28 May 2008

Harvesting body parts in Tanzania: Sexual organs of male and female albinos are particularly sought

Since last month, there have been reports from that country about weird incidents of witchcraft and devil worship rituals involving human body parts.

Though in Kenya too there have been rumours of traditional healers who use human body parts in rituals, it is nothing compared to recent revelations of widespread use of body organs from albinos in Tanzania.

According to reports, the sexual organs of male and female albinos are particularly sought because it is believed they can effect miracle cures or offer mystical powers.

Witch doctors and devil worshippers believe that the organs of these people are a potent remedy when mixed with certain concoctions.

The notion that human body parts can be used to heal or bestow special powers has caused panic among the albino community in Tanzania.

The problem has reached such proportions that Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Kikwete, used his monthly television address to announce a crackdown on the traditional healers as well as plans to register albinos to improve their safety. “These killings are shameful and distressing to our society,” said Mr Kikwete in his Wednesday night speech to the nation. “I am told that people kill albinos and chop their body parts, including fingers, believing they can get rich.”

Videos and films from Nigeria that tout the efficacy of witchcraft are widely to blame for the current crisis in Tanzania.

The phenomenon recently took on an East African dimension when Tanzanian police arrested two Kenyans in the Mara region of Tanzania for allegedly killing an albino woman.

The two men who are said to be from western Kenya are now in police custody in Tanzania.

Reports in Tanzanian media say the incident so incensed the Mara Provincial Commissioner, Luteni Kanali Issa that he revoked licences for foreign traditional healers and ghost busters from Kenya, Uganda and the DRC Congo.

“The influx of these traditional healers has contributed to mass deaths of albinos and soon they will be wiped out,” said Issa. “We will not allow any one to violate their fundamental rights.”

The administrator says the woman was killed at her house at Sarari in Tarime District on March 3 while another was killed at Kijiji cha Bwai Kwitururu, popularly known as ‘Paris’ among the locals.

It later emerged that the Kenyan men had been sent by a traditional healer to collect body parts of an albino, which he claimed would make them fabulously wealthy.

African Press International (API)

Also see The Independent: Crackdown on witchdoctors after albinos killed to harvest body parts

Child 'witches' of the Niger Delta
Twin boys Itohowo and Kufre stand surrounded by angry villagers who believe they are bringing evil to their lives


The child 'witches' of the Niger Delta

(20 pictures on The Guardian website)

In certain regions of Nigeria, diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, etc.), accidents, drunkenness, mental health problems, the smoking of marijuana, divorce, infertility and other misfortunes are generally blamed on witchcraft. And evangelical Christian churches are exploiting this superstition for material gain, charging up to three or four months the average working person’s salary for “deliverances.” Now the “prophets” have started naming children as witches, with horrifying consequences:

How Suspected Witches are Treated

  • Abandoned, isolated, discriminated, ostracized from the community
  • Taken to the forest and slaughtered
  • Disgraced publicly and murdered
  • Bathed in acid
  • Poisoned to death, often with a poisonous local berry (asire)
  • Buried alive
  • Chained and tortured in churches in order to extract confession

(Stepping Stones)

Guardian Film report here. Via The Good Atheist podcast.

UPDATE: More religion as child abuse at [GBG] Atheist News.