The soccer ball and the witch doctor

In Spiegel this weekend there was a report on witch doctors in Africa messing with soccer games.

A taste:

“They bend the lines, bewitch the ball, befuddle the referees (and) paralyze goal keepers,” Bartholomäus Grill, the Africa correspondent for weekly newspaper Die Zeit, wrote about the witch doctors — and sometimes their mischief making even leaves the field. “For example, when Shamo Quaye, who was playing professionally in Sweden, came home to Ghana to collect debts from his old team, he was bitten by a poisonous snake while at supper. He died on the way to hospital. The whole country had only one explanation: Juju, black magic.”

“Just as every German team has a masseur, every African team has a witchdoctor,” says Anthony Baffoe, a Ghanaian footballer who played for years in Germany’s top league as well as for Ghana’s national team and who now works for the Ghana Football Association. German filmmaker Oliver Becker tells of watching a Tanzanian player anoint the grave of a deceased teammate with chicken blood so that he might acquire the dribbling skills of the dead man, for himself.

Are we living in the 21st century?


About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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