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Fafi or fa-fi (pronounced fah-fee), also known as mo-china, is a form of betting played mainly by black South Africa women, particularly those living in South African Townships, and is believed to have originated with South Africa's Chinese community. This game can also be linked to the Italian lottery which is also called the numbers racket.
Fafi participants choose the number they want to gamble on by interpreting their dreams. This dream interpretation or conversion is based upon a variety of systems. When they have decided upon their lucky number, participants will then place a bet on their number. A dream about robbers (izigebengu/amasela) may indicate the number 7. A dream about a white person (umLungu) is the number 3, whereas a dream about the sea could either indicate the number 18 for a ship (inqanawe) or 26, the number for water (amanzi).
The game requires a woman runner (isikhwama - bag) to take a bag of bets, along with the names of the betters and their money, to someone, usually Chinese, who visits the station (house) of the runner holding the betting session. The Chinese person will take the bag from the runner and then whisper the winning number to her. The runner will then indicate with her hands to the betters which number has won, and that person will be paid out.
“Mo-China” as it is popularly known in the townships, is the only number game that has flourished in South African townships over many years despite being illegal. As the name implies it was brought into the country by Chinese people. The following is just a hint on how this number-betting game is played. It is composed of numbers from 1 to 36 and each number has a name or character. The draw takes place twice a day i.e. morning and afternoon. For every draw only one number is chosen.
1=king 2=monkey 3= sea water 4=dead man 5=tiger 6=cow 7=con-man / robber / thief 8=pig 9=moon 10=eggs 11= car 12= dead woman 13= big fish 14= old woman 15= prostitute 16= pigeons 17= diamonds 18 = small change 19= little girls 20= cat 21= elephant 22 = ship 23 = horse 24 = mouth 25 = big house 26 = bees 27 = dog 28 = carriage /small fish / herring 29 = little water 30= chicken 31= fire 32 = big change/ gold money 33 = little boys 34 = Shit 35 = Whole/ katpan (female genitalia) 36 = Big Gun/lobster (male genitalia)