Albinos are reportedly being killed in Tanzania and Burundi. In Tanzania, they are killed so that their body parts can be used to make portions that bring good fortune and wealth. The Tanzania government's warning that citizens should desist from this practice is ironic in that witch doctors advertise their lies in the media.
The situation in Tanzania is spooky and creepy. Some of these con witchdoctors are not only bragging that they’ve the cure for HIV/AIDS, but they are also killing the elderly. The government is not arresting them! Tanzania is a risky place for the elderly.
Ask anybody in Nairobi to name renowned witchdoctors. Tanzanian names will top the list. No wonder, Kenya's witchdoctors are adorning Tanzanian names to acquire more customers! Like in Nigeria, Tanzanian witchdoctors illegally and abusively use titles like doctors and professors; the government does not prosecute them!
Albinos and the elderly are endangered species in Tanzania. Who will follow tomorrow? Should these diablos start killing politicians so that respective governments can act sensibly and timely? So be it shall it be the catalyst for our lame ducks to act.
What makes stamping out this practice difficult and dangerous is the fact that some government officials are implicated in it as a BBC reporter put it when she unveiled this catastrophe. What a shame in the 21st century! The reporter's life is under threat.
This abuse of human rights ought to be curtailed before it spreads to the whole continent. It started in Lake Region in Tanzania and later on spread all over the country and crossed to Burundi. Soon it will spill over thanks to systemic corruption gnawing Africa in general.
Two major causes sire this animism. Firstly, we’ve bad systems when it comes to owning property. This has become a castle for corrupt and greedy officials to plunder their countries. Nobody is legally asking or being forced to divulge how one got his or her wealth. Many African capitalist countries can wrongly argue that this is socialism. But even developed countries despite being doyens of capitalism have laws requiring every citizen to declare his wealth and how one acquires wealth.
Secondly, it’s at individual level. Though nobody likes poverty, escaping it by killing another human being should never be tolerated. Thanks to ignorance and laxity of the law, our people can believe in and embark on anything to get out of the vicious poverty circle.
Another breeding ground for our rulers to mug and plunder their countries lies on our reverence for rich and powerful people. In Uganda, the strongman Yoweri Museveni once used the presidential jet to take his daughter to Germany just for delivering, something Mulago hospital was capable of tackling. The story is the same in Kenya where the children of former dictator, Daniel arap Moi stole billions of shillings from public coffers. As of now, nobody has ever faced the music. In neighbouring Tanzania's mega corruption involving the president and his inner sanctum speaks volumes.
How can politicians stamp out the orgy of killings if they know too well that their regimes and malpractices are the rosy beds of such megalomania?
President Jakaya Kikwete has never reigned in or issued any strong warning to send signals to the killers that the government will act sternly. What makes me think Kikwete is indifferent is the fact that his government gets many police to harass people during elections as it once happened in Zanzibar and currently in Tarime district on the border with Kenya.
Though Tanzania calls herself an ‘Island of Peace’, the truth is she is the Isle of Peep’-bo. A few years ago, a person was skinned in Mbeya (South). A similar act was repeated this year in Maswa, Shinyanga (Central) where the killings of the elderly are rampant. What, has the government been doing to arrest this menace? Why should Tanzania send its army and police to the Sudan and the Comoros whilst she sits on crime against humanity just like the Sudan?
Something needs to be done. A united Africa can stamp out this crime against minority human beings. If we’re able to protect our rhinos and elephants and other endangered species, why then should we fail to protect human beings?
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He is a Journalist, Teacher, Human Rights activist and member of the Writers' Association of New Foundland and Labrador (WANL)
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