Snatched from the belly of his parents at an ungodly hour by people unknown, his disapperance met at the brutal hands of merciless deprived souls who chop off human bones as if it were some piece of wood; dig graveyards as if they are digging cassava, and dismember human body parts as if it were sausage, have had their evil day again.
And, it will be safe to say, Goodson, is not the last person of albinism—genetic condition that leads to little pigment in their skin, hair and eyes—hence make our brothers and sisters look different—to be abducted.
Our brothers have turned into prey. Their humanity reduced to a price. Hunted anywhere, everywhere, anytime, all times. Babies strapped to their mothers’ backs, men tending to their maize fields, dead bodies enjoying their final rest, the phantom attackers have made no distinction.
And, we have let them be. We, have allowed the people who do this go scot-free—for bringing so much misery. So yes, since 2014 in this country 23 persons with albinism have been killed. That’s an average of six killings a year.
So, no wonder we are becoming immune to the shock. No wonder the anger is becoming increasingly temporal. And no wonder, the attackers are becoming more daring—knowing, we, the people, have made peace with the fact that they would always linger around. And do their evil.
This is the new normal. And this is the established routine. First, an abduction is reported, so we all rush to express outrage, then a mutilated body is found, and we up the volume of rage, the civil society and opposition amplifying it all and finally our government is forced to make some gesture, be it cosmetic or real, to face up to the attacks.
But what we do, seems not to be enough, so it happens again and again. And we all seem to be accepting that as our fate.
And the question is not why these killings are happening but who is behind it all and how we can get it arrested.
On the first front, we know why the killings are fuelled by deep beliefs in superstitions. So, some perverse greedy, deplorable souls believe they can rise the society ladder through charms.
Some poor deprived fellas think they can escape their poverty by selling the albino bones to these guys who believe some witch doctors, using these bones, can make them either instantly rich or successful in some pursuit such as politics. Whacky thinking, but in a country where desperate poverty levels live side by side with this superstition, it’s an explosive cocktail that is proving to be fatal.
And it might be a long standing problem that is only being reported more today thanks to improved communication infrastructure. Think about it, we all grew up hearing that whacky fallacy that albinos don’t die, but just disappear. They might have been suffering this wicked fate all along.
So, we might do ourselves a bit more justice by starting challenging these beliefs and decimating these markets. To do that, we must put to jail both the hunters and those who send them to do the hunting—the witchdoctors, the middlepersons, the charm seekers, and every accomplice out there.
To do so, we need sound leadership that is proactive, and not reactive. It says much of the current administration’s efforts and the commander-in-chief of our uniformed service officers that the killings appear to continue unabated. And heads have not rolled, too.
By whatever logic you use, we all have, indeed, a role to end this debacle. But there is one entity that constitutionally and otherwise, has an obligation to protect all Malawians regardless of the colour of their skin, their religious creed or anything that make us difference. That’s our elected government.
And there is one person who swore to defend this constitutional status quo, and that’s our President. So yes, Lazarus Chakwera might be playing cheap politics by suggesting that he has a plan to end the attacks, which he’ll implement once he is elected President, but let this country know this: he is right when he says the President, and this government, have failed our brothers and sisters with albinism. n