Ghana’s 40-year-old wait for an African trophy is due to the re-introduction of juju and black magic in the senior national team after the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations, Rev. Francis J. Botchway has said on the first episode of Heart and Soul on LifeStyle TV at 11:00 am on Saturday, 23rd April 2022.
Rev. Botchway, who is the author of the acclaimed book ‘Juju, magic and witchcraft in African soccer: myth or reality?, insisted that Ghana has deviated from the original path the late Ghanaian coaching legend C.K. Gyamfi carved for the national team when he banished witchcraft, magic and juju practices in his team that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1963, 1965 and 1982 because in C.K.’s view, “juju did not play football.”
“He (C.K. Gyamfi) asked the divine God to help him in a particular cause and he succeeded because he had the favour of God like Joseph in Egypt,” Rev. Botchway said.
“So he won the AFCON in 1963, 1965, and in 1978, I know he was not in charge of the national team (Osam Duodo was the national team coach in 1978) but he offered advice to the team. And he won again in 1982 (this time as team manager of the national team). “
“So if after 1982 we have left that path, then nothing can work for us. I believe strongly that this is the reason why we have not won the African Cup for the past 40 years.”
A former Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic infamously wrote that there is the need to change Black Stars players’ “mentality about using black power to destroy themselves” after the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Serbian coach asserted after some players of the senior national team nearly boycotted the warm-up session before Ghana’s 1:0 semi-final loss to Zambia at the tournament.
Reports at the time suggested the players bizarrely suspected that their teammate Andre Ayew had ‘bewitched’ the rest of the team.
Former Black Stars player Derek Boateng confirmed the story on GTV Sports +’s Saving our Passions show that the players insisted Andre Dede Ayew had to exit the dressing room before the rest of them would join the warm-up session in the ill-fated game – meaning the Black Stars utilised only 15 minutes out of the allotted 45 minutes for the crucial warm-up.
The juju scare reared its ugly head again at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon 2021 where Ghana shockingly exited at the group stage with stories of infighting among the players.
But C.K. Gyamfi is noted as having banned juju practices in the national team as he famously said:
“Before I took over the Black Stars, we had a few spiritualists or medicine men who were ‘assisting’ the team. Some even accompanied us on trips outside Ghana. As Africans, this should not surprise us because superstition in soccer was a common belief and practice on the continent in those days. But my experience with Germany, Chilean and Brazilian football convinced me that juju does not play soccer,” C.K. Gyamfi said in Rev. Botchway’s book ‘Juju, magic and witchcraft in African soccer: myth or reality?
Asked by LifeStyle TV’s Heart and Soul show host Erasmus Kwaw, whether the nation’s trophy drought could be linked to the re-introduction of juju in the national team, Rev. Francis Botchway responded in the affirmative.
“When we won the cup for a record 4 times, Egypt and Cameroon had not come nearer which means something has gone missing for the past 40 years. There must be something missing and something happening that is incurring the wrath of God, and that is not helping our national cause.
“So let’s go back: what were the principles of the Ben Koufie’s, C.K. Gyamfi’s, Afranie’s and the Addo Odamete’s so that we can come back to it. But to go back to the medicine men again! I mean, see what happened in the game against Comoros (AFCON 2021)? I don’t know what happened in Cameroon but for Ghana as a big football nation to be humiliated like that, tells us something is going wrong spiritually and we need to rise. Men of God and churches need to rise.
He added, “I wrote this book not to talk about football juju and all that, but the Christian and churches response to this mission field. Because if the churches would come up as they did in Latin America and built adoration rooms in all the stadiums where they praise the Almighty, then we will have success. And not be in the dark ages. You are either with God or God will be against you.”
Meanwhile, ace sports broadcaster Kwabena Yeboah made a similar point about the dwindling fortunes of the national team in the 1980s through to the 1990s following the resort to medicine or juju men on GTV Sports +’s Saving our Passion show.
“I remember very well before the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations, we had a Pastor at Menskrom. So all he did was pray for the team (Black Stars) anytime we were going. That is as far as I can remember. But over the period to 1991, a so-called spiritualist will be brought to camp, we will surround candles and will be praying. And I remember before we played against Zambia in George Arthur’s days, we all had to chant a certain chant: alima alima shankara. We were repeating those things those days.
Ghana has since failed to win the AFCON trophy despite reaching the final in 1992, 2010 and 2015.