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

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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Human Rights Case of Persons with Albinism in Uganda

In the temperate cycle between evening and twilight, Ugandan families prepare dinner. Living to the cycle of seasons and nature’s clock, there is a quiet pace that breaks the sounds of day. Chickens and goats are settling down, the air becomes more still and windows glow with an evening light. The daytime sounds in the neighborhood are folding into evening’s blanket.

In this part of Africa....”Read The Rest Here


She continues, “Tanzania and other neighboring countries share similar beliefs surrounding Albinism as Uganda, which have allowed witchdoctors in these countries to exploit these superstitions in order to pursue their own economic gains.” “When a group is defined as anything less than human, acts of discrimination become acceptable. The most devastating construct in Tanzania and Burundi is the myth that certain body parts of an albino person can bring wealth.”Read The Rest Here

Students beg JK for albino-killers to be killed

This article was translated by Jean Burke for this blog. It appeared in a Kiswahili newspaper, NIPASHE.
Children with albinism who attend Pongwe Primary School in the town here have asked President Jakaya Kikwete (JK) to insist the authorization of the death sentence by hanging until dead be issued by the courts for those involved in murders of albinos.

They have said this step will help greatly in frightening off those involved in these murders and ultimately to completely stop the nightmare which continues to take the lives of albinos in various areas of the country.

This was stated in interviews conducted with this newspaper, a short time after the appointed Member of Parliament, Al-Shymaa Kwegyir through her institution of Good Hope Star Foundation handed over sun-protection creams (lotion) and sunglasses.

These students generally stated they are fed up of a life without freedom due to fear of being killed anytime at the same time some of them lack basic rights as children because parents must hide them inside to avoid being hurt.

Semeni Bahati (12), a student in sixth class at this school said he is a resident of Sengerema of Mwanza region but his parents assisted him escape and brought him to Tanga region to save his live after his younger sibling who was an albino was killed by unknown persons.

And Mwania Salum who also is an albino and a student of this school saked the Government to increase security in those schools where children with albinism study, a ste which will encourage parents to send their children to schools if they know there is sufficient safety.

The specially appointed Member of Parliamant on the CCM ticket in Tanga region said that the battles in the war against albino murders in this country have been continuing resulting from the extensive and strong network which is beyond understanding.

Al-Shyamaa stated traditional healers have been accused of being involved in these murders even though they have denied this accusation and said that those who are involved in these acts are witches.

The Head Teacher of this primary school in Pongwe, Paulo Shechambo stated that currently the school has a total of 1,063 out of whom 23 are albinos and 68 students are blind.

The poverty of Tanzania stuns EU Ambassador

This article first appeared in a Kiswahili newspaper (NIPASHE). It was translated for this blog by Jean Burke.
Head of Delegation of the European Commission (EU) in Tanzania, Ambassador Tim Clarke, said he hasn’t see any changes in the efforts made to lift the country out of poverty and bring development to its citizens over the last twenty years.

Ambassador Clarke gave this statement at a conference to stand up for those people who are forgotten, recognized as “marginalized groups”, held in the Social Welfare Institute, in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

The conference was organised by the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) in cooperation with EU, as part of the 10-year celebrations since the Union was established.

The conference aimed to provide an opportunity to understand these groups, their needs, and how they support themselves and how the EU will be able to assist them out of poverty.

“I came to Tanzania 20 years ago, and then left. The agricultural situation which was in the villages at that time, is still the same. We can’t make economic changes and emerge from poverty without an agricultural revolution,” said Ambassador Clarke.

He highlighted things which must be done to remove poverty including identifying groups which are marginalized, to have one vision and raising voices together in making demands and in bringing changes in the situation in the country.

This statement came from the conference by Ambassador Clarke with the Executive Officer of Tamwa, Ananilea Nkya, after speaking with the ambassador during a short break during conference discussions when each participant was able to exchange ideas with others sitting next to them about how to lift these people from poverty.

Firstly, at this conference Ambassador Clarke stated the EU program in the country aims mainly to help the government reduce poverty.

“Are we really doing this? It’s an important question to ask ourselves, are the poor becoming poorer, and the rich becoming richer?” he asked.

He wanted conference participants and Tanzanians in general to explain clearly to the Union and other development partners how they will be able to improve their live.

“This is your conference. Tell us how we and other development partners can improve your lives,” Ambassador Clarke said.

When presenting on the topic of “the way bribes affect the albino woman” at the conference, an entrepreneur from an albino group, Nasra Mbonea, said the kickbacks have been the main source of murders against people with albinism (albino) in the country because some of the wealthy tempt people to carry out these cruel acts.

She said apart from these cruel murders, some people in the community show stigma towards albino as a result of superstition and backward customs, moreover the cream which helps care for their skin (albino), is sold for a high price.

Nasra said stigma against albinos has reached a very bad stage with their bodies and skin being used by some people as a way to make an economic profit due to backward beliefs.

“If Albinos start a business, like selling food, people don’t buy from them. They avoid even giving them a lift in their car out of fear if there is an accident the person who gave them the lift may appear to be taking them to sell or kill them. Currently there is a belief which has emerged in society that, if you go with (have sex) with an albino you will be cured from AIDS or become rich, we are stigmatized a lot,” said Nasra.

She said if she was the President of Tanzania, she would punish anyone who gets a guilty judgement from court for cutting an albino child, by cutting off both their hands, instead of sentending them to jail, which she said only cares for them by providing food free bought out of citizen’s taxes.

When delivering a presentation about "education for the blind in Tanzania ", Shella Gailos said the actual educational situation is not in line with improvements needed because blind women do not benefit, they are faced with challenges of poor quality learning and teaching equipment; some said Mathematics and Science lessons are not taught in secondary schools for the blind.

In her presentation on the topic of “the situation of disabled people in the economy”, an entrepreneur from the Sebo group in Mikocheni, of Dar es Salaam city, Cecilia Masika, said the economic situation of a person with disability is dismal compared to someone without a disability, especially for women, because many of them don’t receive primary school education.

Also, she said employment for people with disabilities is still a problem because of the assumption that they can’t work.

She said statistics of disabled people indicate only 736 people are employed by the government and that, they have visited 51 extraction factories and witnessed only one employed disabled person.

She said this situation has forced many educated disabled people into the private sector, where they fail to support themselves due to lack of education about this sector.

And the musician of The Seven Blind Beats Band, Boniface Kiyenzi, said if he was President of Tanzania, he would establish a Ministry of People with Special Needs rather than the current situation only of a department of social welfare which doesn’t provide complete services because they are not given adequate grants for the needs of the groups involved.

Many participants contributed to this conference and they recommended emphasising education for groups of people with disabilites; including lame people, the blind, the deaf and albinos. Also, to strengthen communication between various service providers, such as courts, police and hospitals.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Albino Killings have to End

Article courtesy of Daily News newspaper, Tanzania

MORE incidents of albino killings continue to be reported in Tanzania and neighbouring Burundi, giving out signals that the shameful trade in their body parts has not waned despite local and international outrage.

Records show that at least 57 people with albinism were murdered in different parts of the country since 2007 and earlier this week, a 28 year-old albino woman and her four year-old son were killed at a village near the Burundi border with Tanzania.

The two victims had their limbs and organs hacked off by a gang and the boy's non-albino grandfather who intervened to stop them was killed on the spot.

Authorities in Burundi reportedly say there had been a total 14 murders in the central African country so far.

Analysts and human rights activists say these are only the documented cases as the numbers are likely to be much higher.

It is sad that more albinos are still being murdered after seven people linked to the practice were sentenced to death.

Various institutions including the government, religious organisations, media and other stakeholders have for the last three years been involved in public education campaign against the killings.

It is unfortunate that there are some people who believe that albino body parts can be used to concoct lucky or wealth-enhancing charms and killers on many occasions go for limbs, genitals, ears, nose and tongues.

Recent killings should now serve as a wake up call for people to be more vigilant and address the problem by stepping public education and interrogate thoroughly all suspects.

The government should see to it that cases pending in court must be disposed of as soon as possible so that any conviction would serve as a lesson that crime does not pay.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Under the Same Sun Press Release - May 5, 2010

It is Sunday May 2, 2010 and night has fallen on the quiet village of Cankunko in the Cendajuru
District in the country of Burundi, bordering Tanzania.

Several hand grenades are strategically launched at a simple homestead, a home where a mother and child with albinism live peacefully. The loud explosion rocks the family from their sleep. Nine armed men rapidly and forcefully engage in a savage rampage. Wielding machetes, they hack off all the limbs they can grab. Their sinister appetite for albino body parts is fueled by a lucrative trade linked to thepractice of witchcraft in the region. Yet to be named, wealthy consumers (commonly referred to as “honorable”) keep this trade alive, believing it will yield them power and wealth. Once the wild, blood thirsty campaign of carnage stops,the murderers emerge with a bag full of fresh and bloody body parts, ready to quickly sell at a handsome profit.

Attacked February 8th, Twelve month old Fatma Mohammed displays the 10 centimeter long scar left by her attackers

The human toll is steep. Four year old Desire Vyegura has lost his life. The killers now have
possession of his tongue, one of his eyes, one of his legs and an arm. Susanna Vyegura, his
28 year old albino mother now lays lifeless, with both legs and arms gone. Both of her breasts
have also been violently chopped from her mutilated body. Her non-albino father bravely tried
to stop the killers, but was overpowered and brutally murdered on the spot, according to
Burundian Police Chief Deogratias Ntahompagaze

A family – wiped out – within minutes – all to supply a sinister industry operating in the area.

In the weeks leading up to this Sunday’s carnage, killers struck 5 more times in Tanzania:
On April 26th
, a 13 year old girl, Kabula Nkalango, was attacked, having her hand hacked off.
Fortunately, she survived. On April 18th
, there was the murder of little four-year old Naimana Daudi. Her body mutilated,
robbed of her left arm and leg, she was left to bleed to death.
On April 10th
, there was the attempted murder of 41 year old Said Abdallah, a quiet farmer, who
had his left hand violently chopped off. He lay unconscious for hours bleeding. He narrowly

On February 8th
tiny, innocent, 12 month old baby Fatma Mohammed was attacked, sustaining
a 10 centimeter gash along her leg and thigh – in the killer’s vile attempt to dismember her. Her
mother, Rukia, also an albino, received severe head injuries, in their attempt to also dismember

Peter Ash with 12 month old Fatma and her mother Rukia
This brings the total in Tanzania to 57
murders and 6 attempted murders, where
victims lost limbs. In Burundi, the total is 14
murders. These are only the documented
cases. The numbers are likely much higher –
estimates suggesting well over a hundred in
the last 2 years.

On this battlefield stands East Africa’s people
with albinism. Hundreds and Thousands of
them living in a state of total fear. Afraid to
sleep in their homes. Fearful to walk in their
villages. Often unwilling to attend school for
fear of threats and attack.

This continuing crisis has been met with loud cries for justice
by the United Nations, The United States, the European
Union and other nations and civil society groups. Joining
these voices is Under The Same Sun (UTSS), an
International NGO based in Canada, with operations in
Tanzania. UTSS continues to decry these atrocities and to
appeal strongly for justice on behalf of the victims.
Furthermore, UTSS ( appeals
to these international bodies to become a more unified force,
imploring the Tanzanian government to take stronger action
in this war which is defiling human dignity.

Sadly, justice has been far too slow in coming. Of the 63
reported cases in Tanzania, a mere 2 have been brought to
conviction in the last 2 years. In sharp contrast, 12 of
Burundi’s 14 cases have led to convictions. UTSS has
embarked on a variety of educational campaigns in Tanzania
and internationally to confront the discrimination that fuels
these crimes against humanity.
Attacked April 10th
, 41 year old Said Abdallah
lost his hand and forearm in an attempted

This racially driven carnage must end. The perpetrators must be brought to justice quickly.
People with albinism must be granted the same basic human rights of dignity, freedom and
security. UTSS will not rest until that day comes!

For interview requests, please email: or telephone: +604-587-6502.

Al-Shaymaa, Kimaya, announce they will run for parliament in the General Elections

This post was translated from Kiswahili by Jean Burke, a friend in the fight against albino killings

Presidentially appointed Member of Parliament, Al-Shaymaa John Kwegyir and Chair of the Albino Society of Tanzania, Ernest Kimaya, who are both people with albinism, have announced their intention to run for parliament in the next General Elections.

Talking with residents of Iringa town yesterday during celebrations for the National Day for People with Albinism in Tanzania held in the grounds of the city Gardens, Kimaya said that he intends to run for parliament in the Korogwe Rural province on a CCM ticket.

He stated he had reached this decision so as to fulfil this year’s slogan, which encourages people to come forward and compete.

This year’s slogan is: “Government Election, Albinos have the right to elect and be elected, Let’s come forward”.

In addressing these residents, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, said he’d been given hints by MP Kwegyir of her intention to run for special seats in Tanga. “She says she is grateful President Kikwete appointed her to parliament and now wants to gain special seats,” he stated.

Pinda called for all citizens including those with albinism, to come forward for election in various posts through their political parties.

He wants Tanzanians to realise that people with albinism have a big contribution to society especially if they are supported by fellow humans who don’t have this disability. The commemorations were also attended by representatives of people with albinism from more than 15 regions in the country.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Days for albino murderers numbered

THE Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, declared in Iringa on Tuesday that the days for albino killers are numbered. He was officiating at the National Albino Day marked at national level in the municipality.

Indeed he said that the government has mobilised itself to protect the safety of the albinos and make them live in peace, harmony and freedom in their country, like all other citizens. Why should other people who, out of avarice to become millionaires overnight, infringe upon the rights of others?

It is unfortunate that this should be happening despite the good moral foundations built by the nation’s founding fathers that earned this country much respect as a peaceful country all over the world.

This good image has in recent years been tainted by a few selfish and cruel individuals or group of people who out of their stupid superstitious belief Read More Here

Crusade against albino killings must continue

Article courtesy of The Guardian newspaper (Tanzania) 5th May, 2010

Yesterday, May 4 was a solemn day for Tanzanians. It was a day specifically set to remember fellow countrymen and women with albinism who have fallen victims to inhuman killings by people who still believe in superstitions and witchcraft.

It was a day meant to accord an opportunity to the government and the people of this country to undertake a deep assessment on whether they are on the path to taming the inhuman and shameful scourge of albino killings that have done a telling damage to the image of Tanzania.

But more importantly, it was a day on which the government and its people were required to rededicate their commitment to fully supporting people with albinism and safeguard their right to harmonious and threats-free livelihood

We are heartened to note that Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda who graced the occasion at the national commemorations held in Iringa made it clear to all and sundry that while the war against albino killers was not yet won, those who perpetrated the crime should know that their days are numbered.

The Premier told a mass rally that the government was committed to ensuring that albino killings remained history in the not distant future.

We, however, wish to remind Tanzanians that the government alone cannot win this war against cruelty by a human being against another. For this war to be won, there are many potential stakeholders who must be brought fully on-board.

One of the potential stakeholders are religious leaders who are essentially major opinion leaders in any society. They live and work with the people at the grassroots, and together with other influential people in society can tame the traditional healers who are the instigators of this heinous crime.

Religious leaders can also work with non-governmental organizations to preach love among human beings and openly tell those who cling to outdated witchcraft beliefs that albino body parts are not and will never be the wonder miracle to getting rich.

What must be underscored is that although significant steps have been made in the fight against albino killers, a lot remains to be done.

Figures released yesterday indicate that a total of 97,736 people were voted for in a nation-wide poll conducted last year to be involved in various criminal activities, including killing people living with albinism.

While investigations to determine the way forward are ongoing, a total of 3,217 suspected criminals are already in police hands, 295 had been arraigned while 106 have been sentenced on various crimes including involvement in albino killings.

However, only 11 cases involving suspected albino killers have been brought to court out of which three cases had ended with eight people being convicted and sentenced to death and investigations into other 27 incidents of albino killings are ongoing.

As we have had occasion to state, this is in no way a satisfactory performance. This calls for the need to strengthen investigative machinery into these cases of brutality against human beings. This should go hand in hand with mass sensitization that would wipe off the notion that one can get rich by chopping off the hand of a person living with albinism.