The three-year project will be implemented in nearly a dozen districts throughout Malawi, focused on protecting children, women, and the elderly, who are often targeted as practitioners (or associates of practitioners) of black magic. According to a 2008 survey, 3/4 of Malawian households reported knowing of witches in their community, and nearly 2/3 said they knew someone who had been accused of practicing witchcraft.
And it's not just Malawi: A 2010 Gallup poll found that throughout 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, 55 percent of those polled believe in witchcraft. For many Africans belief in black magic is considered part of everyday life. In Africa, witch doctors are consulted not only for healing diseases, but also for placing (or removing) magic curses or bringing luck-much like many psychics and fortunetellers in America.
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Belief in witchcraft can have other horrific consequences as well: In the East African countries of Tanzania and Burundi not far from Malawi, at least 50 albinos were murdered for their body parts in 2009 according to a Red Cross report titled "Through Albino Eyes." An albino's arms, fingers, genitals, ears, and blood are highly prized on the black market, believed to bestow magical powers. In November of that year, four people were arrested and sentenced to death in northern Tanzania for killing an albino man to harvest his body parts. A month earlier, albino hunters beheaded a ten-year-old boy and hacked off his leg.