Anyone who watched last night’s BBC4 documentary on albino-rights campaigner Josephat Torner can’t have failed to be impressed with the courage and charisma of the Tanzanian. Fighting deeply-held but tragically misplaced beliefs by villagers that by presenting albino body parts to witchdoctors they would bring good fortune on themselves, Josephat travels all around Tanzania to re-educate villagers, often at great personal danger to himself.
The documentary culminated in Josephat’s trek up Kilimanjaro, a long-held dream of his to prove that albinos could achieve the same as other Tanzanians, and also to bring the world’s attention to the problem, which has seen dozens of albinos murdered and mutilated over the last few years.
We spoke to the organiser of Josephat’s Kili climb (and contributor to Trek & Mountain) Rhys Jones of RJ7 Expeditions to find out more about the man: “Josephat is an inspirational guy with an infectious giggle. He was an absolute pleasure to climb with, and it was certainly one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever done. He is extraordinarily driven, and summited Kili in amazing time despite having never walked up a hill in his life. Reaching the summit was important to him and the whole support team was very emotional when he made it. He did it entirely under his own steam too. It was an outstanding trip and the film tells an emotional story about the plight of living with albinism in Tanzania. Josephat has proven that having albinism should never hold him back and he has impressed me in a big way. I’m looking forward to taking him to the Himalayas.”
Yup you heard that right – Josephat has set his sights on trekking to Everest Base Camp next, and we wish him well with this and also his continuing efforts to change attitudes to albinos in Tanzania. You can catch the film on BBC iPlayer for the next few days, and we highly recommend you do – it’s a very moving and inspirational piece of film.
Meanwhile we will be teaming up with RJ7 Expeditions in early 2013 to offer the first ever Trek & Mountain expedition – we will be announcing details very shortly, so keep your eyes peeled!