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An estimated one in 4,000 people in Africa is an Albino. According to cancer
specialist Jeff Wandi from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s biggest city, the skin colour is
caused by a genetic defect.
"They do have a lack of gene which makes melanin, which is the black protective
skin colour," he says. "So that they won’t form colour. And that would include both
skin and the eyes."
Their white skin means most Albinos in Tanzania, as in many other African
countries stand out from the rest of the population and have often been
"While a kid, people used to call me names," Alshymaa Kwegyir, who became
Tanzania's first ever Albino MP in April this year, says.
"There are names here in Tanzania, They are called 'zeru zeru', some they say this
is a ghost, some they say this is not a human being, some say this is an animal,
Kwegyir also says that many Albinos used to be killed in silence because people did
not want to have babies with white skin.
Recently, however, prejudice in some quarters towards Albinos has taken a deadly
turn, with a string of killings shocking the country.
Rutahiro Nyere was one of the latest of
dozens of victims whose bodies have been
"There are so called witch doctors who
claim that they can do something with
whatever body parts they get from
Albinos," Simeon Mesaki, a veteran
anthropologist who studys the
phenomenon of witch craft, says.
Susana Nyere says her husband's
killers are local
Kwegyir says the legs, hands and hair are the three body parts that are often taken
after the killing.
The legs of an albino are the most prized as they are believed to bring more wealth
to miners, while hair attached to fishing nets is supposed to induce a good catch.
Mbriko Solimani of the Tanzanian police says that organ parts are taken believing it
will make people rich.
As rumours have spread through the country of people becoming wealthy within a
few days of using albinos' body parts, the number of killings has reached more