Press

Breaking News: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) adopted Human Rights Council's resolution on the discrimination and attacks on persons with albinism.

South Africa News: Salif Keita "How to Spread it"

Listen to Executive Director of The Salif Keita Global Foundation, Coumba Makalou Keita and other special guests, on RFI in a special discussion about albinism


Salif Keita releases new album "TALE" featuring Esperanza Spalding, Manu Dibango, Bobby Mcferrin, produced by Phillipe Cohen of Gotan Project (2012)

Salif Keita accuses
African Leaders of albino sacrifices to hold on to power


Salif Keita arrives in Malawi to 
perform for first-time ever and makes a demand to the government to improve the lives of albinos in Malawi

Paralympics 2012, Nantenin Keita, albino daughter of our founder Salif Keita, wins Bronze Medal in 100 meter race

La Voix d'Or de l'Afrique" , a children's book about the life of Salif Keita, by Michel Piquemal, is published by Albin Michel Jeunesse Paris (2012)

Forbes magazine list Salif Keita as 7th Most Powerful celebrity in Africa (2011)

Salif Keita tops
CNN lists of 10 African Celebrities (2011)

Yves Rocher Foundation
Makes It's Annual Donation to Support 3000 Albinos in Mali (2011)

Salif Keita is named Peace Ambassador for the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (July 2010)

Congratulations to the Tanzanian people for
electing their first albino MP to Parliament!
Equal rights WILL be achieved for all persons with albinism in Africa and beyond!

Listen to NPR to learn more about Salif Keita's plight for albinos

Thank you to Congressman Gerry Connolly for sponsoring the new US law against the African albino genocide!
H. Res. 1088: Recognizing the plight of people with albinism in East Africa and condemning their murder and mutilation. 

Recent interview in New York where Salif Keita talks about his foundation and the condition of Africans born with albinism. Year of Peace and Security in Africa September 21, 2010


"Peace and Security is an everyday goal. I hope to bring joy and hope to the people through my music, and ask them to put their weapons down so we can work together in peace to build a better Africa."
Salif Keita, AU Peace Ambassador
    
African Union Peace Security Ambassadors: Award accepted by Mrs Keita Coumba Makalou

Salif Keita performs at Cote D'Ivoire National Reconciliation Concert
July 30, 2011


Performing in Abidjan for the country's National Reconciliation Concert on July 30. Salif Keita was also greeted by the albino community in Abidjan and vowed to pursue all responsible for the violence against ALBINOS in the international courts.

Salif Keita headlines East African Tour (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania)
to raise awareness for Albino Rights


Salif Keita with his wife, Coumba Makalou, on stage with members
of the Ugandan Albino Association in Kampala(10/10)

Salif Keita Fights Albinism Stigma in Kenya (October 2010)

United Nations Report on Albinism (2009)



Salif Keita vows to defend albino rights in international courts

During a press conference in Abidjan on July 30 2011, Salif Keita said he would pursue all individuals and governements responsible for violence against albinos. The singer dedicated his performance to Peace and Reconciliation for all people in the country, including vulnerable groups.

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Meet Tanzania's New Albino Lawmaker

Scores of albinos are murdered for their body parts. Bar'wani wants to help change that...

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Keita Using Music to Fight Albinism Stigma in Africa

Daily Nation - Bill Odidi - Oct 22, 2010
Visiting Malian singer and Grammy Award nominee Salif Keita performs at the Simba Saloon, Carnivore, in Nairobi on Thursday night...

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Tanzania: Salif Keita Brings 'La Difference' to Dar Es Salaam

12 October 2010

Dar Es Salaam — One of Africa's all time great musicians, Salif Keita, is set to play a special gig in Dar es Salaam tonight to condemn albino killings.
According to the event coordinator, Cletus Pius of Red Cross Africa, the concert, to be staged at the Movenpick Hotel, aims to advocate war against witchcraft-associated killing involving albinos...

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African Leaders Buying Human Albino Parts: Group

(AP) – Oct 11, 2010

NAIROBI, Kenya — A lobby group says politicians are involved in the trade of human albino body parts in Africa and use them as charms to bring them good fortune.

Albino body parts are sold for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in parts of Africa. Coumba Makalou, president of the U.S.-based Salif Keita Global Foundation, a group that advocates for albinos' rights, says those who pay for body parts include rich businessmen and politicians looking to improve their political fortunes.

Makalou says body parts sell for as much as $2,000. At least 57 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 in Burundi since 2007. Thousands of albinos are estimated to live in hiding.

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The killings are fueled by superstitious beliefs that human albino body parts will bring wealth and success.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
 

Couple Adopts Children with Albinism from China

August 22, 2010

Watch this video to see the report on this incredible family.

Faut Pas Rever, Mali
TV5

August 6, 2010

Report on Mali. Salif Keita opens his home, his foundation and his heart to the French television cameras.

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Salif Keita is named Peace and Security Ambassador for the African Union (July 2010)


Ms. Coumba Makalou, President of SKGF, along with other peace and security advisors and ambassadors. ( AU)

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Recent interview with Salif Keita about his foundation and albinism with Awa Lodwell

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US Congress Passes New Law Against Albinos Torture, Killings

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Albino Man Fled Discrimination

Lawyers for a Malian albino man granted asylum in Spain have told the BBC he faced constant discrimination at home.
 
Abdoulaye Coulibaly, 22, who arrived illegally by boat in the Spanish Canary Islands in April, says he also survived two kidnap attempts in 2007.
 
Cases of violence aimed at albinos are unusual in Mali, but there have been numerous cases of murder, kidnap and torture of albinos in East Africa.
Lawyers say Mr. Coulibaly's case shows the problems are more widespread.

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In Tanzania, witchdoctors sell good-luck potions made from the body parts of albino people for thousands of dollars.

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In Tanzania, Albinos are Hunted for Charms

By Betsy Pisik

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UNITED NATIONS | It is easy to pick out Al-Shaymaa Kwegyir in a photograph of Tanzanian lawmakers. She's the one whose radiant smile beams out from a face so ghostly pale that it makes everyone around her seem darker.

Ms. Kwegyir is an albino, affected by a rare genetic condition in which the skin and hair lack pigment. She was appointed to parliament last year by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and put in charge of the government's newly created office for albino affairs.

The job is not ceremonial: At least 50 Tanzanian albinos were killed or mutilated in 2008, according to a report by the International Red Cross.
"I have heard much of these killings," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during a recent trip to Tanzania. "It is a very serious issue and I am very sad to hear what is happening."

He pledged that the world body would support Tanzanian initiatives to halt human rights violations.

Most attacks on albinos are motivated by a brisk but illegal market for magical charms and potions made with albino limbs, organs, blood or skin. The talismans are thought to bring wealth and good fortune to the wearer in many African cultures where superstition trumps science and witchcraft readily overpowers religious faith.

Ms. Kwegyir lamented that many Tanzanians are not going to churches or mosques. "They just believe in witchcraft," she said in a magazine interview. "They don't believe in God."

Salif Keita, a popular West African singer, has set up two Web sites and foundations to provide basic aid to Mali people with albinism.
"La Difference," his album released in early November, addresses Mr. Keita's albinism for the first time.

"People have to break away from stereotypes about magical powers," said Coumba Makalou, Mr. Keita's wife and business partner.

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Salif Keita: Donations near 100K USD for 2009

October 12, 2009 
 
The Salif Keita Foundation for albinos presented Saturday in Bamako, sun creams and textbooks to students of the rural commune of Kalabankoro.

A total of 5672 tubes for a total of nearly 39 million CFA francs. To add, 1025 tubes where distributed in the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro, Sikasso, Segou and Mopti for a total estimated at 6.67 million CFA francs. The Foundation has invested in January to the present 45.5 million CFA francs (close to 100K USD) to help albinos, which does not include daily distributions of sunscreen to those living in Bamako.

Albino Killers 'Should Be Hanged'

BBC News - Sep 24, 2009


Albino people live in fear in
Tanzania and Burundi
The Tanzania Albino Society (Tas) has called for the men found guilty of killing an albino boy to be hanged publicly as a warning to others.

A court sentenced them to death for attacking the boy and severing his legs for use in witchdoctors' potions.

The BBC's John Ngahyoma in Dar es Salaam says there are more than 100 people on death row, but no-one has been executed in more than 15 years.

But Tas chairman Ernest Kimaya urged the president to endorse the sentence.

"I want other perpetrators to learn - seeing is believing," he told the BBC.

Mr. Kimaya told Tanzania's Citizen newspaper that a public execution would also "show that the government is serious in its war on albino killers".
In the past two years, 53 albino people have been murdered in Tanzania.

Albino people, who lack pigment in their skin and appear pale, are killed because potions made from their body parts are believed to bring good luck and wealth.

The Tanzanian government has publicly stated its desire to end the killings.

In March, President Jakaya Kikwete called on Tanzanians to come forward with any information they might have.

Reprisal Fears

Officials banned witchdoctors from practicing, however many have continued to work.
 
Many of Tanzania's estimated 17,000 albino people are now living in fear, especially in villages in the north-west where the majority of the murders have occurred.

The case in Kahama on Wednesday was the first conviction in Tanzania for an albino killing.

Correspondents say there is also a fear of reprisal killings as witchdoctors and their clients wield a lot of power in their communities.

Witchdoctors in Tanzania and other parts of East Africa have made tens of thousands of dollars from selling potions and other items made from the bones, hair, skin and genitals of dead albino people.

They pay a lot of money for body parts.
 
In July a court in neighboring Burundi sentenced one person to life in prison and eight others to jail for the murder of albino people whose remains were sold in Tanzania.

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Men Severed Albino Boy's Legs in Ritual Killing

Posted Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:28pm AEST

A court in Tanzania has found three men guilty of murdering a 14-year-old albino boy and severing his legs.

They have been sentenced to death by hanging.

The three men attacked and killed the young boy last December - one of a string of more than 50 albino murders that have taken place in Tanzania over the past two years.

This was the first guilty verdict since then and human rights activists hope it will help put an end to albino killings.

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The ritualized murders are based in a belief that the ground up bones of albinos bring good luck to those who possess them.

The three men have the right to appeal the death sentence, which the law has said was unexpected.

Alleged Killers of Albinos On Trial in Burundi

By Patrick Nduwimana

* Prosecutors present human bones as evidence

* More than 50 killed in Burundi and Tanzania

RUYIGI, Burundi (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Burundi on Thursday asked for life sentences for three people on trial for allegedly murdering albinos to sell their body parts for use in witchcraft.

More than 50 albinos -- lacking pigment in their skins, eyes and hair -- have been murdered in Burundi and neighboring Tanzania in recent months.

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Defending Albinos' Rights to Life

Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Date: 08 Jun 2009

By Andrei Engstrand-Neacsu in Nairobi

Superstition has led to the killing of more than 60 albinos in Burundi and Tanzania. The Red Cross Red Crescent is backing government efforts to protect them, and defends their right to a life in dignity.

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Kenyan Rights Groups Says More Needs to Be Done to Protect Albinos

By Alisha Ryu

09 June 2009 A Kenya-based group representing albino communities in East Africa says efforts to prosecute suspects in connection with a recent wave of killings in Tanzania and Burundi will not be enough to stop the murders. The group says governments must also do more to eliminate myths about albinism and to educate the public about its cause.  

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In Hiding for Exposing Tanzania Witchdoctors

By Vicky Ntetema

BBC News
Thursday, 24 July 2008

Watch BBC Video on Actual witchdoctors proposing Albino body parts in Tanzania.

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"I am living in hiding after I received threats because of my undercover work exposing the threat from witchdoctors to albinos living in Tanzania..."

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The Plight of the African Albino

May 8, 2009
by COUMBA MAKALOU

Imagine being born with black skin, black hair and eyes from white parents and family in an all white society. Many of you would find this difficult, as it would be an impossible occurrence, unless there was a black blood line somewhere in the child’s genetic makeup. Now, imagine the opposite scenario, being born with white skin, blond hair and blue eyes from black parents, and family in an all black society. Many of you would also find this idea difficult or impossible to imagine, for the exact same reasons the contrary is impossible, unless you have seen a black person with albinism, then in that case, you would know that this phenomenon is very possible, and actually occurs in 1 in 1,000 babies born in Africa.

Albinism is defined as an inherited condition that is present at birth. It is characterized by a lack of melanin, the pigment that normally gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes. Many types of albinism exist, all of which involve lack of pigment in varying degrees. The condition is found in all races, but, being a black albino in Africa, is the reality of being born a black person who only looks like a white person but has black parents, black siblings and is surrounded by an entire continent of black people.

How traumatic do you think this type of phenomena would be for a child as he grows up, seeing that he is fundamentally different from his parents, yet, knowing that he is genetically the same as them, while still physically embodying the traits of a race that is not his own? Can you imagine how difficult it is for a child to feel normal in such circumstances? Not understanding that his lack of melanin is the reason he looks white but is actually black, or that he can’t see well or focus his eyes and needs special glasses; and why he cannot play under the African sun with his friends because it might burn his skin or give him cancer eventually killing him; or why his mother has to hide him and keep a close eye on him during elections so that he is not kidnapped and killed for his body parts?

These are the types of issues affecting children with albinism, their parents, siblings and an entire society that for the most part does not understand the genetic condition of albinism. The simple lack of scientific education and information about the genetic disorder in Africa, is the main source of the social isolation, attacks, illnesses, and murders of people with albinism.

Also, the cultural propaganda against albinos stems from and is fueled by a society, believing more in the occult, then in science or law. A traditional and cultural practice of seeking the advice of the corner witchdoctor before or even rather than that of a certified physician, lawyer, or policemen to solve any issue they may face. Witchdoctors being viewed almost as living gods, who claim to have the answers to every problem and a sacrificial way of obtaining ones wishes, sometimes exist only to promote the false belief that people with albinism have supernatural abilities, therefore creating a black market for their body parts for magical potions that they claim create superior luck for obtaining wealth or powerful political positions.

And in Africa, tradition is hard to break when no other long term plan of changing economic circumstances is offered. Some people become desperate enough to believe in these practices, and desperation is almost always a dangerous thing, especially if you are born albino in Africa, it becomes, almost certainly, a deadly thing.

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=113859950&blogId=489610922

Salif Keita Invited by Ouest-France Talks About His New Album and Being an Albino (in French)

April 23, 2009

View Interview and Article

The Hunt for Albinos is Still On

13/04/2009 / AFRICA

The case of 18-year-old Moszy, who landed on a Spanish beach along with several other refugees from Africa, has raised awareness of the plight of albinos in many African countries, where witchdoctors claim albino body parts can bring wealth and good luck.

Albinism is an inherited genetic condition characterized by the absence of melanin in skin, eyes and hair and can affect all races. African albinos, easily spotted by their white skin and fair hair, have long been ostracized and discriminated against. The target of superstitions and sorcery, they are hunted down for their body parts, some of which are thought to confer magical powers.

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African Albinos’ Fear of Butchery by Witchdoctors

A campaign by Tanzania launched to combat the surge in murders of albinos for their ‘lucky’ body parts threatens to spread the violence

By Josh Burrows
FIRST POSTED MARCH 16, 2009

Last Sunday, residents of a small village in Burundi noticed a palely-colored object - approximately the size of a sack of grain - bobbing at the water's edge of a local river.

There was, for most of them, no need for closer inspection: they knew that they had found the dismembered torso of yet another albino child - butchered alive, limbs, organs and other body parts removed and then discarded like empty packaging. The murdered boy was eight years old.
In the last five months, at least nine albinos living in the small central African country have met with a similar fate. In late February, a six-year-old albino was literally torn limb from limb when a group of men attacked his family, murdered the child and then carried off their valuable prize, which, if sold to the right
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people, could fetch thousands of dollars. Mercifully, though, the spate of albino murders in Burundi is not yet as prolific as it is across the border in Tanzania.

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Aljazeera TV Report on Albinism Killings

In the past 18 months, at least 25 Albinos, including children, have been mutilated and murdered in Tanzania.

Authorities say witch doctors appear to be linked to the killings.

Albinism is especially prevalent in Africa, where it is estimated to affect as many as one in a thousand people.

It occurs when the genes don't produce enough portions of a pigment known as melanin, meaning the skin is extremely pale.

Yvonne Ndege reports from Tanzania.


Posted on Monday 12 January 2009 - 15:49

Kingsley Kobo, AfricanNews reporter in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire Photo: Africansounds

Albinos Are Hunted for Body Parts in Tanzania

Matt Brown, Foreign Correspondent
  • Last Updated: November 04. 2008 8:40PM UAE / November 4. 2008 4:40PM GMT
NAIROBI // It is not easy being an albino in Africa. It is even worse being an albino in Tanzania, where fair-skinned Africans are hunted by witch-doctors for their body parts.

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Africa's 'Golden Voice' Shines Light on a Plight

Salif Keita's Condition Has Become His Cause
 
By Stephen Brookes
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 15, 2008; Page M03
 
The horrific reports started streaming in from East Africa last year. In Tanzania, a teacher was arrested for killing his own son because the child had been born an albino. In an area around Lake Victoria, the corpse of another albino was found with its limbs cut off; other bodies turned up missing tongues or genitalia, and earlier, six albinos were killed for their skins, which were then displayed for sale...

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Famous Malian Albino singer, Salif Keita has cried out to those killing albinos to "stop marginalizing albinos."

Speaking during an enlightenment forum organized recently in Bamako, Keita said the rate at which albinos are being marginalized in schools, hospitals, buses and supermarkets is reaching alarming proportion.

He organized the highly-publicized forum meant to sensitize the Malian population about the social agonies albinos are confronting in the country and the need to address the situation.

“They say we stink, they say we’re evil. Nobody wants to see us, nobody wants to touch us. No parent would give out her daughter to you in marriage. And no girl would want to go out with you,” Keita stressed.

A communiqué issued at the end of the forum appealed to the entire Malian population to accept albinos and consider them as human beings. The musical theme sang by Keita himself reads “The difference in our skin color is the richness of our heritage.”

The forum also included a fund-raising session meant to build a special hospital for the treatment of albinos, since regular doctors and nurses in public hospitals are not comfortable with them. A total amount of 49,856,000 million cfa (76,000 euro) was raised.

Albinism is a form of hypopigmentary congenital disorder characterized by a partial or total lack of melanin pigment in the eyes, skin and hair. Albinism results from inheritance of recessive alleles.

In the past, albinos were killed at birth in Mali and in some other African countries they were used for rituals. Seven albino youths were reportedly strangled in
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Mali recently.

http://www.africanews.com/site/list_messages/22618

Salif Keita Wants to Build Hospital for Albinos in Mali

August 15, 2006
Africa News, Netherlands

The world famous African singer Salif Keita is currently on tour through North America and Canada to raise awareness for African albinos. Keita, who is born as an albino in Mali, has dealt with discrimination because of his skin-color and is now devoted to obtain fair treatment for other albinos. In some parts of Africa, like Mali and Cameroon, albino newborns are killed by other family members, either because they suspect that the mother had sex with a white man or because they think the colorless child is cursed. If albinos survive the first year of their life they are at risk to be kidnapped and sacrificed by others because they are seen as ill omens. Albinism, a genetic condition that deprives skin, hair and sometimes eyes of pigmentation, is estimated to affect one in 1000 people in Africa. Albinos deal with increased health risks such as skin cancer and impaired vision. The 57-year old Keita lost his albino sister to cancer about ten years ago. Now Keita wants to make sure his 8-month-old daughter, who also suffers from albinism, has access to the best care available. The singer has started a website (www.salifkeita.org) to raise money to build a hospital in Mali to provide proper care to ailing albinos.

http://www.africa-interactive.net/index.php?PageID=1527

Singer Raises Awareness of Africa Albinos

By Joyce Howard Price
August 14, 2006
The Washington Times

When Salif Keita was born in Africa more than a half-century ago, he and his mother were thrown out of their home by his father, horrified because the baby was white-skinned when he should have been black. Mr. Keita, an albino from Mali, was fortunate because his father eventually took them back. "Albino babies are often sacrificed in Mali, and in Cameroon, an albino baby is killed as soon as he or she is born," he said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. In some parts of Africa, albino newborns are killed by other family members, who suspect the mother has had sex with a white man or assume the arrival of the colorless child means they are cursed. Albino children in many parts of Africa are kidnapped and sacrificed, either because they are seen as ill omens or because of folklore that ascribes magical powers to potions produced from sacrificed albinos. "That still happens, especially before elections" and important sports events, said Coumba Makalou, a Mali-born Marylander who heads a grass-roots group that uses African music and art to draw attention to conditions that are special problems in Africa, such as malaria and albinism. Albinism, a genetic condition that deprives skin, hair and sometimes eyes of pigmentation, is more common in Africa than in the U.S. The U.S. incidence is one per 17,000 births, said the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH), which has offices in New Hampshire. In parts of Africa, albinism is estimated to affect as many as one in 1,000 people, said NOAH President Mike McGowan. "Albinism is more prevalent in closed areas, where there is not a lot of immigration or emigration," he said. Mr. McGowan said violence against albinos is "quite rare" in the United States but does occur. He cited the case of an American Indian albino who was beaten to death three years ago in northern Minnesota by a gang of teenagers who did not like the way he looked. "An albino in this country faces an inordinate amount of teasing and staring, because he or she looks different," Mr. McGowan said in a telephone interview Wednesday. Miss Makalou heads Conscientious Organizations Using Music to Bring Awareness, or COUMBA. She says the suffering of albinos is "an outrage, since it is all based on peoples' ignorance." Miss Makalou is touring in the United States and Canada with Mr. Keita, whom she describes as "one of the top three singers in Africa," assisting him in his bid to raise proceeds for a foundation he has established to help albinos in his native land. The tour was arranged by Mr. Keita's record company, Universal Jazz France, to promote his new album, "M'bemba." The cross-country tour began last week with a sold-out performance at the Apollo in New York and continued with more sell-out or near-sell-out concerts in California, including Los Angeles, Oakland and Santa Monica. Mr. Keita will wrap up the tour this week with performances at music festivals in four Canadian cities. Mr. Keita, 57, said he has faced discrimination most of his life because of his condition, and is devoting his time and wealth to obtain fair treatment for other albinos. Albinos face increased health risks such as skin cancer and impaired vision. Mr. Keita lost an albino sister to skin cancer about a decade ago. He wants to make sure his 8-month-old albino daughter, Natenin, has access to the best care available. He has started a Web site (www.salifkeita.org) to raise money to build a hospital in Mali to provide proper care to ailing albinos as well as patients with a range of other medical disorders.

http://washingtontimes.com/national/20060814-120138-5383r.htm


Albino Afropop Star Salif Keita Talks About Mali, Magic, Murder

July 18, 2006
Bloomberg

Salif Keita, the albino Afropop star, stopped by Brooklyn's Metrotech Commons recently at a packed afternoon concert to promote his new album, ``M'Bemba'' (Decca), as part of BAM's Rhythm & Blues Festival. Backed by electric guitars, percussion, traditional African instruments and two dancers, Keita, 57, showed up in faded blue jeans, white cotton shirt, and his signature Kufi skull cap. After finishing the concert with a little dancing, Keita -- the Golden Voice of Mali to his fans -- talked to me at a nearby hotel about his music and his mission. Hilferty: Your seventh album is called ``M'Bemba.'' What does it mean? Keita: Ancestors. Hilferty: Returning to your roots? Keita: I have never left my roots. But I am definitely making a connection to the past. Hilferty: You were born into a noble family and descended from a 13th-century emperor. Is that a burden or privilege? Keita: You always have to be proud of your origins. When you are a descendant of Mali's warrior-founder, you have to respect that tradition as much as possible. It's a responsibility as well. Hilferty: But your noble father frowned on your musical aspirations. Keita: Yes, but there is no life without difficulties. Hilferty: Another source of trouble in Mali was being a white-skinned black man. Keita: It's mainly due to ignorance. In Africa, many don't realize that albinism is due to lack of pigmentation, and, instead, there are superstitious interpretations. I was a social outcast and suffered much from that. Magic Potions Hilferty: I understand that some albinos are sacrificed in Mali, turned into magic potions? Keita: It still happens today. There are a lot of court cases pending because there are no laws protecting albinos. Every time there are elections, albinos disappear because they are used for human blood sacrifices. Hilferty: Scary. What role did your albinism play in your decision to become a musician? Keita: If I were not an albino, I would not be a musician. I was not allowed to continue my education because of being albino. Since they kicked me out of school, I had no other choice but to pursue music. Hilferty: When was your first big break? Keita: When I was found and pursued by the leader of the Rail Band of Bamako, Mali's capital. Hilferty: So he wasn't albinophobic? Keita: In spite of my skin, I became very popular when I sang in the bars there. Hilferty: So music saved your life? Keita: Absolutely. Musical Pioneer Hilferty: You became a pioneer of so-called ``world music'' with your 1987 album, ``Soro.'' What do you think of that term, ``world music''? Keita: It's just a category started by record labels to sell African and other music. I guess you could say I am part of the world, not an extraterrestrial alien. Hilferty: Tell me about your foundation to help albinos. Keita: I had to start it. One day I almost had a fit because I met an albino who had cancer on his head, and took him to a hospital where they refused to treat him. Ocean of Lotion Hilferty: What has your foundation done recently? Keita: A friend in Rennes, France, made a donation of 2,000 tubes of suntan lotion for albino children. There was also a big gift of sunglasses and clothes -- the cancer starts in the eyes, that's why the sunglasses. We're not going to stop with Mali. We will go everywhere in the world where there are albinos because all of them are affected by the sun. Hilferty: You also started a nightclub in Bamako called Mouffou. What happens there? Keita: It can hold 500 people. It provides opportunities for young artists to perform and promote themselves. There's also a state-of-the-art studio where they can record. Hilferty: What's the most important thing you've learned in your years of music making and travels? Keita: That music is therapeutic. I know because if it were not for music I would no longer be here. (Robert Hilferty is a critic for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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To contact the writer on this story: Robert Hilferty at rhilferty@mcihispeed.net)

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/newspid=20601088&sid=a8yRTPVym_GU&refer=home