Tanzanian gov't criticises documentary on Albino attacks

Documentary examining attacks on albinos criticised as sensationalist and one-sided by Tanzanian government

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

13-year-old Emmanuel Festo from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a plush toy that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015.

A documentary called "The Boy from Geita" released in New York on Friday looks at the story of an albino boy who was attacked for body parts by witch doctors and received help from a Canadian charity.

Tuvako Monongi, Tanzania’s Permanent Representative to the United States, criticised the documentary film as being excessive and full of drama.

He said more than 139 people have been arrested for attacks of albinos, and of those 15 have been sentenced with 13 facing the death penalty.

"What is so objectionable about this documentary ... is that it advances a notion, a misconception, that you have people out there swimming in a pool of ignorance and waiting for some form of help from some foreigners," Monongi told a news conference.

Morongi said he had not seen the film but based his opinions on its trailer, as well as comments by the film's director Vic Sarin and thoughts from people who had watched documentary.

However, Sarin has defended his work and said, "I did spend my energy to be as honest as possible and give everyone a platform to tell their story."

He also added that he tried repeatedly to talk to members of the Tanzanian goverment but had been rejected.

Albinism affects approximately one in 20,000 people worldwide and is more common in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it affects one in every 1,400 Tanzanians.

TRTWorld and agencies