National Geographic : 2017 Jun
76 national geographic • JUne 2017 His own skin is ivory white, his close-shaven hair pale orange, his eyesight weak. People like him have long been feared and scorned in sub- Saharan Africa, even by their families. Now they’re being attacked. Some witch doctors claim their body parts, made into potions, powders, or charms, can bring wealth and success. Detailed, gruesome records are kept by Under the Same Sun, a nonprofit organization working to end discrimination against those with albinism. Since the 1990s, in 27 African countries, at least 190 people have been killed and 300 attacked, most since 2008. The epicenter of this crime wave, which includes the robbing of graves, is Tanzania. Almost a decade ago, when these attacks first drew widespread attention, Tanzanian officials rounded up many kids with albinism and, for their safety, sent them to rudimentary schools intended for blind and other disabled children. Many remain, living in squalid conditions. Until His father, visiting for the first time in two years, pulls out a white handkerchief. In the shade of a lone tree in the center of a Tanzanian schoolyard, the man reaches over to cradle his son’s head and dab his eyes because the boy can no longer dry his own tears. Emmanuel Festo, who is 15 years old, has spent much of his life learning to live with what he lost one night when he was six. Four men with ma- chetes hacked off most of his left arm, most of the fingers on his right hand, part of his jaw, and four front teeth, intending to sell them. Emma, as he’s known, is now a top student at a private boarding school. Although he stutters, he’s healthy and strong, and he has friends. He’s also an artist, drawing soccer players and Spider-Man and, for me, a detailed map of his country, by heart, using his cheek, chin, and shoulder to steer his markers. Emma was born with albinism, a recessive trait he inherited from his dark-skinned parents. By Susan Ager Photographs by Stephanie Sinclair Mwigulu Matonange was nine and Baraka Cosmas was five when assailants with machetes attacked them in their Tanzanian villages, taking body parts rumored to give power to witchcraft charms. They are fitted for free with prosthetics at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia, arranged by Global Medical Relief Fund, a nonprofit that helps maimed children. Beneath a white, indifferent sky, a pale boy in a blue- and-red uniform shyly bows his head as tears begin to slip down his cheeks. He is retelling his terrible story.