Albino girl evokes tears with lyrics against the killings

Well-done lyrics have the power, arguably arousing feelings that lead to some infectious and irresistible tears.  Thus, the last day of the joint monitoring tour the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) projects in Mwanza and Geita regions, on 4 April, was scheduled to hear testimonies at the Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) – Mwanza branch.

The issue of stigmatization and the killings of the albinos had dominated the session. It was simply emotional, to put it in perfect words.

This time around participants of the joint tour of projects were treated with yet another powerful presentation – crafted with a perfect song performed by an albino girl, Upendo Mahenya. It depicted the mental and physical pain that the albino community living in the lake zone come to grips with.

Upendo’s low tone lyrics summed up what TAS seeks to impart as a lasting change in the community - to condemn and campaign against a growing tendency that threatens the lives and welfare of the albinos.

It is on record that the albino killings or rather chopping of their body parts are the most recurrent in the lake zone, mostly associated with witchcraft beliefs. Businessmen are said to be colluding with ‘fake’ witchdoctors to make some concoctions (made of albino parts) so as to help the former break their evens and gain profits in business.

“We have kept on educating the community to understand that giving birth to an albino child is not a mere curse or a result of sleeping with demons. Anyone can have one – subject to genetical make-up,” said Alfred Kapole, who is the TAS chair at Mwanza branch.

Thus, as for Upendo the wonders of genetics still got unleashed, and she could be a good example of how genetics works at it best. She is a mother of a normal baby boy that has no congenital absence of pigment in the skin and hair.

Singing emotionally in front of participants of the joint monitoring tour of FCS projects in Mwanza, it was simply irresistible as some were held in tears for a moment.

Circulating some horrific pictures to the visiting team associated with brutality against the albinos in the region, Mr. Kapole said since 2006 a total of 15 albinos have been brutally murdered in the region, mainly associated with witchcraft.

“We are perishing... and left in deep pains following these albino killings. We are also humans...” sings emotionally Ms. Upendo while her almost one year-old baby boy stares at her while performing.

Joining their course in quest for justice against the killings, the FCS Executive Director, John Ulanga stood up and declared the FCS intention to support Ms. Upendo in recording her song at any better music studio, so much that it can set a bigger public outcry against the vice.  

Left for a moment with no words after the presentation, the FCS member of the Board of Directors, Mr Adam Simbeye said: “From what I have heard, you have done a very good job to involve religious leaders. The killings are very much interlocked in people’s beliefs, and this issue can well be addressed religiously. And if I can ask do you have access to legal aid or are you a member to NGO networks here?”

Responding, TAS Mwanza branch secretary, Mashaka Tuju says: “Our organisation is a member to NGO network in Mwanza but have of late joined in the taskforce of registered witchdoctors so as to push the agenda for the de-registration of the ‘fake’ witch doctors who are purportedly behind the killings.”

“We urge more support so that we can reach more people in the rural areas to condemn against these killings. Stigmatization is still very high among the albinos in the villages such that many of our colleagues are even forcefully exposed in direct sun shine in the hope of turning black,” said Mashaka.

“In rural areas it is also believed that we as albinos do not die rather we disappear mysteriously and people do not want to associate with us. I think our interevion as TAS to be limited in urban centeres is not ideal at all,” reckons and concludes Mashaka. 

Participants of the joint monitoring tour comprised of some FCS board of directors and the management, as well as representatives from the development partners and the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children. The Development Partners represented are the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) na the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC).

The joint visit is normally prepared to enable the development partners get a feel of projects being implemented by the FCS through their basket funding.

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