‘Evil spirits affecting Togo football’

2012-03-21 14:48

Vogan – Togo’s chief voodoo priest has called on his tiny nation’s football federation to consider using traditional ceremonies to “chase away evil spirits” that were afflicting the national game.

“Federation bosses should organise traditional ceremonies to chase away the evil spirits that have saddened the Togolese football family,” Togbui Gnagblondjro III said today at his home in Vogan, about 50km north of the capital, Lome.

“There is too much blood. We should go back to ‘the thing of our ancestors’ and hold traditional ceremonies, for we all know that in Africa when a person dies in an accident, we hold ceremonies.”

Togolese football has been afflicted by a series of tragedies in recent years.

In 2007, 13 members of a Togolese sports ministry delegation, including the then sports minister Richard Attipoe, were killed in a helicopter accident in Sierra Leone after a qualifying match for the following year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The Russian-made Mi-8 chopper, taking the group across the bay from the (Sierra Leone) capital Freetown to the international airport at Lungi, crashed after catching fire as it was about to land.

Then in Angola in January 2010, armed separatists opened fire on the national team bus as it travelled to the Africa Cup of Nations, killing two people, including assistant coach Abalo Amelete.

In November, six people were killed and 26 others injured when a bus carrying members of first division side Etoile Filante of Lome overturned and caught fire about 120km from the capital.

The victims were the assistant coach, the general secretary, two members of the club’s medical staff, a journalist and the club cook.

According to Gnagblondjro, a traditional intermediary between the living and the dead – “these are the spirits of those who have died, who are following us. They died for a national cause and nothing was done for them” – should be considered.

“It is the ‘Egoun’ (the god of violent deaths) that we need to chase away. These ceremonies involve several stages. In the first instance, we need to consult the oracles because it is they who will tell us what course to take.

“The heads of the FTF (Togolese Football Federation) should get in touch with us. We really need these ceremonies, otherwise Togolese football will always have problems.”

Gnagblondjro has previously claimed that Togo’s poor performance in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations was because football chiefs ignored the powers of voodoo.

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