DRC: witchcraft horror sees teen attacked and accused of sorcery by own family

Children who are accused of witchcraft. Children who are abused. Children who are discriminated, punished, beaten, tortured, mutilated, killed. The following story is again one which makes you shiver, like yesterday’s article. I read the article reproduced below with growing disbelief and disgust.

As with ritualistic crimes, superstition lies at the base of this evil. It saddens to read that these children are not protected by their parents, their families, their communities, not even by the State. The protection of the weak and the poor is an obligation of the State. In the DRC the central and regional authorities fail miserably (webmaster FVDK).

Witchcraft horror sees teen attacked and accused of sorcery by own family

Gabrielle’s life was turned upside down when she found herself at the centre of a chilling witchcraft craze sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gabrielle shows scares on her head after she was beaten and accused of being a witch (Image: simon murphy)

Published: February 23, 2020
By: Daily Record UK – Stephen Stewart

Gabrielle is like any other bright teenager. She loves learning new things, chatting with pals and watching TV.

But her life has been turned upside down after she was accused of being a child witch – by her own family.

She is one of thousands of young children and teenagers at the centre of a new, chilling witchcraft craze sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This epidemic – reminiscent of the infamous 16th century European witch hunts – has seen girls as young as four burned to death.

The Sunday Mail recently travelled to the Central African nation with Scottish charity SCIAF to see their work helping female victims of sexual violence.

As revealed in our sister paper The Daily Record, armed factions illegally mine a mineral called Coltan – used in phones and electronic devices – to finance their atrocities, including gang rape and sexual slavery.

These mind-numbing levels of violence have plunged much of the country into the Dark Ages with economic and educational catastrophe triggering a related rise in beliefs in superstition and witchcraft.

Gabrielle is just one of a skyrocketing number of kids facing accusations of sorcery. 

The 15-year-old said: “I felt like a princess when I was at school. I was first in my class and I was very proud of that.

“Then things went bad. I remember sleeping and my uncle came home and he started beating me around the head with a piece of wood.

“He beat me and beat me and beat me and then he took me to the hospital because he felt bad about what he had done. 

“He felt pity and they told him at the hospital not to beat me because I might die. I do not want to stay at home any more because they plan to kill me or leave me to the bandits.

“People go into churches and say I am a witch. They say that it is because of me that they have death and misery in their family. I don’t know why they say these evil things and abuse me.”

SCIAF is helping to fund various projects in the Bukavu archdiocese to help women victims of sexual violence.

These projects often deal with other vulnerable people such as Gabrielle and other children accused of witchcraft.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in Africa, according to the UN, but until recently, violent allegations were not usually aimed at children.

There are now alarming numbers of killings of children accused of being “sorcerers” and a growing phenomenon of witchcraft 
accusations against children and adolescents. 

The main power attributed to child witches is the ability to inflict harm from the invisible world to the visible.

This could consist of transmitting an illness to a relative who must be “sacrificed” with fellow witches.

Children are accused of causing diarrhoea, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS, and the fatal consequences that may follow.

They are also often suspected of bringing about general misfortune, poverty, unemployment, failure and bereavement.

Gabrielle’s dad Vincens – who is blind and battles ill health – was even one of her accusers.

Victims are now trying to rebuild their lives through SCIAF and local partners at the Centre Olame Bukavu which seeks to defend the human rights of women and girls.

Sciaf launches the WEE BOX Big Change appeal this week, which will help vulnerable women and girls.

Gabrielle now often feeds her father, 55, and helps him get around. He said: “I know now these were very bad things. When she was forced out of the home, she had to sleep outside.

“I was living in ignorance and believing in ignorant things. As a Christian, I can only ask for forgiveness. My whole family have went to Gabrielle and said, ‘Please forgive us for these bad things we did and the awful superstitions we believed in’.

“I was sad when she went away and lived outside. As a father, there are things you do through ignorance but you then regret your weakness and ignorance. I felt pity and regret and wanted to find her.

“Through this centre, I have seen how I went wrong. Now, if neighbours or someone else say things about my daughter, I don’t accept it as I can’t allow these things.”

Lisette, 14, is another victim of the witchcraft craze. She said: “I don’t like staying with my family. I suffer a lot when I stay there. I don’t feel well at home because they hit me and say bad things about me.

“If I try to do the dishes, they hit me and say, ‘Don’t touch those things because you will kill us’. They make me isolated and force me to stay outside. I want to be a nun to stop these things and make people live better lives.”

Captain Innocent Rutema Baguna is a police officer who has seen the horrors of the epidemic.

Dad-of-10 Innocent, 54, who became a police officer in 1998, said: “I have witnessed horrible things. One of the worst was when I saw a girl who was four and was accused of being a witch.

“She was burned alive as people had accused her and then put her in a house and then set it on fire. I can never forget that. I do my best to protect the children.

“It can be a dangerous job as you have to go to places to interview people where the rebels are very active.

“My work is a matter of sacrifice but I am an orphan, my mother died when I was only six.

“So, now that I am a father, it is very important that I do my best to protect and help the children. Our future depends on it.”

SCIAF’s chief executive Alistair Dutton has just returned from DR Congo.

He said: “The lives of thousands of poor, vulnerable women and girls are being destroyed by sexual violence and exploitation.

“They need our help. SCIAF and our partners are on the ground providing medical care, counselling, legal aid and support so they can recover and rebuild their lives.

“But the need is great. I’d ask everyone to please give what they can so we can do more to help women and girls in need.”

As the Sunday Mail team left, Gabrielle shyly handed us a drawing she had been working on.

Her poignant message reads: “May peace reign around the world but especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Source: Witchcraft horror sees teen attacked and accused of sorcery by own family

Democratic Republic of Congo: albino woman reveals kidnapper wanted to kill her and use her bones in witchcraft

With 2.4 million square kilometers, at least 250 ethnic and language groups and a total population of nearly 100 million people, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of Africa’s giants. The following map illustrates the real size of the DRC.

The number of people living with albinism in the DRC is unknown, but they are a vulnerable group, sometimes hunted down as animals, like in neighboring Central and Southern African countries. In the article below an albino woman, Lisa, narrates her story, how she escaped from being murdered. She was also sexually abused. Lisa lives in a remote area of South Kivu, an administrative region bordering Rwanda and Burundi. Much of the article focuses on sexual violence and unfortunately Lisa’s experiences are shared by many other women in the DRC.

People living with albinism are discriminated and enjoy even less protection from the State than other Congolese citizens. Superstition, witchcraft, lack of protection, human rights violations, ritual murder, sexual abuse. Read Lisa’s story and shiver.  (webmaster FVDK).

Sex abuse survivor reveals kidnapper wanted to kill her and use her bones in witchcraft

Lisa – an albino who lacks pigmentation in her hair, eyes and skin – tells the Record how a man lured her away from home in the Congo so he could murder her and perform magic rituals with her remains.

Survivor Lisa was abducted by a man who wanted to use her bones in witchcraft rituals (Image: simon murphy)

Published: February 24, 2020
By: Daily Record UK – Stephen Stewart

He wanted to butcher her and use her bones in magic ceremonies.

Sexual abuse survivor Lisa – an albino who lacks pigmentation in her hair, eyes and skin – is quietly telling how a man wooed her, expressing his undying love before luring her away from home to murder her and perform rituals with her remains.

Her delicate features remain impassive as she recounts her horrific ordeal. Her condition – which affects the production of melanin, the pigment that colours skin, hair and eyes – can be a gruesome death sentence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The Daily Record and Sunday Mail have run a series of hard-hitting stories this week after we travelled there to uncover the reality for women in the country once dubbed the “rape capital of the world”.

According to the Home Office, 40 per cent of women in the area we visited – South Kivu –   have suffered sexual violence.

Before she was kidnapped, Lisa had already suffered. The 22-year-old has one child born of rape. She was attacked when she was 18 as she worked in the fields around her village.

Often, women like Lisa have to be treated in poorly-equipped hospitals where doctors have to perform gynaecological surgery using the light of their mobile phones thanks to the frequent power cuts.

She said: “I was in the field working when I was raped. A man came and forced himself on me and I got pregnant. I gave birth to a boy. At first, when he was born, he was unwell but now he is fine and I love him very much.”

In DRC, there are many mothers who became pregnant after being attacked.

In the eyes of the law, their children do not exist but, thanks to SCIAF, Scotland’s Catholic international aid agency, they can now get a birth certificate, which gives them access to healthcare and education.

Lisa, who lives in a remote area of South Kivu, added: “Albino people like me are often discriminated against here. There are people who say that albinos can work magic. People point at me in the village and say bad things.

“One day, a man came to my village and he was very nice to me. He said he had fallen in love with me and he talked me into going on the bus with him to the city of Bukavu. He took me to a house and left me there.

“Another man came and asked me if I knew the other man. I had to admit that I didn’t really know him that well. It was then that he told me the other man was bad and trafficked albino people.

“He wanted to kill me and use my bones in witchcraft. I left as soon as I could and went back to my own village. Things are better now. I did not go to school and I can’t read or write but I would like my boy to study and do great things.”

Lisa has been supported by the generosity of Scottish people through SCIAF, which supports local projects promoting women’s rights, gender equality and provides services to the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Gran Sylvia, 41, is another woman who has survived sexual abuse and is now receiving support through SCIAF.

She was abducted by rebel gangs and had to leave behind her two-month-old baby.

She was forced to become the “wife” of a rebel commander and was abducted for four years. During this time, her baby and mother had died and her husband had remarried.

She was left traumatised and now receives counselling, seeds, tools and training in how to grow food to feed the family and sell any surplus.

Sylvia said: “They made me walk and they hit me on the back with the butt of their guns. I left everything. If you said you were tired, they would say, ‘OK, you want to rest?’ and they would shoot you.

“I saw two people shot like this. We were all afraid. Those who refused to have sex were killed and their bodies fed to the pigs. I saw so many people die.

“This life was the worst.”

Thanks to the support of Scots through SCIAF, things have turned around. She added: “The counselling helped very much. After this, I still felt hurt but not as badly as before.

“I say, show me the one who brought this programme here and I could kiss them. Whenever I hear SCIAF is visiting, I feel happy.”

SCIAF funds medical care and surgery for women who have suffered sexual violence.

The rape epidemic means that doctors at Katana hospital are now world experts in fistula surgery despite the basic conditions.

Dr Michael Chanikire, 38, said: “When I work with these women, I think they could be my mother, wife or sister. It hurts to see people hurt in these ways. They are often traumatised by their suffering.

“I have worked in Europe and one of the main medical issues there is cancer but here we see a lot of fistula problems caused by the trauma of rape and sexual violence. There are times when we have no electricity and we have to use the lights on our mobile phones to perform surgery.

“Women fear coming here as there are many rebels in the area and they will know she has come for treatment and they know she will be asked about what has happened to her.

“Sometimes, it feels like we doctors have come through hell dealing with the things we have to do. It is rewarding too, though. My mother sees me wearing my white coat and she feels so proud of me.

“She knows I am doing my best to help women and that makes her very happy.”

Source: Sex abuse survivor reveals kidnapper wanted to kill her and use her bones in witchcraft

Africa’s shameful acts of racism: the plight of persons with albinism (PLWA) in Africa

Under construction – comments (webmaster FVDK)

Some of the protestors with various placards that called on the Liberian Government among other things, increase their budgetary support (Courtesy of Daily Observer, Liberia).

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.

Madame Janet Kakusa Wonani of Zambia, Founder/President of Light of The World Foundation. She works closely with children with Albinism in Zambia, irrespective of limited financial support.

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:

  • criminal activity,
  • cultural practices,
  • a socio-economic phenomenon,
  • a human rights issue.

Ms. Kway-Geer, the first Member of Parliament in Tanzania with albinism described her individual testimonials, first-hand accounts of difficulties as:

“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).

Recommendations

The Conversation.com has identified the following recommendations.

  1. There is an urgent need to address the violence faced by this vulnerable group. Public health awareness is an important first step.
  2. Adequate health services for skin and vision disabilities should be prioritized.
  3. Putting out messages that counter the stigma against people living with Albinism is also important, as is access to education.
  4. 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.

Conclusion

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.

The Albinism Society of Kenya held a Mr. and Miss Albinism beauty pageant in Nairobi to support those with the hereditary condition. (https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-46439699).

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.”

Indeed, Children living with albinism in Africa are our brothers, sisters, daughters, and sons, let us protect them always, they are all God’s children as well.

Source: Africa’s Shameful Acts of Racism: The Plight of Persons with Albinism (PLWA) in Africa

Africa Map

DRC: Magic, murder and the lost boys of Congo’s long war

David Wroe wrote an astonishing article on child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or Congo-Kinshasa, as it is also called (to distinguish it from its neigbour, Congo-Brazzaville).  As the author describes, these youngsters ‘were tricked into fighting, forced to perform brutal rituals, and killed by the thousand in battle.’ Unfortunately, this is not unique for the DRC. 

‘Meet the child soldiers who have helped fuel the world’s longest running conflict.’

We will not reproduce here the entire article, which is highly recommended literature,  but will just focus on the phenomenon which is the focus of the current website: superstition, ritualistic killings and the absence of the rule of law. (webmaster FVDK)

Magic, murder and the lost boys of Congo’s long war

Published: December 23, 2018
By: David Wroe

Former child soldier Olivier at a farm that is run by a local organisation helping teenagers and young men, including former militia members to learn a trade. (Photo: Kate Geraghty)

At night, the boys of Congo’s children’s militia would take the heads of the soldiers they had killed and place them in a ritual circle around the campfire.

Then they would mock them.

Belittling the heads of their enemies made boys such as 15-year-old Victor* feel powerful and brave.

He was part of a group of youngsters who brought down a government soldier one night in March last year in the city of Kananga in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They let him shoot until his rifle ran out of bullets, then they charged him with machetes, sharpened sticks and garden hoes. Victor says he was given the job of cutting the dead soldier’s head off.

“The commander of the camp said I had caught someone who was very strong. And when we caught him he was no longer very strong and they started laughing at the soldier, saying, ‘Show us now how strong you are,’” Victor recalls.

What they did next cranked up their courage up to a frenzy.

The boys rolled the head into the embers of the “Tshiota”, the holy campfire. After the man’s skull had burned, the commander made Victor collect the ash, grind it into a fine powder and mix it with wine.

“Then they gave it to us to drink,” Victor says. “You become furious and can fight without fear. That is the way it was.”They call it “manga” – the magic that made them invincible.

Victor, whose name has been changed, is one of thousands of children recruited into militias that rose up in the southern DRC region of Kasai in 2016 against a corrupt, neglectful and repressive government.

In a region where families are large and poor, where the social fabric is threadbare and where government services barely exist, it is easy to convince or coerce children to join armed groups. Their recruitment is helped by a widespread belief that arcane rituals – sometimes involving cannibalism – confer magical powers that prevent their being harmed in battle.

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Source: Magic, murder and the lost boys of Congo’s long war