Water-Genies, fortune tellers, half-men half-gods, those are some of the attributes associated with albinos in some countries in Africa. Sought after for their good or evil powers, they are often killed as human sacrifices. To put an end to these beliefs and the obscure practices that follow it, associations fight daily for the rights of the albinos. Report.
In Africa many people are affected by albinism characterized by the lack of pigmentation. In addition to sight problems and cancer risks that come with the condition, albinos are subject to persistent beliefs in Africa. In spite of educational campaigns, human sacrifices still occur on the continent. It is not that unusual to find the murder of an albino in the columns of an African newspaper.
The persistence of human sacrifices
Ambivalence and ambiguity of a white child born by two black parents fuel occult beliefs and practices. In most cases the mother is held responsible for the sickness. « She is accused of having slept outside in a forbidden place or of being unfaithful to her husband. » explained Fabéré Sanon, president of the Burkina Faso based association for albinos (ANIPA) to Afrik-news.com. Albinos are often believed to have evil or good powers. « They have supernatural strength, can predict the future or have spells to bring sorrow or wealth. » continues Mr. Sanon. In best cases people offer gifts to the albinos. « People used to follow me to offer me gifts hoping it would bring them good luck, I always refused » recalls Korotomi Traoré, a young Burkinabe who arrived in France 4 years ago and part of the French association for albinos called Genespoir .
Unfortunately, many albinos are wanted for human sacrifices, promising enrichment or social elevation. « During elections, albinos are the targets of candidates. We have to stay home during these periods. » recounts Fédéré Sanon. « Albinos are no longer perceived as men but as sacrificial lambs wanted for their heads or their genitals, considered as the body’s strongest parts » he adds.
It is socially that the repercussions are most felt and most common. Even if it happens less and less often some albinos are still rejected at birth. « When I was born my father did not want to keep me, fortunately my family convinced him, believing that I was a blessing. » explains Anguy Bajikila president of the Albions sans frontières (ASF) association. Often perceived as threats many live in reclusion. « I have almost never set foot out of my home out of fear that people may harm me. » declares the Burkinabé Korotimi Traoré. Beliefs are tough for the albinos. Even in France they are still sometimes rejected. « Africans look at me strangely, they avoid me. They are scared of me. » confides Ms. Traoré. « I left Burkina Faso to escape these beliefs but they have followed me all the way to France. »
« Superstitions tend to disappear in Africa because people are less ignorant and are now considering albinism as a disease. » explains Fabéré Sabon, from ANIPA. He added « Associations have very little economic support although the continent is one of the worst concerning the disease. » Thanks to education campaigns, the albinos are constantly less perceived as different creatures.
A new hope for the sick who now want the government to help with the effects of the disease.