MacLeans on Albino Killings in Tanzania

MacLeans ran a brief summary of the current status of the prosecution of men accused of murdering albinos in Tanzania. Albinos are targeted in Tanzania and other African countries because it is believed their body parts have magical and/or medicinal properties. MacLeans reports that in October three men were sentence dto death for the killing of a 14-year-old albino boy whose body was then chopped up into pieces, presumably for sale on the black market.

It also reports on a particularly recently grizzly murder of a young albino girl,

An equally barbaric case is also garnering national attention: Mariam Emmanuel, a ?ve-year-old girl, was butchered by a group of machete-wielding men in Mwanza. The culprits divided the girl’s body up among themselves and drank her blood while her siblings watched.

Unfortunately, while this conviction (though not the death penalty) represents progress, this is apparently the first time since the wave of albino killing began in 2007 that anyone has been convicted of a crime related to the murders in Tanzania.

Under the Same Sun is the main organization currently addressing issues faced by albinos in Tanzania, including the horrific murders, and has a petition urging that more be done to stop the murders. It also accepts donations.

Murders of Albino Children in Burundi

Another disturbing story about the murder of albinos, this time in Burundi where police believe the albinos are murdered so their body parts can be smuggled into Tanzania where they are apparently used as part of religious/medical rituals,

An eight-year-old albino boy in Burundi was murdered and dismembered, an official said Monday, the latest victim in a string of grisly killings linked to witch-doctors’ use of body parts.

The boy was chopped up in Burundi’s northern Kayanza province, where another boy was reportedly dismembered alive last month.

. . .

The latest murder brings to at least nine the number of albinos killed in the small central Africa country in the past five months.


Disturbing Attacks/Trade in Albino Body Parts In Tanzania

The BBC ran one of the more disturbing articles I’ve read so far this year, with its report on the murder of albino men and women in Tanzania by people who want to sell their body parts for use in ritual medicine.

According to the BBC, at least 40 albinos have been murdered since the middle of 2007,

The killers repordly sell albino body parts — including limbs, hair, skin, and gentials — to witchdoctors.

. . .

In the most recent case last Wednesday an albino man — named as Jonas Maduka — was killed in Sogoso village in the north-western Mwanza region.

He was reportedly eating dinner at home when people called and asked for his help.

When he went outside he was strangled, before his assailants chopped off his leg and made away with the limb.

The Tanzanian government has responded by revoking the licenses of all traditional medicine practitioners, effectively outlawing them, but there are apparently so many practitioners that the ban is being ignored.

Moreover, the BBC reports that at least some of the traditionalists feel they are being made scapegoats for a government that has been unable to stop the wave of albino killings.


British Chancellor of the Exchequer Argues for Large-Scale Debt Relief for Africa

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown made waves in January with his announcement that Great Britain would seek large scale debt relief for poverty-stricken African nations. Brown said that ultimately his government hoped to negotiation 100 percent debt relief for such nations.

On a trip to Africa, Brown signed a debt relief deal with Tanzania in which the UK agreed to pay 10 percent of Tanzania’s repayment debts to the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank. The annual payments on Tanzania’s debt amounts to about 3.5 million pounds.

In exchange, Tanzania agreed to use the money it would have spent servicing its debt on health, education and poverty reduction for its people.

The BBC quoted Brown as saying,

We make this offer unilaterally, but we are now asking other countries to join us. Our wish is to have 100% debt relief and we hope that America, Japan, France and other European countries will follow great Britain in this effort. We hope that we are in a position to get all other countries to sing up to a new package of debt relief.

. . .

What we offer Tanzania today we offer to the whole developing world tomorrow. Although there is no international agreement yet, Britain will relieve those countries still under the burden of this debt by paying our share — 10 percent — of their payments to the World Bank and African Development bank in their stead.

Later in his trip, Brown announced that Great Britain was canceling 80 million pounds in debt that Mozambique owes the UK, and would also pay 10 percent of Mozambique’s debt as well. In all, Great Britain plans to reach the same deal with 70 developing countries at a cost to itself of 1 billion pounds annually.

Not everyone, however, thinks that debt relief is the ultimate solution to poverty in the developing world. Former UK international development secretary Clare Short warned that although the debt relief was a good start, it should not be seen as a “mystical solution” to poverty. The BBC quoted short Short as noting that relieving debt in this case is simply a roundabout way to giving foreign aid, and will not solve the problem of “failed states” such as Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Short,

Debt relief and aid alone without really strong action to end conflict, arms supply, start building order, the basic institutions of a state, leave the poor outside the whole development system.

Short also noted that there are very poor countries that don’t have significant debt, and that if the World Bank or other institutions began writing off developing country debt, there would be less money available to give to other countries that may need it.

It’s kind of odd given the notable lack of success over the past 30 years to see Great Britain suddenly reach the conclusion that throwing money at developing world poverty is the way to solve the problem. Certainly, the UK actions are likely to create short term improvements as many of the aid programs of the 60s, 70s, and 80s did, but making those short term benefits lead to long-term transformation is going to be a lot trickier.


Brown’s Pound 1bn Africa debt pledge. The BBC, January 14, 2005.

Brown wipes Pound 80 m Mozambique debt. The BBC, January 15, 2005.

Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda Trade Bloc Accord Goes Into Effect

A treaty between East African nations Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda went into effect in January creating a trade bloc that over the next few years will create a free trade zone.

A similar East African free-trade zone was set up in 1967, but collapsed in 1977 as wars devastated the region.

Under the terms of the agreement creating the East Africa Community Customs Union, Kenya, which has a more industrialized economy than Tanzania and Uganda, will pay duties on goods it exports to the other two until 2010, when such duties will disappear.

The three countries will also set identical tariffs for imports from outside the three countries.


East Africa trade accord launched. The BBC, January 1, 2005.