By Africa correspondent Martin Cuddihy
Updated 6 Oct 2014, 3:50amMon 6 Oct 2014, 3:50am
In East Africa, ritual magic, witchcraft and superstition play a large part in the everyday life of many people.
One of the darkest elements of the cultural practice includes the lucrative trade of body parts of people with albinism who are outcast and believed to be cursed.
They are killed for their body parts which are believed to posses magical properties including the cure for HIV and cancer.
Some people also leave newborn babies with albinism in the bush to die.
Kenya's first politician with albinism, Isaac Mwaura, is petitioning for a new law to protect people with albinism.
He wants a refuge centre to cater for people who have been targeted or attacked.
"It's a confluence of capitalistic greed and superstition finding expression amongst an ignorant people who are eking out a living within a cash economy," Mr Mwaura said.
"But it's totally unacceptable because people with albinism are human beings like any other and they need to be respected. They need to be given opportunity like any other."
School patrolled by guards to protect studentsMr Mwaura's push for protection comes as young Gabriel Kinyanjui's parents worry about his future.
Gabriel's father sat up every night with a bow and arrow to protect him, and despite his best efforts, the boy has been kidnapped three times.
Fortunately, he was rescued before he could be trafficked to Tanzania.
Gabriel was targeted so heavily because of his rare form of the condition, known as Rufous Albinism.
His hair is blonde, but his skin is still dark, albeit with a reddish tinge.
A Kenyan Member of Parliament intervened and enrolled Gabriel at the Thika School for the Blind, a Salvation Army institution that caters for children with albinism, as many have problems with their sight due to a lack of iris pigment.
The school's head teacher Jotham Makoha said children with albinism were vulnerable and Gabriel would be nurtured at the school.
To some of our African communities they think it’s a curse – having such a child.
"When he's here he will access education which he will learn very well," Mr Makoha said.
"He's being attended to by people who understand what albinism is, they know how to direct him, help him, nurture him."
The school has more than 20 students with albinism, and the perimeter is patrolled by armed guards every day and night.
"These children with albinism are vulnerable because people don't accept people with albinism – they don't easily accept them," Mr Makoha said.
"To some of our African communities they think it's a curse – having such a child.
"They kill them and cut their body into pieces where they sell the small pieces for some good money - especially in our neighbouring Tanzania."
Topics: witchcraft, religion-and-beliefs, community-and-society, rites-and-ritual, diseases-and-disorders, health,central-african-republic
First posted 3 Oct 2014, 11:02pm