DM168

TONGUE IN CHEEK

Amakhosi lose their juju while political parties fill up stadiums

Amakhosi lose their juju while political parties fill up stadiums
(Graphic: Jocelyn Adamson. | Images: Vecteezy and Midjourney AI)

The poor beleaguered Glamour Boys can hardly get enough spectators to fill up a 15,000-seater venue these days, whereas it’s all in a day’s work for the politicians promising the world to their bused-in supporters.

It beats me, this fill-up-the-stadium business of political parties. A moegoe wakes up in a shack or some dilapidated kasi matchbox house struck by blackouts and water shedding and travels 400km on an empty stomach via potholed roads to spend hours burning under the sun, listening to politicians going through the motions of making promises.

It’s like someone making the 1,000km trip from Gqeberha to Johannesburg in a minibus taxi, risking life and limb to watch Kaizer Chiefs. This, knowing full well that these days winning and the Amakhosi are just like the ANC and service delivery. They are just not the best of buddies.

Hey, please don’t tell anyone. But I read somewhere in one of the national rags that the reason the once-marauding mighty Kaizer Chiefs have fallen on such hard times is because of a long-standing debt to a juju man.

It is said that the juju man’s magic, powered by a pair of tortoises with supernatural powers, was one of the main reasons behind the superclub’s dominance of the local football scene in years past.

Back then, opposition players trembled at the mere sight of a yellow shirt. Some of them faked injuries just to avoid coming up against the Phefeni Glamour Boys. Those who had the liver to take on the Amakhosi made sure to visit the hair salon ahead of the game because almost every household tuned in to watch their matches.

If they lost the match, which was the case more often than not, at least these players had a chance to capture some young woman’s eye with their dazzling hairstyles.

Now, it’s not clear if the Amakhosi have lost their shine because their magical tortoises have grown old and weary, or if indeed their bad luck stems from the alleged debt to the juju man. Those well versed in these matters say you should never fail to fulfil your promise to a juju man, unless you want such bad luck to befall you that even prayers to the man from Nazareth wouldn’t help undo the curse.

They say it’s even worse if the juju man meets his maker while you still owe him. If that happens, then you are a dead man walking. You may as well hope that the dead juju man’s spirit also dies before your curse is lifted.

This is what I suspect could be the case with the Amakhosi. Otherwise, how does one explain the fall of such a once mighty brand?

Even amateur clubs make nothing of the Chiefs these days. A friend whispered during the recent Soweto derby, which Chiefs also lost, that his son, who is a budding professional footballer, cried rivers of tears when it was suggested he try out with the Amakhosi.

Hey, now I’m reminded of the mighty Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. Remember how powerful they once were in the 1980s and 1990s? And then, in the early 2000s, they too lost their roar and became the whipping boys of African football.

Word in Yaoundé then was that the national football association had contracted powerful juju practitioners from each of the country’s nine provinces to work their magic and strengthen the team’s powers.

All this for the sum of $50,000 for each juju man or woman.

Magical tortoises

But you know football administrators – just like politicians, they hardly ever keep their promises. After the football federation failed to keep its promises to pay up, the nine-person-strong team of juju practitioners ganged up against the Indomitable Lions and “locked” their luck. It took many years of pleading and apologies to the healers before Cameroon’s luck was “unlocked”, helping them to regain some of their shine.

Perhaps the Amakhosi need to give the Cameroonian football administrators a call and seek advice on how to deal with this juju-ish matter of the magical tortoises.

Jislaaik, things are so bad with Chiefs that even the price of their once sought-after merchandise has plummeted in the stores.

At least the ANC can still afford to give away free T-shirts courtesy of, well, the taxpayer, I guess. I wonder what Chiefs will do with all those thousands of replica jerseys in their storeroom, because we seem to have reached a stage where even the homeless would decline a generous offer of the Amakhosi kit.

The last time the Glamour Boys lifted a trophy was a decade ago. This means a child who is 10 years old has never ever seen Kaizer Chiefs win any silverware, and if things remain the same, they might reach adulthood without ever experiencing this. The Amakhosi even battle to fill up a lousy 15,000-seater stadium these days.

They were even outdone by the IFP, which filled up the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban for its manifesto launch. It must have been quite an outing of a lifetime for some of those Zulu tribesmen from the far-flung villages, because Inkatha is not known for gracing such posh venues. Give them a dusty field and you will see hundreds of thousands of knobkerrie-wielding Zulus together like you have never seen before.

But now that political parties have completed their fill-up-the-stadium business, the big guys in charge are eagerly waiting to see if the poor folks who packed their rallies will be voting them into power.

I wonder how many of those people who engaged in this fill-up-a-stadium business actually understood what those politicians were saying there. In fact, how many would have made it out of the stadium had they first been required to write and pass an exam on the manifestos for which they suffered all day in the sun in order to hear what they’re all about?

It seems for many it was just a fun day’s outing. For those who made the trip in shiny SUVs and later washed off the dust with pricey spirits, it was an opportunity to be seen by the cadres – because not being seen at such events could mean a tender missed.

It’s tough in the movement … But perhaps voters fed up with the ANC should seek the services of those Cameroonian juju men to work out something. DM

Mr Styles is the former president of the Organisation for Stylish People of South Africa (Osposa). He is against anything and anyone unstylish.

This article first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick newspaper, DM168, which is available countrywide for R29.

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