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Spell of the Albino: Witchcraft and a gruesome trade |

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Ten years ago, in November 2006, Al Jazeera English was launched. To mark that anniversary, we’ve created REWIND, which updates some of the channel’s most memorable and award-winning documentaries of the past decade. We find out what happened to some of the characters in those films and ask how the stories have developed in the years since our cameras left.

Albinism is a non-contagious, genetically inherited disorder, affecting about one in 20,000 men and women around the world. Sufferers are afflicted by a congenital absence of melanin, a pigmentation defect in the hair, skin and eyes that causes vulnerability to sun exposure and bright light. Many have very poor vision as a consequence and in tropical countries especially they can be vulnerable to skin cancers if unprotected from the sun.

What albinism is absolutely not is an indication that the afflicted person is in any way invested with magical powers. But in parts of sub-Saharan Africa especially, people with albinism have traditionally faced discrimination and prejudice – innocent victims of a still widespread belief that the condition is in some way associated with the supernatural. In Tanzania, the situation spiralled out of control with people with the condition increasingly subjected to murder and mutilation because of a completely spurious myth that their body parts are effective in witchcraft rituals.

In this remarkable episode of Africa Investigates, Tanzanian journalist Richard Mgamba, community representative Isaack Timothy and Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas set out to discover what lies behind these attacks and to uncover and confront some of those behind the trade in body parts for witchcraft rituals. 

REWIND returns to Tanzania to find out what happened to Adam, a young boy featured in the original film who had been mutilated for witchcraft.

Source: Al Jazeera



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