Accessibility links

'African Queen' Refuses to See Any More African Football Teams Lose

  • Jeff Swicord

Reine Osso runs the "African Queen" Arts and Crafts store in Johannesburg, South Africa

Reine Osso runs the "African Queen" Arts and Crafts store in Johannesburg, South Africa

Football fanatics have been arriving in South Africa from around the globe for the past several weeks. But the African continent has its own share of pitch specialists. In many parts of Africa, football, also known as soccer in the United States, is life, and everything else orbits around it.

Reine Osso is known around Johannesburg as the "African Queen." Born and raised in the Ivory Coast, she is a rare-African art dealer with clientele from New York to Hong Kong. She travels the continent looking for unusual pieces.

The African Queen is also a soccer fanatic. A trait she says she gets from her native Ivory Coast. "Seeing people cry for soccer when we loose," said Osso. "And it was all our lives there. So, from there I start to like soccer also."

Six months ago, as the World Cup was approaching, she got an idea. She wanted to make wooden dolls in the form of football players and paint them in the colors of the 32 World Cup teams.

"I start to show to my clients four months before the World Cup and they say o.k. we like this, we like this and I start to make them a lot," said Osso.

She made 100,000 pieces, in her family factory back in the Ivory Coast. Today, she only has 3,000 left. "This is Ivorian Soccer players. Drogba, Didier Drogba," she said.

Didier Drogba, who is from her home town, is the leading scorer this year in the English premier league. At the World Cup he is playing with the Elephants, the Ivory Coast team. The Cup has been hard on the queen. Her beloved Elephants did not make it to the second round.

The Queen also owns a guest house in Johannesburg. She was hosting some Brazilan guests the night the Elephants lost to Brazil 3 to 1, which made for some funny moments.

"Brazilian come to sleep in an Ivory Coast guest house and the same night they beat us," she said. "And before you go I say you guys and they say no no no no talk. You come from Ivory coast, we show you tonight! And I say no. And they really show me so. The following day I tell you guys I can't give you coffee. No breakfast for you!"

It has been a tough World Cup for African teams. Only Ghana has made it through to the second round. The Queen says she will not be watching any more football. She can not bare to watch another African teams lose.