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Kgebetli Moele

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Many Curses of Teko Modise.

There is an emotional involvement to reading, be it a newspaper or a book, as there is a release. A reading release: that moment when the reader feels sad that it had come to an end and satisfied then you feel that you need to go for a second round. This is the magic of great reads; the connection, that involves feelings, emotions and thoughts from the reader as the reader peer between the two covers.

Not so with The Curses of Teko Modise, it is a stale read written more like a Life Esidimeni report for the purpose of reporting what had happened but this here is a life story of a high calibre South African soccer player who wears the magical jersey number 10. Who – as exhibited by this report – rose from sheer Soweto township hopelessness to be considered amongst the greatest South African soccer legends while still on the field.

There is nowhere in the book that the reader connects with and lives Teko Modise’s life experiences, to cry, be sad or laugh with him. Yes, he is cursed. Curse in this sense will be to have lived his first fourteen years of his life with his father without his mother, until he chased him out into the streets. He has two older siblings that are not his father’s children. His maternal family didn’t want him, then he assumed a surname that is not his own. All this curses are very common across all black communities today and most of us we live them without noticing that we are living a cursed lives. Considering it, his name Teko, is a curse name, a practical translation, the name will be Trial, Trial Modise.

This book is not about curses but it is about a dream. It is about the attainment of one’s natural abilities – talent – to present this talent to the world stage and make good use of it then have it pay the bills. There is no GPS that one’s talent can use to find its way to the world’s stage and there are many more talented individuals who never had or have a chance to present themselves on the world stage. As the five hundred that Teko Modise went to soccer trials with never had a chance, he later played professional soccer with only two.

Yes, at the end, we know more about Teko Modise and his life’s trials from this report but this was worse than reading a history school text book. It seems that it was rushed for publication without any considerations. The author makes a point that Teko and his father – a Kaizer Chiefs fan – talked about nothing but soccer and soccer was their connection, and they went to stadiums to watch soccer games but at fourteen Teko did not even know who Doctor Khumalo was. What part of soccer were they talking about?

The three worse scenes of all are: first; when Teko achieved his dreams, the first professional game, that confirmation of the attainment of his dream and the secondary conformation his first income. Secondly, he fell in love with Linky, a first love that lasted for seven years. It is treated with only three paragraphs mostly a warning to Linky about the impending fame and all that it comes with. Thirdly; it is understandable to overlook a won VW Polo as one’s first car but when one buys an Aston Martin, it is manifestation, a realisation of one’s life to life as there are many talents in this world and it is only a few that can manifest to afford a DB9. All these three scenes are the highlights of Teko Modise’s life but they are mentioned as secondary thoughts, played down and uninvolving.

Teko’s real curse in here is the undeniable – officially none existing – deniable witchcraft. It was brave of Teko to include these parts in the book and for that the spirits that were with him as he was talking to Mellissa and the spirits that came alive in that ‘secret room’ are not happy and for that I don’t think that his life is safe or that he even sleeps. Why did those wealthy men have to bow to talk to the king? Why did they have to crawl to approach him? Teko will have to be like those men, he will have to bow and crawl in front of the king and that statement the king made to Teko of not sacrificing human beings, there is a question mark to it. Because until this point in his life all the curses that he knew were not of his own making but for him to enter that ‘secret room’ and then take home that ‘whiter-than-white rabbit,’ he willingly cursed himself and there is no way that he can get himself out of that covenant.

Teko Modise is a high calibre sportsperson deserving of the number 10 jersey that he evidently worked and fought hard to achieve, he knew that without it his life was a wholesome curse. The Curse of Teko Modise deserves no accolades as a biography of a great man, it is hurried and hurrying to nowhere. Closing the last page, you feel that you have missed the tale somewhere and you only have mounting questions to this presented life. There is no release as there are no pictures to corroborate this journey of this larger than Soweto life.



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