Traditional healers and herbalists have embarked on a countrywide campaign against those engaged in criminal activities, including human sacrifice under the guise of granting wealth to their clients.
The revelation was made by Jjumba Lubowa Aligawesa, a renowned traditional healer in Mukono district and head and head of Tondism Faith Enzikiriza Y’obuwangwa N’ennono, during the International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) on Monday at Busoga Square in Jinja City.
Responding to concerns by the Albinism fraternity that People with Albinism (PWAs) were top targets of traditional healers for purposes of sacrifice, Aligawesa also said such activities were being perpetrated by impostors.
“A genuine healer or herbalist does not sacrifice humans. We should fight misconceptions that body parts of certain people are a source of wealth. Albinos are human like anyone else, if their body parts give wealth, why are they themselves not rich,” he wondered.
“Instead, the blood spilt in such reckless activities brings a curse to the individuals involved and society at large,” he added before asking the government to hand heavy penalties to those found guilty, as a deterrent measure.
In their campaign so far, Aligawesa revealed that one healer was netted in Kyotera district over human sacrifice, was prosecuted and convicted of the crime before being sentenced to jail in Luzira Prisons.
He added that in a similar incident, a traditional healer in the Busoga sub-region who had asked his client for hair from an albino was also arrested after a tip-off and is currently serving a six-year sentence at Kirinya Prison in Jinja.
“Those are murderers and they should be held responsible as individuals. Even digging up the remains of a dead person is not acceptable,” he said.
Aligawesa introduced to the crowd Semaganda Kiwanuka a PWA, who he said was his son, and that he understands their challenges and respects their rights as humans.
He added that he had bought a sh6m cryogun which is used to treat the skin of albinos against cancer and was in a campaign to mobilize fellow healers to purchase three more cryoguns that will be handed to the albinism leadership.
The celebration at Busoga Square was organised by Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism (SNUPA) and attracted members from across the country.
Ali Egesa, a 51-year-old resident of Namayingo district who was among four people who testified having been cured of skin cancer, commended SNUPA for the intervention and asked the organization to look out for more others he said were suffering in the villages without support.
Paul Sezibwa the chairperson of SNUPA thanked the government for assistance rendered to the albinism fraternity but asked that sunscreen lotions be distributed free of charge to health centres countrywide so that they are easily accessible.
He also urged school administrators to always permit children with albinism to wear long-sleeved shirts, trousers and hats or sunglasses as this helps protect them against the harmful effects of sunshine.
Peter Kasolo the Jinja mayor who was chief guest condemned stigma and discrimination based on one’s physical appearance saying all people were created equal but with different abilities.
Commenting about reports of the sacrifice of PWA for riches, Kasolo said, “Promotion at the place of work and success is through hard work, not human sacrifice.”
Albinism is a non-contagious genetically inherited condition which results in a lack of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and hair causing vulnerability to sun exposure and bright light.
Due to the stigma and marginalisation faced by PWAs, the United Nations (UN) resolved to create awareness about the condition.
On December 18, 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming, with effect from 2015, every June 13 as International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD).
This year celebrations were held at Busoga Square in Jinja, under the theme: ‘United in making our voices heard’.
Since 2016, at least 54 people with albinism across the country have been cured of skin cancer while at least 1,500 have received skin cancer screening at skin clinics conducted by SNUPA, according to Peter Ogik the SNUPA executive director.
He, however, said on a sad note, that some 29 people died of the disease in the same period.