LILONGWE, MALAWI — A Tanzanian woman is traveling around Africa showcasing her soccer ball juggling skills as a way to feed her family. Her video clips have gone viral on social media and captivated the hearts of many people in the continent and beyond. This month, one of her clips caught the eye of U.S. president Donald Trump who tweeted “Amazing!”
Hadhara Charles Mjeje started honing her ball juggling skills when she was a teenager in Tanzania playing for a local women’s football team.
She maneuvers the ball with her feet, head, chest and shoulders.
For the past six years, Mjeje, a single mother of two sons, has been using the skills to raise money to feed for her family.
She says this helps her to pay school fees for her two children, purchase food to feed her family and also pay household bills and other needs.
She has so far traveled to several countries across Africa including Cameroon, Burundi, Gabon and recently Malawi.
She charges $4 for a two-minute performance and earns between $45 and $50 a day.
She dismisses accusations of using black magic to develop her skills.
“There is no magic in this ball,” she says – “this is my own talent I started developing long ago.”
In Malawi, her skills captivated National Women’s Football officials who thought of bringing her into their women’s soccer development program. But she declined the offer.
Sugzo Ngwira is the chairperson of Women’s Football Committee in Central Malawi.
“If she was ready to impact her skills with others, I think we would explore all the other options. I would liaise with the teams and how best we can utilize her talent to impact especially the youngsters who are just starting,” Ngwira said.
Her skills have also dazzled male footballers.
Samuel Zeka plays social football in the capital Lilongwe.
Zeka says this is a rare talent for women to juggle the ball as this lady is doing. I would be very grateful if she would teach me such skills, he added.
Her video filmed in Malawi also caught the eye of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Mjeje who is 29-years-old, says she wished the American president could have done more than tweeting his amazement.
She says she wished he helped her feed her family. She has two children, and elderly parents they all rely on her for help. She wished Trump helped her boost her talent so that she can be known across the world and earn more money.
But after Trump’s tweet, Mjeje received various request for interviews from local and international media organizations like the BBC and Reuters.
She returned to Tanzania this week after an agent who came to Malawi from Zimbabwe last Friday, convinced her of possible lucrative advertising contract in Spain.
Mjeje told VOA she hopes the new contract, marks the beginning of her better life.
Lameck Masina I VOA