Let’s keep juju out of sport

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 07:35:10 +0000

 

By Augustin Phiri

As if it is not a common specter in Africa, a lot of hullabaloo has been raised about the alleged use of black magic, voodoo or juju by some teams during the just ended Total-sponsored Under-20 African Cup of Nations Football Championships hosted by Zambia.

Is it really rare in Africa for warriors to smear some concoction and carrying some form of firewood to enhance their performance against opponents and non-opponents alike?

You see, it is a known fact that some of you who are crying the loudest, have carried a root in your pocket to dazzle in your favour a panel of people interviewing you for a job.

Yes, some of you have stuck a piece of root or twig under your tongue during your court appearance for swindling your employers and hoping to confuse the magistrate or judge and swing the verdict to your side.

What do you call it? Ohoo yes , it’s the ‘palibe kanthu’ meaning there is no case here.

Some people have a few tattoos in the waist and when going for work, they tie a strap of cloth on the bicep carrying pieces of herbs and concealed by the long shirt sleeve and jacket on top.

Musicians have not sung certain songs for nothing about lovers of a certain gender who are in the habit of harvesting and roasting gecko the lizard and feeding their spouses who show signs of insolence.

With these and many more, why make a big deal out of Ama Sene-Sene, as the Senegalese are called especially on the Copperbelt where they once boot-legged in emeralds between 1970s and 1980s?

It is an obligation for a football team doctor to carry the First Aid Box containing panadol tablets, Vaseline, bandages, Sloans rub-on used for deep muscle massage, a pair of scissors and pins, to name a few.

Our brothers (from other mothers) in West Africa go further; they include in the First Aid Box some other African sports medicine, which Zambians see as juju.

Was it the work of juju when that South African defender scored a beautiful goal by beating his own goal keeper who dived in the wrong direction?

This happened in the play-off match between Amajita of South Africa and Guinea, another West African team, during the  play-off match to determine the third and fourth placed teams in the just ended junior AfCON tournament.

It is widely believed that some weird African sports aids work wonders; they make the referee to become more friendly the beholder of the tools and see fouls, off-sides and hand balls only in players of the opposing squad.

These gadgets are also blamed for slowing down the line of play and make opponents play inferior football while the goal keeper is made to see a bear approaching even when this man-eating predator does not live in Africa.

Coming back to the Zambia-Senegal encounter, it seems the West Africans miscalculated their fortunes. They forgot that Zambia is a Christian nation and as such, some odd aids aimed at boosting their performance on the pitch were seized at the border by the Holy Spirit and sent back to the sender.

In Zambian football, no real incidents of black magic has ever been witnessed, at least publicly apart from unconfirmed reports doing the rounds about goal keepers on the field seeing a locomotive train approaching instead of a rival striker.

It is only in a wrestling ring that spectators were once treated to the real black magic. This was in 2005 during an international wrestling bout between Lubandi Mamba Mulozi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia’s Willie ‘Tigerboy’ Nkandu (now the late).

A champion wrestler from the Katanga province neighbouring northern Zambia, Mulozi walked into the ring covered in white powder. He carried charms and had earlier boasted that he “will beat Nkandu and carry his wife with me to Congo so that I can display her as a trophy of my victory”.

Each time Mulozi swung a cloth, Nkandu was overpowered, fell down and collapsed simultaneously along with the match referee. In some instances, Nkandu was made into a robot and did what his opponent told him to do by way of gestures.

The match did not go beyond the first round as the Wrestling match officials stopped the fight.

In post-match interviews, Nkandu told local sports reporters that whenever Mulozi swung the towel at him he felt like sand hitting him in the face and the whole body.

But Mr Mulozi insisted that he had not used any black magic, only “his own powers” and demanded a rematch to give him a chance to avenge his brother, who broke his collar bone in a wrestling match against Nkandu in 1996.

You see, one tends to believe that some pastors used this hypnotism method by Mulozi to also immobilize their followers during healing church services. The worshippers are hit by the invisible power and easily tumble to the ground in a trance like wrestler Nkandu did.

Sorry, never mind this unwarranted diversion and outburst on my part, we are talking football here.

There have been scenes of black magic at play in some foreign African countries. For instance, in a recent football match in Rwanda, a player apparently performed a ritual and within seconds he is said to have scored a goal.

This was in a game between Rwandan Premier League teams Mukura Victory and Rayon Sports. In the video footage a named Rayon’s striker whose team was trailing 1- 0, is captured missing a goal by hitting the goal post.

The player then dashed to the goal, knelt down and leaned a small object against the goal post. (see the picture).

The player was then chased away by an angry goalkeeper from the rival Mukura Football team but as the game restarted, the same player scored a stunning goal and leveled the score line 1 – 1 up to the end of the game.

This is exactly what happened on Sunday to Zambian goalie, Mangani Banda who chased away Senegalese striker, Mane, who also had dropped a black object in the junior Chipolopolo goal mouth.

Banda complained to the Burundi referee who bears the same name as his President Nkurunziza, who in turn, ordered Mane to remove the strange black object.

Unlike in the Rwandese situation, Mane did not score a single goal on Sunday and Senegal lost 2 – 0 to Zambia.

This incident, however, prompted the Federation of Rwanda Football Association (FERWAFA) to ban the use of witchcraft in football and imposed a fine of 100,000 Rwandan Francs (£99 or about ZAMK 1,280) for anyone found practicing juju on the field of play.

The British Sun daily newspaper, recently conducted a survey into the alleged use of black magic by African footballers plying their trade in various Premier League teams and the findings showed positivity.

Investigation revealed that Premier League stars travel the 9,000-mile round trips to West Africa to visit Juju men with supposed supernatural powers to perform rituals to reduce the risk of injuries and boost their skills.

A named high profile African player is said to have recently accused his mother of using Juju on him during a family feud while another was reported to use a bizarre ritual in a cemetery to chase away bad spirits.

The former West Brom striker Brown Ideye told the Sun: “I know players who get involved with the Juju men and they can’t get out.

It’s a trap. They might get short-term benefits, but in the long run they pay for it. Juju men have a lot of influence.”

“If things like that worked then instead of Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo winning world player of the year, it should be some African players. I would advise players not to follow this route but it’s their choice; I can’t stop them,” adds Ideye.

Whether charms in sport work or not, is everyone’s guess. But for Zambia, let us do something and let God help us keep away juju from our lovely sport of football.

 

kapenyatheobserver@yahoo.com

 

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