Benson Chukwueke Benson Chukwueke Author
Title: AFRICAN FOOTBALL AND THE WITCH DOCTOR'S POT OF FIRE: We Found out Juju Doesn't Play Football - Says Dr Rafiu Ladipo
Author: Benson Chukwueke
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It's not about teamwork or players' skills or the coach tactical prowess; it's about tradition and superstitious beli...



It's not about teamwork or players' skills or the coach tactical prowess; it's about tradition and superstitious belief. Most African teams employ black magic (Juju) in their football. Prior to important tournament like Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) or the world cup, the team will employ a witch doctor to perform a series of chants around a pot of fire, to cast spells on their opponent or evoke supernatural abilities on the team players. Sometimes, the witch doctor may create special portion in powdered form or a variety of liquid. These portion might be eaten or worn by players or carried by supporters or placed around the field prior to the game. Juju is in the heart of African football.

In the last AFCON finals between Zambia Vs Ivory Cost, some pundits believe that Zambia national football team, the Chipolopolo, indeed employed witchcraft to evoke the spirit of the 18 compatriots that dead in the 1993 air crash in Gabon; when they visited the crash site before the final game. Even the Zambian coach, Herve Renard, also believe something beyond the obvious was responsible for the historic win. "The team found the strength I don't know from where" said Renard. "It just felt right to have won the trophy, but it wasn't because of my tactical prowess."

On the other side, an Ivory Coast fan lamented a story "In 1992, the first time Ivory Coast played in the finals of nation’s cup. The sports minister then, enlisted a battalion of fetisheur, Jujumen, to give the Ivorian team a supernatural advantage against Ghana. When the minister reneged on promises to pay the fetisheurs, they put a hex on the national team,  So the team suffered disappointing run for ten years before Defense Minister, Mouse Lidi Kouassi, approached the witch doctors to make amend. Then, the hex was lifted in 2002, when Ivory Coast qualified for the world cup, for the first time." But the fan believe that the hex is still working against the team. Even though the team is ranked number one in Africa, with great stars like Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Gervinho... the Elephants still loose to meadows when the chips are down.

Sarfo Gyani, a member of Ghana team at the 1992 nations cup said, "It always happen. Players use juju to protect themselves and to search for luck; but it is destroying African football. Most African teams do not attain their full potentials because of their reliance on black magic."


Former Ghana Coach, Goran Stevanovic, revealed deep divisions within the Ghana national squad, saying some players used witchcraft against their own teammates. The Serbian made his claim in a leaked report on the Black stars failure at the 2012 AFCON, where Ghana were beaten by eventual winners, Zambia.


 Rafiu Ladipo, Cheer Leader of Nigeria Supporters club, has admitted that for many years Nigeria used Juju with hope of winning matches. "I was carrying Super Eagles Juju for so many decades until we came to realize that Juju doesn't play football." said Ladipo on LTV Sports Slash program. “We have now decided to put a stop to it. We now rely only in praying and fasting to help Nigeria win their matches.

However, many commentators wondered what praying method the supporters club would be adopting, since they all came from different religious background. Perhaps, what cut the attention of many on lookers is Joseph Yobo, the captain of Super Eagles, who constantly go to consult with Prophet TB Joshua, the general overseer of Synagogue of all nations. And in recent years we have seen the Prophet's interest in predicting the outcome of most Super Eagles games. Perhaps, the Nigeria national supporters club has now resort to practicing 'white Magic.'

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