Horror Show Sunday: Give the Boy a Hand!

Not Mwigulu Magessa, but in just as much danger.

Seriously!  He needs one, after villagers in Tanzania cut his off.

A 7-year old boy was attacked on February 23, 2013 in a small town in Tanzania while walking home from school.  Mwigulu Magessa was with friends when three people leapt out and chopped off his hand.  Magessa is an albino, one of an estimated 150,000 living in Tanzania, but local customs and religious beliefs teach that albino body parts are useful in witchcraft and other religious rituals.

Unfortunately, Magessa is not alone.  Just a few days prior to his attack, another albino, a mother of four, was attacked by five people and her arm was hacked off with a machete.  Police were later able to find her arm in a nearby field and apprehend her attackers.

I wish I could say this is uncommon but it’s just not.  People with albinism in many parts of Africa are murdered or maimed for their body parts, and many local practitioners of witchcraft will become quite violent if they can’t get the parts they need for their rituals.  There was a story in 2008 about two mothers who were murdered with machetes when they refused to give up their albino children for sacrifice.   There have been cases where men have sold their albino relatives or neighbors to witchdoctors from several African nations including Tanzania and Congo.  It is estimated that more than 100 albinos have been murdered and their body parts harvested for witchcraft rituals between 2006 and 2012.

“In society, there are people such as witch doctors who look for body parts; people will kill albinos to make magic,” says Isaac Timothy, an albino activist in the gold-mining town of Geita, where belief in witchcraft is widespread. “When you bring [a witch doctor] a body part, such as an arm, a leg or a finger, the witch doctor will make a potion with it,” Timothy says. “A miner will pour it in the ground where he wants to find minerals or a fisherman will pour it in his canoe.”

It’s  gotten so bad that filmmaker Claudio von Planta made a documentary of the phenomena called Spell of the Albino.  While the number of albino murders has been on the decline in recent years, there’s been a sudden spike in 2013.  No one really knows what the future holds, but one thing is for sure, so long as the witchcraft culture of Tanzania remains, albinos in that African nation will be in danger.

And people dare to tell me that religion is harmless.

5 thoughts on “Horror Show Sunday: Give the Boy a Hand!”

    1. I think that's the problem, lots of people think religion is this wonderful thing, they don't realize how horrible it can be, how many people it kills and how many lives it destroys.

        1. Yeah, but even when it's their religion that has the problem, they'll find some way to justify it. I'm sure if we had some of those villagers commenting on the blog, they'd rationalize away the evil and even find some way to make it into a good thing. It doesn't matter what religion you're talking about, as you said, your religion is always right, all other religions are always wrong and when your religion is proven to be wrong, it's still right.

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