Fafi, also known as mo-china is a gambling game played exclusively in the country of South Africa. The game is popular among South African black women, mostly being played within Townships. Fafi is essentially a type of lottery, closely related to the Italian lottery numbers racket. Historians believe that Fafi can find its origins to the early Chinese community in South Africa.
The History of Fafi
Some believe that Fafi was first formed in China, and brought over to South Africa sometime in the early 1900s. The game was first enjoyed by miners, who worked in the deep mines in the Traansvaal province. Over time, as the country changed and went through various regimes and governments, Fafi moved to different areas around South Africa. Most Townships in the province of Gauteng hold the Fafi lottery daily in modern times, although the nature of every game is different per region.
How Fafi Works
Fafi is known as a mobile form of lottery, where the players, or punters, bet on a number between 1 and 36. The dividends of the total bet are paid to the winner at a ratio of 1:28. Bets are placed and winning drawn from a special car, often luxurious, that will drive around the Township, stopping at designated stations or kiosks where people can make their bets. The car stops three times a day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and lastly once in the evening. Some have even reported these cars in the wealthier suburbs of Gauteng, gathering bets from domestic workers. This lottery is run by the Chinese community in the area, where the driver of the car is known as a mo-china.
The mo-china gathers all the bets and distributes the winnings, and has a special Fafi board where all the bets are added. During the drive, the mo-china will hold their hand out, making a symbol that indicates what the winning number is for that day. The winner then approaches the car and receives their winnings from the mo-china, and the entire process is restarted the next day.
The Fafi Winning Symbol
There has been some debate on how the system works exactly, and there is a lot of secrecy surrounding every event. While some believe the winning symbols are drawn at random, others believe the mo-china will choose the winner himself, therefore leaving the lottery open to manipulation. The mo-china is said to choose the winner with self-interest in mind, making sure that he and his associates benefit the most from the money collected in the lottery. Despite these suspicions, the communities who engage in Fafi trust the people running the lottery, and continue making bets every day.
Fafi is still popular today, being on the most popular forms of gambling in the country. Many scholars believe that the people who play Fafi are not overly concerned with the inherent risk involved in the game, with little concern toward the odds and chances that most other gamblers around the world obsess about.