ALBINO KILLINGS IN TANZANIA: Witchcraft and Racism?
By Ernest Boniface Makulilo (Makulilo, Jr.)1
This article is an extraction from my master’s capstone research which I presented on August 2010 at the Joan B Kroc School of Peace – University of San Diego. The article is a research of conflict analysis study of albinism2 and albino killings in Tanzania.
In Tanzania, there is a high rate of Albino Killings. The killings are associated with witchcraft and racism. The eradication of such killings has become a very difficult and complicated process. The absence of witchcraft law and policy, lack of government readiness, increasing racism on cultural sphere (“we” and “they”), to mention a few make prevention methodologies to fail and ultimately increase of the killings. It is until and when all these are addressed and “fixed”, albinos in Tanzania will be safe.
The characteristics of witchcraft beliefs and practices as well as effects to socio-economic and political affairs of the country are important issues in the ongoing killings. The most dangerous effect of witchcraft identified so far is albino killings (murder) for “get-rich-quick conceptions”. This provides challenges to anti-witchcraft measures in Tanzania especially in the legal point of view.
It might be very useful at this juncture to describe in brief the background of the problem of albino killings in Tanzania. In the first place, it should be clearly noted that, the largest population of albinos in the world is found in Tanzania. In his blog, Richard3 (2009) submits that, Tanzania has one of the largest populations of albinos in the world -- an estimated 170,000 albinos. This makes Tanzania to have significantly higher rate of albinism than other countries--- about one in 3,000 compared to one in 20,000 for Europe and North America. This population is now targeted and killed. Albinos are now hunted like animals. In the period between June 2007 to March 2009 up to 54 albinos have been killed (Reuters Dec 1st 2009).