By Amara Iwuala
Much as people are free to embrace superstitious beliefs and creeds of their choice, the enforcement of strong penalties on individuals and groups whose practices violate the rights of fellow human beings is a sure way to maintain egalitarianism in the society.
White Potion is the story of the murder and maiming of albinos in Tanzania due to the erroneous belief that their body parts can enrich the perpetrator. Bandits break into people’s houses to kill and take the body parts of albinos which they take to witch doctors for the preparation of the money-making potion.
The main culprits in this crime, who also waylay the albinos on lonely roads, include fishermen, local miners, politicians and witch doctors. They obtain the hair, nails and limbs of albinos with which a witch doctor prepares potions for them.
In spite of the reticence of the witch doctor who consents to grant an interview to Ashraf Mswaki, the film-maker, it is not difficult to see from the witch doctor’s body language that he knows a lot more than he divulges.
Activists complain that prosecution has been weak and too slow, but the cover-up is not surprising since politicians are involved in the crime. Filipo, a young man, who witnessed the murder of his mother and sister takes Mswaki to the site of the crime. One wonders if people like Filipo have received counselling and treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Loise Daudu, Mama Camp, plus the people who support and work with her, are commended immeasurably for providing a camp for children, who are albinos, so as to safeguard them from vicious preys. They also provide education for these children, though they require more resources to raise the living standard in the camp.
Since NGOs, the private sector and individuals cannot pick up the slack when government fails, the Tanzanian government has to prosecute the criminals who indulge in this nefarious activity if this exploitation must end.
It is bad enough that albinos in the tropics already contend with the ultraviolet rays of the sun, which damages their skin, governments in African countries should not only do more to ameliorate their exposure to the sun, but also end this horrible exploitation that they face.
Mswaki looks at the problem by engaging everyone involved – victims, victims’ relatives, caregivers and perpetrators. He is applauded for his painstaking account of this malady and it is hoped that the problem will be tacked head-on.