An ancient witchcraft belief that an Albino can increase wealth, or make a business prosper, or even get a person employment, has led to the steady execution of people with albinism in Malawi. How and when this bizarre belief first made home in the Malawian mind is not known, but in the last two years at least 65 cases have been reported of Albino’s being either murdered or dismembered for their bone.

United Nations' intervention

With growing concern the UN is making efforts to intervene and stop this brutal practice of executing albinos. The persecution of the albinos is an emergency of critical proportion. There is an estimated population of 10,000 albinos that live in Malawi and they are under constant fear of death.

An albino walking down the street is often referred to as Money.

The UN's independent expert on human rights and albinism, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero, conducted a 12 day assessment of the situation and has implored the Malawian government to take immediate and strict action to curb the catastrophic situation in the country. Ikponwosa Ero, the UN's independent expert on human rights and albinism, said the persecution "constitutes an emergency, a crisis disturbing in its proportions."

Ms. Ero has observed that Malawi is not the only African country that has these ritualistic killings. Mozambique, Nigeria, and Tanzania have reported cases of albino killings. The poverty in Malawi, the large number of albinos and the blind faith in witchcraft are all reasons for this practice to prevail. These brutal attacks on albinos sometimes result in dismemberment even when the victim is alive.

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The dead albinos are not spared either, with their graves ransacked for their bones.

Albinos live in constant fear and keep a low profile. But the involvement of family and close relatives make them wary of everyone. It is unsettling to suspect that you could be sold or killed by someone close to you.


Recently a court has sentenced two men to a 17 year jail term for the abduction and barbaric execution of a 21-year-old woman with albinism. They claimed it was ‘Satan’ that asked them to do the deed. The men were first awarded a 4 year jail term which was changed by a higher court after the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) protested against the injustice.

In a recent incident, an offer of K1.1billion ($ 1.5 million) was made to buy 8 bones of an albino. Ms Ero, a Nigerian and an albino herself, says "They are an endangered group of people facing a risk of systemic extinction over time if nothing is done."