Moralising Magic? A Brief History of Football Potions in a South African Homeland Area, 1958 - 2010

Moralising Magic? A Brief History of Football Potions in a South African Homeland Area, 1958 - 2010

Author: 
Niehaus, Isak
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2015
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Southern African Studies (JSAS)
Source: 
Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 41, No. 5, October 2015, pp. 1053-1066
Abstract: 

In this article I show how a brief history of the use of an exceptionally wide variety of potions with assumed mystical effects by football teams in the Bushbuckridge area of South Africa provides a unique vantage point for understanding men's experiences of political and economic transformations associated with the homeland system. Historically, the advent of football coincided with the establishment of the Lebowa and Gazankulu homelands in the area. Teachers and ministers founded the first football teams during the 1960s, and treated the sport pedagogically, as preparation for labour migration. During this era, teams felt compelled to use substances prescribed by the Holy Spirit to protect themselves against the potions of their opponents, which they associated with the malevolent practice of witchcraft. However, in the mid 1970s, football was commercialised and businessmen became the prime patrons of football teams. Coaches now started using offensive potions to attain favourable results. Players themselves began to use potions more extensively during the insecure economic environment of the 1990s, when football became a means of reconfirming masculine status. My analysis points to the salience of labour and patronage in men's life worlds, and shows how magic became moralised in desperate times.

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CITATION: Niehaus, Isak. Moralising Magic? A Brief History of Football Potions in a South African Homeland Area, 1958 - 2010 . : Taylor & Francis Group , 2015. Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 41, No. 5, October 2015, pp. 1053-1066 - Available at: http://library.au.int/moralising-magic-brief-history-football-potions-south-african-homeland-area-1958-2010-0