Tanzania Albino Murders

The following resources about attacks on and killings of Tanzanian albino people are available:

In an attempt to understand why, perhaps some time in 2006, there was a spate of attacks on and murders of albino people in Tanzania (and later in other countries), I have been looking back through media coverage of these incidents. Such incidents still occur and several attacks and murders have been reported in early 2013. But, aside from pointing the finger at ‘witchdoctors’, who are said to use body parts of albino people to make magic potions and the like, and fishermen, miners and politicians, who are said to pay large sums of money for these potions, the media has not shed much light on the phenomenon.

In a recent post, I have looked at the media’s coverage of issues such as ‘witchcraft’ over the years. I suspect that the media coverage of attacks on and murders of Tanzanian albino people has contributed to the rumor mill that suggests that people can make huge amounts of money by killing and maiming albino people. Yet there is little evidence, outside of media reports, that any ‘witchdoctor’ has ever handed over large sums of money for albino body parts, nor that any ‘clients’ have paid large sums of money for ‘potions’ containing body parts of albino people.

It is likely that there was a lot of talk and speculation about how much money could be made from killing and maiming albinos, if published rumors about thousands of dollars to be made are anything to go by. But the media played a significant part in propagating those rumors. Worse, they did little that I can find to quell such rumor mongering, to put talk of sums of many thousands of dollars into perspective, to characterize rumor and speculation for what it really is.

Many albino people have been attacked, many have been maimed and many have been killed since 2006. That means there are ruthless people in the country who have carried out such unspeakable deeds. The rush to blame ‘witchdoctors’ and various other easy targets has not worked; very few people have been prosecuted and even fewer Tanzanians have ever been found guilty of carrying these horrific crimes.

In order to find the perpetrators of these acts and to prevent further maimings and murders, it is vital that the whole issue be carefully investigated. The media outlets involved need to re-examine what they have written, to correct some of the impressions they have given, to honestly consider the possibility that their own coverage could have contributed to the misleading rumors and speculation about ‘witchcraft’ and other matters, to finally get to the bottom of these terrible acts and to ensure that they never happen again.

As I sift through the many articles I have identified (listed here), I’ll be posting up some further blogs on the subject. My eventual aim is to put together some data and send it to the media outlets involved, calling for an inquiry into the shoddy coverage of the many attacks on and murders of Tanzanian albino people over the past seven years, and the failure of all those involved to identify the perpetrators and to protect other albino people from subsequent attacks and murders.

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