the nation.
“This is as a result of our finding that certain communities in Ghana do not tolerate persons with albinism, neither do they allow them to live in the communities.
These communities are not welcoming to persons with albinism because of their cultural practices and beliefs. So, we have thought it wise to dialogue with the traditional leaders of the communities to fashion out how to amend some of their cultural practices and beliefs,” Katseku said.
The initiative is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, a West African organization that promotes democratic values.
An inspiring and powerful speech of the Oluwo of Iwo, Osun state, who is not afraid to say what’s on his mind, even if this may disturb his fellow traditional rulers. I quote: “Sadly, as we speak, no traditional ruler, as far as I know in Nigeria, is speaking against ritual killing, which is gradually becoming a norm in our present day society. If I may ask again, why are all these things going on and no king is talking about them? Are some of our kings part of these ugly game? Some kings justify so many ugly things pertaining to ritual killings in the name of customs and traditions. What culture and tradition are they talking about?”
He even goes one step further, by directly accusing his fellow kings: “I know these comments will unsettle many kings, still involved in all manner of ritual killings.” Unquote.
It is no small talk what Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi asserts – even though we we may be surprised by certain details.
We should congratulate him with his outspoken views and rejection of the heinous crimes which are the ritualistic killings in Nigeria, also known as ‘money-related rituals’.
“Ritualism is not culture or tradition, as far as I am concerned”, according to the Oluwo of Iwo.
I sincerely hope that many traditional rulers in Nigeria will soon follow his example.
Read below what Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi had to say.
Thank you Oluwo of Iwo! (webmaster FVDK),
Oluwo of Iwo: some traditional rulers behind ritual killings in their domains
Published: May 19, 2019 – 3:07 am By: Gabriel Omonhinmin
On May 7, 2019, at exactly 7.45 a.m., Palace Watch got an SMS from HRM Oba Adewale Abdul-Rasheed Akanbi Telu 1, the Oluwo of Iwo, and the message was “Africans, nay Nigerians are no devils. Yoruba as a people are blessed and our culture and tradition is the best. But what is required now is for all men of goodwill to advocate upgrading of all sectors of our cultural practices to make them more appealing. As a King, I will not stop until I help to make our cultural heritage and traditional values, the envy of the world.”Palace Watch then reached out to Oluwo of Iwo, who shared his thoughts on various national issues.
What brought about the message you sent? The message arose from the pains I currently suffer over the damming issues of ritual killings, kidnapping and other worrisome crimes, which have continued to unsettle most Nigerians and foreigners alike. For how long will all these crimes be allowed to fester unattended to in our society?
This is not the type of society we inherited, and there is no way I will continue to keep quiet like most monarchs across the country over these very worrisome matters. I have resolved to continue with my advocacy over these issues. I know most traditional rulers, who are involved in all manner of rituals will not be happy with me and will not find my advocacy funny. I am, however, determined to ensure our children no longer die unnecessarily over ritual related matters, due to age-long ignorance of ritual killings by kings and their friends or allies.
The act is not only barbaric, but it is also wicked and unacceptable in any civilized setting. We must, therefore, do all within our powers as traditional rulers to make sure African gods or deities that require only human blood are no longer appeased.Just a little over 100 years ago, it was a great woman called Mary Slessor that fought so hard to stop killings of twins in some Nigerian societies because we ignorantly believed then that twins were devils. All twins in Nigeria should eulogise and celebrate Mary Slessor.
Nigerians are dying in thousands daily because of ritual killings. The case of Badoo in Lagos is one singular example of this evil. It is a very good example of money rituals, which have become the common practice in our society. Mind you, the practice is all about shedding of innocent blood. The situation has gotten so bad that children can no longer trust their parents and neighbours, due to societal craze and desperation for quick money.
As if this is not painful enough, most parents, guardians and other relatives are now in the habit of selling their wards and relatives into slavery to places like Italy, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. Some of these children are made sex slaves and in the process killed and unaccounted for.
Other high level crimes are daily committed, due to desperation of seeking greener pastures abroad, which is a mirage. Enough of this. Government must now begin to act and speak up against this type of crime. If not for President Muhammadu Buhari’s quick intervention, innocent blood would have been shed by Saudi Arabian government in the case of little Zainab Aliyu and the 81-year-old man, who were implicated by a desperate drug cartel at Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. Their lives would have been wasted just like that.
With this type of crime, what precedent are we showing our children, especially the youths? All traditional rulers of good conscience should henceforth rise up and do all within their powers to rid the society of these elements, especially those residing in their domains. They should deliberately continue to do all within their powers to assist law enforcement agents to arrest these elements, no matter how wealthy they are. They are not good examples to any society.
It might not be palatable to most traditional rulers across Africa,especially Nigeria and Yoruba land. But we must henceforth learn to do away with traditional and cultural practices that encourage these types of inhuman practices. We as traditional rulers need to show love and compassion at any given time.
We need to change what we met our forefathers ignorantly doing to harm our society. Such acts are not culture or tradition; they are simply evil that we must do away with. And once we do this, Africa will no longer be regarded as backward and evil by others, especially European countries.
My prayer, therefore, is that any traditional ruler, especially my fellow Obas, who find it difficult supporting this type of noble act of preserving innocent lives, his family members should also experience the pains family members of victims of ritual killings, kidnappings and other violent crimes currently ravaging our society suffer.
The principal reason for placing this curse is simple. There is a common adage in Yoruba land, which says, “The elderly can’t be around and watch helplessly as children go astray or die recklessly in their presence.” Traditional rulers by our customs and traditions, no matter their age, are the elderly in any society. They, therefore, have a role to play to help stem this ugly trend that is not helping our society in any way or form.
We are kings, so we must see everyone in our society as our children, especially the very young and vulnerable. Sadly, as we speak, no traditional ruler, as far as I know in Nigeria, is speaking against ritual killing, which is gradually becoming a norm in our present day society. If I may ask again, why are all these things going on and no king is talking about them? Are some of our kings part of these ugly game? Some kings justify so many ugly things pertaining to ritual killings in the name of customs and traditions. What culture and tradition are they talking about?
I honestly expect my fellow Yoruba Obas to have learnt a lesson or two from the Efon Alaye king, who was hanged sometime in the 60s or early 70s for his complicity in the killing of a young child in the name of rituals. Ritualism is not culture or tradition, as far as I am concerned. That particular incident showed clearly that some of our Yoruba Obas are part of this nonsense. The Efon Alaye Oba was caught, but what about other kings, who are still doing these things and have not been caught? Is it right and proper? We are all sitting down looking in the name of culture, while they are busy killing our children.
And some people call such terrible barbaric acts culture and tradition? It was these types of acts that gave impetus to the money rituals that are almost becoming a norm in our present day society. When will they stop?All these happenings around African countries are contributing to our lack of progress. Mind you, any country that does all these things will never be at peace with itself. These are simply natural reactions that come without any curse. These ugly acts naturally recycle themselves and come with karma. People still have the erroneous belief that karma will never come. Then let’s wait and see, if they don’t stop henceforth, what will happen to them and their generations yet unborn.
I know these comments will unsettle many kings, still involved in all manner of ritual killings. They will hate me more, but I honestly don’t care about how they feel. If this nonsense is not stopped forthwith, what kind of future are we laying down for our children and generations coming after us?
Why do you think Law enforcement agencies, particularly the Police seem helpless? How can the police uncover the crimes, if people are not willing to cooperate with them? Police need lots of information to work with, and the people are not forthcoming with such information, just because they have been hoodwinked in name of culture and tradition.
Just recently, an Oba in the Southwest was to be buried, women were particularly warned not to stray into the town during late hours, otherwise they would be killed. Assuming an illiterate lady that can’t read and write get stranded in that town, what is the guarantee that the innocent lady who is just going about her business would not be killed, to justify one nonsense culture and tradition? Which culture or tradition says that a king or his people should illegally take the life of another person they did not help to create?
With this position, most traditional rulers across the country, especially your fellow Obas from the Southwest, will see you as a rebel. Does this not bother you? I don’t care what they think of me, I am only after the truth. Will I say because of what other Obas, who are mere mortals like me think or say about me, I should not speak against the barbaric acts they are involved in, and which are not helping society? If we choose to keep quiet, what are kings for? What are leaders for? What are the roles of traditional rulers in helping to make society a better place?
My friend, people are free to use their mouths anyhow they like. I am for the truth and will never leave that path, which is pleasing to the Almighty Allah. Nigeria is just like the personal domain of every king. Once traditional rulers begin to genuinely speak against these evils, people involved in these acts will no longer have the liver to continue with their acts. And with this position, the entire country will become safer for all of us.
What is the way forward and how do we stop all these acts? Our message goes out daily to the Obas and kings involved in these ugly acts, but they are not ready to change. The few of us that believe in the truth and the betterment of society will force them to quit the acts that do no one any good. Their alibi is that they inherited these customs from their forefathers, but they fail to realise that their forefathers were not living in a civilized and enlightened society, such as the one we have today.
Most of these secret cults that require human sacrifice, which some of our kings and their people cued into, were never founded by kings. The association founded by kings as a group, is the Assembly of traditional rulers, which is called Council of Traditional rulers in states and local government and the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria at the national level.
Indeed, these groups are voluntary associations of kings across the country, where the welfare and well-being of kings are discussed alongside other issues of national importance. These groups or bodies do not demand any form of sacrifice nor human blood or that of an animal.
So, I am henceforth advocating that we now have bodies that should be known and called for example, the “Yoruba Council of Oba,” an assemblage where all Yoruba speaking Obas should sit down once in a long while and discuss matters concerning the Yoruba nation generally. Similarly, we should have Ijaw Council of Obas, Igbo Council of Obis or Eze, and the Hausa Fulani Council of Emirs.
These groups should be able to meet separately at different times, compare notes about things happening around their areas that are bothering them, and then bring such before the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria. Please, try to get the point I am pushing here. These Yoruba, Ijaw, Igbos and Hausa Fulani Councils of Kings do not in any way invalidate all other existing councils in the Local Government Areas and the states across the country, which meet more frequently than the one I am proposing, which will only meet in a very long while.
If government wants the security situation in the country to improve drastically, it must henceforth learn to empower traditional rulers and traditional institutions. No security system can impact on the ordinary people without the cooperation and collaboration of traditional rulers across the country.
Are you comfortable with the level of funding for traditional institutions by government? Nice to know that efforts are now being made by the Federal Government to channel Local Government Areas’ allocation to them directly. But much as this move is applauded, it will not help the present security situation in the country. The Obas, Obis and Emirs are the Chief Security Officers (CSO) in their domains.
If this is true, then the kings need to be funded. The Federal Government should make provision for a special budgetary allocation for traditional rulers to deal with security needs. This is the way to go. Oftentimes, the kings that are not funded by government are the ones supporting and providing funds and other logistics for the police to fight crimes in their domains.
The Nigeria Police can hardly do anything meaningful without the kings’ cooperation. Honestly, the salaries of Obas, Obis and Emirs are nothing to write home about. If I tell you the monthly salary of a First Class Oba in the Southwest, especially in Osun State where I am, you will be ashamed and scandalised. Yet, so much is expected from these kings. The North is slightly better, but it is still not enough.
Once the government at the centre begins to offer reasonable resources to kings across the country, and they are legislatively empowered to take some actions and decisions, things will naturally improve security-wise across the country. Most criminals see kings as toothless bulldogs that can do little or nothing.
When a king wants to correct criminals in their domains, they go to court, saying the king does not have the power to do this or that to them. But if kings are given some legal backing, most criminals will run away from their domains or decide to behave themselves. Criminals are not ghosts, but there is little or nothing a king can do the way things are now.The government should, as a matter of urgency, formulate policies to criminalise some of these practices. Some kings are hiding behind ritual killings to commit all sorts of atrocities. These acts are nothing but cultural corruption.