My name is Marissa Kikwete and I am fifteen. I was born in the historical city of Bagamoyo, seventy kilometers north of Dar es Salam. I am afraid to leave our house these days because I was born with a condition.
Long ago, Bagamoyo used to be a slaving town; then it became the capital of German East Africa. Now it is just another Tanzanian city where people like myself are quickly becoming not only endangered, but threatened with extinction, like some animal of the wild. I am an albino.
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition occurring in both genders from any ethnicity, all over the world. Both parents must have the gene for it to be passed on. The condition causes a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causes vulnerability to sun and bright light exposure. All people with albinism are visually impaired. While numbers in North America and Europe are estimated at 1 in every 20,000 people having some form of albinism, in my country, and throughout most of East Africa, albinism is more common, with estimates of about 1 in 2,000 people being affected.
A few years back some witchdoctors took it upon themselves to mislead ignorant people. They tell them that our body parts, used in a certain way, can create massive wealth for whoever delivers them! Since then, people like me have been killed in all kinds of gruesome fashion just so some fool can become wealthy!
There is no evidence of this, but the belief in witchdoctors is so strong and poverty is so biting that people will try anything. The government are doing nothing to protect us. It would also help if they sensitized people about our conditions. We might lack color in our hair and eyes and skin, but we cannot help anyone escape of poverty; at least not in the way they believe.
Until my world becomes safe again, I am confined to my home. When I have to get out almost all my brothers, armed with machetes and rungus, have to escort me. But how long can one live like this? I want to go to school; be able to walk alone along village paths and inside city alleys. I want to live like a normal human being. I`m a normal human being, aren`t I?