This Blog's Guiding Maxim:-

"The person who shies at the possibility of increased responsibilities or at the prospect of future uncertainties is hardly worthy of life itself, for life consists of uncertainties, problems and challenges of various types."

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Under the Same Sun - A site out to fight the cause of the Albinos

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You can contact the blog editor through this e-mail address: (ritchmbuthia at gmail dot com)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Do People Really Understand the Fight against Albino Killings?

The other day I was at a barber’s trimming my hair when a teenage albino boy entered the room. I saw him in the mirror in front of me as he entered. In his hands he carried a 20-litre water container (full of water). I figured that he was one of the many water-peddlers that are part of the hurly burly of life in Dar es Salaam.

As the albino was emptying the water into another container in the room, the barber stopped working on my hair and directed his gaze in the direction of the water-peddler. I gathered, from the barber’s expression I saw in the mirror, that he was not at all amused.

The burly barber blurted: “At what time did I tell you to bring water here? It seems you are taking me for granted.”

The albino seemed unaffected by the complaint of his client for he was grinning the while the barber ranted.

The barber was irked the more by the grinning of the teenager for, to him, it was like reducing his concerns to nothing.

The albino was by the door ready to go out, when the barber said:

“If you do that again…,”he said, as he looked in the mirror into my eyes and continued, "I’ll surely cut off one of your fingers. I could get a lot of money doing that, you know. So, please, don’t provoke me!”

The albino was out the door before the burly man could finish.

The statement of the barber jolted me and it got me thinking.

Was that statement an open declaration on behalf of the society that people are ready to do anything, however murky, to get cheap money?

Are people concerned about the welfare of people whose lives are in danger by virtue of how they naturally are?

Why don’t people choose their words carefully when talking to people whose lives have the sword of Damocles hanging over them?

Do people really understand what the fight against albino killings entails (and that it takes the whole community to do the “policing”)?

What should be done?
The Tanzanian public should be made even more aware about the albino issue. More and more albino stories should be brought to the fore (but journalists should be careful not to blow things out of proportion in the spur of the moment).
Lastly, people should be made aware of the prosecutions of the perpetrators of impunity as far as the killing of albinos is concerned. In the same vein, more perpetrators should be brought to book.
Tanzanian leaders should lead in the fight against albino killings – from in front – in their talk, walk and attitude.

[I wish to laud the stand of some religious leaders in Tanzania who have been bold enough to use their podiums to decry this evil being visited on albinos. May the good Lord richly bless you].

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The guarantee of Albinos’ right to life is under threat

Post by Daily News Columnist G. Madaraka Nyerere
A few days ago I stopped at a roadblock and a police officer asked me to give a ride to an albino woman who was taking her child to a clinic. At a time when albinos are hunted down...
Read the rest here

Albino kidnap plotters to appear in court

Eight people arrested here last Sunday for allegedly plotting to kidnap and kill one Hussein Power (15) an albino herdsman...Read the rest here

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Businessman who wanted a “live” albino hits wall with bare Fists

A well-known vehicle spare parts dealer together with seven other people has been arrested in Mbarali District, Mbeya Region, for attempting to kidnap and kill an albino. [Mbeya Region is in the South-West of Tanzania and it borders Malawi]

They are said to have attempted to kidnap 15-year-old Hussein Power (an albino). The kidnappers had been promised Tsh I Million (approx. USD 835) on “successful delivery” of the boy (alive) to the spare parts businessman (for he is the one who had commissioned the kidnapping).

The businessman, Benedicto Mwachembe and his accomplices were caught one fine morning recently after their failed kidnap attempt.

On the material day of the crime, Hussein Power who grazes his family’s cattle did not go out to graze. His young brother, Sai Power (12), went in his stead. Hussein was left at home.

While Sai was tending the cattle in the field, he was suddenly surrounded by the suspects who wielded machetes and an assorted array of crude weapons. They asked the young boy where his albino brother was. He told them that he was at home.

When they left, Sai ran home to tell his mother what he had witnessed. The young boy said that two of the suspects were his relatives (from his father’s side of the family).

When the police got onto the heels of the suspects, one thing led to another and all of them were caught. When they were interrogated they admitted that they were on the payroll of the businessman for he was the one who had asked them to get the albino for him.

The police went to the home of the businessman to further their investigation. While there, they discovered a deep hole in one of the rooms. The hole was covered with a curtain on top.

It was learnt that that is where he, the spare parts dealer, “finished off” his victims.

One of the policemen said (about the room): “The room is very dark and is extremely scary. It is also very dangerous. It is made in such a way that even if victims screams on top of their lungs, no one can hear them from outside.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who will Speak up for US if we don’t Speak up for THEM?

When I look at the albino killings in Tanzania and the attitude of people towards the same (the uncaring attitude exhibited by some of us), I can’t help but think of the sober message in a poem titled FIRST THEY CAME which was written by the prominent German anti-Nazi activist, Pastor Martin Niemöller.


In Germany they came first for the Communists,
And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
And I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
And by that time no one was left to speak up for me.

…I shudder and cringe at the thought of such a situation ever happening TO ME…

My brothers and sisters, speaking up for albinos is our divine responsibility. Another thing, you don’t have to be an albino to speak out.

Taking the government to task and fervently asking why these heinous acts of violence against albinos are being perpetrated under the very 'bulbous' nose of the state, is the first step to much-needed healing.

Something has to give; something's gotta be done!

Well, if we don't speak up for the hurting, shunned, sidelined and…hunted members of our society, who will speak up for us when the perpetrators of this dastardly act come for us.

Food for thought, this.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Women lawyers in Tanzania fault pace of tackling albino killings

A non-governmental organisation, Women Legal Aid Centre (WLAC) yesterday expressed its disappointment at the authorities` slow pace in tackling killing of albinos in Tanzania, which has seriously...
Read the rest here

Monday, December 8, 2008

Help curb albino killings, academicians challenged

Lecturers at the Mzumbe University in Morogoro have challenged all learned persons to join ranks with the government to help stop albino killings and other social vices that put the nation to shame.
Read the rest here...

The Prayer of an Albino in Tanzania

With a contrite heart I come to You, O God. Your word tells me that I am inscribed on the palm of Your hand. That word gives me strength and confidence to stand before You and pour out my heart.

You know my predicament O God. I have no happiness anymore. Joy vanished from my life long time ago. Living in Tanzania has become a living hell to me and to my brothers and sisters.

O Mighty God, You say that You created all human beings in Your image and likeness. So if all human beings are in Your image and likeness then there’s no greater human being. Or is there? Why, then, are things so unfair here on earth?
Some people think that You, O God, put in me (hidden somewhere, I don’t know where) a magical charm. A charm that if accessed by people who need instant wealth, then zap! it is theirs (the wealth).

If it is really there, O God, why did You not put it in other people, too. Your word says that you are a fair God. Did You design that I should be hunted like an antelope and killed mercilessly so that people can “extract” that which they deem is in me (that they badly need to bid farewell to beggary)?

I know I look different from other people that You created, O God. My hair, my eyes, my skin are all different from those of other people. I look pale and every time I pass somewhere a dozen heads turn in my direction.

Walking in the sun is a challenging experience. My light skin is always on the receiving end of the “brutal” nature of the sun. My eyes, too, are affected by the sun’s rays. I have to squint as I chart my way around. I prefer staying at home to going out. But then, that can never always be the case as I have to fend for myself. So I have to go out.

As I go about my day to day business, I have learnt to look behind every now and then to try to determine if there is anyone who is following me. Or even to see if there are any curious looking people so that I can take off at the speed of light! The feeling in me at these times is akin to that felt by a bull that realizes it is being led to an abattoir.

God, please don’t smile as this is something that makes me wish that I were long dead.

The media reports the killings of my brothers and sisters in various parts of my country, Tanzania. They are hacked and slain mercilessly. This happens just so that the mutilators and murderers can get parts of their bodies.

O God, why do You let these people continue living. Strike them with lightning! Blot them from the face of the earth. We are suffering, O God.

I honestly don’t know how long I have before they also come for my head, legs and hands. I don’t know how long I have left before they hack me. I don’t know how long…

I dread that day. I dread the day I will hear the long and strident knock on my door. I dread the day I’ll see menacing-looking individuals wielding machetes and baying for my blood. Oh, I dread…!

O God, please save me from my neighbours. Please save me from the strangulating hands of a corrupt society.

O God, You are my only hope in these trying times. Please don’t turn Your eyes away from me.

The Legs of an Albino recovered at a Witchdoctor's

The Legs of an Albino recovered at a Witchdoctor’s

It was in the news the other day (on ITV). The presenter of the news warned us, the viewers, that the images we were about to see were disturbing. I braced myself to face the disturbing images.

The story was of an albino boy who was killed with his head being chopped off and both his legs being hewn off and taken away. The boy’s mother who is a cripple told the sad story to journalists.

When the alarm (of the killing) was raised, a thorough search was conducted by the authorities in Bukombe District where the boy’s home was.

One thing led to another and, finally, the mutilated legs of the boy were found in a local witchdoctor’s house. The pictures of these dismembered limbs sent shivers down my spine. I couldn’t bring myself to understand this heartlessness and gory inhumanity meted on a fellow human being.

To add salt to injury, the boy was the bread-winner for the family as the mother is a cripple. Talk of a family blighted and thrown down a bottomless abyss!

My Two Cents: Local witchdoctors should undergo a rigorous and exhaustive system of ascertaining their “genuineness” and “integrity in the business” before they are licensed. Witchdoctors who are found to be advocating for the killing of albinos (or prescribing the usage of albino body parts) should be de-licensed. Legal proceedings should also be instituted against the proponents of this cowardly act.

The responsibility of making sure albinos are safe lies not only on the shoulders of the government, but also on the shoulders of the community and society that surrounds them.

The Prayer of an Albino in Tanzania

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Albino Killings: It's a blame Game in the Government

The Home Affairs ministry has cited inadequate resources as the reason for its failure to curb the problem of albino killings and laid the blame on the Treasury.

``The killings are an embarrassment and a disgrace to the good image of our country. Police are failing to operate well...
Read the rest here...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mariam Stanford’s Double Tragedy

Mariam Stanford is the albino whose arms were chopped off by her neighbour (together with his accomplices) recently in Ngara District in Tanzania.

She was six months pregnant at the time tragedy struck. I remember in the days that followed this “heinous crime”, when still in hospital, she had been appealing to well wishers to help her take care of her unborn child when it was eventually born. She knew it would be close to impossible to take care of her unborn child (when it was born) as she does not have hands.

But alas, apparently she will not be in need of anyone to take care of her unborn child. She has lost her child through a miscarriage. Quite unfortunate and cruel.

Mariam has gone through a lot of heartache. This is clearly a traumatizing period in her life and that of her family. Thousands of other albinos in Tanzania have their own versions of the trauma that they have had to contend with since this violence against them started. This is a really difficult period for them.

Concrete action, and not just mere words of threat against the perpetrators of the violence, needs to be taken (and fast!).

Meanwhile :
The authorities have barred journalists and media practitioners from interviewing Mariam at her hospital bed for fear that the media will paint a gloomy picture of the whole affair thus blow things (the plight of albinos in Tanzania) out of proportion.

I can’t help but wonder what the authorities in Tanzania take journalists for: A bunch of people who don’t know what they are doing; professionals who are not guided by codes of ethics thus they can write and say anything just anyhow; people who are less human thus they have little or no respect for human suffering; people who don’t know what to report and what to give weight to in a story. I wonder.

I also question the authorities’ decision to deny the general public an insight into the story by barring the media from getting information from the horse’s own mouth.

Being a journalist myself I know that this is not fair to the general populace for journalism’s first obligation is to the truth and its first loyalty is to the citizens.

The Society of Professional Journalists believes that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.

Can justice be seen to have been done? This is a clarion call to you, Sirs…

Four cops nabbed in Shinyanga over albino killings

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Scared and Tormented, Albinos “Pledge” to take Desperate Actions

The albino community in Mwanza has said, in no uncertain terms, that it takes the issue of security of its members very seriously. It said this as the plight of albinos grows gloomier by the day.

Mwanza is the worst hit by the current violence against albinos. This spate of violence is said to be driven by witchcraft beliefs and ignorance. The perpetrators of these cowardly acts (killings, severing parts of the body, exhuming dead albinos etc) believe that albinos have a magical charm that would enable one to be rich.

They believe that this would come to fruition if the albino body parts are used in potions prepared by witchdoctors. It is for this reason that albinos in Tanzania are running wild, fearing for their lives.

The Mwanza albino community says that if no help is brought their way, then they will move to the islands in Lake Victoria. They say all of them will go and start new lives there. At least the risks facing them will have been reduced by half, they say.


A certain family in Mwanza decided to bury their young albino daughter in the room of her grandfather. She was hacked to death when some people entered her room while she was asleep. The rest of the family was fast asleep then.

The attackers made off with parts of her body probably for witchcraft purposes.

When asked why they decided to bury the young girl inside the house, her grandfather says:

“We buried her in my room, under my bed, to prevent people with witchcraft inclinations from exhuming her body and taking what is left of her. If these people decide to come back to take what remains of her, they will have to fight with me first before they can ever get to her.”

Talk of desperate measures in desperate times for desperate solutions!

See Related Issues:
*Albino killings become police money making machine
*Protect us albinos

Friday, November 21, 2008

Are you really your Brother’s Keeper?

One of the greatest Bible stories that remains deeply etched in my memory is the AbelCain story. It was a favourite of mine when I was in Sunday school many years ago.

This story is to be found in the fourth chapter of Genesis.

In short, Cain killed his brother Abel. And when the Lord asked him, “Where is Abel your brother?” he said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

That is immensely rude and disrespectful of human life. This means that he did not care what had happened to his brother and did not want to be bothered.

Sadly, this is the same kind of attitude some of us have developed when faced with the albino issue in our country. We feel that we are less concerned about what is happening to our brothers and sisters.
We tend to think that the responsibility of minding our own kith and kin (the albino community) is the sole responsibility of some charity groups or the government.

There is something we can never deny. As a community we know the people who are perpetrating acts of violence against this minority group. We know the ones who are “consumers” of albino body parts. We know the ones who are ordering albino killings. We know the witchdoctors who have “albino body parts” as part of their long list of prescriptions.

We know them for they live in our communities – they are our neighbours; they are our relatives.

Why should we condone such cowardly and diabolical acts of violence? We can change everything today. But we must first all realize the importance of being our brothers’ (and sisters’!) keepers.

We must first go back to the basics of valuing human life.

And that’s the bottom line.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yet Another Albino Attack: Ngara Woman’s Hands Chopped off!

The news that an albino woman in Ngara (a district in Tanzania) had her hands chopped off made me numb yesterday (18/11/2008). This albino woman met with the tragedy (no, the tragedy came to her!) while she was at home with her parents and other family members.

She recounts that she was in one of the houses (her room, I presume) while her parents were in another, when a large group of panga wielding people came and surrounded it. They cordoned off the house to prevent any form of rescue attempt from anyone in the other houses (rooms!).

With this done, they proceeded to execute their master plan: cutting up the pregnant albino woman, one Mariam Stanford.

They cut off the right arm leaving only a stump at the shoulder. Mariam shouted for help but the other members of the family could not come to her rescue. The machete wielding men prevented them from getting out of their rooms. She was as if in an island.

They tried to cut off the left arm but left before they had completely hewn it off.

Mariam was in utter pain and shock when help came. She was rushed to hospital where after some deliberation, the left arm, which had been left hanging, was cut off. Judging from the wound and traces on the bone, it was deduced that the pangas used had had rusted blades.

As pictures of Mariam flashed on the TV screen, hot flushes rose up my cheeks and there was an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. The bandaged stumps that hang down her shoulders were (and are) proof that a human being’s worst enemy is none other than himself or herself.

Help Needed

She is asking for someone to help her take care of the unborn baby when it is eventually born for she no longer has hands to hold it. Talk of being stretched to the limit but never giving up hope and vision!

To some people this is just another item that beefs up the statistics of how many albinos have been attacked in Tanzania. But to some others (the wise ones), this is another six-inch nail that has been driven into the society that is Tanzania. We need to claw out the nails before they rust in our bowels.

Is there anyone out there? What do you think should be done about this state of affairs?

Tanzania “importing” Albino body parts? – This is Insane!

It is quite unfortunate that albino killings are continuing unabated, within and without Tanzania, while most of the leaders in our country remain mum over the whole issue.

Killings of albinos within and without Tanzania as reported in the local media, I believe, are just a tip of the ice berg. Many more cases go unreported. That is a matter of common sense.

What you see or hear is not usually as much as what you don’t get to see or hear. Catch the drift!

The recent cases of albinos being killed in Burundi and their body parts being sold to Tanzanians: witch doctors; men and women who believe the drivel of wachawi; gold miners who toy with the idea of striking it rich…and the list continues.

These groups of people believe that the body parts of an albino are the key to a life of abundance. They believe that when these parts pass through the hands of “people in the know” (witch doctors and wizards), and “concoctions” made of “them”, then, the graduation stage is set: graduation to a life free of worry and full of economic bloom.

There are so many things that beat my understanding in this whole issue. I also cannot bring myself to understand how we, as Tanzanians, can change into a country that is given to importing albino body parts for ritual purposes (or for any other reason for that matter!). This shows how low we have sunk as a community.

A community that seems to blatantly and foolishly believe that we can achieve our goals in life without sheer hard work; a community that frowns upon people who are diligent and industrious; a community that has thrown all caution to the winds and does not care two hoots about the values we are passing to our children and coming generations.

We have failed as a society. The million dollar question is:
Where did we miss the mark? And what can be done to remedy the situation before it wreaks even greater havoc?

The answers lie within us. But, sadly, we know not where exactly…

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Albino Killers should be Sought and Prosecuted

News of the catching and prosecution of people who catch and kill albinos have been few and far between. I believe they should be more than they are today (the prosecutions).

The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Lawrence Masha) and the president (Mr. Jakaya Kikwete) were seen spitting fire and brimstone condemning the dastardly act of albino killings, evidently irked by the state of affairs. I believe the same vim and vivacity should be reflected in how the perpetrators of the violence against this minority group are handled and prosecuted by people in the high echelons of power in the government. All the Arms of Government should talk against this violence.

For how long are albinos going to live in fear in their own country? For how long will albinos walk around with their heads over their shoulders fearing for the worst? For how long will witch doctors continue asking greedy men and women (greedy for wealth) for albino body parts so as to gain immense wealth?

For how long? For how long? For how…

The government should be at the fore front in fighting this battle for its people.

That is my two cents.

Quote: “In times of peace, staying alive is a choice.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who are Albinos?

You know it is very hard to appreciate something without having enough information about it. In this post, as I promised in the maiden post , we are going to look at who albinos really are.

The first thing I’ll say about them is that albinos are REAL and COMPLETE human beings. They are entitled to every single right that any other “normal” human being is entitled to.

But because of the paleness of their skin, funny-looking hair, squinting eyes and myriad more reasons, some people feel that they are lesser human beings. This is not true.

The basic reason why this blog was set up is to fight the cause of albinos especially in Tanzania. This will go hand in hand with breaking age-old stereotypical and prejudiced thoughts about albinos in our communities.

Let me digress a bit and tell you something about myself in relation to what I am saying here.

My name is Richard. I am not an albino. This blog is the fruit of a harrowing tussle I’ve had in my heart, of late, about the current predicament of albinos in our country, Tanzania. The thought of setting up a blog to speak out for them, albinos, came charging right through my mind like an avalanche whose time to wreak havoc had come. Albinos need you and me to speak out and save them from marauding and importunate witch-doctors. These witch-doctors demand albino body parts from them who need instant wealth. They tell them (the with-doctors to the people) that by getting albino body parts (which, of course, means killing albinos) they will bid farewell to penury and embrace a life replete with wealth. Such is the warped and tattered society you and I are part of!

Let me go back to the gist of my post: Who are albinos?

Albinos are people suffering from albinism. They lack normal melanin pigmentation. The absence of this pigment is observed in the body covering (skin and hair) and in the iris of the eyes. The blood vessels of the retina show through the iris, giving it a pink or reddish color, and the eyes are highly sensitive to light.

Albinism is hereditary; it is not an infectious disease and cannot be transmitted through contact, blood transfusions, or other vectors. The principal gene which results in albinism prevents the body from making the usual amounts of the pigment melanin.

We’ll continue talking more about albinos and what should be done to save them from annihilation!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Championing the Cause of Albinos

This blog has been set up with one purpose in mind. The purpose is, to say the least, to champion the cause of albinos (especially in our beautiful country, Tanzania).

This group of people has been sidelined for far too long. And in the recent past, they have been subjected to a new kind of danger: Murder. Gruesome murders involving albinos are reported almost every other day.

Superstition and witchcraft are cited as possible and feasible reasons that have led to these killings that have rocked Tanzania in the recent past.

This blog thinks this state of affairs is a violation of one of the most basic of human rights: the right to life. We, in this blog, think that each human being on ‘our’ earth has the same measure of claim to this right as the other. No one needs to live more than the other.

But first things first. In the next post we are going to look at who albinos are.

Till next time, Adios.