How many of you have heard of the use of witchcraft or juju in African football? My guess is, very many. So, do you think it works, or does it have a place in today’s (modern) football?
If you haven’t heard of it, I have, hence, the headline, ‘what’s with this juju thing’, but I’m quite certain, very many of you reading this, have a vague idea of it or have heard about it in one way or another, especially if we’re living on the same planet.
Without mincing words, African football is jam-packed with the use of external forces, which include witchcraft or juju as a means of attaining success. Being part of the continent, Rwandan football is no exception.
Personally, I don’t believe witchcraft has a meaningful influence on the outcome of a football match and I don’t think it should have a place in today’s football—one could use it and by fate, the result goes his way but without maximum training believe you me, witchcraft is utter waste of time and talent.
Juju over training!
The art of African witchcraft or juju is a phenomenon that’s difficult to explain. According to research, juju exists in much of Sub-Saharan Africa and it has long been common for football teams to turn to it (witchcraft, or juju), to gain a competitive edge.
But because of the secrecy surrounding such practices, it’s difficult to tell how widespread they are among the users, who I’d prefer to refer to as culprits. If you’re reading this and know your team or a friend uses witchcraft to excel, thank your lucky star because I’m not going to mention names of teams or individuals widely known for their love for juju.
In our local football, there are claims of rigorous use of witchcraft right from the top club to the very least. My extensive investigation has led me to believe that some coaches and players seem to put their trust much more into the external forces than the actual science that makes football the ‘beautiful game’.
Some coaches at teams regarded as big, spend more time looking for the best witch doctor than they do studying their opponents while some top players spend a big amount of their hard-earned meager monthly wages on personal ‘coaches’.
Superstition in sports
Sports, but in my case football is full of different rituals or superstitions be it in Rwanda, in the Cecafa region, Africa and even in Europe.
For instance, Chelsea and England defender John Terry always sits in the same place on the bus traveling to the game. He also ties the tapes around his socks that hold his shin guards in place exactly three times.
Manchester United’s Gary Neville is such a superstitious man especially when his team is on the winning run. He can wear the same belts, same shoes, same aftershave all season for as long the Red Devils are winning.
Neville never changes his boots when Manchester are on a winning run of games! But juju isn’t mere superstition or ritual. It’s more than that.
According to Wikipedia, juju is: ... an aura or other magical property, usually having to do with spirits or luck, which is bound to a specific object; it is also a term for the object.
Juju also refers to the spirits and ghosts in African lore as a general name. The object that contains the juju, or fetish, can be anything from an elephant’s head to an extinguisher.
In general, juju can only be created by a witchdoctor, few exceptions exist. Juju can be summoned by a witchdoctor for several purposes; good juju can cure ailments of mind and body.
Any thing from fractured limbs to a headache can be corrected. Bad juju is used to enact revenge, sooth jealousy, and cause misfortune.
For African players, to produce feats that surpass human ability, they need more than coaches, trainers, managers and doctors. They need what has been perfected in Africa as the “researcher” or in plain language a witch doctor.
In Rwanda, in the region and across the continent, teams spend huge sums of money on “research”. The beneficiary of the research money is the witch doctor who is consulted on the fortunes of a team before a major game and the intervention strategies employed to strengthen his team as he weakens the opponents!
In sub-Saharan Africa, it is a common practice for football teams to turn to witchcraft, or juju, to gain a competitive edge. It is claimed that witchcraft can give a team a competitive edge over the opponent but the business of engaging juju is a highly secretive one and therefore it’s difficult to tell how widespread it is.
In some countries such as Tanzania, clubs that have been found using juju are fined. Both Simba and Young African have been fined on two separate occasions for resorting to crude witchcraft methods such as intentionally urinating on the pitch.
The Confederation of African Football has also issued stern warnings to teams including witch doctors on the official list of delegates to tournaments.
However, matters of tradition and spirit are difficult to legislate against successfully hence it will take a long time for juju to be eradicated from the African game.
My free advice to the juju users is simple, if you believe in witchcraft, it will work for you. However, if you believe solely in witchcraft and throw training in the wind, you will have yourself to blame!
Hope some of our ‘star’ players, coaches and teams take note because even the ‘toothless’ Cecafa have promised to wage war against the use of juju as it doesn’t help the development of football in the region.
If indeed juju works in football, can it really work (for instance) for Rwanda with a million “researchers” to beat a “researcherless” Brazil?