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World Cup: The real magic of South Africa

Tim Sturtridge

Got my Muti working 300x225 World Cup: The real magic of South AfricaAfter a cracking first half in the Free State it looked for all the world like Bafana Bafana could salvage their limp campaign and avoid ducking out in the first round.

With Hugo Lloris’ goalmouth being peppered and Uruguay upholding their part of the bargain belief coursed through the conduit of vuvuzelas from Polokwane to Port Elizabeth.

But for the football gods taking their eye off the ball we could have been treated to the hosts hanging around for a match with Argentina.

Despite elimination the backpages in South Africa this morning are of a rosy hew, a few pages in however the inquest is in full swing. Was it down to Katlego ‘Killer’ Mphela wasteful finishing? Was it Itumeleng Khune’s red card against Uruguay which sealed the host’s fate? Was Carlos Alberto Parreira too cautious in his approach? Did someone get their mix of blood, bones and vegetation all to cock?

While there was certainly magic in the air at the Mangauag Stadium yesterday it proved insufficient to see South Africa over the line. It may sound a tad Eileen Drury but could Bafana Bafana have helped their chances by putting a touch more faith in the dark arts?

Sangomas (Zulu word for healers) are part and parcel of everyday life in South Africa but it the build-up to the World Cup their cultural significance has been played down for fear of disturbing western sensibilities. This concealment of Sangoma and the Muti they practice is nothing new.

When the English arrived on the Western Cape 200 years ago the South Africa natives soon learned that life was a whole lot easier if they were seen to adopt the practices of the settlers. South Africans attended Christian church as often as deemed necessary and adopted activities such as football while keeping their own traditions alive behind closed doors.

Two centuries later Muti is still kept in the shadows as it is seen to be at odds with the now prevalent Christianity. One women I spoke to is deeply troubled by her vivid premonitions and fears rejection from friends and family if she was to train to be a Sangoma.

At a school I visited I heard a story of another women who had to be locked up in the Principle’s Office when she became violently possessed by the spirit of her grandfather. This second women has now agreed to commence Sangoma training after her dead grandfather made it clear he would kill her if she continued to refuse.

With Sangomas confined to the shadows throughout South Africa it is no surprise to hear footballers such as Steven Pienaar laughing off the benefits of Muti. One club which prides itself on embracing Sangomas however is South African Premier League outfit AmaZulu.

Team manager, James Dlamini, took time out to talk to local newspaper The Citizen about Muti while guiding his team to a respectable 8th place in the league last season.

“Muti is part of our culture and heritage and I am not ashamed to say we use it. We believe in it and even though some teams might distance themselves saying that they don’t use it, they are lying.”

Opposition coming to face AmaZulu in Durban often speak of an overwhelming tiredness lapping over them as they prepare for a match in the visitors’ dressing room.

It is no surprise that football clubs will try almost anything to give themselves an advantage and if potions and spells are working for AmaZulu then credit to them for being proud enough to admit it.

Are the practices of AmaZulu so strange when put against to tendency of the current England number one to go to the urinals before a match, wait until they are empty and then spit on the wall? Then there’s England’s World Cup winning captain needing to be the last member of the team to put his shorts on before feeling truly comfortable out on the pitch.

Be honest now, would you rather sit next for John Terry listening to that same bloody Usher CD for the 1000th time or instead take a cool refreshing swig of some distilled tree bark before kick-off?

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  • http://twitter.com/tatsunaka Alejandro Pérez E

    I’d crank up the Usher with JTand then take the swig… Can’t take any chances

  • whalesperm

    Id try and get a seat next to messi. South africas biggest oasis fan now del pieros not a feature. I like the human element to these reports.

  • whalesperm

    Id try and get a seat next to messi. South africas biggest oasis fan now del pieros not a feature. I like the human element to these reports.


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