albino magic
September 27, 2009 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Albinos often face mistrust and discrimination, perhaps because they tend to be portrayed as evil in popular culture. But in Tanzania and Burundi, weird delusions that albinos have magical powers mean that they are actually being hunted down, murdered and dismembered to harvest their supposedly magical body parts. One group of albino kids are trying to spread some sense by forming their own "magic" sports team.
posted by w0mbat (19 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You can't have a discussion about evil albinos in popular culture without a clip of Dar Robinson's balcony stunt in Stick.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:44 PM on September 27, 2009

Weird delusions? Listen, mister, I'm sick of your western cultural imperialism! Just because they don't subscribe to your rationalist scientific worldview doesn't make their beliefs "weird delusions"!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:05 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Muti is, of course, directly informed by Dan Brown novels.
posted by Artw at 9:42 PM on September 27, 2009

Victor Varnado is the Best Albino.
via KaTG
posted by geekyguy at 10:30 PM on September 27, 2009

Victor Varnado is the Best Albino.

Bad Bob the Albino > Victor Varnado

There was an albino in one of my maths lectures. He used to read and write using a small telescope thingy. I used to prentend that he was a pirate.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:54 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I grew up with a boy named Andrew who suffered from Albinism. He had to wear thick sunglasses and thick sun proof shirts wherever he went. Every day of his life was a struggle, not just that he was mostly blind or that the sun was physically painful on his skin, but that every fucking clown had a new joke to try out on him. Oddly enough, for someone with the physically thinnest skin was probably one of the toughest people I know.

I know people love to give mefites a hard time about being too PC, but seriously knock it off. He doesn't need it, the boys in Dar es Salaam don't need this, and this community doesn't need it. LOL PHYSICAL DISABILITY!!! stopped being funny in third grade when the rest of us grew up and realized how not being "normal" is a battle every day.
posted by JimmyJames at 1:56 AM on September 28, 2009 [14 favorites]

One group of albino kids are trying to spread some sense by forming their own "magic" sports team.

Fools! Split up, they might not be able to catch all of you!

Where is Professor X to take them under his wing and show them how to use their powers only for good?
posted by biffa at 2:23 AM on September 28, 2009

I watched White Men Can't Jump and I'm confused now.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:24 AM on September 28, 2009

Religion, ain't it grand. When some eat the flesh and drink the blood of a dead carpenter, in another part of the world they the saw the ludicrously of transubstantiation and dropped the pretense.

The lesson is this: if you have to be religious try to pick a religion which has a set of lies that negate the lies with real world consequences.
posted by JeNeSaisQuoi at 4:06 AM on September 28, 2009

Some of the comments in this thread make me really sad.
posted by Solomon at 4:44 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Holy cow! This is amazing! I love stories like this - I'm teaching a university course right now on the cultural dynamics of health, phys ed and recreation - this is completely perfect for our class. They need money for a bus - I'm going to email him and see if they have a paypal account.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:19 AM on September 28, 2009

Edgar Winter doesn't seem so evil.
posted by stormpooper at 8:17 AM on September 28, 2009

But Johnny Winter does.
posted by klangklangston at 8:28 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

In south-west Cameroon, where I studied, there is an old belief that when the local volcano erupts, only albino blood can placate the god of the mountain. When I was fifteen, we found the body of my elder brother, also an albino, with his heart and testicles removed. I was forced into hiding several times.

It was very hard for me to cope with other people’s scorn. My parents insisted I get a proper education, but there is no special treatment for albinos with poor eyesight. Still, I managed to complete university degrees in journalism and English literature.

Wow. This is chilling, and heart-wrenching. Imagine finding that poor boy's body, seeing what was done to him, and knowing you could very well be next.

I'm all for macabre humor, but let's not make it at the *victim's* expense.

Thanks for drawing my attention to this issue.
posted by misha at 8:31 AM on September 28, 2009

I live in a country that shares a border with Tanzania, and I work there often, so I see these people "a lot" - which means not often, because they're rare here, but more than most, because I'm here. They're just around, and you see them from time to time, and they stand out, for the same reason that we muzungus (Euros / Americans / etc.) stand out - they're the .01% of the population that doesn't have dark skin. You can still clearly tell they are African from their features, though - faces that look "shaped" like African faces - the noses, the lips, the general facial structure. But for all intents and purposes they are as white or even more pale than myself. And sun screen isn't something that is sold in most places in Africa (no, really).

But there is something else - something not physical, per se, but still visible. They have a look of fear in their eyes. I've seen it. I think its the first, and usually fleeting thing that you see when you make eye contact with them. That "who's this person and what do they want with me" look that usually vanishes with what I assume is the next thought after they see me: "oh that's a white person don't need to worry about him."

I can't imagine a life spent constantly jumpy and wondering if this or that stranger is sizing you up for food. I suppose its rather how the animals generally live, and perhaps how man once lived long, long ago. But its no way a human in this day and age should have to think or live.

I remember the first time I got in a cage to dive with the Great White sharks - I think the really exciting and bone-chilling thing about it was the realization that I was looking a creature in the eye and it was looking back at me and seeing "food." For me, it was thrilling, because I was safe behind a cage in an environment I would soon leave my predator safely behind in.

For these poor souls it must be like swimming in the murky water wondering where the next shark is. And there is no cage.

Good on these kids. Baby_Balrog, let us know what you find out.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:21 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Positive Exposure
posted by hortense at 9:35 AM on September 28, 2009

Mod note: A few comments removed. I like dark humor too, but this was not so great. See Metatalk thread for further discussion if you're interested.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:40 AM on September 28, 2009

When I was in the seventh grade, age twelve, thirteen, we had an albino teacher in our school. What's more, he had the special-ed class. Surprisingly, I don't remember there being in the school's general population any jokes, horror stories, mean tricks, or any other of what one might expect from kids that age.
posted by Forrest Greene at 10:50 AM on September 28, 2009

« Older Brindin Press, poetry translations   |   350 ppm is all we've got Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments