Albinism is a genetic condition causing a lack of melanin in the skin, eyes and hair. It is estimated to affect one in 3,000 people in Tanzania - seven times as many as in the West. Unlike those in the West who lead relatively normal lives, people with albinism in Tanzania face a life of prejudice and illness.
The birth of a child with albinism is seen as a curse on the family for some wrongdoing in the past. Their pale skin has lead to associations with the ghostly and the demonic. For years it was believed that people with albinism were not as capable as other human beings, not worth educating or able to work. Children with albinism are still often rejected by their father’s and women with albinism are rarely married.
Ill equipped for the harsh equatorial sun, skin cancer is a constant danger but in recent years their lives have been further threatened by an growing criminal trade in their body parts fulled by a belief that they bring wealth and success in business.
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Jackie Dewe Mathews
Ghosts - Albinism in Tanzania