Sekuru Banda con­fronts al­binism

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FEATURE - Lang­ton Nyak­wenda

IF THEY are not be­ing ac­cused of bring­ing bad luck to fam­i­lies, they are be­ing per­se­cuted while in other coun­tries witch­doc­tors use their body parts for rit­ual pur­poses. Life as a per­son with al­binism is of­ten not rosy and for 62-year-old Stephen Nyamapfeka, sir­ing four chil­dren with al­binism, in­clud­ing twins, ex­posed him to vi­cious ver­bal at­tacks from rel­a­tives be­fore he fi­nally de­cided to aban­don his ru­ral home in Hu­rungwe.

He now lives in a rented two-roomed house in Harare’s Hat­cliffe area.

Nyamapfeka and his 40-year-old wife Seni are par­ents to seven chil­dren.

“Peo­ple as­so­ciate al­binism with bad luck so I was in­sulted by my rel­a­tives. As a re­sult I had to leave Hu­rungwe to come and stay here in Hat­cliffe where we use just two rooms with all my chil­dren,” said the grey-haired Nyamapfeka.

“My rel­a­tives ac­cused me of witch­craft, van­oti ndakaromba but I think God has a plan for my chil­dren with al­binism,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to so­cial sci­en­tists, per­se­cu­tion of peo­ple with al­binism is based on the be­lief that their body parts can trans­mit mag­i­cal pow­ers.

Such be­lief is wide­spread in East Africa, mainly Tan­za­nia. In South­ern Africa, rit­ual killings of peo­ple with al­binism is com­mon in Malawi and Mozam­bique.

But, is there any link be­tween al­binism, witch­craft and bad luck?

Pop­u­lar tra­di­tional healer Sekuru Kamwelo Banda, who has launched a pro­gramme to as­sist peo­ple liv­ing with al­binism across the coun­try, kick­start­ing it with sourc­ing goods worth R10 mil­lion, said there is ab­so­lutely no link.

“The tra­di­tional heal­ers us­ing peo­ple with al­binism for rit­ual pur­poses should be ar­rested. There is no link what­so­ever,” he said.

“Al­binism comes from God, it is not re­lated to bad luck. These peo­ple are just as nor­mal as any other peo­ple with or­di­nary skin pig­men­ta­tion.

“Their only prob­lem is that they are badly af­fected by the sun, hence this R10 mil­lion ini­tia­tive to source sun­screen creams and other good­ies from South Africa. This pro­gramme is go­ing na­tional, we want to as­sist peo­ple with al­binism,” Sekuru Banda said.

The flam­boy­ant Sekuru Banda, who rep­re­sents a new brand of tra­di­tional heal­ers, also do­nated a range of sun­screen creams and food­stuffs to the Nyamapfeka fam­ily.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe Al­bino As­so­ci­a­tion, there are over 39 000 peo­ple with al­binism in the coun­try and they face var­i­ous prob­lems rang­ing from stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“We (peo­ple liv­ing with al­binism) face stigma from the fam­ily level. There’s no love from the fam­ily and re­mem­ber long back a child with al­binism would be killed at birth but we are glad that this prac­tice has since ceased.

“Al­binism usu­ally causes di­vorces, we grew up in bro­ken homes be­cause the mother who would have given birth to a child with al­binism was chased away.

“So, to have peo­ple like Sekuru Banda, a tra­di­tional healer for that mat­ter, tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to as­sist peo­ple with al­binism is highly com­mended,” said Ms Mercy Maun­ganidze, Zim­babwe Al­bino As­so­ci­a­tion di­rec­tor.

“A lot of mystery is as­so­ci­ated with al­binism to the ex­tent that some be­lieve hav­ing sex with a per­son with al­binism cures HIV/AIDS,” said Ms Maun­ganidze.

Al­binism is a rare group of ge­netic dis­or­ders that cause the skin, hair, or eyes to have lit­tle or no colour. Sci­en­tists say a de­fect in one of the sev­eral genes that pro­duces or dis­trib­utes me­lanin causes al­binism.

Sekuru Banda (right) do­nates goods to the Nyamapfeka fam­ily

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