Human Rights 09 April 2014 59 18604
People fear them. They are outcasts, treated with contempt. They are frequently beaten and murdered simply because they are not like other people. Their skin is a different colour.
This is not a film about the African-American civil rights movement in the mid-20th century. These twenty six minutes tell the story of those with the misfortune to be born an albino in Africa today.
In Tanzania, on the East coast of the continent, the number of people born with a total absence of the skin pigment melanin is 8 times higher than the global average. To date, there is no definitive scientific explanation for this anomaly.
In the Tanzanian countryside, albinos are the subject of a wide range of superstitions. Many believe that white-skinned Africans bring bad luck and that they are immortal. It is also thought that their bones can be used to cure diseases or as charms to bring wealth. In Swahili albinos are called “zeruzeru” meaning “ghosts”. Because of these beliefs, people born with melanin abnormalities are forced to live in constant fear.
This film tells the story of Josephat Torner, an activist for the Tanzania Albinism Society. He has overcome his fears and dedicated his life to campaigning against the discrimination of white Africans. He travels from Tanzania's largest city, Dar es Salaam, to Lake Victoria in the north of the country. This is where Torner himself was born and is where the majority of Tanzanian albino communities are located. It is a journey in which he is forced to confront his fears once again.