It is very sad that several years after government pledged to decisively deal with people who attack people with albinism, or ransack their graves, the savage and primitive acts continue unabated. This week, the country woke up to the sad story and gory pictures of a 60-year-old man who was hacked to death in Nkhata Bay. His hands callously chopped off. His only ‘sin’ being the pigment of his skin-he was an albino. Yasin Kwenda Phiri (May His Soul Rest in Peace) was murdered by unknown thugs in full view of his 9-year-old son. My heart has been bleeding since I saw that photograph of the late Yasin Kwenda Phiri.
For the umpteenth time, the Malawi Police Service (MPS) say they have launched an investigation and will not rest until they net Phiri’s murderers. It is all déjà vu. It’s not inspiring at all. We have heard such empty narrative before.
2015-when blue murders of people with albinism started-is a long time for any caring and serious government to put in place a plan, a strategy and be moved into action to end these barbaric acts. Five years is indeed a long time for any government committed to end crime and bring sanity among its people. Our children, our brothers, our sisters, our kith and kin, are living in hell not knowing what will befall them the next day, the next hour, the next minute. It is like government has chosen to look away when its people are faced with a calamity. Government is surely sleeping on its job of protecting its citizens. Government which has a fiduciary duty to protect its people is doing far too little. Government is treating crime with kid gloves.
As Malawians, as citizens of Malawi and as residents of this country, we are all entitled to be protected by this government to which we pay tax. But when government which has an inderogable duty to protect its people, in the manner people with albinism are being massacred in this country, when government cannot walk the talk on ending crime, when government is only good at sweet talking nothings, one is left with no choice but conclude that it is not a caring government.
Political will is very crucial in putting these killings behind us once and for all. It is only political will that change the status quo. Some 54 years after independence, no one should lose their life to thugs who believe your flesh, your blood, your bones or any part of your body can create wealth or a fortune for them. This is utter madness. It is being very primitive.
It is against this background that I salute all those who have spoken against these thugs and savage acts propelled by nothing but superstition. The Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition, UTM Party, the Malawi Law Society, have set the pace. At the time of writing this article only these organisations had issued press statements condemning the murder. Government was still snoring. The Malawi Congress Party, the Democratic Progressive Party, the People’s Party were all in a state of slumber. Government should have been the first to condemn the murder led by no less than State President Peter Mutharika. The legion of the President’s advisors-what are they doing? This is their job. All they could have done is brief the President about the importance of him speaking out. The President’s word would have carried more weight than any others. All CSOs should immediately have condemned the killings. We should all speak out. Today it is Yasin Kwenda Phiri of Nkhata Bay, tomorrow it might be your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister, your niece. No one is safe.
I am one hundred percent sure someone, somewhere, knows Phiri’s murderers or has information that can lead the Police to arrest his assailants. Come out and come forward. You will be doing the nation a great service.