Witchdoctors Mutilating Albino People in Tanzania

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TANZANIA - On May 12, a Tanzanian woman named Munghu Lugata, 40, was viciously mutilated and subsequently died of her injuries in the small village of Gasuma in northwest Tanzania.  Lugata was found with one of her legs sawed off as well as several fingers, according to BBC News. Tanzanian police suspect she had been the target of witchdoctors due to her albinism.

Two practicing witchdoctors, a man and woman named Gudawa Yalema and Shiwa Masalu, were arrested following the attack. This is just one of many attacks that have occurred globally against people with albinism.

People with albinism have been targeted throughout history because of the defect that leaves their skin, hair, and eyes without pigmented. There had been murders of albino people in the province of Simiyu where Gasuma is located; however the targeting of these people is an international issue. In many countries, the organs, skin, blood, and hair of albino people is believed to have curative properties.

In 15 countries there have been more than 200 reported cases of attacks against people with albinism between 2000 and 2013. “Under the Same Sun” (UTSS), an advocacy group that promotes anti-discrimination of people with albinism claims that most of the harvested albino body parts from Tanzania are being exported outside of the country. In one case reported by the UTSS, a Tanzanian trader was stopped carrying an albino infant head to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, claiming that he planned on selling it to a businessman there.

In Tanzania, witchdoctors promote the use of these parts of albino people for “success, wealth and election victory”, according to the Herald Sun. All Africa reports that at least 73 people with albinism were targeted for murder in Tanzania since 2000 and about as many have been targeted in vicious attacks. UTSS claims that murder rates could be much higher than this as most of the murders go unreported. UTSS also notes that describing these attacks as results of witchcraft only began in 2006, despite these types of attacks existing “beyond memory”.

Because of the severity of these crimes against albino people and it being a global issue, the United Nations is beginning to get involved. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, commented on the Lugata murder in a news release saying, "This killing and the terrible circumstances surrounding it sadly demonstrate that the human rights situation of people with albinism in Tanzania and other countries remains dire.” Pillay continued by expressing the widespread of the issue, "All over the world, people with albinism continue to face attacks or suffer terrible discrimination, stigma and social exclusion.”

The dangers that albino people will face are only worsening in Tanzania. In October local elections are held in the country. Because witchdoctors prescribe magic potions made from albino people for good luck, they will be in more danger than ever. The UTSS warns, “the black market demand for the body parts of people with albinism escalates during these times.”

Efforts to improve the discrimination against people with albinism have been made by the Tanzanian government and human rights groups. There have been movements to end the practicing of witchdoctors, who BBC News says receives certificates to practice from the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Also, a few years ago an albino Member of Parliament was appointed. However, as the discrimination of albino people persists, they will continue to be targeted by witchdoctors and black market traders.

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

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Looking Forward: Prosperity in Growing African Economies

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 16:08 p.m. DST, 29 January 2014

China President Xi Jinping Delivers Speech in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - March 2013

AFRICA - There’s no doubt that the continent of Africa is plagued by the common misperception and overarching reputation of being poor, downtrodden, corrupt, unsafe, unstable, and a list of other discouraging adjectives.

However, the world is not far away from having to look at Africa in a totally different light, where African countries are equal business partners overflowing with lucrative business opportunities.

A large portion of the world’s emerging economies hail from Africa, including South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, as well as others. (Source: Center for Global Development)

As economic expansion tends to do, this has also led to internal reforms that are beneficial for the overall population beyond just GDP. For example, earlier this month, Nigeria rolled out their new mortgage refinancing program, similar to the American Fannie Mae reform, to make housing more accessible for citizens. For the first time, Nigerian citizens will be able to utilize mortgages and quality housing through an affordable and reasonable system.  Not only will this greatly improve the standard of living, but it puts more money into the economy and is also estimated to add over 300,00 jobs to the economy.

Coinciding with these economic improvements, the Nigerian power sector reforms have led to indications of incoming and ongoing investments. According to the Oxford Business Group (Daily Trust), the power sector will garner major investment, even compared to Nigeria’s vast oil and gas, banking and manufacturing sectors.

Other examples of expansive and impressive economic accomplishments include Ethiopia’s vast enhancement of its industrial zone, the Eastern Industry Zone, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Through these improvements, over 20 foreign companies have already secured factories at the site, including big businesses from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Pakistan and India. To expand the success even further, the World Bank is believed to be working to help Ethiopia gain more funds for the influx of foreign direct investment. (The Reporter)

Moving farther south in Africa, Tanzania is also following the economic growth train. South Africa’s robust business community has shown much interest in expanding into Tanzania, particularly in the infrastructure, mining and agricultural sectors. In order to facilitate these opportunities, the Tanzanian government is encouraging local businesses to create and build relationships with their South African counterparts, while providing an ever more conducive environment for business expansion. (Tanzania Daily News)

Outside of meaningful economic reforms and advancements, there are also other vital changes and partnerships being created to support a continent that is more stable, prosperous and successful than ever before. For example, at last week’s World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, HarvestPlus and World Vision signed a partnership to tackle hunger and help improve nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. (International Food Policy Research Institute ) Partnerships such as these will be key to supplementing economic growth, because without food security, solid education, stable political situations and adequate healthcare, the economies will be stunted.

As the world searches for the next big economic opportunity, there is no doubt that Africa should top their priority list. The continent is no longer stagnant and economically stunted, and increased foreign direct investment and business partnerships will only enhance the improving image as well as drastically boost the quality of life for many African nations.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

Indomitable Spencer West Climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro

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“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” ~ Napoleon Hill

The incredible story of a thirty-one year old Canadian, Spencer Westexemplifies the essence of this quote.

In June 2012, West rose to international prominence after successfully climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro using only his hands because he has no lower body.

A challenging and favored adventure site for seasoned climbers, the 19,341 feet (5,895 metres) mountain is situated in Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania and is the highest mountain in Africa.

An undertaking of this magnitude seems unfathomable for someone who only trained for a year and desired to raise nearly $750,000 for charity based upon his ability to complete the ascent, but this is exactly what West did.

In 2008, he volunteered for a trip to Kenya with Free the Children to build a school. During this trip he began to formulate an idea on how he could contribute more to the charity. This idea coalesced into a fund raising climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for Clean Water projects in Africa.

Many people have successfully climbed Kilimanjaro, but none were born with a rare genetic disorder which required the amputation of both legs at the hip at five years of age. At that time West’s parents were told that he would never be able to sit up nor walk, but they chose wisely to redefine the possible and disregard these dire prognostications.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gzSyM6T5hCk] Instead they instilled in West an indomitable spirit so infectious that nothing seemed impossible. West grew up focusing on the possibilities that didn’t include accepting the limitations of his physique. He subsequently pursued a very active social life, completed high school, and university while simultaneously developing a strong sense of altruism.

So when West decided to embark on a campaign to raise funds for the charity most who knew him believed that he would succeed. He trained for nearly a year to condition his arms and upper body to handle the rigors of walking on his hands 80% of the time over the course of a seven day ascent to the summit.

View more photos of his courageous journeyhere, then head over to the Free the Children website to learn more about the project, to donate money, or read more about Spencer West.

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Sharia Law - Nigerian Thief Burned Alive

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 15:20 PM EDT, 4 May 2012

South African Man Killed by Necklacing, Photo by SofoloPOTISKUM, Nigeria – Potiskum is a city 575 kilometers (350 miles) northeast of Nigeria's central capital, Abuja. It is located in Yobe state which is the epicenter of the radical Islamic group, Boko Haram's reign of terror.

The group has perpetrated over 480 killings since the beginning of the year as they seek to bring Northern Nigeria and then the rest of the country under Sharia law.

Sharia law is one of the harshest interpretations of the Quran and results in the brutalization of many people for crimes which would be considered misdemeanors in the West.

When I was a child living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I can vividly recall when a young boy was nearly beaten to death for stealing some oranges and silverware from one of the homes in the neighborhood.

We lived on the university campus in an affluent neighborhood, and one day as I was returning home from school I approached an angry mob of people kicking and hitting a young boy who was screaming for mercy.  I was so frightened, I ran home to get my mother who along with my uncle called the police and then returned with me to the scene.

The violence had escalated during my brief absence, but I was relieved when the police arrived. What happened next has remained with me nearly forty years later. The policemen asked the assembled crowd which included the housekeepers, cooks, and gardeners of our neighbors, what had occurred.

Some people shouted in Swahili, others in broken English, explaining that the young boy had stolen some oranges and silverware from one of the houses. On the ground before the accused thief lay the silverware lay scattered about and some oranges.

As a child, the only thing I focused on were the oranges and I thought that he must have been terribly hungry to have stolen them. After the crowd explained the situation, I was shocked and appalled to see one of the policeman reach to his belt. He first removed some handcuffs which he put on the young boy and I thought that was the end of it.

But to my shock and dismay, the policeman then removed his belt and began to beat the boy mercilessly. I screamed, cried and pleaded for them to stop as the boy fell to the ground and curled up in a fetal position to protect his body. The belt buckle cut open one of his eyes just as my uncle tried unsuccessfully to intervene and calm the situation.

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Published: 4 May 2012 (Page 2 of 2)

It was to no avail so my mother quickly grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the scene back toward our house.  I was crying and screaming that they were killing him, but my mother’s only concern at that time was to protect me from further psychological damage from witnessing such an abhorrent act. I never knew what happened to the boy, but my mother explained to me that under Islamic law thieves usually had their hands cut off.

So today’s story of the Nigerian thief being beaten and burned alive was viscerally reminiscent of that day long ago in East Africa. There can be no justification for the cruelty and inhumanity of what occurred to the boy from my childhood, nor the Nigerian man in the cattle market. Though the differences are stark, since the boy seemed to be hungry, whereas the Nigerian thief was definitely guilty of prior bad acts.

The thieves accosted sellers at a cattle market, shooting into the crowd with the intent of driving away the merchants and stealing their cattle and money. Cattle in Nigeria, as in other parts of Africa, are an extremely valuable commodity. They provide meat, milk, dung, and hides.

Herdsmen are often attacked by marauding thieves as they take their stock to market. If they are fortunate enough to make it to market without incident, their return journey can be just as dangerous as they carry hundreds of Naira in cash from the proceeds of their sales.

During the altercation in the market and the ensuing gun fire, at least 34 people were killed. As the thieves made their retreat, one of the gunmen was unable to escape and was left to suffer the full wrath of the enraged crowd. As is the custom in the treatment of thieves in many parts of Africa, and as witnessed by me, they began to beat the man mercilessly, then set him on fire.

This retaliation spawned more violence as the thieves returned later that night, after the market closed, and hacked cattle to death with machetes, set stalls, cars and holding pens on fire, leaving only charred ground in their wake.

A very graphic video of a crowd beating and burning another Nigerian man to death for stealing can be viewed at the link below. Normally, we embed videos to provide a richer experience and to enhance our reader's understanding of the subject matter.  However, in this case, the video is so disturbing that we are posting this link instead. (View Video Here)

Although, the primary reason stated for the death of the man in the video has been attributed to the fact that he was Gay, Paul Canning of LGBT Asylum has refuted this claim, stating “this man is not gay, but was accused of being a thief.

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Dutch Royal Shell Expands Africa Footprint

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:24 PM EDT, 2 February 2012

Oshie Gas Flare, Akaraolu, Nigeria, Photo by Chris HondrosTANZANIA, East Africa - When one thinks of Neo-Colonialism in emerging economies, the traditional natural resources usually come to mind – minerals, timber, water rights, and oil. The expansion in Africa by oil companies has increased in recent years as the demand for this finite resource increases.

America is still the largest consumer of crude oil and petroleum-based products. According to a PBS Special Report on the Alaskan pipeline America, followed by the two powerhouses of the emerging economic markets – China and India are now the largest consumers.

“The United States consumes an average of 20.6 million barrels of oil a day. Forty percent of that -- 9.1 million barrels -- is used to power motor vehicles. So how do these numbers measure up globally?

The most recent figures show that China, with a population more than four times that of the United States, consumes nearly seven million barrels a day. However, China's thirst for oil is growing quickly, with India coming up fast behind.

Russia uses nearly three million barrels of oil a day and Canada just over two million. Americans use more oil for their motor vehicles than the total combined amounts used by Russia, Canada, the United Kingdom and France. The U.S. represents about five percent of the human population, but it consumes a quarter of the world's oil.” (Source: PBS: The American Experience, ‘The Alaskan Pipeline.’)

Although, most people know at an intuitive level that Americans are the most gluttonous consumers of this product, to actually read the numbers is stupefying. However, we are all to blame, even I am, because I drive a truck which takes nearly $60 to fill up. I will not go into the reasons why I drive a truck because any explanation will seem self-serving. But, in the interest of full disclosure I felt that it I should accuse myself as I condemn the large oil companies that provide me with this privilege.

As a child I lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and I clearly remember playing in the white sands of Bahari Beach, when my imaginary meanderings would be abruptly interrupted by a vision at the horizon. I would gape in awe at the supertankers moored off the coast in the deeper waters of the Indian Ocean that stretched before me.

What I didn’t realize then, but know now, was that the large globs of oil which washed ashore hours after their departures were a consequence of the illegal practice of oil tanker operators washing out the tanks in preparation of receiving the next cargo load. This was done by filling the tanks with water and then pumping the resulting mixture of oil and water into the sea.

Because many African nations were not in a position to enforce international rules to prevent oil pollution on their shores, many oil tanker operators would opt to empty the oil cargo or fuel tanks used for ballast water into the ocean off the coast of African nations without fear of sanction. Consequently, oil was discharged into the sea when tankers flushed out the oil-contaminated ballast water to replace it with new oil. (Source: Global Marine Oil Pollution Information Gateway)

As a child I thought of these black, bulbous balls as something to add to my list of playthings. As an adult who witnessed the carnage caused by the Exxon Valdez and most recently the BP Oil spill disaster, I cringe at the memory of my childish naiveté.

What has not changed is the continued interests by foreign oil companies in rich natural resources of East Africa and other countries of the Continent. PR Newswire recently reported that Royal Dutch Shell, the largest European oil company, has initiated a hostile takeover bid for Cove Energy.

If successful, Royal Dutch Shell which is currently active in Tanzania, could expand it holding’s in the region to include Kenya and Mozambique. Cove Energy’s presence in both of these countries would facilitate Shell’s strategic mission of sustainable growth by exploiting the recently gas discoveries in the latter two countries. In addition to this upside for Shell, the downside for Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique is diminished control over these natural resources and a high risk of environmental pollution.

In November 2011 the Guardian UK reported that Shell must pay $1bn to deal with Niger Delta oil spills. At that time Amnesty International issued a report "to mark the 16th anniversary of the execution of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa by Nigerian authorities" in which it detailed the breadth of the adverse impact the oil had on Bodo, Ogoniland.

Like the BP Oil spill off the coast of Louisiana in the US, the Royal Dutch Shell spill in Nigeria also caused environmental damage, economic damage, and health issues for the nearly 69,000 people who lived in the region. "The prolonged failure of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria to clean up the oil that was spilled, continues to have catastrophic consequences," according to the Amnesty International report.

I researching for this post, I discovered an incredible website for an organization called Cultural Survival. On 4 March 2010, they published an article titled ”Sharing" the Wealth? Minerals, oil, timber, and now medicines and genetic wealth - all are fair game for governments and corporations," which I felt added more depth to this post and provided an alternate view on this troubling movement.

The except which follows enumerates the complexity of this issue, and I highly recommend that you follow the link above to read the article in its entirety on their website.

The natural resources located in some of the Earth's most remote placed became open to appropriation when a number of new states sprung up in the post-World War II, postcolonial period of this century, Elites and dominant groups, empowered to maintain security and promote trade, stole natural resources from indigenous nations, igniting open conflict. These clashes led to the need to military assistance, which in turn led to debt and - full circle now - the need to appropriate more saleable resources to pay off the debts."

The report continues by stating:

States have traditionally received considerable help from other states in appropriating the resources of nation peoples. Ten World Bank - funded colonization project in sub-Saharan Africa financed the occupation of "unoccupied" areas in a number of African countries. Subsequent problems arose; in each instance the areas were already occupied by people who had been living there for generations.

This experience is the rule, not the exception, Worldwide, development industries help states to seize resources and put them up for sale on the world market - through "obvious" projects such as miming, oil exploration, and hydroelectric development, more "subtle" projects such as colonization (which takes land), transportation (which eventually takes land, timber, minerals, and/or other resources), and credit (which finances the appropriation and/or processing of saleable resources)."

The battle against Neo-Colonialism will not occur without significant collateral damages. In order to effect big changes, we each have to make small changes in our lives and actions.  It is not always easy or expeditious to take big actions like giving up one’s car when it is needed for transportation to work and to take children to school.

I do not advocate this course of action for myself or anyone else. But what is necessary is for us to take the time to become aware of these issues. To realize that though the citizens of these countries are most at risk because of the actions of these multinationals, ultimately it will impact us,because but for a happenstance of birth, we could be them.

Just because we live in America doesn’t mean that we are safe from the amoral vagaries of corporation. The last few years have should have disabused us of this belief. Whereas we thought we were different from 'others,' we need only look at the Native American culture and people who suffered great loss of land and natural resources as a direct result of  Colonialism in America. Just because we don’t have something today that is coveted by corporations, doesn’t mean this will always be the case.

It is important to remember the quote attributed to Martin Niemöller which I have referenced before:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist.  Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Getting High with Infected Blood

Getting High with Infected Blood

Yesterday we posted a piece which lauded a potential life saving break-through in the development of a HIV vaccination which could save millions of lives. Today, this news is tempered by a recent announcement by PlusNews a Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis publication which reports that HIV infection rates are on the increase among the intravenous drug user (IDU) populations of many African countries. Health officials in Tanzania are worried about rising HIV-prevalence levels among IDUs, who often use a dangerous cash-saving technique known as "flash blood", in which a user injects heroin or another illegal drug, and then draws a syringe full of blood for a second user to inject.

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Vis-á-Vis First Love

Vis-á-Vis First Love

We searched each other’s eyes; for fear, for pain, for lust, for gain, in the end, it matter not who won or lost, it was the contact, the permitted touch, a way to feel flesh against flesh without reprisal or regret, it was the beginning of my long complicated tussle of love and war with the opposite of myself.

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