Religion and Sport in Africa

Religion In Africa: Religion and Sports in Africa“But what can a stark, level-headed Dutch coach, a technical assistant or physiotherapist do to match an African shaman or mystical marabout? What weapon can they use against magical incantations around the goalpost or the ritual preparation of the water that the players will drink?”  Radio Netherlands asked the day before the last group match between Holland and Cameroon.

In the United States athletes prepare for their at-bat or race by kissing a symbol of their religious belief or a good luck charm.  After a success US many US athletes point to the heavens and shout, “thank you Lord!”

In Africa, religion has a similar yet much more all encompassing, powerful role in sports, especially when that religion is a local form of African Traditional Religion.  I remember in the years that I lived in Kenya seeing the photos of the various club teams with their spiritual advisers who would bless the teams and fetishes that they would wear around their necks on in their shoes. There were even sports editorials claiming that a team won the match because their shaman arrived the night before and placed some potion in the ground under the goal.

Then there is the case of Cameroon footballer Rigobert Song who on 5th September 2009, was with his national team in a match against Gabon in a Fifa World Cup 2010 qualifier in Libreville.   Sébastien Bassong had taken Song’s starting role on the side, but Bassong took a hard tackle and asked to be substituted. The coach replaced him with Rigobert Song, who finished the match relatively well.  After the match, the Cameroonian football website ( was filled with fans accusing Song of having employed sorcery to put an evil spell on Bassong to hurt himself and allow Song to return to his position.

Then there is this BBC audio story from Benin:

Here is a video about African Traditional Religion practitioner specializing in football in South Africa among Zulus.

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