The Crazy World of Voodoo Wrestling in the Congo

Makasi Tskiwa, 46,Photo: Benedicte Curzen

For many years, the WWF has been a part of the American tapestry. In the African Congo they have their own bizarre version of the WWF, and it is just as popular as the Western version. You will find all sorts of wrestling endeavors by infamous players. In addition to the run of the mill wrestling, there is also voodoo magic thrown into the mix.

marching bandPhoto: Benedicte Curzen

The Afrikaan terminology for wrestling is Rofstoei Rofstoei. A helpful site to learn more about AWA is the official AWA site.

The African Wrestling Alliance was once known as the African Wrestling Federation, birthed in 1995 to replicate the popularly known European and American wrestling.

marketplacePhoto: Dominik Schwarz

In the picture below, the possessed wrestler puts his opponent in a coffin. The matches last five days typically, but sometimes they can last 10 days. Though the reason for the coffin theatrics is unknown here, one speculates that the coffin was used to frighten the spectators or intimidate the opponents.

Endingwe from Kinshasa, a Congolese wrestling starPhoto: Benedicte Curzen

The BBC reports that over 25,000 spectators attend the yearly tournament. Typically they are held in Niger, where most of these pictures were taken. There are approximately 80 selected wrestlers, from eight different regions, who earned the dignitary honor to perform in these tournaments. Though females sometimes fight, the biggest and most elite wrestling matches and tournaments are exclusive to males.

After 10 days , the winner of the tournaments is announced. The coveted prize is a golden sword and the handsome sum of 2m CFA francs (about $3,000 USD).

worshipping idolPhoto: Benedicte Curzen

Above, you will see that the Congolese believe that idol worship is key to success. This is a witchcraft statue. Locango Ndoki (the Sorcerer) is one of the best known wrestlers in the Congo. Believe it or not, they actually have marching bands as well that parade around before the tournament begins. One of the band members then waves wildly around his spears and blows a trumpet signaling the launch of the tournament.

Judo is the main wrestling practice. Some resort to Black Magic to ward off their opponents and give them the competitive edge. Bori is the name of the Black Magic that calls on the supernatural and the spirits to bewitch their opponents. Enhancing brews by witch doctors are given to the athletes. These intoxicating substances don’t show up on drug tests, and the witch doctors never reveal their ingredients.

Another form of Black Magic that is performed in conjunction with the wrestling tournaments is the purifying preparatory rituals as well as application of magic before or during wrestling contests.

NigerPhoto: Akzent

Some wrestlers can be seen wearing a simple thread around their wrist. However, others utilize extravagant measures of Black Magic. The man above, in Niger, is wearing ten colorful belts, each hexed with a different potion, such as safeguarding against injuries, disabling the opponent or giving the wrestler supernatural strength. Sometimes the potions are blown onto the belts (or object of significance), while others are dipped into the potion. Some are nearly burnt to ashes. No matter how the objects are hexed, each item must be put through a “de-hexing ritual” to remove the hex once the tournaments are over.

NigerPhoto: Akzent

If you like these awesome pictures, there’s much more by clicking this slideshow at Global Post. In the Congo, where few live a full life wrestling is a wonderful and positive escape from reality.
voodooPhoto: Treadwells

If you ever have the guts to actually visit the Congo, you are likely to see many voodoo statues everywhere. Burnt chickens, candles, ashes and amulets are just a few roadside markers. The Voodoo practices have been enscribed into the Congolese way of life for centuries. They originated from the Fon Ewe tribe in Benin and even market places display necessary items for voodoo practices.

The voodoo practices may seem odd to Western civilizations. However, they are beautiful and mysterious and seem to be the glue that holds this country together. Wrestling discharges powerful aggression in the males so that hostility and bloodshed can be peacefully dissipated.

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