The albino who confronted a witchdoctor

Stephane EbongueImage copyright
Smart Factory

Stephane Ebongue fled Cameroon because of the colour of his skin – his albinism made him a target for those who believe such people have special powers. Years later he returned home to confront a witchdoctor, and to question him about the practice of using human body parts in “magic” potions.

Stephane Ebongue stands nervously at the edge of a forest trail, dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. His dark sunglasses are a necessity because he has albinism, but they also hide his nervousness. “My heart is beating fast. I have never come to a place like this before,” he says.

This is the day he hopes to find answers he has spent years searching for. The trail leads to a witchdoctor who trades in albino potions.

“I would like to find out why albinos keep getting killed. Maybe the secret lies at the end of this path,” he says.

Ebongue is a journalist, a rational man who deals in facts. He does not believe in magic, yet he is deeply unsettled about this meeting.

Across Africa, in countries such as Tanzania, Malawi and Ebongue’s own country, Cameroon, there is a belief that people with albinism bring luck or have magical powers. This has devastating consequences for those with the condition.

“It is believed that parts of an albino, such as their heart, hair or fingernails, are important to make magical potions – for instance to fertilise the soil, to become invincible, to win political elections or a football match,” says Ebongue.

“This is why albinos are killed and mutilated for the parts of their body.”

comments powered by Disqus