Friday, October 2, 2009

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ABC News story, 'Albinos' hunted in Africa -

I couldn't help but flag this story and think about how this is a real life example that people could use to shore up their work when they are writing fantasy novels or even 'historical' novels.

There are witch doctors and fortune hunters in Tanzania who believe that by hacking off the arms or legs of 'albinos', they can use the body parts in magic potions that can bring wealth and good fortune.

This is horrible and leaves me with a sick feeling in my stomach imagining people behaving like this. The girl highlighted in the story was five months pregnant when she was attacked by guys with a machete. They told her they only wanted to take one arm, but if she screamed they would take both arms. She screamed. She miscarried her child because of the ordeal or illness afterward. It was unclear whether they took both her arms, or if doctors were unable to save them, but it is to the same result.

Writers should pay close attention to how people behaved in this story, as well as their own gut reactions. These are important things that will aid them in writing later, particularly if they are writing a fantasy about witches being hunted by 'normals', or fair folk hunted by humans, or even the vice versa.

In this case, I noticed that the people hunting the 'albinos' were motivated by greed or need. Not out of fear or hatred. This speaks much (to me) as to the lower depths of human nature. It helps you understand history when you pick up books and try to understand how or why people were capable of enslaving and peddling human being, shipping them around the world like cattle. Further that, take a tour of old European castles and listen to the descriptions of the torture chambers and the fate of 'criminals'.

In the case of these people, I would point a finger at the isolation of their villages and the superstition and rituals which they have been surrounded by since birth. A lot of these people don't know any better.

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