Hakeem, the self-acclaimed 'juju' man who prowled the VIP area of the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra wielding chickens during the Africa Cup of Nations, has suffered attacks from various quarters including the international media.
The 'juju' man, who vanished as suddenly as he had appeared, after the senior national team, the Black Stars were beaten by the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the semifinals of the Ghana 2008 tournament, was bashed for his cruelty to animals.
A famous columnist in the Nigerian Tribune, Fabio Lanipekun, also known as 'The Grandmaster' wrote in the latest edition of the paper: “The Hakim factor was a shame; a double tragedy. Apart from giving the false impression that Africans are fetish in football, it also violated the principle of non-cruelty to animals.”
According to him, if Hakeem had held chickens head down and dangled them for hours on each match day in Europe, he would have been arrested and jailed for being cruel to animals.
“We used to have similar laws in Africa, but what has become of them? Shamefully, CAF officials saw the naked display of sorcery at the Cup of Nations and did nothing about it,” the celebrated columnist added.
Under the headline, “Hakeem: The Shame of Ghana 2008”, Fabio Lanipekun wrote: “With feathers of a chicken or fowl firmly clenched between his teeth, and with live chickens dangling in his hands, Hakeem would go into a trance, accompanied by gory dance steps and signals of slaughtering. He would raise two chickens to signify Ghana scoring two goals, and one fowl to signify the opponents scoring one. The crowd would go into delirium.”
He observed that on the day of the opening match between Ghana and Guinea, Hakeem was more photographed by the international media than anybody at the stadium.
“His predictions came through against Guinea, Morocco and failed against Namibia even though the Black Stars won one nil.
“Against Nigeria, Hakeem dangled three chickens, two in one hand and one in the other, meaning that Ghana would win two one. It came to pass. But against Cameroun, in the semi finals, the black magic deserted him. He brought out two chickens to the ecstasy of Ghanaians, but at the end of the game, Cameroun triumphed one-nil. On the final day, Egypt vs. Cameroun, Hakeem was nowhere to be found,” he concluded.
This latest development on the Hakeem Factor of Ghana's host-and-win dream begs the question: Does 'juju' really play a role in football?
The interesting aspect of the whole scenario was that when his first predictions came to pass, Hakeem became an instant hero.
During the tournament, Ghanaians indeed factor in the 'juju' man's role in the outcome of the Black Stars' games.
On his expectations, Kodzo Segbefia, a Ghanaian football fan who was at the Ohene Djan Stadium to watch the Nations Cup quarterfinal match between Ghana and Nigeria remarked thus: “We (Ghana) will surely beat them (Nigeria). The 'chicken man' (Hakeem) has predicted that we will win. So 'no shaking”.
By Mohammed Muniru Kassim