Mysticism in sports especially in Africa and with African athletes has been a subject of controversy for years. I am sure quite a number of users have become familiar with some of my contents that have tinctures in display of such as marabout, amulets and strange sights of concoctions.


Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies, together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them. It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences. Wikipedia



Mysticism in Africa touches virtually on all aspects of life. Politicians, Civil/Public Servants, Wives, Husbands, Children, Students, Churches, Mosques, Traditional Practitioners, Military, Sports and so on and so forth.

The housewife for example will visit the marabous to be given a portion that makes it nearly impossible for her husband to look at other women or in fact thinks about adding another wife. The husband on the other hand does so in other to be given an item that makes his wife to be glued to any man in the event that she engages in adultery, until he is summoned to break the spell. Sometimes they say an entire village disappears when an enemy is about to attack it. The student will be given a portion that will make him or her, be scholastically at the top of the class. Some so called men of God use spell acquired from God knows where to perform dramatic healing miracles in crusades; the Malams(Mullahs) performs wicked acts based on the instruction of a client. The Bokas(sorcerer) is ready to do anything for up to killing a person or persons for the right price as demanded by the spirits.


I know that some of you may consider the stories as fiction or super story; well I am an African, a Nigerian for that matter. There is no part of my country where one form of Juju or the other is not practiced. I may not believe in it or practice it, but it is commonly engaged in by people we have as acquaintances, relations, and colleagues who are seeking for domination.

I am also sure that there are lots of users on the platform, especially of African descent who will quickly identify and agree with acts of mysticism. Also, there are some other users on this platform who might have partaken in one ritual form of mysticism or the other. I am sure too, that there are others who through share acts of scholarly curiosity have become familiar with stories mysticism. This is not to mention certain African players in the EPL who have been accused of using juju.

The practice of mysticism is as old as man itself; it will be unfair to confine it to the African continent alone, I remember the old fantasy movie Willow and the more recent one Merlin which depicts that other parts of the world are quite familiar with sorcery and magic. The motive behind the patronage of diviners/soothsayers and membership of one form of cult group or the other is best known to those who use and practice it. L. Ndiaye captures it below.


“If we have to travel through epochs and cultures, we will realize that ancient Greek society has also resorted to the mystic to solve some vital concerns to which "reason" did not provide satisfactory answers. Thus, the Greeks indulged in acts of ritual possession in the Dionysian cult. By way of example, we refer to the propitiatory uses of Corybantism, which is realized through music, the sacrificial action offered by the patients to the gods and the dance to which the participation of the beneficent deities was expected. It is enough simply to read Psalm 73/22 to be convinced of the existence of the possession in the liturgy of the Hebrew mysticism and the belief in these supernatural phenomena.
In Christianity, where the primacy of a personally experienced experience of reflection is discussed, the Church has accordingly been authorized to recognize the possibility for men to come into contact with the forces of the Church. World of the supernatural through ecstasy, trance, vision, revelation, prophecy, etc. Do we not see, today, some priests who have become specialists in the practice of therapeutic exorcism, whose objective is to expel, through ritual activity, evil demonic spirits?” L. Ndiaye.


I don’t know about you reading this blog, but back in the days there was a mythical story going round that the Indians were banned from participating in FIFA Football Tournaments because the legend has it that India and Ghana once played a football match which ended with an astonishing score line of 100-1 in favor of India. The story has it that the Indian team was aided by some mythical powers/black magic which helped them to score whooping 100 goals. It was believed that the mythical forces were strong enough to transform the ball into different fearsome objects. The football, it was said, took the shape of a three-headed lion or something like that of a spiky chunk of a palm tree to get the better of the Ghanaian's. This according to the legend was what made the Ghanaian goalkeeper to allow 100 goals in during regulation time.

I smile to myself each time I remember that story. Funny enough, the date and the venue for this game being as irrelevant as the logic in this story, yet we believed it with religious zeal at the time, partly due to youthful naivety and of course lack of logical analysis. That being said, it is left at the caprice and the discretion of you reading this blog to look at the following story how you want. However, it is my intention to as usual speak about African athletes and African sports.


" The phenomenon has increased within traditional wrestling no doubt, but in all sports too, the marabous have exploited corpses, shrouds, tombs" It was not thought that the Senegalese would push the audacity to kill albinos, fornicating in cemeteries by sleeping with dead people, preparing meat soup in cemeteries, opening the mouth of a corpse, among others. It is an ignoble barbarism, acts of anthropophagy to condemn” . Prof. I. Sow. In his book, divination, marabous, destiny.

Mystical preparation plays a key part in all the sports in Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Niger Republic, Gambia, Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, and central Afrique some are some of the hot beds of all manners of mystical believes and powers. While other African states are significantly inclined towards one form of mysticism or the other, the northern part of the continent cannot be said to be that inclined.

Far from being a secret practice, magic and its other forms are permitted with or without regulations. It is a concession made by the official governing bodies when it became nearly impossible to separate fighters and their supporters with tradition and entertainment. This is so because it represents a language in which a wrestler can articulate his practical and emotional makeup of combat. It also aids in mobilizing the support of team members, family, neighborhood, and village of origin.


The downside of the practice is that mystical preparation turns an individual fight into a war between two groups beyond the wrestling arena. But it also crystallizes all the dissensions, rivalries and betrayals that threaten the solidarity within the group at the risk of undermining vital support for the wrestler. Such rivalries which transcend the arena made it necessary for the governing bodies to regulate the brazen show of the paraphernalia’s of mysticism that may otherwise incite a rival group of supporters.

Some sports like traditional wrestling and its stylized kickboxing have virtually authorized the usage and patronage of mysticism; hence the fighters are seen wearing all sorts of accouterments within and without their bodies. Their loincloths have hidden within it different types of charms and substances imaginable. It is a common sight to find incantations being chanted by the fighters themselves and their marabous before and after duels. Physical presence of containers is seen, strewn inside and around the arena for consumption and for diabolic domination.

For example, wrestlers wear gray-gray or other protective items such as amulets, holy water and animal or human sacrifices to increase their chances of winning. These rituals are beliefs and legacy inherited hundreds of years ago, it is used to create tension and especially when the magical champion dance steps are performed by fighters. Mysticism is believed to dispel and break all forms of danger and gives the fighter a protective strength that makes his body immune to the powers of his opponent.

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These magico-religious rituals and its by-products allow an opponent to deceive, frighten or confuse an opposing combatant. Fighters believe that they cannot imagine themselves going into the arena to fight without the protective shield of mysticism. Of course for the fighter, winning fights is a whole lot of chain; however, mysticism forms an integral part in the preparation before a fight. Without mysticism, the match would be bland and meaningless and a fighter will be left at the mercy of the unknown.

“Wrestling mainly contains only two things: physical training and mystical preparation. The rest is sheer luck” . Marabout Grand-Yoff.
The average athlete in Africa will very early in his or her sporting pursuit have the curriculum added in a subtle way the subject and practice of mysticism. From an early age; the objective bases of his or her reflection are therefore sometimes limited; there is no question of questioning the natural intelligence of an athlete; so many have always sat on the notion of spiritual power, to get to know any sport at the highest-level, one must be able to appreciate the diabolical inclusion of marabous as early as possible.

Pape Diouf, former president of the Olympique de Marseille club, said: "In football, everyone has his marabou, everyone has his witch doctor. This can also be a collective responsibility, since it is not uncommon for some African teams to have a budget specifically allocated to this practice. Even if it is not the prerogative of the African continent, the use of magic and its specialists – marabous and other "wizards" - is indeed widespread in the amateur sport as in the international competitions.

Some couple of years ago, one of my senior friends and a onetime National Football player confessed to me that he had to let go of playing for the national team for reason of "spiritual attacks". According to him, “each time he enters the field during screening for a major tournament, a strange power takes over and renders him immobile whenever he is in control of the ball”. To be candid, I know him to be the best among his contemporaries back in Maiduguri, a first rate footballer to the core and a household name. Whether my friend’s claims were true or not i don’t know, but what i know is that his career as a footballer was cut short for some reason.


Taribu West, a former Nigerian international football star now turn born again Christian confessed to have engaged in the patronage of spiritual masters during his football days. According to him, his Senegalese manager will take him to several native doctors to be prayed upon and given spiritual powers for effective delivery in his club side and his national team.

In Black Africa, the "unacknowledged" desire of men to be able, at any price, to dominate the people leads them; it seems, to use every possible means to find themselves at the top of the social hierarchy. Or to rise to find a place at the level of the "big leagues", the space of those who, by the force of things, will have the "monopoly of legitimate violence" - the expression is to bulldoze. In this way, they ask the "master-pollsters" of the supernatural, specializing in "black magic" or "white magic", to guarantee them protection or to eliminate a feared "enemy-foe". L. Ndiaye.

Believe or not, Africa is a continent of mysteries, what it practice is strangely deep and unfathomable. Africa is perceived as a world where reality and the irrational are intrinsically linked. In other words, every event, every gesture or fact always has a spiritual explanation. Right or wrong, but what the question is, does African magical power play a role in any sport?

A former Cameroonian Footballer, Benjamin Diboué was heard to have revealed that during a match, when he had the ball, the players of the opposing team who came to him will see a snake in place of a ball. He was to further confess that it depends on the totems, when your totem is a tiger; the opposing players see the tiger in front of them. That he always have a chain around his neck as his totem. In addition he said that some footballers went as far as renting corpses at the morgues to practice on the eve of matches. Others dip their jerseys in the urine treated by wizards to play football.


The sad story behind the death of Vivien Foe (MHSRIP), also a Cameroonian football star is still fresh in our memories. Foe was alleged to have asked for more powers from his spiritual master, however, after being issued the said superior totem, he couldn’t keep to the terms nor respect the conditions attached to a holder of such a totem. It was said that his inability to live within the terms and conditions of the totem led to his early demise.

The foregoing does not however mean that there are no athletes who have graced the ranks of their respective sports without having to resort to the use of mysticism. The only problem is that the rampant practices of it have overshadowed the few who do not patronize marabous and soothsayers. Sadly, it is nearly impossible to believe that such athletes still exist.

As i said earlier, it is not as if the authorities have not tried to stop or ban the hidden or open practices of mysticism in Africa. In Gambia and Senegal for example, maraboutage, another name for mystical practice, are prohibited near football fields in other to avoid violence between supporters. But despite the stringer measures taken especially when Professional Football Leagues were created, unfortunately, the move met with a brick wall. For officials are blamed for the loss of a match or matches. The worst is that an entire community may petition football authorities for interfering with peoples believes and ways of life. Therefore, it is no coincidence to find mysticism revolving around football pitches and wrestling arenas.


The advent of the 21th century and its attendant modernization, incomprehensible as it is, is always impossible to separate traditional from everyday lives and activities of the average African sportsmen and women. It is no surprise that states, clubs and individuals make yearly budget for maraboutage which is a heavy financial burden on them. As such, even if a club or player does not believe in its efficiency, they still need it as a form of assurance. So much for Placebo effect.

It is saddening that some sportsmen find it difficult to develop personal capabilities and build on their own to succeed in other to move up the ladder. For merit and self confidence to no longer be a basis to succeed in the African society in this 21st century is to say the least, unfortunate. To allow marabous usurp genuine self confidence and dictate what athletes should do or not do, kills and rubs off the essence and the spontaneity of victory. To give place and power to imaginary magical forces in our present day rather than individual and collective capabilities is illogical I think.

The irony of the story is that, despite the mystical powers as claimed by Africa and African athletes, there is little to show for it in terms of trophies and desirable victories that should ordinarily be won with such powers. Africans have always cried foul whenever they are eliminated at the numerous FIFA World cups. They cite the other parts of the world and the football governing bodies as being biased. If that were to be true (which I believe is not), wouldn’t it be the time for the so called mystical powers to hold sway in future tournaments? If truly the maraboutage is as effective as some athletes claim, then the next FIFA World cup should be won by Africa or in fact every sport that Africans should partake in must be won by African teams, using magic and God knows what. Unless of course white-magic is stronger than black-magic. :D.


Finally, I want to emphasis that the belief in the existence of the so called "supernatural powers" that some individuals may possess, though difficult to identify and verify, is anchored in the collective consciousness of Africans. This explains the why the field of African politics, Movies, Religion, Marriages, Schools, Offices and Sports becomes the thriving grounds for all forms of occult battles.

This is a re-post of my content on Scorum which i did two day ago. Feel free to click on the link below to experience one of the best sports blogging platform in the world.


Thank you for stopping by. Happy new year to you all. Yours Truly @izge.

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