HomeSportIt's Friday the 13th, be very afraid!

It’s Friday the 13th, be very afraid!

MUMBO jumbo. Scary. Creepy. It’s still happening but it is not one of those gory tales that would pop eyes out of their sockets and suck life out of paraskevidekatriaphobics on a day like this.

erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>It’s Friday the 13th and many horror-movie addicts would recall the series that includes Jason Lives, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason Takes Manhattan, The Final Chapter as well as Jason X and Freddy vs Jason.

I remember scurrying to bed, gripped with fear, as soon as Friday the 13th started showing on television in the early 1980s.

I wonder if we have many paraskevidekatriaphobics in Zimbabwe, those afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th.

But I have little doubt those running the show at Dynamos are down on their knees, praying the bad luck associated with Friday the 13th won’t spill over into the weekend and spoil their fortunes again.

Things must be pretty bad for the Harare football side that they have come to believe Friday the 13th is haunting them nearly every weekend since the onset of the season. This might sound trivial until you appreciate how the belief in juju has thrown Dynamos’ so-called rebuilding exercise into disarray.

After they were shocked 0-5 by Motor Action in a league match they expected to win, Dynamos are said to have considered investigating whether someone had “slept at the stadium” to weaken the potency of the juju they had arranged at Rufaro on the eve of the match.

I’m reliably informed that one of those who call the shots at Dynamos wants one of the club’s most experienced players out because he believes the left-footed midfielder’s personal juju is “clashing” with the club’s potions.

As if that’s not enough, Dynamos’ n’anga has alleged that one of the club’s senior coaches had evil spirits that were bringing bad luck to the team.

Dynamos have so far been humiliated by Motor Action, Amazulu and lowly sides Chapungu and Monomotapa in a season they thought they had done everything right to bring back the glory days at the former champions.

Another titbit from the troubled camp claims one member of the technical team won’t be ejected despite his glaring shortcomings in charge of the team simply because he has a “strong heart” to carry out the rituals as ordered by the club’s sangoma.

Only last weekend, Dynamos bosses were said to be considering sweet-talking a former executive member who was purged earlier this year because they believe he has cast a bad spell on the team. Hanzi akasunga zvinhu mudhara iyeye.

It all sounds funny and unbelievable, but sorcery in Africa has been as much a part of football as the ball itself since time immemorial. From Cape to Cairo, witchdoctors are called different names — from n’anga, sangoma to marabout — and it is all about black magic, better known as juju, muti or bo.

I don’t know whether Dynamos players are “cooked” in big black clay pots with all kinds of herbs or not but we are reliably told most players’ feet have endured razor-cuts on which concoctions are smeared.

Naboth, one of my brothers, would always be part of the Dhewa FC squad in Zengeza in the early 1980s though he was not a player but would be tasked to carry a small “wrapped thing” without knowing what it was. We later learnt it was the team’s talisman that had to be carried by a young innocent boy for it to work.

A former footballer who frequents the Quill Club in Harare tells me during his days at Mhangura in the early 1970s a sangoma was so much part of the team that he would even fly with the first 11 for a match in Bulawayo while substitute players would make the trip by rail. He talks passionately about how they would not take their kits for laundry if they won, lest they wash away the luck.

Forms of sorcery in soccer can also range from simply smearing the blood of animals and pigeons as well as eating herbs to slaughtering wild animals for ritual ceremonies.

It must be in Swaziland that a soccer team in the mid-90s slaughtered a lion, an elephant as well as a host of other animals to give the team all-conquering potency.

I remember in 1995 players at South Africa’s Orlando Pirates had to be bathed in a special potion several days before their unprecedented African Champions Cup victory over fancied Asec Mimosas of the Ivory Coast. At the stadium, the Pirates players were ordered to follow the sangoma out of the changing rooms, keeping strictly to the left-hand side of the passageways in order to avoid bewitchment.

Asec Mimosas dominated the match but shoot as much as they did at goal, it was either the post or a spectacular save. With barely 20 minutes to go, two Mimosas defenders mysteriously clattered into each other and Jerry Sikhosana stole the ball and scored to give the South Africans a shock win. Juju had worked, so many believed.

Three years ago, the Ivory Coast government finally settled a 10-year dispute with witchdoctors who claimed to have had a hand in the Elephants’ African Cup of Nations victory in 1992.

Last month, the Nigeria Football Association gave the association’s head of technical matters, Kashimawo Laloko, a serious warning following his public comments on juju in football. Laloko was widely reported to have declared his faith in the effectiveness of juju in deciding the results of football matches.

Many players believe in the power of the spirits, while others go along for the sake of morale. So popular is the use of black magic in soccer that even in Europe some footballers now believe in juju.

But one big question remains. Why have African teams — for all their sorcery — not won the World Cup?

Someone might argue the Europeans have their own form of rituals, like kissing the ground before entering the pitch or burning incense, that is more potent than African juju.

I’m not sure if Dynamos still consult Sekuru Kondo of Zviyambe, Hwedza, but whoever it is, the juju is just not working in their favour. And it can never work at the club at the moment even if they bring a sangoma from the moon.

Whatever the Dynamos management, players and fans believe in, I know the bad omen that is threatening to bring down the institution. It’s the administration, period.

I’m not a sangoma but it’s there for all who care to open their eyes that awful management is the reason the team is performing so terribly on the field.

The current crop of players at Dynamos is as good as at any premiership club if not better, but any playing formula or the strongest of juju won’t work in such chaos.

The players are hungry and angry. The club can’t pay up signing-on fees, and the team’s losing streak means there are no bonuses as well.

It’s probably why one of the senior players has resorted to vending marijuana to supplement his income. Ask even the Motor Action players who buy the stuff from him over the fence that divides Callies and Hellenics sports clubs.

Even the team medic has had enough. It’s the reason DeMbare resorted to using a commuter omnibus tout as a medic after the qualified physiotherapist had boycotted over non-payment of his dues.

As long as Dynamos continue hunting for the right juju — even haprakata-prakata akaita sei — and do not stop the circus forthwith, they will sing the blues forever.

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