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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].

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