Malawi’s Eastern District of Machinga, Albinism, and a History of Mistreatment

According to South Malawi News, criminal gangs nicknamed “albino hunters” and armed with machetes, knives and axes are striking fear into people living with albinism in Malawi, abducting and often killing their victims in broad daylight and in the dead of night, prompting police to announce a shoot-to-kill policy. The latest victim of the brutal attacks is a nine-year old boy with albinism from Malawi’s eastern district of Machinga. His mother Edna Cedrick tried to rescue her son Brian when two attackers abducted him early in March 2016.

Apart from political crises that claim the lives of innocent people in Africa frequently, apart from religious and ethnic division that frequently results to genocides in Africa, there is an inexplicable maltreatment of Africans that have nothing to do with the aforementioned, in some countries on the continent.

This maltreatment is connected to age-old tradition and being an albino. first brought you information on the plight of albinos and albino children in Tanzania but its neighboring country to the south – Malawi has a population of people living with albinism who also remain vulnerable to attack.

As Simon Ngalomba a Lecturer in Educational Foundations, Management and Life Long Learning at the University of Dar es Salaam wrote in his piece on albinism in Sub-Saharan Africa:

“Albinism is much more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa than in other parts of the world. Estimates suggest that as many as one in 1400 people in Tanzania are affected. The prevalence is as high as one in 1000 in selected Zimbabwean and other southern African ethnic groups. Attacks on people with albinism are rife in Africa. Superstitions abound about people with this condition: for example, it is believed that their body parts are potent charms to bring fortune and good luck. Some believe that drinking the blood of people with albinism will imbue them with super strength. In fact, people with albinism merely suffer from a genetic pigmentation deficiency that means their hair, eyes and skin have little or no color”.

Over years, this genetic pigmentation deficiency has left many living in fear and at risk of being murdered for ritual purposes in Malawi. Kidnapping and killing of people with albinism has become an open practice. The most amazing part of the story is that parents and close relatives of people born with albinism can be major predators.

Reports from Amnesty International revealed that killing of people with albinism in Malawi was brought to international awareness in the year 2014. However, more deadly attacks on albinos were recorded in the month of April, 2016 due to the lack or minimal policy of tackling crimes by the government, aside from the Malawian Police Forces’ alleged and obscene “shoot-to-kill” policy following a slew of abductions in March 2016.

The major problems that enhance the continual killing of these people with albinism in Malawi are the involvement of security agencies in the crime as a method of making money.

Large populations of albinos are denied their human right to live and be happy in Malawi. The government continues to give excuses; lack of proper funding, equipment, and training techniques for security agencies while enforcing the law. Many suspected murderers of people with albinism remain unpunished, and punishment would serve as adequate discouragement for others to not commit said crime.

The fact that albinism is a genetic deficiency does not warrant sending albinos into extinction as if they are edible animals. World humanity bodies need to act fast to save the lives and happiness of these innocent souls, and the belief that these humans body parts are more suitable for rituals needs to be aggressively discouraged.