Witchcraft and Albino body parts

Occasionally in the midst of talk on internet connectivity, politics, and traffic congestion, we get reminded that globalization affects even the darkest, most depraved parts of society. Following are excerpts from last week’s Crazy Monday feature of the Standard newspaper – deadly harvest of body parts. African Albinos have special sympathy from me because they are the only people I ever see whiter than me.

. . . The notion that human body parts can be used to heal or bestow special powers has caused panic among the albino community in Tanzania. The problem has reached such proportions that Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Kikwete, used his monthly television address to announce a crackdown on the traditional healers as well as plans to register albinos to improve their safety. “These killings are shameful and distressing to our society,” said Mr Kikwete in his Wednesday night speech to the nation. “I am told that people kill albinos and chop their body parts, including fingers, believing they can get rich.” Videos and films from Nigeria that tout the efficacy of witchcraft are widely to blame for the current crisis in Tanzania. . . . . . It later emerged that the Kenyan men had been sent by a traditional healer to collect body parts of an albino, which he claimed would make them fabulously wealthy. . . . During the qualifying preliminaries for the 2006 World Cup, it is claimed that hippos, lions, elephants and hyenas were slaughtered to make a potion for the Swaziland soccer team to give its footballers extra strength.

The whole story shows how depraved greed can become. UPDATE: NYTimes.com has picked up the story: Albinos, Long Shunned, Face Threat in Tanzania (8 June 2008 )

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