African Albinos Murdered for Witchcraft

December 8, 2009

In the East African countries of Tanzania and Burundi, at least fifty albinos (people with a rare genetic disorder that leaves the skin, hair, and eyes without pigment) were murdered for their body parts last year, according to a recent Red Cross report. An albino’s arms, fingers, genitals, ears, and blood are highly prized on the black market, believed to bestow magical powers.


In November 2009, four people were arrested and sentenced to death in northern Tanzania for killing an albino man to harvest his body parts. A month earlier, albino hunters beheaded a ten-year-old boy and hacked off his leg.


The belief and practice of using body parts for magical ritual or benefit is called muti . Muti murders are particularly brutal, with knives and machetes used to cut and hack off limbs, breasts, and other body parts from their living victims. Many of the albinos were beheaded, their heads carefully collected and preserved as gruesome good luck charms or for use in rituals. The Red Cross report claims that up to 10,000 African albinos live in hiding, fearful of being attacked for their body parts.


The next time someone asks, “What’s the harm in believing in magic?” tell them about the ten year old albino boy hacked to death for his body parts in front of his father.