The Ghost People of East Africa

During Texas Southern University’s Intercultural Conference today, Dr. Vidia Robertson examined Albinism in East Africa and the harsh conditions in which they live.

TSU’s Intercultural Conference purpose is to broaden faculty, staff and students’ knowledge of other world regions and cultures while also introducing them to career opportunities and essential tools to work successfully in today’s global workplace.

Robertson’s extensive examination of Albinism in East Africa reaches as far back as the early 2000’s and covers the atrocious acts inflicted on these people.

“What is it in the Albino that so particularly repels and shocks the eye, that sometimes he is loathed by his kin,” Robertson said. “It is his whiteness that invests him. A thing that invest the name he bears. The albino is as well made as other men, with no substantive deformities and yet the mere aspect of his all prevailing whiteness makes him more strangely hideous than the ugliest abortion.”

Robertson mentions Albinos in East Africa are viewed as ghost people and referred to as “Zeru Zeru” or the nothings because of the belief that they are demon possessed.

“Albinic African bodies become ideological canvases on which the community casts its greatest fears and its most deprived desires.”

East African Albinos are regularly harvested for their body parts, according to Robertson, because of their assumed magical properties.

“These nothing people can be nobody important or of any value,” Robertson said. “They are demon possessed bodies of ghosts. However, the most gruesome result of this dehumanization of albinism is found in the belief that because of their supernatural ability, the body parts of Ablinic individuals can bring good fortune to those who seek them.”

Through his extensive research, Robertson equated the value of an Albinic body is estimated to be around 75 thousand US dollars.

“The fluidity of his being-ness points to a rupture in the core African identity of race,” Robertson said.


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