During the launch of a new book on the life of Cape Town City midfielder Teko Modise we got a rare insight into the muti rituals performed by Orlando Pirates before their matches.
The biography titled – The Curse of Teko Modise‚ details midnight baths on the eve of games which Modise and his teammates took part in when the former Bafana Bafana playmaker played for Pirates between 2007 and 2011. Modise made these claims during the launch of his book in Rosebank.
“There was a lot to get used to at Orlando Pirates. One of the most interesting things was the role of muti‚” the book asserts.
The story also highlights that when Teko Modise arrived at Pirates he met their resident sangoma.
“In Teko’s first week‚ the sangoma said he was going to try something new.
“In the change room before the game‚ the sangoma placed a stick at the entrance.
“All the players had to jump back and forth over the stick.”
Seemingly, this strategy didn’t work and “the sangoma would revert to the classic ritual – the bath.”
This involves the players waking up at midnight before a game and taking a bath in water mixed with a specially prepared concoction of herbs and other ingredients. This stirred concern as most players frowned at the concept.
“Many players were religious and these practices made them uncomfortable.
“However‚ at Orlando Pirates everything is performed as a team. Religious or not‚ you get in the bath.
“The players would bath in a special mixture‚ then shower‚ climb back into bed and try to sleep before the game.
“Even with this practice the results were not improving. [The Sangoma] determined that the players were not using the muti correctly.
“He realised that they were showering after their bath and therefore the muti was washed off‚ so he devised a new plan.
“Now‚ instead of the players bathing at midnight‚ before the game they would grab their bags‚ go bath … then get on the bus to the stadium.
Reminiscing about the strange experience, Teko Modise said; “‘the water was very black. ‘You have no idea what is in there. You could see some sticks and leaves but who knows what else was in there. It would be very itchy‚ very strange’.
“The biggest problem was when they had to play at night.
“As they could not dry off their jerseys would be damp‚ their socks would be damp and they would become very cold and uncomfortable.”
In addition to the revelation made in the book written by Nikolaos Kirkinis and published by Jacana Media another former Pirates player Benson Mhlongo said Platinum Stars was the only club he had played for that never forced him to use muthi in an interview with SABC Sport. In other words, while he was at Pirates, he had to perform the rituals.
Mhlongo played for Pirates between 2008 and 2012.