A 7-year-old Tanzania boy was attacked on Saturday because of his albino skin, which is believed by many in the region to bring good fortune. The attackers cut off the boy’s hand, likely attempting to sell it or use it for witchcraft.
According to Apolinary Macheta, a local government leader in Tanzania’s southwestern area, the boy, Mwigulu Magessa, was walking home from school with friends when three people attacked him. Magessa, who is just the latest victim in a series of assaults on people with albinism, is currently recovering in a hospital.
A few days before the attack on Magessa, an albino mother of four was attacked by five people and had her arm cut off by a machete. Police were able to find and arrest her attackers after finding her arm hidden in a nearby field.
Witchcraft is a highly common practice in many areas of eastern Africa, and the witchdoctors have perpetuated the idea that charms made from albino body parts can bring prosperity and good fortune. This has created a too-lucrative black market for albino limbs. According to the BBC, crimes reported in the last few years include the killing and mutilation of albinos as well as the digging up of albino’s graves.
According to the BBC, there are an estimated 150,000 albinos living in Tazania, and many of whom have moved to Dar es Salaam, a more commercial and urban area, to feel safer.
Albinism affects about one in 20,000 worldwide and is a genetic condition due to lack of melanin pigmentation in the skin, making the skin and hair white. Those suffering from albinism also suffer from discrimination from the general population while also protecting themselves from being attacked by witchdoctors.