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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Only education will end albino killings

Story courtesy of The Guardian newspaper, Tanzania

By Gerald Kitabu

This week Gerald Kitabu interviewed Claus Ngowi, a student at the Institute of Social Work who has done research on albino killings. Excerpts:

QUESTION: What moved you to conduct research on albino killings?

ANSWER: I had accompanied a Swedish photojournalist, Johan Bavman, who had come to Tanzania to conduct a research on albino killings. I joined him and visited many parts of the country to document the killings. We wanted not only to sensitize the public to protect them and to urge government take concrete measures against these killings.

Q: What kind of stories were you gathering from the field?

A: Many horrifying stories one cannot imagine. For example, in April 2008, a woman close to 40 years in the lake Zone had sent her 10-year-old daughter to school as usual. On the way back, she walked with two other girls from the neighbourhood. During the short walk, they met a man who promised to give them sugarcane if they went with him to the corner of the road near a forest. When they arrived, he told the other two girls to go away. Her daughter who was an albino was hit hard in the head.

Q: Why do killers do that?

A: According to research, many killers are superstitious; they believe that albino arms, legs and genitals can bring them fortune. Rich men and witch doctors use poor and desperate people to carry out their dirty work of looking for albino body parts.

Q: How do albinos feel?

A: When you talk to many albinos, you find out that they are resigned; many think that their fellow human beings whom they used to eat, play and live together in peace have turned against them. Some albinos say that the government, too, is no longer with them because some cases are still pending in courts.

Q: What is the magnitude of the problem at present?

A: The problem is very big, and the war against albino killers is far from being won. Many people may think that incidents of albino killings are declining. They’re not. In fact, it is because the media people are not reporting such incidents.

Q: What strategies do killers use?

A: It seems the killers keep on changing their tactics every passing day. But their main techniques include sweet words and promises like marrying them, helping them to get jobs in big cities like Dar es Salaam, using their friends in exchange for money, forging friendship with them and hunting them during night.

Q: You have said that you are now planning to make a movie on your research, why?

A: To see is different from to hear. To see something has immediate impact than to hear or read in newspapers. I would like therefore, to deliver the message in a very simple but practical way so that all people and stakeholders can feel the same way Albino feels so that they can act on it faster. Movies are the best way to deliver the message as compared to other methods.

However, being a social worker, I would like to apply my profession to educate the public through movies on the problem.

Q: Where will you get the donors to finance your movies?

A: Every person in Tanzania is a victim of albino killings because they are our fellow Tanzanians, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. I think if I talk to donors about the movie, any good Samaritans will be interested to finance it.

Q: What should be done to protect them?

A: I see it as a more of societal problem; a problem that can be solved only when you educate the community. The media and the police force alone will never stop this menace among us. It is only education that will end the killings. However, the government should have a policy that will clearly articulate and guarantee security, including introduction of a special institution which will provide home- based care to albinos.

1 comment:

tendekai said...

Thank you for the effort in tying to bring awarenes to stigmisation and killings of albinos.wish all the success.if i was able, i was going to forward my aid to you.tendekai dzina, zimbabwe