timeslive Page 2 of 3 expectancy of an albino is 32. Short-sightedness causes many to drop out of school, many die of skin cancer and few are employed because they are outcasts. But albinos face an even greater threat. Superstition thrives in times of economic deprivation and, as a result, albinos are hunted for their body parts, believed by some to possess magical qualities. Tanzania is the site of some of the most gruesome killings to occur in Africa in recent years. Most of the victims are children, dragged from their beds or kidnapped in daylight. Those who survive are missing a limb or disfigured in other ways. The government and the police have condemned these attacks, and some arrests have been made, but convictions are rare. Most of the atrocities occur in rural villages and, according to witnesses, are well planned. The attackers leave little evidence, while those dealing in the sale of human parts are protected by a code of fearful silence. Journalist Sam Rogers travelled to Tanzania in 2008 after reading an article on the murder of albinos, written by Tanzanian journalist Osoro Nywangah. "It was a tiny piece buried on page eight of a Tanzanian newspaper," says Rogers. "At the time, the official government statistic was that 28 people with albinism had been killed, but Osoro spoke to independent NGOs, who put the number of murdered people closer to 60." With Nywangah's help she set up meetings with victims and the authorities, and in Dar es Salaam met Tanzania's only albino MP, Al Shaymar Kwegyir, who is dedicated to changing people's perceptions of albinism. Kwegyir had just adopted two albino girls, Bibianna and Tindi Mbushi. Bibianna had not spoken since losing a leg to albino hunters, but her younger sister, Tindi, told their story to Rogers. After the siblings' parents died they went to live with their uncle. "It was on the second day there that this happened," Tindi tells the camera. "We didn't see anybody, we don't know the names of the people ... We saw a torch. The person came, not just one. They started to cut her leg. When we shouted for help they left, other people came, but they had cut her leg." The next day their uncle was arrested on suspicion of being complicit in the attack, and Kwegyir took the girls in. Rogers went on to the north-western city of Mwanza, centre of Tanzania's mining and fishing industries. Most of the albino murders have taken place in this area, on the shores of the placid Lake Victoria. But the lake is no idle spectator to these crimes. Dwindling fish stocks have made desperate fishermen turn to magic in an attempt to increase their catch, while miners are resorting to similar measures to make the earth bear more gold. "They (witch doctors) take some albino hair," says Nywangah. "They instruct him to tie it in his nets so that it can attract small fish. But for those who are in the mining business, they give him a sort of flour. The (albino) bone is ground and mixed with herb potions." A police spokesman in Mwanza told Rogers that a leg bone could fetch around $3000. Even the dead are hunted. Albino teenager Mariam, who died in 2008 after both her legs were hacked off, is buried beneath the floor of her grandfather's house. He has placed his bed over her grave so that no one can dig up her body. http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/article531266.ece/The-terror-of-being-a-black-chi... 7/29/2010

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