The Albino Murders

Photo © Bruno Broomfield, courtesy National Geographic

In the photograph above, 6-month old Jennifer, an albino girl, plays with beads outside her home in Tanzania. This African country has the world's largest proportion of albinos, but discrimination and violence against this population run high: in the past 20 months, 57 people with albinism have been hunted and their bodies butchered for parts used in ceremonies.

More at this National Geographic online feature, which includes video: Albino Murders. A related documentary will air Tuesday night on the National Geographic channel, at 10pm.

[Via BB Submitterator, thanks minjaeormes]


  1. Actually she is not just an albino, she has mosaicism – her eyes are not blue blue nor pink but hazel, lucky her she will not be likely to go blind.

    1. I’m sure she’ll have a lot of luck explaining that to the people who want to hack her to pieces.

  2. There are drugs to make dark people light, like Michael Jackson. I wonder if there are drugs that would make these people dark, just for their own safety.

    1. That little girl is cute as a button but is it just me or does she have cartoonishly huge eyes?

      1. That’s not 100% correct. I have vitiligo and it mostly appears in patches. Usually on the extremities: hands, arms, legs etc. Since there’s no real way to reverse it, many people who suffer from it will undergo a procedure to completely remove the pigment from the skin in order to give themselves a more uniform complexion.

        Michael Jackson’s vitiligo didn’t turn him white, he underwent a procedure to de-pigment his skin so the large patches wouldn’t be as disfiguring.

        The condition is harmless but pretty distressing for those of african american dissent. I’m white though, so I’m lucky, most people don’t even realize I have it until they get up close as I’m fair skinned to begin with.

    2. michael jackson did not use anything to bleach his skin .he has a disease called vitiligo which reduces melanin in his skin.he hid it with makeup but some patches could be seen.he has to be protected from the sun so he always carried an umbrella.i would know because im doing my pg in dermatology.his case is specified in our textbooks

  3. And what do you think is happening with trisomic homo sapiens in our very own, morally superior developed world? Talk about ethnic cleansing…

    1. berpi: Do you want to explicate a bit more about just where and how people in western countries are pulling people with Downs syndrome or XXY off the street and hacking them to pieces?

      If you had a point or some kind of equivalence you were trying to make there, you were pretty oblique about it. I’m not getting it.

  4. Nice. Africa strikes again. Just when you thought that continent might make it out of the stone age.

    I want my Live Aid donation back.

  5. Another dangerous superstition in Africa is the belief that raping a child will cure you of AIDS. Now let that sink in for a second. WTF. right?

    1. Sex with Virgins isn’t at all only local to Africa, in fact it was seen as a sort of folk medicine for curing all sorts of STDs in London – perhaps it was the English who introduced the idea in the first place?

  6. “used in ceremonies.” this article kind of makes it sound like its racism with a purpose. perhaps even just a strange cult that drives people to kill these people due to their rare condition.

    however its a fact that there are severe problems with racism in most parts of Africa against white/lighter skinned people (not just Caucasian) also chinese/japanese/korean/Singaporean/philipino but also indian/pakistani & more.

    in addition to that a lot of areas are extremely violent against homosexuals as well. both traditional islam as well as christian areas. theres a recent vanguard episode covering this issue. must watch.

    Africa is not only facing a technological challenge in comparison with “the west”. it will surely take several decades for the majority of peoples in Africa (if they will ever / want to ever) adopt western standards in terms of ethics and technological progress.

  7. Remember that witch-hunting preacher that Sarah Palin was hanging out with? Witchcraft is a real problem in Africa – not real in the sense of “actual real magic” (apologies to my neo-pagan friends…), but real in the sense that people believe in it, so there are witch-doctors that kill albinos and other children for their “magical” body parts, and witch-fearing people who kill children and old women suspected of being witches.

    Of course, here in the West we’re modern sophisticated people who don’t believe in that sort of primitive superstition, so we have to be afraid of Muslims or Commies or foreign-born presidents or vast right-wing conspiracies promoting genetically modified organisms instead. Because our xenophobia isn’t at all like superstitious fear.

  8. I like the Live Aid comment made here. The artists commit their time and move on with their lives with no care in the world following the event.

  9. It’s called Muti folks, you get two kinds of Muti, the normal variety which uses herbs and then you get the dark side of muti and the muti murders, trust me, there’s some really dark shit in my country… (i’m from South Africa by the way, and there are sometimes reported cases of muti murders)

  10. It cannot be called racism, as an albino is technically still of the same race, not so?

    Call it xenophobia. I used to think that problems of this sort in Africa were always based on issues of black vs white, but after that got somewhat sorted out in South Africa after 1994, it’s (black) businessmen and workers from other African countries who get killed these days.

  11. Did you know that in the Cuna indians in San Blas Panama, they have the same problem with Albino people, but in this community the Albinos are considered royalty.

  12. Xeni,

    Thanks for posting this story. As the spouse of a brilliant and beautiful woman who happens to have albinism, this issue is very personal to me. I only have one issue with your (and National Geographic’s )post. There is a community of people with albinism who are trying to reclaim and change the usage of the word “albino”. You should be aware that while many people still self-identify as “albinos”, many others find the term offensive and/or derogatory. To understand this, think of the how the usage of the word “negro” has changed over time as a comparison. While most people mean no harm, I would humbly suggest that you refrain from labeling any person as an albino. In short, use the word as an adjective instead of a noun. You can read more about this at the website for NOAH:


  13. Edit to my previous post: I should have said “use the word as an adjective (when describing non-human entities) or not at all.”

  14. Salif Keita, the Albino musician from Mali reported something similar to this story when interviewed by the BBC3 radio programme covering the WOMAD 2010 festival in Charlton Park. The interview was broadcast by the BBC, and Salif continued to explain that the discrimination that he and others experienced gave the name to his latest album, “La Difference”

  15. Let us pray… Father please knock some sense into these people who cannot do things on their own and seek destruction. Let them seek positive energy and not the energy of destruction. Let them invoke non-positive energy no more. Thank you Father for “hearing” my prayer. In the name of your son Jesus Christ I ask for these things. Amen

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