‘In the Shadow of the Sun’: Film highlights deadly challenges of being albino in Africa

Josephat Torner -- albino rights campaigner from Tanzania and subject of Harry Freeland's documentary "In the Shadow of the Sun." Credit: In the Shadow of the Sun
Josephat Torner — albino rights campaigner from Tanzania and subject of Harry Freeland’s documentary “In the Shadow of the Sun.”
Credit: In the Shadow of the Sun

In Tanzania, white skin can be deadly. It is not just the fierce Sun that preys on albinos, although skin cancer is the main cause of a life expectancy below 35. The real terror is the industry that trades their body parts, believing them to hold magic powers, causing over 130 murders and mutilations since 2008.

This is the grim backdrop for ‘In the Shadow of the Sun’, the surprisingly uplifting odd couple story of young British film-maker Harry Freeland and fearless albino activist Josephat Torner. Six years in the making, the documentary charts Torner’s travels across his country, and then the world, in search of recognition for albinos.

“My mother was advised to poison me,” Torner, 36, says in an interview at Metro’s London offices. Born as the only albino in a family of 35 children, he was “a shame to the whole community”. But after a childhood of torture and stigma, he was sent to a specialist school for albinos, and began work for disability charities.

“I met Harry at an albino day protest,” Torner recalls. “After that we started to travel together and raise awareness.”

Some of the film’s most powerful scenes are of Torner confronting prejudice in remote villages, often the scene of recent albino killings. “We had scary moments,” says Freeland, 24. “There were a number of death threats and at times Josephat was talking to murderers.”

The activist goes on to climb Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s tallest mountain – despite the physical suffering engendered by his condition. “When I was tired I listened to the voices of the people I had lost, and I knew that if I did not make it we will all suffer,” says Torner.

The impact is already being felt, with the Tanzanian government finally prosecuting albino killers and establishing more specialist schools, and one politician adopting albino children after meeting Torner. The odd couple are now working hard to expose the lucrative body-part industry, after Torner’s next challenge: climbing Mount Everest.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.