In this 2-part piece, we will discuss the treatment of albinos in the Great Lakes region of Africa; specifically, Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi, and why they are treated this way. In this first piece, we set the stage for the current situation on the ground.
The Great Lakes region of Africa is situated along the eastern coast below the Horn of Africa and extends as far south as Zambia and as far west as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For simplicity’s sake, we will discuss 3 main countries: Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi
Overall in the East Africa region, Kenya is relatively safe for people with albinism. This is especially true compared to its southern neighbor, Tanzania. Based on a fairly unreliable estimate on the number of Kenyans with albinism from the National Council on Disabilities, the most commonly published number is 3,000 (“Kenya”, n.d). The United Nations also cites that although Kenya is a relatively safe place for albinos, there can still be more to improve the situation such as the expansion of healthcare-related to albino health problems. The last reported attack on a Kenyan albino was in 2015 near the Kenyan-Tanzanian border.
Tanzania reports 6977 officially documented albinos in their country but the Albino Association of Tanzania believes that it could be as high as 170,000 (Engstrand-Neacsu and Wynter, 2009). The most dangerous regions for albinos in Tanzania are Shinyanga and Mwanza (“Man ‘tried to sell’, 2008). Overall, NGOs such as Action on Albinism report Tanzania as having 188 reported attacks on albinos with the most recent attack reported being on May 1st, 2019 (n.d).
Around 2015, Tanzania began enacting reforms to curb violence towards albinos. However, their neighbor Malawi instead saw “a steep rise in killings of albinos with 18 reported killings since November 2014” (“Albino people are being hunted”, 2018). A 2014 report by Amnesty International speculates that the number of albinos murdered is much higher than their reported 18 deaths due to the unwillingness of rural regions to report crimes. In addition to this, albino graves are constantly being raided and in 2017, police have found at least 39 cases of illegal removals of albino bodies/limbs from their graves (“The ritual murders of people”, n.d).
Posted By Ryan Pham
Posted Feb 28th, 2021