, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 14 – As the country gears up to join the rest of the world in observing the International Albinism Awareness Day slated for June 13, many are the challenges persons living with albinism face.
People with albinism frequently face social challenges as their condition is often a source of discrimination, ridicule, and sometimes even fear and related violence.
- According to Science, albinism is genetically inherited and it is caused by a recessive gene that is usually associated with other mutations.
- Tanzania has one of the highest rates of albinism in the world -- nearly 1 in every 1,400 people in comparison to about 1 in 20,000 worldwide.
- Although albinism is hereditary, albinos can have normal offspring with a mate who doesn't have the recessive gene.
Killings of persons with Albinism have been reported in a dozen African countries from South Africa to Kenya, but they are worse in Tanzania than anywhere else where witchcraft is widespread.
The kidnapping and killing of persons with albinism is rampant in Tanzania where more than 100 have been violently attacked from 2006.
Their grave yards have not been spared either with at least 70 of them being robbed for body parts.
But the incidents are not isolated to Tanzania. Just last week a 10-year-old with albinism was found mutilated in Malawi.
Kenya isn’t exempt either and years back a person living with albinism was lured by his Kenyan friend to Tanzania by the promise a job, only for him to be locked up in a room for days not aware of the danger that lay ahead.
What he didn’t know was that his ‘friend’ had made a deal to sell him for an estimated Tsh400 million.
He was eventually rescued.
Another notable case is where a woman was arrested along Kenya’s border with Tanzania trying to sell off her child to “albino hunters”.
These are just the few incidents that have become public knowledge with majority going unreported and/ or unresolved.
“What the society needs to know is that albinism has no supernatural powers, it’s no cure for any ailment,” Waithera said.
There have however been gains made over the years as the challenges persons with albinism face are better understood. Waithera lauded the government for promoting the welfare of persons with albinism particular in the area of health.
“In the last financial years the government has made allocations around sunscreen and eye care provision for persons with albinism,” Waithera testified. “The only problem is with the dissemination of information since few know of the existence of these programs.”