Founded in 2009, Asante Mariamu is a non-profit, grassroots organization dedicated to providing education and relief to people with albinism in East Africa. We work to teach people the facts about albinism in order to dispel myths; we provide skin care clinics and cancer screenings to extend the lives of people with albinism; and we support empowerment by providing scholarships and income generating projects.
We also work with other organizations around the world to highlight a deadly black market in Tanzania and parts of East Africa where witch doctors promote the belief that body parts of people with albinism can be made into potions to bring wealth or luck. As a result, a deadly black market has emerged where adults and children with albinism have been murdered by mercenaries who sell their body parts to witch doctors. Prosecution and conviction of the murderers are infrequent and unpredictable due to long-held cultural biases against albinos. We believe that the killing and mutilation of people with albinism constitutes a form of genocide.
As tragical this practice is, skin cancer is a far greater threat – and is more lethal to people with albinism than myths and stereotypes. That’s why our focus is on education and cancer prevention.
Many thanks or asante sana for exploring our story, and we hope that you will consider adding your voice to the growing community of people calling for justice for people with albinism in East Africa.
Our Perspective is to be Positive
The issues facing people with albinism in East Africa are serious and life-threatening. At times, the stories we hear and tell are heartbreaking. But the human spirit is amazing, and despite teenagers with skin cancers and a black market in body parts, we find courageous people who inspire us with their spirit, and children who have captured our hearts with their dreams. We choose to focus on this spirit, and balance the tough stories with ones of hope and strength. The message reinforced in all we do is: “Watu wenye ualbino ni Binadamu kama sisi,” which means “People with albinism are just like you and me.”
Our organization is named after Mariamu Staford, pictured above. Four years after surviving a brutal attack that should have killed her, she graduated with honors with her certificate in knitting from the Imani Vocational Centre. This triumph of spirit exemplifies our perspective.
What does asante mean?
Asante (ah-SAHN-tay) means thank you in Swahili.