Murder of a people

Published 10:11 pm Monday, October 22, 2012

By Toni Jones

Living in fear of death each day because of the color of your skin is a concept Americans left in the past and definitely not something that people should ever have to go through. But it happens every day in other countries.

Albino populations in both Tanzania and Burundi, for example, suffer from this exact fear. It is popularly believed in Tanzania and Burundi that albino people hold special powers, that the body parts and skin of the albino will bring them good luck and increase their wealth.

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And some people there go to extreme measures to have good fortune bestowed upon them. Albino people are hunted, murdered and dismembered. Their body parts are sold on the black market or to witch doctors looking to make lucky trinkets to sell to people who believe the myth.

I learned about the horrifying conditions the albino people of Tanzania and Burundi endure through a documentary on the National Geographic channel this summer. The gravity of this issue hit home for me, because I thought how similar it was to the human condition of African Americans in America not too long ago, when people were murdered simply because of their skin color. I didn’t want any person to go through that torture, so I decided to start an organization to combat the issue and increase national awareness.

My organization is called Sisi Ni Afrika, which means, “We are all Africa.” Through Sisi Ni Afrika, I plan to hold events to make people aware of the issue and to collect donations help protect the albino populations in both Tanzania and Burundi. The monetary donations will go toward the development of closed communities protected by the governments.

Sisi Ni Afrika also addresses the other problems the albino population faces on a daily basis. Albinism is absence of pigment in an individual’s skin and hair. This means the sun is the No. 1 enemy of an albino person, who can be easily burned. Clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen donations will be taken at selected locations and events to send to Africa to be distributed to the albino people to protect their sunlight-sensitive skin and eyes.

Albinism also affects eyesight. Many albinos are considered legally blind, and that impairs their education. Schools in Tanzania and Burundi do not have the proper equipment to teach visually impaired individuals. Albino students there usually stop attending school, because attempting to go to school is not worth the risk of possible physical harm if they are not going to learn anything. Consequently, most albinos there go without education.

Donations will be taken to put toward putting schools in the albino communities that have the proper equipment to enhance their education.

In order to help raise money for this foundation I am organizing many awareness events and creating products, such as T-shirts and bracelets, to sell. Among the scheduled events is a benefit concert called “UMOJA” that will be held on Nov. 8, at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Toni Jones is a resident of Chuckatuck. She is the daughter of Harriet Vann and the granddaughter of Katherine Jones and the late Harrison Jones. She is a 2011 King’s Fork High School graduate. She is now a sophomore majoring in public relations at Howard University in Washington, D.C.