AFRICAN footballers, especially those plying their trade in the English Premier League have over the years been linked to the use of black magic (juju) to enhance their careers and survive competitiveness of top level football.
Nov. 10, 2021
4 min read
Black magic rife in African football
Likuena striker, Nkoto Masoabi
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Reports have also made the rounds that players in different divisions of Lesotho football are big admires of black magic and that they regularly consult traditional healers to aid their performance.
Former Likuena captain, Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana, who has also played his football in Tunisia and had an illustrious career playing for the Lesotho national teams, admitted that the use of black magic or muti, is rife in football.
“Yes, I discovered in the early days of my career that the use of black magic in football is very popular. I have played players and against teams that believed in the use of black magic,” Mothoana explains.
“They would before games engage in these weird rituals and charms to enhance their fortunes and that of their respective teams. These would be done in our presence, where we openly witnessed those acts. Their argument was that work is work and whether you like it or not, the rituals they were performing worked for them,” he says.
Mothoana, who was a member of the Makoanyane XI side that qualified for the Africa Youth Championship in 2005, states that he was also advised to consult a traditional healer, who would help him as he nursed enduring injuries.
Adds Mothoana: “Even here at home I know of players that used and believed in black magic, but I can’t name them.
“You will remember that I struggled with long-standing injuries and some of those players used to nag me, contending that the rosary would not come to my aid and that I can’t put all my faith in a prayer,” he says.
Former captain of Zimbabwean giants Dynamos, Memory Mucherahowa, in his autobiography-Soul of Seven Million Dreams, reveals that the belief in black magic in African football is so rife that it actually gets in the way of technical strategies.
"Every week before a game, our team would consult a traditional healer. I, as the team captain, would be the one to execute whatever the sangoma (juju-man) had said. Whether it actually aided us or not, I do not know," Mucherahowa says in his book.
"The team believed more in juju than players' ability. We believed in collective use of the juju and consulted one traditional healer as a team. In most cases we had the team's traditional healers who were on the team's payroll.
"The belief was so high at the club that the coach [Peter] Nyama lost his job in 1990 after being fingered by a traditional healer as being guilty of jinxing the team. My loyalty was with the team's cause and I was prepared to do anything. I was prepared to die on the field ... and even volunteered to be the team's juju carrier," he writes.
Former Likuena captain, Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana
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Likuena striker, Nkoto Masoabi, who has played in different other countries including South Africa and Libya without giving away that much shares that various clubs and coaches believe in African magic, but he has his own beliefs as far as his football career is concerned.
“I cannot say that much as far as that is concerned, but of course teams and coaches believe in that. I personally have my own beliefs that work for me,” the lanky skipper notes.
His compatriot Tumelo Makha playing for TTM in the South African Glad-Africa Championship echoes the sentiments of his teammates that black magic works for those that believe in it.
“To those that believe in it, I guess it works, but for me praying helps in my life and career,” Makha says.
“As you go out and play in different countries, you will be shocked with what you see. It’s very big in other leagues like where I play, you see players always doing rituals and using many other things to aid their performance,” he adds.