thinglets: Burundi Albino Boy Dismembered

It's been two years since I first found one of the most terrifying and bizarre stories I'd ever read or heard about. Everyone who follows my twitter feed knows that I'm a sucker for bizarre articles, but when I found a link appear in my newsfeed to Tanzania's Albino Genocide, I was immediately dumbstruck.

I don't know what inspired me to make a lovehatethings post out of it, but, in retrospect, the topic held some gravitas. To date, that initial post has been read over 23,000 times, and I've received numerous emails and comments about it. I've since maintained a bit of a watch on the subject of albinos in Burundi and Tanzania being slaughtered and dissected for parts because some witch doctors believe it is magic.

I still shake my head to this day.

I am not an albino, nor have I ever been to Tanzania or Burundi, nor do I have ANY tie whatsoever to the cultures involved suffice to say this: the human race is fucked up beyond belief when I'm still reading about ANY nine year-old being dismembered for ANY reason whatsoever.

This blog is often about pop culture minutiae and mindless drivel that sustains me from one day to the next. I am often loathe to be too serious, lest someone take me for someone who really gives a damn about hair care products, cereal boxes, Steve Jobs' foibles, or some new cool tilt-shift video clip from Vimeo. 

I am not often moved to violence, more prone to expressions of disbelief and frustration, so perhaps Bruce Cockburn best expresses what I'm thinking when I keep hearing stories like this for the ongoing lifetime of this blog. And perhaps, out of all the things I've claimed to hate, they all pale in comparison to this.

I want to raise every voice -- at least I've got to try.
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry.
If I had a rocket launcher... Some son of a bitch would die.

thinglets: Witnesses Testify in Albino Trial

For some reason, back in the early days of lovehatethings I happened upon a story about disgusting trade in albino body parts in Tanzania that was being supplied by the hunting and slaughter of albinos from Tanzania and Burundi. Apparently witch doctors used the parts to "treat" patients.

Well, outrage got to the point, AFTER YEARS, that a trial has finally been attempted. I give you some quotes from the BBC article linked below the pic:

"...last November a six-year-old albino girl in Burundi was found dead with her head and limbs removed."

"The case began last week, but had to be adjourned after witnesses failed to show up."

"The rest of the defendants are accused of attempting to kill an albino child. The accused deny the charges."

"Witchdoctors in the region are known to tell clients that potions made with albino body parts will bring them luck in love, life and business."

"Hundreds of people including witchdoctors and business people have been arrested but the justice system in Tanzania is notoriously slow and corrupt and so far nobody has been convicted."

thinglets: Burundi Albino Killers Arrested

A couple of months ago I'd posted a link to a story that seemed absurd, incredible, and sickening. I couldn't believe, yet was struck, by a story describing Tanzania's witch doctors using the body parts of albinos in rituals to bring good fortune to patients... I suppose unless one's patient was an albino. That post became one of the most viewed posts I'd ever done surrounded by quirky views on cereal boxes, Sesame Street, Web 2.0 and popular media.

This follow-up story from Burundi shows that the practice is not limited to Tanzania, but at least, it seems, the authorities in Burundi are making arrests. Those charged, found with albino bones, have largely been middlemen harvesting bodies for profit.

"At least eight people have been arrested in Burundi in connection with a trade in human body parts from people with albinism. Those detained had fresh body parts in their possession, police say. Witchdoctors in the region tell clients that potions made with albino body parts will bring them luck in love, life and business."

That one of the comments on my post of a few months ago thanked me for helping to expose this story was shocking in that I would've guessed those concerned would find my idiotic ramblings anything but illuminating. If, for no other reason, that so many people seemed to get something from that post, I humbly offer up my outrage, my further incredulity, and my sympathy to those affected.