We are not being there for them. It has to be made clear before my main message gets covered by other words. Again, we are not being there for them. The fact that some people are hunting fellow human beings to harvest their bones for superstitious use is sickening and a conscience haunting reality. It started in Tanzania two years ago before trickling down to Malawi. The practice of abducting and the killing of albinos has been rampant in the Eastern region of the country. The concerned parties are yet to make a research on this trend. If at all the responsible authorities are concerned, this should have been the starting point. The Eastern region holds the answer to this puzzle to why all this is happening.
Just like during the Apartheid government in South Africa, where skin color defined how one will be treated and whether they will survive or not, this is the case in Malawi with the albino abduction situation. Being born with a black skin seems to be a gateway to survival and a mere lack of melanin in one’s skin is the reason to be hunted down for. Somewhere in the Eastern region, there is a poor family, with a not-well-secured house, easily to be broken into; the family is sleeping with fear and doing all it can to restrict the movement of its children to avoid being victims of the unfortunate situation. This has been going on for a year now and there seems to be no end to it. As days come and go, one desperate young man gets convinced that he can make easy money by being part of a gang of looking down for bones of an albino. He sees that the others who have done it have managed to escape the wrath of the law and have money in their pockets for it. Why should he also not do it?
But looking at the response of us all; there is no hope for these endangered brothers and sisters. The people who are supposed to help them are doing nothing and they themselves have somehow accepted the cruelty of the world and are ready to face whatever comes. But it is not too late. The people who have died before should remind us of how much we allowed the situation to deteriorate. The last cries for their lives, as those heartless people were beheading them or twisting their necks, should ask us this question: Where is our love for them? After looking at the situation, I have a couple of thoughts and solutions.
Things have turned this worse because there is lack of action from the Police, the courts, the general public, the government, the Civil Society Organizations and the traditional leadership. First, the courts; how exactly does it happen that people caught to be part of the act get a mere four years prison sentence? I understand that one reason of punishment is to deter others from doing that similar act in the future. Can a four year prison sentence do that job? No, it cannot. There should be stiffer prison sentences for these people.
Second, the police; let it be put clear that the police are working hard on this. The arrests that have so far been made are a result of their tireless work. They are the real heroes of the situation. But just like they did after the Neno witchcraft-suspect murders, they should also invade the Eastern region and tell people their fate should they be caught to be part of the act.
Third, the government; the only time the President talked about this issue was months ago through his unserious press briefings. He is talking tough on T.B Joshua and not on the albino abductors. He also needs to push for emergency laws through the Parliament special for the situation. But none of that has come from him. If he one day wakes up and suggests that Parliament makes and passes a law for all abductors to be given a twenty year jail term, or even be hanged, for example, he will get the support of most people. In Tanzania, they quickly moved in and banned all the witchdoctors. We should do that as well. These are the people sending the abductors. Banning them will be like stopping the source of the practice and slowly it will come to an end. No one likes it seeing Malawi being associated with such backward and evil act. We all want to see this end, for good.
Fourth, the general public; as people, we have chosen to be comfortable with whatever is happening. Thank universe for our good Police men, after the arrest of a few people who called an albino money, it seems the practice has stopped. Again, we have been occupied by other matters with no place for our brothers and sisters. There is little talk against the practice. The only time most people feel like talking tough is when they are condemning homosexuality but we let the killing of people with albinism pass by.
Fifth, the Civil Society Organizations; as leaders of sensitization, they have not talked enough against the situation. There has never been a demonstration against it. Are you waiting for a special funding for the project? Last, the traditional leadership; call it a conspiracy theory, but I suspect some chiefs to be part of the deals. They have the inside knowledge of their graveyards and maybe they are the ones providing the information to the abductors where a person with albinism was buried. If they are innocent from it, that is some good news. But they need to use their authority to work with the Police and other willing concerned parties to bring this practice to an end.
The media should be commended for their reports whenever an abduction has happened. They may have been accused of thriving on negative news, but on this, they are doing the right thing. The constant hearing of such stories urges people to do something about it. But even though the news is everywhere our reaction has not been helping at all. Our consciences seem clear and not shamed by what is happening. This is a call to us all as human beings. The suffering of someone of our specie is ours as well. Can we for once stop burying our heads in the sand and do something concrete against the practice? This is what the Great Architect in heaven, God, is expecting us to do.
*Wonderful Mkhutche is an author, a political scientist and a manuscript developer and editor.