NAIROBI, Kenya — The mistaken belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven thousands of Africa’s albinos into hiding, fearful of losing their lives and limbs to unscrupulous dealers who can make up to $75,000 selling a complete dismembered set.
Mary Owido, who lacks pigment that gives color to skin, eyes and hair, says she is only comfortable when at work or at home with her husband and children.
“Wherever I go people start talking about me, saying that my legs and hands can fetch a fortune in Tanzania,” said Owido, 36, a mother of six. “This kind of talk scares me. I am afraid of going out alone.”
Since 2007, 44 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 others have been slain in Burundi, sparking widespread fear among albinos in East Africa.
At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since the killings began, according to a report released this week by the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies.