The news that about 17 people of albinism have so far been abducted killed and some mutilated in Malawi is heartbreaking, tear-jerking, very shocking and sad. With these brutal killings one wonders if at all the once warm heart of Africa is the best and safe place for Albinos to live. That each week we read and see glue-some pictures of brutally murdered and mutilated Albinos is not a joke.
That Albinos are hunted even when they are dead and buried in their graves is one such thing that baffles all imagination, the most satanic, barbaric and horrible actions that has no definition. That our society has become the most dangerous place to live is all true since these horrifying brutal killings have inflicted fear in the lives of all Malawians.
As a way of putting an end to this wickedness, Government through the State President has called on the police to be vigilant, arrest and bring to book all perpetrators of this inhuman act in Malawi. On a national Television, the President has called on Malawians to be more patriotic and report such people to police. On the same Government is sending officials to Tanzania to study and learn from our counterparts on how to put an end to this mayhem.
Civil society and faith community have also condemned this wickedness. We applaud government other stakeholders for taking a strong stand against this violence. However I have put together six approaches that would help effectively address this challenge in Malawi:
A need for a Presidential Decree over the matter
In times of deep moral decay and social disaster, evoking the powers of the constitution through Presidential decrees is the best way to go. The constitution has invested some powers in the Presidency to protect the people of Malawi. These powers are used on special occasions to bring sanity in a nation.
The current abduction, brutal killings and mutilation of Albinos in Malawi calls for such presidential decree where perpetrators of this wickedness must not only face death sentence or locked up in jail for ever or have their right to life removed from them. these cruel and heartless people are a danger to society and must face the arm of the law.
I want to categorically point out that effort by government and other stakeholders on the matter is appreciated. However the depth of this brutality and social moral decay is beyond measure. Threatening and warning such heartless, brutal and conscious less people who even mutilate dead bodies is wastage of time. The only language such people can hear is to have them locked up forever, face death or have their right to life removed from them so that the rest of heartless people learn some lessons.
MPs constituency Advocacy
Members of Parliament must be involved in the fight in support of Albinos’ rights to life. It is a fact that all albinos belong to a certain political constituencies under a certain Member of Parliament. The death of Albinos tend to also reduce the number of registered voters in an area hence a call upon all MPs to carry out a nationwide campaign in support of Albinos right to life and security.
MPs in their constituencies must sensitive the people because even the murderers and killers belong to a certain constituency’. Now reaching out to MPs would increase the level of awareness and security of Albinos in Malawi.
Reviews of the laws
Many Malawians continue to question the verdict and judgments that are coming from the court of laws on those involved in the massacre and death of Albinos in Malawi. Many of us are wondering if at all the law really cares about the plight of Albinos in Malawi. How can someone who murder and kill Albino get some years in jail and not life or death sentence? What is the difference between those in jail because of murder and these Albino killers who are only given number of years in jail? What law is this? Is there any seriousness in the law? The law is design to protect the people and not to cause more harm. Kidnapping, killing and mutilating of Albinos is the type of brutality and wickedness that has no definition. This confusion in the punishment given to these killers forces many to call for a review in the application of these laws.
Empowering the traditional leaders
Traditional leaders play a crucial role in maintaining peace and harmony in Malawi. These leaders are the protector and custodian of our culture and tradition. As Malawians we all belong to specific Traditional Authority. Even Albinos come from specific Traditional Authority within Malawi. Thus empowering Traditional leaders provide protection for Albinos from within the village and traditional system. In this regard, traditional leaders would create village vigilantes who would protect Albinos and help police in this process. The absence of community based approach to caring and protecting albinos has led to a situation where Albinos are alone in communities with no security.
NGO’s joint advocacy
NGO’s joint advocacy against Albinos killings is what is needed in Malawi at the moment. Amazingly not all Human Right NGOs are condemning the killing of Albinos in Malawi. Those NGOs that used to leading in demonstrations are this time silent when Albinos are brutally butchered. Albinos have been left alone to fight for their survival while human rights organizations with huge funding are not doing anything. This is an irony and a surprise in human rights activism in Malawi today.
Some have argued that Human Rights Organizations’ have found themselves at crossroad because they seem not to know whose right to defend; whether that of an Albino or the Albino killer. Now we don’t have to be Harvard Graduate to understand that Albinos who are human beings have the right to life the very right that must be protected by law. Also we don’t have to be Oxford Graduate to understand that whether Albino or not we all have equal rights to life and must be treated the same.
Faith Community involvement
Faith communities in Malawi are part of the daily social, economic, political and spiritual life of the nation. We as a nation cannot do without them. The Faith Community has been part of problem solving process in Malawi since pre-colonialism. In this predicament today Malawi need the faith community to play the leading role in the fight against the killing of Albinos.
Thus through the Malawi Council of Churches, Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Evangelical Association of Malawi, Public Affairs Committee and all religious bodies, this fight must intensify so as to bring in light and help transform and reform people and systems. It is the faith community which has the God given mandate to deal with issues of the heart. These killers have wicked and rotten heart that need urgent attention. Thus faith community must carry out a nationwide campaign to civic educate Malawians that we are all equal and that every one’s life is precious before God.
- Dr Qeko Jele is Systematic Theologian, Educationist and a Social Development scientist and an Alumni of the University of Fort Hare and he writes this in his personal capacity as a specialist in Democracy, Religion, State and Development[email protected]
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