UPDATED: People With Albinism Sold And Mutilated In Tanzania

**Update: The Tanzanian government did indeed act swiftly in this case; a court sentenced Mutei to 17 years in jail and a fine of $50,000 after he pleaded guilty to human trafficking.  Whether this will deter other traffickers remains to be seen.

As soon as I saw this headline in my Google reader this morning, I felt sick to my stomach.  According to the BBC, a Kenyan citizen, Nathan Mutei, was arrested in a sting operation conducted by Tanzanian police for trying to sell another man.  The police were pretending to be businessmen interested in buying albino body parts, which are highly prized in Tanzania for their alleged healing properties.

People with albinism, a condition characterized by complete or partial lack of color in the skin, hair and eyes, are under constant threat in Tanzania from people like Mutei, who see them as a business opportunity.  And indeed, the human trafficking of people with albinism is very lucrative – police say they struck a deal equivalent to more than $250,000 for the 20-year-old man.

An article from 2008 sketches out the plight of people living with albinism in Tanzania in more detail.  At the time of the article’s publication, 25 albinos had been killed in the past year, a figure that can only have grown since then.  People with albinism have gone into hiding, fearing stories like that of Nyerere Rutahiro, who was attacked and mutilated while eating dinner with his family.

Albinism affects about 1 person in every 20,000, and the Albino Association of Tanzania says that although 4,000 albinos are officially registered in the country, they believe the actual number could be as high as 173,000.  I can only imagine that the racism that these people must experience is severe, if others can dehumanize them to the extent where they can be sold for body parts.  However, there was no mention of this in the BBC articles.

The Tanzanian government has promised to take action, but they have been slow in bringing these cases to trial.  Hopefully Nathan Mutei’s actions will be a catalyst for ending this appalling practice and bringing the people who would traffic in human body parts to justice.

Photo from Flickr.


Trudy C.
Trudy C7 years ago

Hey enough Africa-bashing. I've seen pics of lynched people in the US taken not so long ago, in 1 a young girl stands in front of the body -so a child was part of the 'festivity', what kinda parents- and such an evil smile of hateful glee she had. There's dehumanization for u, of the black victim and may I suggest that bloodthirsty mob itself were de-humanized. That image stuck in my mind. That young woman murdered for being gay & dressing like a guy, Hilary Swank immortalized her. How long ago was that? That freak in Austria who locked up his daughter >10yrs then she got him2 take 2hospital 1 of the many kids he forced her 2 have4 him. Evil exists in the hearts of many all over, it just takes different forms. There're many horrible things ppl would do if they knew no one would ever know. I choose 2 believe those ppl are the minority. Some say a lot of us it only depends on our circumstances, if u grow up in a harsh dog eat dog world chances are good I'll be just another biting dog. Rant over.

Heather G.
Heather G7 years ago

Why all the Africa bashing? Doesn't the US have plenty of illiteracy, racism, human-trafficing, and people who will believe whatever they are told, rather than what common sense could tell them?? Such as that the US is civilized and superior. If you need proof that these things DO exist in the US just stroll through some of the articles here on Care2. Like the one about a cab driver being stabbed in NYC possibly just because he's Muslim. Now thats some ignorance and killing left and right in an uncivilized city!!!

Bette M.
Bette M7 years ago

Elisa S. says
Sep 4, 2010 5:04 AM
How can be so many sick-minded people? It's very sad that things like this keep happening so often :(

Elisa....The answer is very simple: Illiteracy and it is illiteracy of how the rest of the world lives, breaths, think & feel.

Also, over riding power by those who are in power over the illiterates. The people have stunted psycholigical reasoning. None of this is going to go away until 99% of the African people are educated. Billions of dollars has been sent in aid to these people only to have 75% of it confinscated by vulturous leaders.

In the meantime the people are forced to wallow in their ignorance killing each other left and right..........It will take another five generations to change all of Africa from top to bottom.

Plant & protect trees for life.................

Elisa S.
Rika S7 years ago

How can be so many sick-minded people? It's very sad that things like this keep happening so often :(

Gabriel T.
Past Member 7 years ago

I can read many comments full of prejudice against the whole African continent, arguing superstition, racism and even disdainful expressions like "boogey man", "caveman" or similar. All of that, including organs traffic and distortion of social relationships by the moral rules imposed by religions, can be found in your country, the U. S, and these expressions are the evidence. Indeed racism is more powerful than in Africa an it is not only against african-american, but latins, and even more interesting, against the original people form the land, which are the indigenous people who feel colonization day by day from the first contact with englilshmen.
So before you judge, please look at yourselves and recognize you are not superior to anyone else in the world and when you judge, you are denying to admit something you have. Hitler thought he was part of a superior race, as you show you think.
This forum is about human rights and comments that lack of respect to people simply put in evidence that not all the commenters respect human rights.

Olufunke T.
Olufunke T.7 years ago

Do not judge a book by its cover. I am a African and i encourage people to be broad minded. Inspite of some of the stories read or heard in the news, there are billions of human beings living in Africa. They are achievers like in any other continent. there is usually a period to grow for any nation, please allow Africa to grow and learn from her history

Bette M.
Bette M7 years ago

Paul Meyer says
Aug 27, 2010 3:30 PM
Most of Africa. A good place to stay away from.

Paul, I wouldn't go there if you put a gun to my head & I wouldn't take it if you gave me the whole continent!!

Plant & protect trees for life................

Paul Meyer
Paul Meyer7 years ago

Most of Africa. A good place to stay away from.

Hugh V.
Hugh V.7 years ago

As noted by others, Africa is a basket case of superstition, which makes it idea for picking by conservative Christian groups who are reported to arrive by the planeload, & are responsible for the tremendous anti-gay sentiments; including legislature to give the death penalty to gays.

Cheyenne Ziermann

How terrible!