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May 8, 2015

The Claim: Muti is the traditional medicine practice of Africa which includes herbal preparations, magic charms, amulets and the use of body parts of endangered animals and humans.  Muti includes the most egregious and dangerous example of superstition’s risks and harms to current global society – the hunting of people with albinism for their body parts.

The Evidence:  Jamie Campbell’s article on The Independent website is a shocking reminder that superstition can reach the most despicable and heinous of depths.  It is almost inconceivable that the world must be advised that there are people who live in fear of their lives because

Their body parts are desired by witch doctors for use in black magic potions and spells, said to bring love, luck and wealth.

A Canadian charity, operating under the name Under The Same Sun is working to assist and protect these vulnerable people.  On their website, UTSS  describes that their

primary focus is on advocacy and education as well as assisting (people with albinism) PWA to access external information, education bursaries, health care and other community supports available to assist with their genetic condition.

According to an article in Voice of America, Tanzania and Burundi have plans to actively protect people with albinism.  How far should such protection go? In Malawi, the Inspector General of Police is quoted as saying

“We cannot just watch while our friends with albinism are being killed like animals every day. We do realise that these people are ruthless, have no mercy and therefore need to be treated like that.”

Meanwhile the Executive Director of UTSS is more interested in catching the “big shark” not the “little fish”.  Promoting the use of deadly force by police (any police, anywhere) is not something that should be undertaken lightly or often.  We need police to be secular, sensible and focussed on protecting people.  CFIC supports UTSS position that killing ignorant and vicious criminals on the spot isn’t going to solve the problem.

Conclusions: There is no evidence to support that muti provides clinically proven remedies or treatments.

Superstition has the potential to reach the most cruel and horrible of depths. We can only correct such things with the tools of reason, science, education and the most resolute commitment to go beyond the temptations of emotion-driven retaliation.  There can only be a market for superstition when people are uneducated.

This is an example of the harm enabled by humouring “woo”.






Article Writers and Contributors

Principal Author:  Eric Adriaans

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