Albinos in fear

Albino woman in Burundi.

Because of superstition albinos fear for their lives, and Burundi and Tanzania are some of the most dangerous areas for them. An albino’s life may be traded for a huge amount of money. Wizards and witch doctors mix good luck drinks adding blood, bones, skin, and hair from albinos, while fishermen believe their catch will increase if they weave albino hair into their nets.  The prize of an albino’s hand may be as high as USD 2,000.

The condition is due to a genetic defect resulting in complete or partial absence of the ability to produce pigments. People with albinism have few or no pigments in their eyes, skin, and hair. The absence of a tyrosinase gene, or a defective one, from both the mother and the father is the cause of albinism. Usually children with albinism have parents with normal pigments, but who both carry albinism in their genes.  So having a baby with a partner carrying the exact same gene defect as oneself, where both transfer their defective genes to the fetal, is necessary in order for a child to be born an albino.

Albinism occurs in all races. On average 1 in 4,000 are born albinos in Africa, while the number is 1 in 17,000 among Caucasians.