World Cup 2022: when football and mysticism come together in Cameroon

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A few weeks before the start of the 2022 World Cup, major occult and non-occult maneuvers are underway. Most Cameroonian footballers flock to remote villages deep in the equatorial forest to seek out and meet traditional healers. RFI wanted to know why these footballers run to these sellers of illusions and for what results.

From our correspondent in Cameroon,

On this Monday morning in September 2022, it is 7 a.m. somewhere in a village more than 300 kilometers east of Yaoundé. The locality is barely waking up from a difficult night. Indeed, a torrential rain fell down here. In the center of the village, a mysterious individual has been engaged in a curious ritual since daybreak. A fact not surprising for the villagers, because it is customary to see this type of practice here from time to time. Around his neck, a myriad of amulets. Over the shoulder, a cowhide bag. Traditional sandals on her feet, her particular outfit attracts attention. He is the traditional healer of the village. The best they say. Taking photos is prohibited. In front of him and on his knees, two players from the Indomitable Lions whose identity we will keep anonymous. What are they doing there?

Another traditional practitioner, Nji Ousseni, who practices in Yaoundé, provides an explanation. ” As the World Cup approaches, several Indomitable Lions players resort to witchcraft, magic, marabouts with the aim of destabilizing their opponents. Everyone wants to be selected, or to be a holder. Thus for important competitions such as the World Cup or the African Cup of Nations, players often call on my services to invoke the gods in order to disturb the opponent. “, he continues. In itself, the use of black magic in football is nothing new in the country of Roger Milla according to several analysts.

Bad image for football

Within the Indomitable Lions, we do not trifle with witchcraft, even when it requires certain practices that could shock the general public. According to a certain custom, to make a good run during an international competition, you have to surround yourself with the best marabouts, traditional healers and private healers. Thus, in addition to physical training, mystical practices are said to be able to improve agility and increase the efficiency of players. For journalist Jean Bruno Tagne, connoisseur of the Indomitable Lions, ” the places will sell very expensive to participate in the World Cup and therefore everyone is putting the odds on their side. There is what is called psychological preparation here. Which in reality means the recourse to mystical practices. I was able to chat with some players and even supervisors and I know that there are regularly at nightfall, a certain number of sacrifices, at the Ahmadou-Ahidjo stadium. One slaughters oxen, one sprinkles the blood of these oxen on the players. All to satisfy the ancestors so that they provide their support. But frankly, you can’t just from an incantation think that you’re going to win a football match, it’s ridiculous. For me it’s stupidity because the prescriptions of the marabouts are not always successful “, protests the Cameroonian journalist.

Anthropologist Valentin Nga Ndongo, in his published investigation of Cameroonian football and superstition, notes that ” the strongest form of magic in football is to call upon a Mami Wata [une Succube, ndlr]who is an aquatic deity, who protects the goalkeeper and prevents balls from entering it “, he explains. But for Hélène Lovet, coach in natural development, even if a player does not believe in his effectiveness, he needs sports exercises to reassure himself. This is why I recommend the use of natural products to tone the body “, she says at the microphone of RFI. And ” so that they behave in the best possible way on the field, the players will in particular take many mystical baths based on herbs and roots “, adds Nji Ousseni. ” Some pour holy water or pinches of salt on the lawn before a meeting. So you see the World Cup has high stakes “, he continues.

Disturbing testimonies

That’s football. Nothing can be done without it. Everyone prepares by various means because opposite there are also adversaries like Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia who are not mystically simple “, Says under anonymity, a famous Indomitable Lions player who took part in the last CAN as a holder, and who will undoubtedly be among the Indomitable Lions who will go to Qatar in a few weeks. The traditional practitioner of the Indomitable Lions as he is called in the landlocked village in the middle of the equatorial forest, says that he has already received no less than five Lions players who are staying in the country at the moment, without revealing the content of their exchanges.

But ” this can in no way serve as a galvanizing element “, according to Salomon Banga Bidjeme II, Cameroonian player playing in Al Hilal of Khartoum in Sudan and captain of the local team of Cameroon. ” A footballer can have the best marabouts in the world, but if he does not train regularly and seek to improve on a daily basis, he will never advance. “, he explains to RFI. In Cameroon, every sporting fact always has a mystical-spiritual explanation. The country intrigues through the many myths that surround it. But ” Cameroonian footballers should rather use values ​​such as honesty, courage, patience, perseverance, self-sacrifice, love of work to improve every day “says Hélène Lovet. And Salomon Banga Bidjeme II, champion of Sudan in 2022, wishes to warn the new generation of footballers of which he is also a part: “ My advice to young footballers is to be careful. Don’t search too much. »

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World Cup 2022: when football and mysticism come together in Cameroon

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