Summit seeks answers to persecution of Africa’s albino people

A “Miss and Mister Albino” contest, heavy sentences for ritual murder and concrete graves to ward off tomb raiders were all discussed at a UN summit on albinism concluding in Tanzania on Monday. During the four-day meeting people with albinism and advocates for their rights discussed ways to safeguard and improve the lives of those who suffer discrimination, health problems and even murder as a result of the condition that leaves their skin without pigment. It is a particular problem in Africa in general and in Tanzania in particular, which is why the East African nation was chosen to host the summit.

The idea is to build a roadmap of simple, effective and cheap measures

Albinism expert Ikponwosa Ero

“Of all the regions in the world, Africa is the most hostile for people with albinism,” said Ikponwosa Ero, an independent expert on albinism. In Africa, the scorching sun makes people with albinism particularly susceptible to skin cancer while discrimination and prejudice sees them attacked or shunned in several countries. Albino graves have been looted and people killed to supply a grisly black market trade in albino body parts thought by some to bring good luck or wealth. Under The Same Sun, a Canadian charity, has documented 457 attacks on albinos – including 178 murders – in 26 African countries mostly over the last decade, although the precise extent of the phenomenon is hard to define because of the secrecy surrounding the illegal trade in albino body parts.

When you have Miss and Mr Albinism, we redefine ourselves as beautiful and handsome people, we are not ghosts.

MP Isaac Mwaura