ELCT Press Release
Date: May 13, 2014
Press release No. 007/05/2014

Mission outreach is the best solution to stop Albino killings - Bishop
By Elizabeth Lobulu

The Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran in Tanzania (ELCT) South East of Lake Victoria Diocese (SELVD), Emmanuel Makalla, has pleaded for the protection of elderly women and people with albinism killed by ruthless people who believe in witchcraft.

He said in order to check the rampant killings of old women and albinos in the lake zone of Tanzania, “the community can only be liberated through preaching of the Gospel. We need to increase the effort of preaching the Gospel in the communities where the killings take place instead of putting emphasis on using the police to make arrests and taking alleged culprits to court only.”

He said some members of the community still believe in outdated beliefs of witchcraft to such an extent that “they fear naming alleged culprits. Even some of the police sent to make the arrests are afraid to visit the communities having heard scary stories from other colleagues.”

Presenting a paper at a consultation attend by Bishops from ELCT and Bishops from Germany (VELKD) in February this year, Bishop Makalla said emphasis on preaching the Gospel in the Lake Zone will bring about the liberation that will enable people to live in dignity.

He said for the time being there are no enough measures in place to curb the wave of killings of old women and people with albinism in the lake zone. “They live like refugees in their own country as they are hunted down like wild animals due to superstitious beliefs.” He said “wild animals were better off because if an elephant is slaughtered commissions are formed up to the international level in order to probe the incident and curb future attempts.”

He appealed for similar commissions to probe and protect lives of elderly women and people with albinism and to make sure orphans do not go hungry at orphanages.

He cited an example of Buhangija Orphanage run by the Catholic Church located close to the ELCT-SELV Diocese Head Office in Shinyanga that started as an orphanage for a few children but now it is hosting albino children. As a result it operates beyond its capacity and sometime it fails to feed and provide essential services adequately. By February 2014 the orphanage had accepted 260 children with albinism, the ELCT Bishop explained.

Although the centre is run by Roman Catholic nuns, from time to time the ELCT Diocese provides food aid and it is planning to help with the rehabilitation of its infrastructure; namely the drainage, lavatory facilities and recreation area so that the orphans can live in dignity.

On spreading the Gospel in the communities, he said, in 2008 he took part in a mission outreach campaign in Bariadi villages involving 200 evangelists and many people converted to Christianity; and in all the areas they managed to reach; incidents of murder of elderly women was significantly reduced.

Also a one-week campaign in Sanungu village in Shinyanga in 2010 resulted in 1,113 people being baptized and the village saw an end to the killings of elderly women, he said. In another mission outreach campaign carried out in 2012, in Idukilo village, at least 1,020 people were baptized after receiving the ‘Word of God’.

Bishop Makalla said 127 years since the Gospel “seed was planted in Tanzania by German Missionaries; we still have mission areas in the country.”

The Berlin III Missionary Society, also known as the Evangelical Missionary Society for East Africa (EMS) was among the three Lutheran mission societies from Germany that introduced the Lutheran Church in then Tanganyika (later Tanzania) when it opened its first missionary station at Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam in 1887.

Participants of the consultation were in support of the notion that ‘every person is created in the image of God’ and that there was need to advocate for the rights of those who are marginalized like the albino and elderly women who are killed for having red eyes.

People with albinism are killed as a result of widespread belief that those in possession of their body parts will get rich.

Elderly women are killed because of archaic belief that their red eyes ‘confirm’ that they are witches. But the bishop explains that elderly women have red eyes because they had been living in dwellings without windows all their lives while using cow dung for fuel due to shortage of firewood in the area.

The South East of Lake Victoria Diocese is among two dioceses of ELCT inaugurated in 2013.

The word “albinism” refers to a group of inherited conditions. People with albinism have little or no pigment in their eyes, skin, or hair. They have inherited altered genes that do not make the usual amounts of a pigment called melanin.

==================================================
Eric Adolf
Communication Coordinator,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
Box 3033, ARUSHA, Tanzania.
Phone: +255-27-250-8856/7
FAX: +255-27-254-8858
E-mail: Eric Adolf <erickin@elct.or.tz>

For more information contact:

Eric Adolf
Communication Desk Officer, ELCT
E-mail: erickin@elct.or.tz