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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When desperation and ignorance combine, everyone loses

When desperation and ignorance combine, everyone loses.

Mariam Staford Bandaba, a Tanzanian native, was brutally attacked by machete-wielding thugs a year ago in her home village in the north-western Kagera region. Bandaba lost an arm in the attack and the other was amputated in the hospital where she had remained for several weeks. Although senseless attacks occur in Africa on a regular basis as they do in the streets of any major city, this particular attack ought to spark particular interest. Bandaba is one of thousands of Tanzanian albinos that live in constant fear of being attacked. It is believed that mutilated body parts of albinos are sold to synthesize potions. Bandaba’s attackers would have been paid a lot of money for her body parts. Fortunately Bandaba survived the assault and was brave enough to identify her aggressors—some of whom were arrested, and then sentenced to death. Nevertheless, should one examine any of the three parties—Bandaba, her attackers, or the consumers of these so-called albino potions which have not been proven to work—all of their losses result from acts of desperation and ignorance.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),Tanzania is in the bottom ten percent of the world's economies in terms of per capita income. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than 40% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. Due to its topography and climatic condition, cultivation of crops is limited to only 4% of the land area. (1). Although outlawed by the government, witch-doctors still practice in this country, claiming that a potion made of an albino's hair, blood or limbs paves the way to riches (2). Regrettably, enough people were gullible to fall for this fairy tale that over 53 innocent albinos were murdered in grisly ritualistic killings in the past two years.

On the other side of the planet, the U.S. Secret Service has be

Barack Obama and Michelle ObamaImage via Wikipedia

en overwhelmed in its duties in the past several months. According to a U.S. congressional report, the Service’s activities have increased due to terrorist threats and the expanded arsenal of weapons that terrorists could use in an assassination attempt or attacks on facilities. According to specialists who study homegrown radical movements, the domestic threat has risen—fueled in part by Barack Obama being elected as the nation’s first black President. As a result, Obama was given Secret Service protection 18 months before the election—the earliest ever for a presidential candidate—making him the target of more threats since his inauguration than his predecessors. (3). Based on the number of celebrations that occurred worldwide after Obama’s victory, it would be correct to assume that the number of radical groups pushing for his assassination is in the minority. If an assassin were to succeed in his or her attempt, the hope that Obama was able to instil in the hearts and minds of people worldwide would greatly be diminished. In addition, America’s image in the eyes of the world—which has steadily increased since Obama took office—may falter (4).

Although Bandaba’s attackers may have sold her limbs, their gains were short-lived since most of them were sentenced to death. As for Bandaba’s father and four siblings—who have been taking care of her since the attack—they all live in fear of reprisals. Even though a physical threat against Obama has not made the news lately, the constant racket perpetuated by the Teabaggers, the Birthers, and a certain Faux network has done everything but bring a nation together. Everyone has a right to their beliefs. However if one were so desperate as to physically or psychologically harm another person in order to push their own belief, they ought to do themselves and their neighbours a favour: don’t be ignorant.

Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora's Succession. Subscribe for free to receive serialized excerpts here.

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