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Albinos living in fear as Tanzania poll nears

Superstitions perpetuated by witchdoctors are provoking deep fears among albinos and their families in Kenya.

And all fingers are pointed at the ongoing election campaigns in neighbouring Tanzania.

This follows the death of Enock Jamenya, who was attacked early this month at his home in Vihiga County and died two days later.

His attack has been linked to the ongoing campaigns in Tanzania ahead of elections in October.

Ms Margaret Mugalusia, a teacher at Jebrongo Primary School, said the targeted people were living in fear of attacks.

“My husband died in 2007. Since then, I have been living alone with my daughter,” said Mrs Mugalusia.

She says her first born daughter is married in Migori near Tanzania and she gave birth to an albino girl.

“I am worried and I will bring her here. I will only allow her to go back after the Tanzania elections,” she said.

LIVES IN DANGER

Mrs Mugalusia is the seventh born in a family of 12 children, four of them are albinos.

“Our lives are in danger,” Mrs Mugalusia told the Sunday Nation at her home in Jepses, Hamisi district, Vihiga County.

Nominated MP Isaac Mwaura, who is the coordinator of the Albinism Society of Kenya, blames the killings on Tanzanian witchdoctors.

“I do not know how our body parts can be used to win elections. I understand that leaders are fighting for them,” said Mr Mwaura.

When he was in hospital, Mr Jamenya, 56, told his relatives that the attackers wanted his left ear and fingers.

The attackers started arguing among themselves over how they were going to share the parts.

“After some time, I lost consciousness,” said Mr Jamenya. He was buried on Saturday.

Albinos have also complained of being discriminated against in the village and places of work.

“I am a teacher and I find it difficult to mark compositions written in pencil,” said Mrs Mugalusia.

‘BAD COLOUR’

She said that when she got married, she had difficulties being accepted by her husband’s people.

“My husband was told he was bringing a bad colour to the family,” she said.

She said that she was overburdened with manual work on the farm in order to make her run away but she stayed on.

“They later accepted me.”

Mr Jamenya leaves behind three children none of whom is an albino. His wife died in 2004. One of his sons, Mr Brian Dembede, 23, said his father had told him that he had been receiving messages from unknown people saying they wanted his body parts.

“He took it lightly. He did not even report it to the police because we have lived here for a long time and have never been attacked,” said Mr Dembede.

Meanwhile, the National Council for the Disabled has begun evacuating people living with albinism in towns.

“We want to ensure they are safe and make it difficult for people engaged in the illegal business of human parts,” said Dr David ole Sankok, the council’s chairman.

Additional reporting by Philip Bwayo