According to a United Nations expert, Ikponwosa Ero, Malawi’s albinos estimated at 10,000 may face “extinction” if they continue to be murdered for their body parts for use in witchcraft.

She said this after two men received a 17-year jail term for murdering a 21 year old woman with albinism. She said that the situation constitutes an emergency. According to her, the Malawi police have recorded 65 attacks, abductions and murders of albinos since the end of 2014.

People with albinism, who lack pigment in their skin and appear pale, are regularly killed in several African countries including Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. Killing of people with albinism may occur for different reasons. One is based on the belief that certain body parts of albinistic people can transmit magical powers. Such superstition is present especially in some parts of Africa. It has been promulgated and exploited by witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, concoctions and potions with the claim that their magic will bring prosperity to the user.

As a result, people with albinism have been persecuted, killed and dismembered, and graves of albinos dug up and desecrated.

At the same time, people with albinism have also been ostracised and even killed for exactly the opposite reason, because they are presumed to be cursed and bring bad luck. The persecutions of people with albinism take place mostly in Sub-Saharan African communities, especially among East Africans.

Author: Ope Adedeji