African issues more important than entertainment news

Instead of being targeted in protest and receiving denouncement of their skin color, albinos in east Africa are so highly valued for their unique skin conditions that people have taken to killing and dismembering them due to the belief that their body parts promote luck and wealth.

A study entitled “Through albino eyes,” recently released by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies claimed that albino children and adults in Tanzania and Burundi are unable to live freely and are living in fear and danger of albino hunters hired by witchdoctors, occult practitioners and big-money traders. According to the report, hundreds of albino children are taking shelter in Tanzanian schools for the disabled or in emergency shelters erected by police in Burundi to escape and avoid attacks.

According to the study, at least 44 Tanzanian and 12 Burundian albinos have been killed since 2007. The BBC published a story last year, “Living in fear: Tanzania’s Albinos,” which cited the murder and mutilation of a 7-month-old Tanzanian baby by a witch doctor working under the belief that potions made from an albino’s legs, hair, hands and blood can increase a person’s wealth. This is a problem that can be and needs to be readily ceased and solved.

I find myself absolutely disgusted with humanity as a whole in the fact that pressing issues in Africa such as this, concerning people’s lives outright, are overlooked in light of popular news stories about Angelina Jolie and Madonna adopting African babies. Do not misunderstand or misread me. I am all in favor of international adoption and adoption in general. However, the attention today’s society pays to celebrities and tabloid news is altogether shameful. On top of that, I know how many issues there are concerning Africa and its people. HIV/AIDS, disease of all kinds, famine and starvation, racism and genocide, extreme poverty, civil war, genital mutilation, prostitution – the list could extend forever.

I realize that considering the bulk of Africa’s woes and troubles, the persecution of albinos is merely a small tree compared to a whole forest. But this is an issue of immediacy, and 10,000 people or more are living and hiding in fear of being murdered and dismembered because of a skin condition and a pervasive belief in myth.

Why doesn’t South Africa take the funds it is receiving in anticipation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and donate to the countries of Tanzania and Burundi to build sanctuaries for persecuted and targeted albinos? Better yet, why doesn’t someone or some entity provide funds in order to educate the people of these countries that albinism is simply a condition of lack of pigmentation in the skin and albinos are people as well, merely people with a skin condition that does not make their severed body parts “lucky” or give them supernatural powers of any sort?

This hunting and murdering of albinos has persisted for years now. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Society have advocated well in regard to public-health education and anti-discrimination awareness raising; now more need to step up. Where is the World Health Organization? Where is the United Nations? Where is Amnesty International? Someone else needs to take up the torch and work to solve this problem now. These people need and deserve to be free to live their lives without fear of dismemberment or death due to a mere skin condition and a myth.

Andrea Bolt is a junior news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.